Did you know that every Nigerian ruler, military or civilian, since 1914 have been, or have claimed to be a devout Muslim or Christian? No agnostics or atheists amongst them. Consider also that all the wars mankind has engaged in in the last one hundred years or so have been waged or declared by Christians and Muslims. No atheist or agnostic amongst them. So, being an agnostics or atheist is a very good thing.
Something else: I consider anyone who claims to hear the voice of God a mentalo. Anyone can claim to hear the voice of God or see vision if the right amount of LSD or methamphetamine is taken — at least so I thought until my conversion and rendezvous with the Holy Spirit. My acceptance and conversion came gradually; but first a brief yarn.
I was an agnostic, and later an atheist. My lack of religious belief drove some of my friends and family to the brink of disowning me. They just couldn’t fathom how a nice and extraordinary fellow like me ended up disavowing the Supreme Being. They wanted me to return to their born-again camp, or at least be something, anything — be it Christian-By-Name, Muslim, Buddhist, or Hindu or whatever.
They just wanted me to be closer to God. The feared that I might burn in hell when I die. But really, they’d prefer I be a born-again with a license to paradise. Somewhere along the line, I had toyed with the idea of being a Muslim if I ever return to religion. The Islamic faith was simpler and easier to follow. But you see, I am an Ijaw man; and the idea of an Ijaw chap being a Muslim was just too slippery for me to swallow.
When I remembered all the jokes about my Igbo brothers, I quickly knocked the idea off of my head. Weren’t the Igbo supposed to be Catholics or something? I didn’t want anyone thinking I became a Muslim just for the economic and political gains.
Besides, it would have been a double whammy for me to be a Muslim and an Ijaw living in the United States. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to handle the evil-eye of immigration and law enforcement officials quizzing me at the US borders or during traffic stops. Some people already think I am a member of MEND. Can you imagine being a Muslim and a MEND?
I like the Bible. Anybody can quote from the Bible. Whether you are a correct or fake pastor, a thief, a swindler, a dream peddler or whatever, it doesn’t matter. There is a place for you in the Holy Book. The Bible can validate anybody and any belief. I have always considered the Bible a history book and a text full of mythology and life’s lessons.
All the major religions of the world have some sort of reference text, but not so for Africans. If our forefathers were into the art of writing, they too would have written their own sacred laws and sacred scriptures; they too would have bequeathed the world several covenants. May be they did but all their endeavors got destroyed by the invaders.
Have you ever wondered why the African religion didn’t gain ground in other parts of the world (except in Cuba and Brazil)? There are several reasons, but one being that we do not proselytize. Additionally, if our forefathers were expansionists and adventurers, and were as cunning and duplicitous as the White man, perhaps, they too would have traveled across the oceans to forcefully or gently induce others to take up Ogun and Ifa and Egbesu.
In any case, here I was at the Church after several debates and argument and arm-twisting and inducements. I went to Church because I was told I had to (1) confess my sins; (2) renounce my old jibiti ways (3) accept Jesus Christ as my personal savior; (3) live a Christ-like life; and (4) preach the word of God to all souls in all lands. These four-steps, I was told, would lead me back to a life of bliss and righteousness; and when I die, would guarantee my place in heaven singing and praising the Lord.
I was curious about heaven, so I asked: “would there be forty virgins waiting for me?” The pastor looked at me, smiled, and smiled some more. When he was done, he asked: “What would you need virgins for?” At that point I reflexively touched my zipper.
There is something about the confessional that reminded of the whorehouses I visited a long time ago. Oh, that’s another story. But here I was about to confess my sins. I wasn’t sure where to begin. Should I make it brief or convoluted? How far back should I go? At 69 and with the type of life I have lived?
Well, I had a lot to talk about and confess to. The four-steps to salvation were not as easy as I was made to believe. I was about to walk out when I had a vision, an apparition, a revelation. I stayed and began my confession. I told of all the bad bad bad things I did to all the bad bad bad people.
Three hours into my verbal journey, the priest interrupted and said he sensed no remorse in my tone and body language. He asked that I return the following week. Well, I went home, and then continued with the bad bad things.