Africa and the Pestilence of Imported Gods

by Onyemaechi Ogbunwezeh

1. Libation to Foreign gods

A society that imports her gods, has offered to live under the caprice of foreign pestilences. She has mortgaged her destiny to the insular enclaves of alien theologies. Her doctrines and dogma are overthrown by derivatives of alien thought patterns, rendered canonical by capricious and absentee conclaves. In such a theatre, foreign metaphysics rises to displace local values. Irreverent incoherence isolates and devastates local cosmologies. Local mores are alienated to make way for the import to march to supremacy. Such is the trajectory of the contact between an occupying power and native reality. This inheres in the fact that conquering powers are also epistemic imperialisms. For every conquest to be total, it must principally devastate the mental universe of the conquered; making it an ideological no-man’s land or tabula rasa, upon which the conqueror and its agents proceed to rewrite or rewire the conceptual genetic blueprint of the conquered, to suit the designs of empire. This is why every imperialism battles to dethrone local conceptual schemes, usurp the role of local values in the lives of the conquered; lording it over local pedestals of meaning and theories of value, with all the inquisitorial decisiveness and totalitarian recklessness that has underwritten every enterprise of imperialism.

If not, how can a society commission its own collapse? How can a society hand over its head on a platter to a conqueror because he asked for it? How can a people yield their gods to be decapitated or burnt at the conqueror’s fires simply because the conqueror just showed up, knocked on the door and politely asked for that? No society commissions its own self-destruction. Any society that ever collapsed succumbed to some force or pressure. Those societies were conquered; either from within or from without. They bow to the onslaught of one or more complex set of factors. Most of them succumbed either to the conquest of invincible ignorance; the arrogant over, or underestimation of its capabilities and chances in the face of novel threats; or the overwhelming firepower of conquerors guns, germs, treachery, or steel as Professor Jared Diamond tried to articulate.

By conquering the native epistemic authority, the conqueror secures either their timid acquiescence in the face of their exploitation, or the collaboration of their ignorance in their own destruction. To that end, whenever imperialism makes a landfall, it shocks and awes local sensibilities with the crude violence it advertises, the superlative savagery it consults, and the ruthless perfidy it deploys. It massacres opposition into submission. Treachery is the software of its transactions in such instances. The ruthlessness of the violence shocks the recipients into psychological immobility. It knocks their resistance cold. They are frozen in awe of the new phenomenon. It assaults the citadels of local meaning. It rapes local epistemologies, which have no response to this onslaught. It mocks the local deities which neither anticipated such catastrophes, nor have responses to them. This creates a social psycho-trauma that packs the destructive equivalent of Giga-tons of Hiroshima-grade nuclear explosion. Many societies cannot but succumb to this ruthless force or risk instant extinction. At this, the conquering power then gains a foothold. With this foothold, the conquered society is then ‘invited’ to cannibalise itself; pressurized into participation in its own funeral; or genetically re-engineered into convoking its own self destruction by instalments.

One major reservoir of a culture’s epistemic authority is its language. And a culture is conquered when the conqueror succeeds in imposing its own language as the vehicle of meaning upon the conquered. At this, the accreted putrescence of other climes rides roughshod infecting native conceptual flora; engendering some toxic erosion of local meaning and significance. It is just a matter of time before such societies end up importing every other thing; from the pseudo-sublime to the most ridiculous rejects of the conqueror. This is a normal trajectory. Since such a society has ‘chosen’ the pontificating pronunciations of foreign epistemologies to interpret her values for her, she has offered to see reality from the eyes of her conquerors. Everything the conqueror canonizes, even if that piece of shit does not speak to local realities; one usually sees the conquered falling over themselves to incarnate it in their lives, and re-echo it in their circumstances. There have been cases were the conquered even began loving their conqueror’s in a Stockholm syndrome gone awry. Such slaveries are total. They last forever. Liberation from such chains is almost impossible. This is because the conquest of a society’s epistemology means a total control of its perceptual faculties, value system, and sources of psycho-social legitimacy. Whatever would compel a society to exile its own gods and assume that of its conquerors; keep silence at its own plunder; participate in its decimation; help its own cannibalisation and finance its own funeral; must engender some tsunamic bout of self-destruction, before it can succeed. Ndiigbo of Southern Nigeria has it that whatever can out-bite a dog has got quite some teeth.

Whenever or wherever this is achieved, local gods are then coaxed to speak in foreign tongues. Alien ceremonies are convoked on hills where local ancestors, once poured libations to the memory of their forebears. Communion wafers are eaten in temples built upon the demolished shrines of our spirits; where our ancestors celebrated their kolanuts in commensality and brotherhood, with the gods of our land in attendance. Wines pressed off European grapes solemnly displace the nourishing and ritual potencies of the fruits of our palms. As temperate wines displaced tropical gins, our Earth Mother was denied her due libations. Not only that we could not offer sacrifices to our ancestors due to the indisposition of our chained spirits, the imported deities and their armed convoy of mercenaries, in time, rose to criminalize even our thinking about the august memory of our forebears. We were forbidden even to sit down by our own tropical equivalents of the Rivers of Babylon to weep over our lost innocence. There was no funeral to propitiate our pain. We were not even allowed the luxury of mourning. We are even compelled to forget our mother-tongues, without our tongues cleaving to the roofs of our mouth. The earth housing our umbilical cords in its bosom was desecrated. The buccaneers conscripted by foreign realms mocked us as the guardians of our land lay in their conquered state. Our earth was cosmic in her anger. She craved libation to appease her. Since the conquerors could not bring themselves to offer Her ‘Nkwu enu’*, they resorted to water-boarding her with the blood of her sons and daughters as an abominable libation, which she tearfully swallows; not to nourish herself, but to deny abomination a place in the sun, and spare the elements the pain of that desecration.

Africa is now a society of imported gods!!!!

This explains not only the massive violence with which foreign gods implanted their feet on our firmament; and with which they sustain their precarious hold on the minds and bodies of our people, but also the ease with which we tend to all things foreign as if to say that foreign is synonymous with good.

The soul of the African is now a battlefield for competing epistemologies; a casino for the rogue gambling of foreign nonsense. And we are paying for it in the blood of our people, massacred at the altars of rogue ideologies, to assuage the tenets of foreign dogmas. We are paying for it in the heritage of cognitive dissonance and inferiority complex that dog our individual and collective existence. We are equally paying for it in the destruction of millennium old heritages of our culture and civiliza

tion. We are also paying for it in the proliferation of various dysfunctional ideologies, arising out of the crosspollination of various tenets of defunct cultures, which we grant relevance in our lives, and which has continued to weigh down our march to true independence. We are paying for it in the eternal disharmony between our realities and the foreign ideas we profess as valid, even in a continent where many of them will never gain relevance due to the toxicity of these species to the local soil.

This recurring decimal of violence plaguing the relationship between various imported dogmas all over Africa is testament to the fact that the pantheons of our ancestors have been demolished. Our gods were forced into exiles. The deities that sanctioned our consanguinity seemed to have been conquered by the same forces that conquered our lands. We became estranged from our roots, and our most intimate acquaintances. Our brothers in this new conceptual scheme metamorphosed into games for our sport; commodities for our exploitation; and enemies to be massacred at will, because they fly the banners of a dissimilar, imported ideology. The Christian-Muslim conflict that paralyzed Jos, Plateau State a few days ago; and many other such explosions in other parts of Africa, are simply footnotes in this long history of violence that Africans were conscripted to inflict on each other, on behalf of foreign doctrines.

2. Egbe eburu Mbe!! (The Kite has Devoured the Tortoise)

The hawk can devour the chicken for breakfast. Nature ordains that. But nature must have definitely gone rogue, for a kite, instead of grabbing a chick for its meal, carries off the tortoise. It is symptomatic of uwa mmebi-nature gone rogue! The natural equilibrium of things is disrupted when nature goes rogue. The elements are not in harmony anymore. They run haywire. The gods are angry. The things that were not normal, graduate to daily occurrence. It is in contexts like this that abominations become tradition.

As Africa fell apart at the advancing pestilence of Arabian and European colonial incursions, African gods were sacked and exiled from their abodes. Some of them are now resting as lifeless relics of a primitive past in some European Museum. Our ancestors and living Deads were forced into secretly drinking libations of imported whisky, in cases where they are lucky to get some. In most cases, they were banished to drinking from whichever corrupted stream they could lay their tongues on, or risk an existence characterized by dry throats.

They had no choice since our good old palmwine was dismissed by foreign forces as an instrument of paganism. In this melee, the Ikenga was thrown overboard. Many of them were abandoned, broken, and supplanted with foreign statues, in homesteads, where they held sway before the pestilence. They were broken by their sons, at the nudging of visitors they welcomed with open arms. Insults were heaped upon injuries as their sons became intimate bed mates of the conquering ideologies. To that end, they took to hovering around their former homesteads as strangers would. They were forced into doing the round of Ofekes. Their sons and daughters abandoned them for the Whiteman’s religion. Our feasts and festivals were abandoned as the hangovers of primitive infancy. Our chants and incantations were labelled pagan. Our shrines were left unkempt and allowed to be run over by wild bushes. There was no one in attendance any more at our shrines, groves, and feasts. The Eze muo(s) and Ezeulu(s) were abandoned by the people. The sons of the Eze muo(s) and Ezeulu (s) entered seminaries to become catholic priests. That compromised the future of the Eze muo tradition. Our sacred forests which testified to the ecological foresight of our ancestors lost the battle for relevance to the bugs of bulldozing greed, which preferred concrete blocks to an integral environment. Soil erosion, floods and hitherto unknown climatic phenomenon, all rose to attack our ecological apostasy. We chose the conqueror’s system of government, although it never spoke to our reality. We adopted it although it was fundamentally ignorant of our history. And we practise and are still clinging to it, although it has corrupted our will, destroyed our land and bequeathed us a legacy of mal-development. It was the supreme apostasy. In the fullness of time, we all rose in unison to genuflect subserviently and bow our heads at the altars of foreign gods.

Europe and Arabia conquered not only African lands. They seemed to have conquered the wisdom of our “Chi”** as well; bequeathing us the bloodthirsty fooleries accumulated by these religions in the course of their various histories. Instead of African deities like Agbala*** inhabiting our caves to guard our lands, we were mentally re-engineered into rejecting and displacing Agbala and her ilk, with the tenets of some borrowed faiths. We even captured the potent symbols of our deities and sold them to the Whiteman. Instead of our sacred forests and shrines, our deities are now displayed naked, to be mocked and admired by the uncircumcised eyes of foreigners, in profane exhibitions at the British Museum or the Vatican archives. Deities like ‘Ikenga’ that bade us purchase our manhood with the currency of honourable deeds, were overthrown by irrationalities like the suicidal cowardice that seeks sex in a paradise of 72 virgins, when we must have finished killing off all those who disagree with the irrationalities we peddle as religion in Allah’s name.

Be that as it may, contemporary events have shown that Africa bowed to the power emanating from the conquerors guns, and not to the logic of their theologies. Till date, no one has been able to convince Okonkwo and the host of other elders gathered in the village square on that day pictured in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, of the illogicality of the story that God could have a son without a mother. That and many other such dogmas remain constructively illogical to us is never in doubt. But we are asked to believe and propagate them, because they are dogmas! –namely: some truths revealed by God, but transcending human comprehension. Remember, they are still trying to explain it to us. I wonder how a reasonable person would spend his time trying to explain what purportedly transcends human understanding to us. Has he understood it? If yes, what does that make of the “transcending human understanding part”?


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CHINONSO UDEOGU February 27, 2019 - 2:32 am

This is really an epic write up on the effect foreign religions has had on our way of seeing life and expelling our own “Chi”

Reply February 8, 2017 - 9:29 am

Very captivating….but I feel we are our own unmaking…

Niki June 9, 2011 - 6:20 pm

I find this writer’s works to be absolutely awesome, very captivating and insightful. As an academic with various degrees, upon discovery of his writing I was totally floored. What a brilliant mind he is? I have never read anything more interesting. His grasp of grammar is unparalleled, intuitive and highly intoxicating.

fabian April 20, 2010 - 8:52 pm

sir send me your email


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