Nigerian Religiousity: Why Nigeria cant be a Godless Society

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Today I m going to delve into what might be a simplistic analysis of why despite how hypocritical and corrupt some of us might be, Nigeria is a hyper-religious society where everyone is an aspiring pastor, imam, voodoo priest, dibia, aljana sef and so on and so forth. Even those who aren’t religious at all pretend to be. I know there is a difference between believing in God and religion but that isn’t the point. I am going to make a hypothesis that everyone who practices any form of religion believes in a supreme or divine being/s of some sort.

You see before Islam or Christianity came every society in this conglomerate we now call Nigeria believed in gods and deities of some sort. Some believed in spirits of ancestors, others believed that magic enchanted trees held spirits that had powers over life and death. Some believed in mountain spirits. gods made of wood, iron, clay and so on dotted the landscape. Islam came in through the jihad of Usman Dan Fodio. I wont give you dates because I m not a historian. Google it. Basically he conquered much of Northern Nigeria and some part of South Western Nigeria. Some communities in Northern Nigeria of course were not conquered or were not found by his armies. These people continued to worship their gods until the Christian Jihad came and took much of Southern Nigeria and some places in the North. The Christian Jihad initially came through trade and even engaged in the slave trade. Eventually this turned to trade in goods once slavery was abolished. In the name of civilizing the “heathens”, communities were conquered and colonized. This led to the entrenchment of Christianity in these communities. Even though to this day some still practice the old religions. The point of this little narrative is that the main religions we espouse in this country weren’t really ours to begin with. They were imported, much in the same way we import tokunbo (second-hand) cars, electronics, lace and even toothpicks. I guess there must be a connection between our love of foreign goods, accents, lifestyles and the pervasion of foreign religions in our society. We must feel subconsciously it brings us closer to God.

In present day Nigeria, people bring God into every sentiment possible. In politics, our president ran a campaign partly on the premise that God had chosen him by killing his predecessor. It was God’s will for him to be president and he was going to stand up and uphold this God-given mandate. This rhetoric worked with many Nigerians because we are basically a hyper-religious society. It didn’t matter that dude had a manifesto that was as vague and full of metaphors that many people don’t exactly get much like the book of Revelation in the bible. Of course aside from Gods will, Uncle Jona spent billions of naira in the campaign. I guess God’s will is good but when that is in short supply, money works as well. Apart from Uncle Jona, politicians in our fair country bring God and religion into so many things. When they are campaigning in muslim areas they espouse the virtues of allah but when they get to office they steal through their teeth. Aside from politics, people use the name of God at weddings, naming ceremonies, parties, TV debates, even thieves and armed robbers pray for a successful operation before going forth to steal and rob people. When a market trader wakes up in the morning, he/she prays to God for a fruitful business day. Secretly in his/her mind they are praying for mugus who they will cheat by hyper-inflating the price of their goods and services. We have had Uztaz (sp), Deacons and even Reverends who have become leaders and politicians and proceeded to loot their constituents dry. Yes, Nigerians believe in God.

Why is God so necessary in Nigeria? I posit that part of the system of oppression that was inherited from the colonial powers is the power of oppression by mental enslavement. You see so much suffering and poverty in our country but people smile and go about their daily businesses and even smile. We were once called the happiest people on earth. Despite, the public looting, cheating, corruption, road accidents, armed robbery, kidnapping, bokoharam-ness, bombing and whatnot. People still smile and make merry. Almost nobody protests or gets angry about the state of affairs. Was it Marx who said, religion is the opium of the masses? I think so. And boy was he right. I m not saying religion is not good but many people in our country follow a “by God’s grace/inshaallah” approach to life. They are poor? Oh no problem, they pray for God to provide. They are embarking on a trip on a bad road. Protest to the governor? Go on a strike? No. Call a team of Imams and Pastors to pray for the road because an evil spirit must be causing all the accidents on that road. Fear of attack of Armed robbers? Demand better policing? No o. Pray everyday before you sleep for God’s protection. I go on and on. Large amount of students failing WAEC? Demand reform of educational system? Nope. Pray for your son or daughter to pass WAEC and damn the rest of the country to failure. You know if you are Nigerian, you have that friends that is always preaching to you and forming born again but does the meanest things. I m a fan of prayer, don’t get me wrong. I even prayed this morning. I just firmly believe it is God’s will that we take action to impact our destinies. We cant continue to sit around and wait for God to come down and save our country, we have to take the country by the horns. After all, I think the Bible Says God help those who help themselves.

What say you? Would Nigeria benefit from a more practical and less religious sentiment-based population? Enjoy the 3 videos below.

R.E.M. – Losing my religion

2face – U no Holy Pass

Shaggy – Church Heathen


14 thoughts on “Nigerian Religiousity: Why Nigeria cant be a Godless Society

    iamsamsie said:
    August 22, 2011 at 9:19 am

    There’s a new blog somewhere
    I will read this later…
    I’m wondering if this religion thing is a Sunday rebound Sunday got us thinking

      Sir Fariku responded:
      August 22, 2011 at 10:15 am

      Yea, it was related to sunday and just thinking about how people fixate on religion and forget life’s real solvable problems.

    MsLuffa said:
    August 22, 2011 at 9:57 am

    interesting read. I’m not sure if some of your comments were serious or tongue in cheek, but it was definitely interesting.

    ‘heaven helps those who help themselves’ lol… I’ve heard this saying thrown around at attributed to the Bible, it’s definitely a well know africanism, but it’s actually not in the Bible. Google it, or better yet, do a word/phrase search on an online Bible – you won’t see it.

    Politically speaking – sounds like the president, used propaganda effectively to win votes. At the end of the day, what’s the point of an election campaign, if not to tell the people what they need to hear to secure their votes. If the metaphors and unsubstantial promises could work for Obama, why not Goodluck – the saying about being fooled once or twice comes to mind. Next round of elections for both Obama and Goodluck will prove how wise or foolish the people are – no?

    I find that there’s a massive difference between being religious and being Christian. Likewise there’s a difference between calling yourself a christian, muslim, hindu etc, to actually being one. As the Bible does say, only the Lord knows who are his… for me, that’s enough. You can wear you faith on your forehead like a badge, but if your actions and your heart say otherwise – it’s between you and your God.

      Sir Fariku responded:
      August 22, 2011 at 10:23 am

      Can I claim to be serious while being tongue in cheek? Cos i think it was a little bit of both. I really wish Heaven helps those who helps themselves was in the bible because it is one of the most sensible sayings I have ever heard. Of course winning elections with sentiments isnt wrong on the part of the President, I m more concerned about what it says about our people if I can throw religious sentiments at them and have them under my control.

      You are right, there is a difference between being religious and being a Christian. I think actions speak volumes as to who you truly are. Maybe its me but I feel Nigerians wear their faith on their forehead and announce and prob others to follow their faith while acting like “heathens”. I daresay “heathens” have better principles than some of us.

    taiofierce said:
    August 22, 2011 at 10:19 am

    Well, considering that religion (christianity and islam) doesn’t preach gullibilty, I would say that Nigerians are just being extremist with the religion ish! Speaking from a christian POV, people that believe that every person that comes up and says he was sent by God are just people with brain damage issues.
    So back to the question of whether we need a more or less religious country, I would say that we need the religious state of the country to remain as it is, have u imagined the state of confusion the country would be in without religion, that’s even what is curbing crime rate I tell you! What we need is just for Nigerians to stop being gullible and believing everything people say, they should use their God given brains and as you quoted, ‘Heaven helps those who help themselves’.

      MsLuffa said:
      August 22, 2011 at 11:56 am

      i think heave helps those who help themselves, is not really true – otherwise what’s the point of heaven if you can help yourself? But then that takes us into a discussion on faith and inactivity which is totally off point.

      On the issue of whether we need a more or less religious country – i think it’s better if people are less religious and more true to their faith. Sir Fariku you’re right, some heathen are better behaved, but i think it depends to what extent and in what regards. I’m with you on the point that, some heathen live by better moral standards, than religious people – and that’s the thing, religion means diddly squat. You’re just acting, when it boils down to it, purely religious people are a more dangerous breed of heathen (can i say that? probably sounds harsher than i mean it to – but hey)

        Sir Fariku responded:
        August 23, 2011 at 7:31 am

        “Purely Religious people are a more dangerous breed of heathen” True. From a Christian point of view, Christ did not like purely religious people aka The Pharisees.

        “What’s the point of heaven if you can help yourself”. I m a firm believer that if God wanted us to idle around he won’t have given us brains to help us do some things. God works through man.

      Sir Fariku responded:
      August 23, 2011 at 7:26 am

      Lol @ islam and christianity don’t teach gullibility. True. I think the gullibility comes from a lack of education or a presence of education but failure to think objectively once God is mentioned. If you think about it sha, this whole Boko Haram mess won’t happen if we were a little bit less religious and more God fearing.

    Ayo Sagoe said:
    August 22, 2011 at 3:15 pm

    We Nigerians have this deeply entrenched way of putting our responsibilities in the hands of other people. Letting the government or most times God be responsible for our actions or the lack of it. Sad really

    TheRustGeek said:
    August 22, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    Interesting read..
    As @MsLuffa points out there is a difference between being religious and being Christian. The thing though is that to those of us on the outside, the distinction is transparent. We necessarily have to take people at face value and accept them as being adherents of whatever faith they profess, even though in reality they merely pay lip service to it.

    Totally agree that we need to take action to change things, not sit around waiting for things to change by themselves. I think prayer (to a higher power) and demanding what are our rights on earth are not an either-or proposition, but are different tools in the tool box of the adherent. At the core of the Christian worldview – as I understand it – is a belief in the sovereignty of God, and His ultimate control over everything. Prayer as part of a coherent worldview allows the adherent come to terms with things they can’t change, and to make sense of things that don’t make sense.

    This does not detract from the Christian’s responsibility to demand – and take active steps to ensure – social justice in all its ramifications. I seem to remember peppered all over Proverbs, various exhortations to defend the rights of the needy and speak up for those who have no voice. William Wilberforce, Martin Luther KIng Jnr and quite a few others drew their inspiration to demand social justice from the Bible, so I wouldn’t necessarily agree that Nigeria’s problem is religion per se. I just think that at the core of our culture is an extreme respect for people in authority, which leaves us wide open when those people decide to use their authority (religious or otherwise) for their own ends.

      Sir Fariku responded:
      August 23, 2011 at 7:34 am

      True, I think the extreme respect for people in authority is actually more of the factor. Although I think religion was a tool of colonialism and it has continued to be used by those in authority to subdue the masses.

      Sent from my BlackBerry® wireless handheld from Glo Mobile.

    Ikebros said:
    August 23, 2011 at 1:45 am

    I think that believing in a higher power in general to take action for us is a mistake. We lose the inner potential that we have, and expect stuff to sort itself out. I just hope we learn to understand that our collective destinies are in our hands…and start taking needed steps. Think about it. If we should trust in a higher power alone, then why should one do anything at all? One doesn’t sit at home and expect to magically earn a living…? Thesame principle applies to everything you do. Wish people would think these things through objectively…anyway…they say there are no atheists in a battle trench abi?…in naijas case I think the nations condition is propagating even more religious fervor.

      Sir Fariku responded:
      August 23, 2011 at 7:36 am

      indeed, the nation’s case has propagated a more religious fervor. When one feels helpless and feels he can’t do anything, you turn to religion.

    Iron said:
    January 30, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Religion is rather the doom of Nigerians…!

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