5. Signature of Epistemic Pathology
I was aroused to consider our experience with our imported ghosts due to what has become a consistent festival of socio-cultural disharmony in the interaction between local realities and the constructs we inherited from elsewhere in the recent past. We can confidently say that Africa is now at a great crossroads. Our imported constructs have refused to mix well with our local realities and experience. Imported experiences have continued to settle like oil atop the waters of our indigenous reality and social experience. They have not mixed well. The cognitive dissonance engendered by this situation on the sources of our social legitimacy and epistemic authorities in Africa have been very grave.
Very clear instances of this could be seen in almost all facets of our lives. It could be seen in the way we practice our borrowed faiths; the way we practice our borrowed democracy; the way we practice our borrowed ways of life. The Christian religion for instance, enjoys patronage on Sundays and attracts huge followership, at least nominally across our land. But the Babalawos; the Ezemuo(s); the guardians of our abandoned gods, equally enjoy a business boom. The two pedestals are supposed to be mutually exclusive. But in Africa, one does not exclude the other. We mix the worst tenets and dimensions of them together and the dissonance continues. Another proof of this chaotic and toxic brew emanating from the mixture of these two worlds can be seen in the life of a typical Nigerian car owner or the average driver on the Nigerian road. Many drivers sitting behind the wheels of many cars in Nigeria on any given day never had any formal driving school experience. Many of them don’t even know how to drive, except moving a car from A to B; whatever happens in-between is not their business. Yet, their first port of call on buying a car, is not to the driving school to get some driving lessons, but to pastors, priests and other henchmen and women of God or Satan as their inclinations dictate, to have the vehicles blessed, or evils cast and bound off the cars, so that they would always arrive at their destinations safely, even though they don’t know how to drive.
If we accuse the conquerors of conceptually colonizing us, what do we make of the consistent attempts of our compatriots to massacre meaning at the altars of ignorance? What do we make of those whose delight is in imposing ignorance upon the gullible? In which category should we classify those, who canonize the irrationality of their private neuroses, as pious declarations of the Christian faith? If you think this is a metaphor, then you have not encountered the average Nigerian pastor of a “mushroom church”. They have names like Helen Ukpabio, Emeka Ezeugo King. These guys are traders and marketers of mass ignorance. Many catholic and Anglican priests have become vanguards of this charlatanism. Some of them have tapped into this huge reservoir of superstition that the African mind is susceptible to; to wreck inestimable havoc on our posterity.
The greatest crime that these insanities on religious steroids are committing is labeling our children as witches. In the Cross Rivers region of Nigeria, one crazed psychotic declared that we have over 400,000 witches and wizards in Akwa Ibom State. These charlatans commission a heartless assault on childhood. They market sorcery and stigmatize our posterity as witches, thereby handing their ignorant relatives the blank cheque to murder innocence.
Europe hunted women and children down for centuries as witches. Humanity wallowed in this dark recidivist grotto until renaissance came with its enlightenments. We realized the superstitious base of such exorbitant ignorance dressed in the exquisite robes of false spirituality. Before that, millions of men, women, and children have been massacred. Today, these religious henchmen and henchwomen; ignorant scoundrels who are allergic to common sense and the lessons of history, have created a religious abattoir where the psychosocial well being of Nigerian childhood is slaughtered. With this Awka Ibom State in Nigeria, and every other such places on our continent have nominated themselves the cemeteries of childhood.
These are signatures of some deep, epistemic pathology that inspires behaviour and action across a broad spectrum of the African population. This is rightly identified because every religion or ideology comes armed with an epistemology. Every imported god comes with its own baggage. Why wouldn’t that be the case, when even the most materialistic expression of empiricism is capable of constructing a metaphysics. This is very simple to see in the daily lives of African societies of contemporary times, as our example above shows. But suffice it to say that such arrant importations of foreign gods, to wear the garbs of our abandoned gods, never bid us refine our iniquitous propensities. History has shown that it rather seems to brew a toxic mix of superstition superimposed and hawked upon a veneer of sciento-technical rationality at best. Or at worst, it essays to displace local value system totally, and imbue the adherents of the new gods with such an epistemic arrogance of absolute proportions; a dogmatic bigotry that is superlatively impervious and allergic to reason; a murderous hatred of contrary viewpoints; and an impulsive readiness to murder opponents on their gods’ behalf. In such contexts, we are not urged to change our cannibalisms, but are better equipped with new conceptual tools to elevate them an ontological notch higher. We are now better equipped to commit our cannibalisms with cutleries instead of the good old fingers. Instead of committing murders in petty forms, we now commit mass murders with better weapons, and better PR managers to ensure an invite for peace talks from the UN.
The list runs through the roof.
The only difference between our old situation and our new status is that we are now armed with a more refined repertoire of hypocrisy to deploy with a clear conscience, whenever we are sinning to our hearts’ content. We are now predisposed to consult these dispositions that are at variance with reason; while advertising our creeds as peaceful. And we do this most solemnly, with the most convulsive and the most obscene version of hypocrisy that is accessible to human stupidity.
This explains why a Christian would steal, rape, plunder lands, exploit peoples, abuse children, and barbecue opponents in bonfires; all in Jesus name. It also underwrites many a Muslim, murdering opponents of his faith while screaming Allahu Alkbar. It confects a justification for many a Jewish agent, putting a bullet in the head of an enemy of Israel while chanting the Shamma Yisrael. This equally explains why religious history has been a pornography of bloodletting. Muslims and Christians have been slaughtering each other and other lesser mortals in their vicinity since both religious attained power and institutionalisation. With hindsight we can say that Achebe’s Okonkwo was right in fighting the marauding bearers of foreign gods that invaded his land. These imported gods seem most times incapable of exorcising us of our worst natures. As many an Islamic terrorist dreamt of sex orgies involving 72 virgins in a paradise, where I doubt they would have need for their penises; as reward for blowing off the heads of innocent men, women and children; Mahatma Ghandi was forced by Christian behaviour into confessing his love of Christ, but disdain of Christians, since his observations taught him that being Christian seems to mean being unlike Christ in all things.
If the cryptic desire to express their repressed sexualities in a heaven of 72 virgins is their only motivation for murder, these guys would have long revised their pretensions. Swing clubs are everywhere on earth to cater to their repressed neurosis. Prostitution happens to be the oldest vocation in hist
ory. They knew that they need not murder to gain admittance to a heavenly swing club. Some few dollars or Euros could buy one that pleasure here on earth. But that is not the only motivation. Foreign gods have a knack for blood also.
6. Foreign Gods also Drink Blood!
Truth is reality staring at us in its nakedness. She stands on the integrity of her own majesty. Truth needs no violence to peddle her. The audacity of truth is unbearable to false hearts. That is why truth calls for courage to express her. But she needs neither armies nor warriors to peddle or defend her. Inversely, truth requires extraordinary violence to suppress her. But falsehood requires force and the arms of might to peddle her unto acceptance. The unreasonableness of an idea is most times directly proportional to the violence it requires for its defense. This is to say that the more unreasonable an idea is, the more violence it requires to peddle it.
This explains why gods of crooked religions drink blood, lots of it!!!
Thousands of Africans have been slaughtered; offered as unwilling holocausts at the bloodthirsty altars of imported gods. More Nigerians have been killed in the conflict between Christians and Muslims in recent times, than any other singular factor. Every religion sacralizes blood, both actually and metaphorically. But religions with Abrahamic roots seem to be in love with blood.
Not that the same could not be said of many other religions, but its Abrahamic manifestation underwrote and has had more influence in the history of the major imperial enterprises in history, whose heritage we have been forced to share. The Bible; a resource drawn upon by Jews, Christians, and Muslim was a documented odyssey in bloodletting, culminating in the Christian God taking his son to the Mountains of Skull to have him villainously executed, for what Christians construe as a cosmic redemption of mankind. Although this has been another strain of the perennially recycled myth, which can be traced back to the ancient Egyptian god Horus, Jesus the Christ went a step further to elevate love of neighbour, forgiveness, and turning the other cheek, as the centrepieces of his faith. But Christian history has been anything but about turning the other cheek or love of neighbour.
Prior to that drama at Golgotha, Abraham, the father claimed by Jews, Christians and Muslims as the Patriarch of their faiths; in a brutal renunciation of all the natural affiliations commanded by consanguinity, took his son Isaac; his only son, to the plains of Moriah; just like Okonkwo of Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, did the son of his house, Ikemefuna; and there to murder this son of his loins, who calls him father. All because his God decreed it!!!
This may have been where Christians and Muslims of Jos Plateau State borrowed their ideology, of pouring libations with the blood of their fellows, at the altars of these imported gods. If my God who is an absolute value for me, could ask me to renounce my nature; relieve myself of responsibilities of the most intimate bonds of relationship imposed on me by consanguinity; and murder my child for the sake of paradise or to prove my faith; then there are no more restraints holding me back from massacring my neighbour with reckless abandon in the name of my faith or paradise; no matter how neurotic that sounds to rational sensibilities.
Where African gods made do with the bloods of chickens and goats, the imported Deities demand our hearts, our wallets and our blood. Since Islam and Christianity came to Africa, we have witnessed the good, the bad and the ugly. The good have been many. But the bad have been many as well. On the bad side of the ledger, we have been converted into an extended theatre of nihilistic savagery that has characterized the history of both religions from the Middle East through Europe and Arabia respectively. Nigeria for instance, has become the new frontier in the war of one religious ideology over the other.
On the Christian side, we inherited a Christianity armed with over six centuries of experience in murdering its opponents, repression of opposition, epistemic tyranny, crusading, fighting for pieces of choice real estates and getting empires and kings to do their killings for them; spying and torture. It was a Christianity compromised by its schisms and political splits between Anglicanism and Catholicism and their various splinter pockets. This history is equally one, which saw Protestant England and Catholic Northern Ireland murdering each other for God and country over the course of centuries, even to the thresholds of contemporary times. Europe was Christian during the longest period of the celebration of savagery, ever seen by human history known as the 30 year war. It was the Christian Church that bequeathed history the abomination of the Inquisition. Islam is not any better. Islam came with a twelve century old heritage of murder and massacre of those the Koran identified as infidels. Islamic jihads killed millions over 12 centuries.
The cycle of violence at the instance of religion in Africa has been so nauseating that it seems, that every African should now abandon these foreign gods and go back to the gods and goddesses of our fathers. Our fathers’ gods were not gods with imperial pretensions. They had no room in their various Theodicies for categorization of peoples into infidels and believers. Freedom of thought and conscience is the hallmark of their various amphitheatres. They are potent gods that fought for themselves. They never needed the arms of flesh to fight their causes. Yet they were deemed powerless. But they were wiser than the Christian and Islamic gods, who required their followers to fight for them. African gods were thunderous whenever they rise to do battle with their adversaries. They wipe out the families and homesteads of those who committed abomination. They don’t have a problem with those who disagree with them. The pantheons of African gods are democratic and never imperial. That explains why an African can worship so many gods at the same time, without any of them being jealous of the size of sacrificial piece of meat the other one gets. But since Africans embraced the religion of the one who called himself a jealous God; they have been at the forefront of being so murderously jealous on their god’s behalf and murdering their brothers pursuant to that insanity.