The Poisoned Chalice

by Sam Abbd Israel

The last few weeks have raised the political temperature of Nigeria to a very dangerous level. The aborted hosting by Nigeria of the Miss World Pageant caused by heinous mob actions in Kaduna and Abuja succeeded once again in bringing to the fore the ever-simmering culture of hate among the peoples of Nigeria. Every Nigerian that possesses a writing skill put out a position paper or comments as he/she saw the situation. We shall not rehash the various points that concerned Nigerians from every part of the globe mentioned but it suffices to say these Nigerians vented their anger, shame, and frustration like no other time on the cyberspace. This is the only forum opened to angry Nigerians to vent their outrage and disgust since Editors of Newspapers in Nigeria have been forced or compelled under duress to think twice before publishing materials with religious undertones the type that Fellow Nigerians churned out in large numbers. Considering the genesis of the issues under discourse, the fear of the newspaper houses is understandable.

Most of these essays conveyed annoyance and irritation at the human cost and cited the unfathomable imbalances in the political structure of Nigeria as the cause of the problems. Some analysts saw the large number of the marginalized poor, the hopelessness of life for the downtrodden and the high rate of illiteracy and ignorance as contributing factors. They identified the cruelty and callousness of political leaders who readily exploit, use and abuse this category of Nigerians for nefarious political activities against their oppositions and other Nigerians fighting for freedom, equality and justice. Most commentators noted that the present political structure, which has forced together nations of naturally different cultural and attitudinal dispositions, needs adjustment before it can serve the human needs of the people. Most writers suggested a quick dissolution of the forced political marriage on the ground that Nigerians have reached a point of no return and that it is no longer possible to save the unconsummated (except if rape is acceptable in holy wedlock) arranged marriage. Several commentators particularly from Southern Nigeria mooted the idea of a speedy divorce settlement as the only answer under the circumstances.

It is sad that fellow Nigerians have to go through this kind of heinous experiences as recorded in Kaduna to wake up to the reality that Nigeria is still a colonial slave settlement. In the last 43 months calamitous events have piled up one after the other that are strong and momentous enough to alert every thinking Nigerian that fundamentally there is a deep rooted under-current problem in Nigeria. There is no doubt that our failure to bring these problems into the open for analysis and synthesis will eventually lead to the demise of all the hopes we hold dear and the dreams we cherish. The type of atrocities of cold-blooded slaughtering of Nigerians that took place in Kaduna is a common feature of a society of slaves. No power on earth can use free men and women for such mayhem because a free people would ask pertinent questions before accepting to participate in any social or political act. It is very uncommon to find free men and women resorting to violence as a means of settling differences. Dialogue is still the preferred option among free people. Societies that go to war are mostly oligarchic with a large population of serfs, underlings or subjects. These poor souls can be forcefully or cunningly, through unjust legislative acts, conscripted into the armed forces or other militia forces to fight a cause of which they have no knowledge or understanding. As long as the oligarchic feudal lords who hold the rein of power of life and death over their subjects commanded, the subjects have no choice but to fall in line to sacrifice lives and limbs for their lords and masters.

Hence, as long as Nigerians have a large population of serfs, subjects and slaves, then the feudal lords cannot be out of business. The power that the feudal lords command over Nigeria derives its hegemony from the army of unfortunate souls who can be used and abused as foot soldiers to fight their political cause – whatever that means. To my little understanding of political affairs in Nigeria, the events that took place in Kaduna is not religious and is not ethnic, it is political. The whole orgy of killing and shedding innocent blood is the age-long tactic used by those who love power and desire to be the lion king of their territories. The causes the power lovers defend are always self-serving and self-promoting but these are couched under altruistic motives and in leadership tones of ‘friends of the people’, ‘defenders of faith’, and ‘pious servants or slaves of God’ who are ready to do the will of a merciful God in an unmerciful way that includes the slaughtering of fellow humankind.

The feudal lords of every society abhor the principle of equality. It is anathema to their worldview. They cannot stand those who believe in the doctrine of equality neither can they standby and watch their underlings and invariably their political assets corrupted by such foul ideas. As soon as supposedly mischief-makers peddle or canvass the idea of equality, the feudal lords would waste no time in mercilessly crushing those involved. The feudal lords are fully aware that the powers they enjoy derive from the pervading state of ignorance among their subjects. The secret of their staying power is to ensure that the mass of their subjects remain in perpetual darkness. It is under the policy of instituting a culture of ignorance as a political weapon that the feudal lords direct the full weight of religion in order to keep the people in darkness. With additional help from spiritually-paralysing religious philosophy or doctrine of ‘fear of God’, ‘slave of God’, ‘giving one’s life to God’, ‘the day of judgement’, etc. that are cleverly and subliminally drummed into the minds of the serfs, the feudal lords can go to sleep as soon as the teachings are successfully logged into the psyches of the poor masses.

A ‘progressive’ feudal community naturally outlaws liberal education but encourages religious education, indoctrination or brainwashing. The recommended textbook for the masses is the holy book. The masses are encouraged to memorise it and to regurgitate it without an inkling of understanding. The popular dress code of the religious person is never complete without a copy or an extract of the holy book. To the religious people it is more important for people to see them as a holy man than to work quietly out of the public glare for the liberation of his soul. Observation shows that the religious leaders working in league or under the political direction of the feudal lords hold every other book apart from the holy book in disdain. Members are strongly discouraged and urged to be careful about opening or touching other books. The religious leaders see all other books as instrument of Satan designed to take believers to hell. Some few weeks ago, a concerned family member who is sincerely worried about my soul and fearful that it is on the fast track to hell because of my viewpoints on religious beliefs earnestly advised me to put aside all other books and concentrate on one of the popular holy books.

These are the forms of intellectual and spiritual bondages that assist the power mongers to keep their power and to hold down the poor and the ignorant mass of the population. As long as even the ‘educated elites’ of Nigeria refused to see these weapons of slavery for what they are, so long shall the slave masters reign supreme over us. We would like to mention that there is nothing wrong in reading the holy books but it is ungodly to treat any book as an object of idol. It is idolatry to put one’s faith and absolute trust on any object created by the hands of man. We cannot exempt books from the list of idols notwithstanding the purported claims of the publisher. A book becomes an idol when the owners begin to treat it with larger than life reverence and when the reader cannot challenge the claims of the book for fear of apostasy or heresy.

We believe every book contains words of wisdom. A seeker after wisdom must endeavour to have a balanced view of issues by consulting as many materials as available. Each material has something to contribute to the mental and spiritual emancipation of humankind. Hence, a seeker must cultivate an open mind regardless of the claim of an author. A seeker must endeavour to review all prevailing knowledge on the issues under focus. Most importantly, a seeker must give enough room to the mind to do its job of thinking and reasoning. Cultures that dissuade worshipers of any religion from allowing the natural faculty to sieve the truth from the lies or hyperboles on issues that relate to the Creator and its creatures are the greatest enemy to the spiritual liberation of humanity. Until humankind confronts all the endemic cultures and traditional despotism nurtured and sustained by religious doctrines, humanity cannot taste true freedom in this world.

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