The Poisoned Chalice (2)

by Sam Abbd Israel

Therefore, there is no reason why we should not subject any book to the light of argument and popular review. There is no reason why any one with a sound mind should accept any book in its entirety even when there are passages within such ‘holy book’ that shock the mind, numb the sense of human civility and are capable of jeopardising peaceful coexistence among humanity. There is no reason why humanity should not undertake a critical review of such passages that denigrate humanity in the light of human progress in ideas and knowledge. There is no reason why any book should blackmail or railroad humanity to abide by archaic culture that enlightenment and intellectual development has shown to be short of wisdom. There is no reason why humanity should deny itself the use of common sense in deciphering knotty questions on life and doubtful statements, even on those subjects in the holy books that believers claim are authentic words of God. Personally, this writer believes the elaborate sense organs giving to humanity by the creator are wonderful gifts. If used correctly, as designed, they would ensure that the variety of humankinds, working together as partners in the journey of life, can successfully tame the earth and all that are within it for the pleasure of humanity and for the glory of the creator. Hence, the practices and traditions that divide humanity on the basis of membership of a particular religious belief is detrimental to global, national and communal peace and to the ultimate emancipation of humanity from the Hobbessian’s State of Nature.

For any group of people under any disguise to premeditate on the possibility of committing murder and to actually carry out the cold-blooded slaughtering of their kinds, these acts are convincing testimonies that such people are still living in a state of nature. Unfortunately, the whole world is in the state of nature. The base global political philosophy that encourages wars within and between nations; that promotes the production of dangerous weapons of mass destruction even in the so-called civilized nations; that inducts the youth into a war culture through computer games, films, sports and toys; and that institutes the administration of state’s resources in such a way that the bulk of national budget is set aside for war and defence are veritable testimonies that such societies are still in a state of nature regardless of their proclaimed stage of civilization. In spite of the sophistication of weapons of war and the strategic planning in civilized societies compared to what was available to the Kaduna mobs, the objective and the result still boil down to the same thing. It is to take the life of another human being in order to secure economic and political power over our neighbours’ lands and lives. No matter in what philosophical dressings the nation states or the power mongers of the world present their war efforts, it is still a sordid dehumanising affair.

However, we deplore the hypocritical commiseration of the practitioners of other arms of religious bodies that seem to be claiming superior moral advantage over the perpetrators of Kaduna episode. The history of the three popular religious bodies does not give any of them such moral advantage. We would like to mention that nothing happened in Kaduna that has not featured in the recorded history of the three religions that emanated from the Middle East. That Judaism and Christianity have reformed is not thanks to the fundamental practitioners but to those so-called apostates, heretics and nonconformist within and outside the religious body that committed their lives to the search for truth and the dissemination of truth despite the disastrous consequences they knew it would cause to their lives. It is under this fact of history that Nigerians should analyse the pathetic episode of Kaduna. On our part, we would like to encourage the enlightened practitioners of Islam not to relent in their effort of reforming those cultures of Islam that offend human sensibilities and global harmony. We would like every Nigerian to understand that if any of us suspends his/her common sense for the sake of a religious or political belief, we are capable of performing the same acts as we saw in Kaduna.

The feudal lords and the religious leaders understand this philosophy perfectly well. As long as religious followers submit to the training of suspending the use of commonsense even for common day-to-day affairs in the belief that if they do they would offend God, then every religious practitioner is capable of executing the type of mayhem that occurred in Kaduna. All that you need is a fiery smooth-talking preacher to cast a hypnotic spell on the listeners. In one accord, the religious practitioners will respond just as the poor souls in Kaduna and Abuja did. Let us understand these phenomena for what they are. They are not of noble religious affairs that aim at awakening and liberating souls but of crafty manipulation of the ignorant people by those that have more to gain by keeping the political power of their territories under their armpits.

According to the history of Nigeria, we cannot fail to indict the 1914 colonial administration of Frederick Lugard for establishing the foundation that keeps producing bigots and supremacists in Nigeria. The fruits we are harvesting today and that brewed the poisoned chalice came from the trees of hate planted in Nigeria by Lugard and his crop of colonial civil servants. It was his singular pragmatic idea that the northern colonial administration should protect the north from western education and should shield ‘the stock’ of a unique African feudal administration from contamination by other cultures. It was under this illusory political idea, purposely designed to ensure a successful divide and rule administration, that he planted the seeds of a uniquely African apartheid politics in Nigeria. The trees have grown and the fruits have ripened. Unfortunately, the wines from these fruits are bitter, sour and poisonous and the planter has since long gone. Now, the challenge facing the innocent indigenous people of the land is to find a creative way to cut down these deadly trees of apartheid before they poisoned and killed us all. In addition, as we uproot these dangerous trees for a great bonfire, we would like to call on those Nigerians already redeemed by truth and knowledge to begin in earnest to sow and plant new seeds of love into the minds of fellow Nigerians. Unless we can do this successfully, Nigerians should forget about peace, unity, progress, social and economic development and prosperity.

In The Spirit of Truth

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