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