Friday, December 30, 2011

Nigerian Christians, Sell your Coats and Buy Swords



On Christmas day, as Christians celebrated the birth of the prince of peace, Jesus the Christ, Muslims in Nigeria chose that day the bomb them as they worshipped. Nobody has been held accountable for this heinous crime. Nobody will ever be held accountable for it. That is Nigeria, where Islam has now become synonymous with senseless cold-blooded mass murders of Christians. The situation is so bad now that it is impossible to think about a Muslim without associating him with violence and murder. It is even more disturbing because the average Muslim walking the Nigerian street is now perceived as a murderer who will always get away with murder.


Some Christian thinkers have been hoping to tease sense and restraint out of the educated and possibly conscienced Muslim elite to speak up in condemnation of terrorist acts perpetrated in the name of their religion, to redeem the image of that religion and place the majority of possibly non-homicidal Muslims in good light.


Writing on his Facebook wall in response to Reverend Father Bassey’s assertion that "The majority of peace loving Muslims are powerless before this very powerful radical minority, and for the sake of their lives most prefer to keep quiet. But the agenda of Islamisation which is a crucial expected outcome of these radicals will be an outcome welcome by all Muslims whether radical or not." Dr Pius Adesanmi writes:


Dear Father Bassey:


Thanks are due to Oga Ojo for circulating your thoughts widely. I agree with his critique of same. I have also excerpted a curious point you make. I couldn't disagree with you more on what you state above. The majority of Nigeria's peace-loving Moslems are certainly not powerless before the bloodthirsty cannibals among them. The proper thing to say is that the rest of us, Nigerian non-Moslems, have somehow never held the Muslim majority accountable for their silence over these orgies of murder that come complete with the ability to tar-brush all of them and even their religion. I am not saying that we don't hear from a few courageous and progressive Muslims but the numbers are not up to the ten fingers of my non-leprous hands. Apologies for the hyperbole. It is for discursive effect. Just look at my constituency: how many Northern Muslim University lecturers have ever come out to denounce these killings? How many of them have ever thought of coming together in pressure groups and thinktanks - something like a League of Northern Academics Against Religious Violence - to mount pressure on Northern state governors, religious leaders and elders? How many of them have organized themselves in NGOs and sought funding from local and foreign bodies to mount public campaigns against religious violence in the core north? Don't we have colleagues everywhere from Usmanu Dan Fodio University in Sokoto to Bayero University in Kano? How many of them have you ever heard from? They don't have voices or they suddenly become too busy with academic work whenever these orgies of violence require their voices in the public space? I think the time has come when we must begin to make it clear to that Moslem majority that we do not believe that they are powerless to rein in the murderers who are giving their religion such a bad name; that, where we stand, their silence means acquiescence or indifference or both; that we are no longer satisfied with a handful of well-meaning Muslims and Muslim organizations coming out to apply medicine after death by issuing statements after every bomb blast and going back to sleep until the next blast - let them be proactive! Let them do the right thing with conscientization campaigns and other socially prophylactic initiatives in the warrens of radical Islam in the North, etc. We want to see them get their hands dirty in the trenches of the North, involved in very publicized and mediatized campaigns for religious harmony and against religious violence. That Muslim majority must be seen working proactively by the rest of us. Otherwise, the Sultan rushing to Aso Rock for a photo-op presented as a security consultation while we are burying our dead is cold comfort.


The problem of course is that the non-Muslims in Nigeria are relying on the handful of non-violent, non-homicidal Muslims to talk down their brothers and stop the murders of Christians. The other major unfortunate thing is that Christians are deluding themselves that the Nigerian government might find a way to deal with this problem. Some even feel that with a Christian finally in power, President Goodluck Jonathan (rumoured to be a Christian) might contrive to use the Nigerian Armed Forces he commands to wring peace out of the radical Muslim North. But the man has proved himself as hopeless in this regard as his mentor, Olusegun Obasanjo who was also rumoured to be a Christian.


This short article must not be misunderstood as a call to Christians to rise up and start killing Muslims, but it must be clear to all Christians by now that the enlightened, educated, non-bloodthirsty Muslim elite could do something about this situation, if only they would. It is also clear that the Nigerian government, supposedly led by a possible Christian, could also do something if it would. But there is no spirit, no desire or courage to do anything to stop these killings.


This is where Christians must be reminded that although Jesus urged them to turn the other cheek if one cheek is struck, the same Jesus also said in the book of Luke 22:36 “But now let the one who has a moneybag take it, and likewise a knapsack. And let the one who has no sword sell his cloak and buy one.” LET THE ONE WHO HAS NO SWORD SELL HIS CLOAK AND BUY ONE.


The Prince of Peace knew it well that this day would come when a people whose religion means ‘peace’ would rise against his people, and he charged them in advance to get armed and be willing to fight back. Christians in the Nigeria are now under siege by Muslims and must realise that it is not against the Christian faith to bear arms or to defend oneself. When Jesus said ‘buy a sword’ he also meant build a bomb. If the Boko Haram or any other branch of Islam continues to bomb Christians, then it is worth the while to bomb them right back. This is not something that is likely to annoy God. At this very trying moment, all Christians in Nigeria need to be vigilant and must commit themselves to prayer and seek God’s way in this matter. Victory against these forces of evil can only be achieved if Christians align themselves with the will of God. Everything from the acquisition of swords, to how to use them in defence of the Christian way of life, and the Christian life must be covered by the blood of Jesus so that in fighting the monsters, Nigerian Christians must not become monsters. TB

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- Nnorom Azuonye.  

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Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Thoughts on Anti-gay Law in Nigeria



The Nigerian senate recently passed a bill criminalising homosexuality in the country. If the bill is upheld by the House of Representatives, President Goodluck Jonathan may sign it into law and this could spell stints of up to 14 years in jail for the crime of homosexuality.


Naturally western leaders have risen in condemnation of the proposed law, with the American government threatening to cut or stop American aid to Nigeria, as surely other non-African leaders are wont to do. There is no shortage of voices rising against this move by the Nigerian government, including Amnesty International who in a statement suggests that if passed, the law "…would place a wide range of people at risk of criminal sanctions, including human rights defenders and anyone else -- including friends, families and colleagues -- who stands up for the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people in Nigeria,"


Socio-political activism in Nigeria tends to be rather highly dramatic and some might say, even dangerous. However it is quite unlikely that Nigerian leaders could try to silence activists or political opponents by branding them gay or lesbian and stashing them away in jails for up to 14 years. An anti-gay law has never been necessary to exercise political intimidation in Nigeria. It is inappropriate to suggest that this anti-gay bill will feed a culture of witch-hunt. In fact, many Nigerians believe that it seeks to preserve the cultural and spiritual well-being of the society in an ill-advised manner. Besides, when viewed from an angle that a normal family setting is desirable, especially if children are to be brought up within them, a law prohibiting same-sex marriage may be necessary in order to prevent emotional violence against possible offspring. Many people across the world strongly believe that children should not be brought up by same-sex couples because such an environment would surely be confusing to them and will definitely set them up for ridicule in schools, which might damage them emotionally and psychologically for life. The wrongness of this kind of family building is clear in the marriage of celebrity musician Elton John and David Furniss. They had a child in 2010 through a ‘secret’ surrogate mother. Apparently their sperms were mixed up and used to inseminate the woman and it has been reported that they as yet don’t know which one of them is the father.


While there is a basis for understanding the reasoning behind putting a law in place against gay marriage, legislating against harmless, possibly transient romantic liaisons between same-sex couples cuts it fine along lines of violation of rights. The argument here is that if two adults wish to engage in homosexual activity that is harming nobody, they should not be prevented from doing so. However if they wish to get married and possibly proceed to acquire children, the society has a responsibility to protect those children.


Nigerians in Nigeria and in the Diaspora have widely different takes on the issue. For many, the feeling is of sheer incredulity that in a country where armed robbery and kidnaps are rife, in a country where terrorism is growing fast with bombings of public places claiming lives, in a country where unemployment is becoming unmanageable, prices are soaring, millions are starving and unsure of how they will survive, the law men have placed priority in criminalising homosexuality. There are others who oppose the law on the grounds that the government is trying to interfere in some basic human rights of the Nigerian citizenry. There are of course a lot of voices rising for the sake of it, who must always make propaganda of themselves by finding something wrong in everything the Nigerian leadership does.


As these voices rise against the impending law, millions of others are raised in support of it. From a cultural and religious standpoint, the majority of Nigerians will never accept homosexuality. This is the major problem that those who oppose the bill will have. Nigeria is not ready and may never be ready to embrace gay and lesbian activity in the country.  It just will not happen. No matter how hard people try to argue that they are born that way or have made a choice to live that way, it is nothing that will gain acceptance.


The major problem is religion. The two major religions in Nigeria are Christianity and Islam. More than anywhere in the world, followers of these two religions are overzealous and intolerant of opposing or dissenting views. Both Islam and Christianity deem homosexuality to be wrong.  for instance offers the perspective that “There is no doubt that in Islam homosexuality is considered 'sinful'. Homosexuality as far as Islam is concerned is a profound mistake (as are all sins if they are not intending to do wrong). Humans are not homosexuals by nature. People become homosexuals because of their environments. Particularly critical is the environment during puberty. Suggestions, ideas & strange dreams are symptoms of confused attempts to understand new and blunt sexual desires and are rashly interpreted as defining someone as being one sexuality or another. If these conclusions are accompanied by actual homosexual acts they are even more strongly reinforced. Human instincts can be subjected to acts of will. Sexuality is a choice of identity which follows choices of action which follow from choices of what to have sexual fantasies about. Human beings are especially able to control their thoughts, entertaining some and dismissing others.”


          Clearly, there is no chance of Muslims in Nigeria to accept what is not ‘natural’ with human beings. This is the same with Christians. The Holy Bible severally condemns homosexuality and lumps it together with bestiality and other perverse leanings. The aim of every true Christian is to be worthy of entering into the Kingdom of God. In verses 9-10 of the first book of Corinthians, chapter 6, homosexuality is listed as one of the transgressions that will prevent a Christian from inheriting the Kingdom; “Or do you not know that wrongdoers will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: Neither the sexually immoral nor idolaters nor adulterers nor men who have sex with men, nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor swindlers will inherit the kingdom of God.”


          Nigeria may sometimes be dismissed as a place of over-church-attending, over-mosque-attending God-forsaken people where religious practices leave much to be desired, often coming across as borderline evil, but the Nigerian religious are a bunch of uncompromising zealots and will never betray their God by embracing gays and lesbians.


          There is also the issue of social and cultural perception. In Nigeria it is a shame to be gay or lesbian. This is why those that are known to be, never openly admit it. You find them in politics and literature masquerading as gay rights activists, but ask them pointedly on record if they are gay and you receive a very bland answer; “I don’t have to be gay to fight for the rights of gay and lesbian people” or “Why do I always get that question because I am trying to say stop attacking homosexuals for the way they are born?”


          If they are firm in their beliefs. If they are sure that they are simply wired that way. If they are certain that their rights ought to be protected, why is it that they cannot stand up to be counted? The idea of fighting for the faceless and the nameless is lame and will not achieve any results. All those people who are homosexuals should come out of the cupboards, wardrobes or wherever they are hiding and stand by their convictions and let us see if the Nigerian government will arrest them all and jail them.


          The truth of the matter is that the Nigerian society and culture frowns at homosexuality and the families of any confirmed gay people will have a hard time living down the shame. Nobody wants to be responsible for his old parents dying of heartbreak or even suicide.


          Nigeria does not need to make a law against homosexuality. This issue already is regulated by the country’s social and cultural norms. The only thing this law-making process will achieve is prove that the nation’s legislature are simply a bunch of overpaid clowns who don’t know what to do with their time. TB


This article was first published in Sunday Punch on 18th December 2011


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Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Citizen Ikhide Ikheloa should leave Chris Abani alone.

After reading the latest Ikhide revelation of Chris Abani fibbing about how as an 8-year-old boy he toured Igbo communities with his mother and worked as her interpreter as she taught Igbo women catholic-style birth control and discussed menstrual cycles with these mothers, I decided that Abani is not the grand liar Ikhide is calling him, the guy is in gaga land and deserves our prayers and healing thoughts. Oh come on, man, an 8-year-old describing menstrual flow as waterfalls, rivers, and brooks with Igbo words Olu Oguibe, and I and not even Yvonne Chị Mbanefo know. Chris Abani is definitely not taking himself seriously, and he is probably laughing at us for taking him so seriously.
I suggest that Ikhide and everybody else leave Big Chris alone. It is to white people he is lying and they choose to believe him. The guy is so unreal I am surprised his nose is not as long as the third mainland bridge.
Read the ridiculous story told by Chris Abani here:

A Woman's Mission: To Teach Birth Control In Nigeria

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Ojukwu dies, the sun rises again.

By Nnorom Azuonye


I mee la Ojukwu, i mee la…

On Saturday, 26th of November 2011, I was at the TEDxEuston event in London listening to thought-provoking talks on the redefinition and reimagination of Africa.

The day was going well. I had listened to Lola Shoneyin’s insistence that perpetrators of sexual violence must all be brought to book, and that our young must be made aware of the consequences of sexually violating another human being. Kwame Kwei-Armah reminisced about role models and spoke eloquently about how many of our role models were people who fought the powers that were, people who challenged the status quo; the Martin Luther Kings, the Stephen Bikos, the Nelson Mandelas etc. But he reckoned that what was more important was building something – building institutions that would endure. I became excited about the TEDxEuston event when Paul Boateng in his talk somewhat responded the Kwei-Armah by saying it was not a choice for Africans whether to fight or build because if you don’t fight, whatever you have built would come to nothing. In my mind, I became appreciative of my mentor Esiaba Irobi’s words in Hangmen Also Die that stated, “No matter what we do, no matter how high we aspire, there is something waiting in the atmosphere waiting to destroy us.” This is why we must not simply build, but why we must fight to protect what we have built, or it would not stand. Then we broke for lunch and I received a call that announced the death of Dim Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, a man who not only fought the evil in the atmosphere destroying many Igbo lives, but a man who also built something that would never die. I excused myself from the rest of the talks at TEDx and went home.

I mee la Ojukwu, I mee la…

Today, I hear voices of powerful men and women, from the North through the South, they sing his praises. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu has died. Everybody who is anybody rises to say Ojukwu was a dear friend. Ikemba Nnewi was a complex man, a great man, an imperfect man, but he was a hero of mine and a hero to millions of Ndi Igbo and non-Ndi Igbo across the world. He was a man who had the courage to stand up and say “stop killing my people”. There are some surely who write frivolous messages on the internet asking God to forgive Ojukwu for the blood that flowed through Nigeria and Biafra from 1967 to 1970, they must stop and ask, did Ojukwu do more than ask for the senseless killing of Ndi Igbo to stop? Was there anything agreed at Aburi that resembled baying for blood? Has the killing of Ndi Igbo stopped in Nigeria, even now? 44 years after Northern Nigeria drew the first blood the Northern Nigerian earth still drinks the blood of Ndi Igbo. Although one may stop and ask, why do Ndi Igbo continue to live in the north? Do our people not say that a war foretold does not reap corpses? Did Ojukwu not warn us about this many years ago?

I mee la Ojukwu, I mee la…

Ndi Igbo were forced into staying in Nigeria and have been screwed since then. They are still being killed in the North because they are too naïve to understand that they should not be living in the North. Inside every true Igbo person is a desire to be free, a desire to live in a country of his or her own where everything is a possibility. This is all Ojukwu wanted. This is what he lived for. This is what he died wishing for. It is right for every Igbo person to remember Aburi. It is right for every Igbo person to remember the events of May 30th 1967, July 6th 1967, and November 26th 2011. It is time for the sun to rise again in the heart and life of every Igbo person. Chukwuemeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu’s voice rises from his yet-to-be grave, through every home, through village squares, through the social media, and through the church houses, he says, a sun sets but does not die, let the sun of Biafra rise again.

Sadly there are some Ndi Igbo and many Nigerians who pretend that Biafra was a fiction, or was a thing that occurred that should be forgotten. Avoiding to confront the ills Biafra sought to address means they will continue to eat at every fabric of the Nigerian society until it destroys Nigeria and Ndi Igbo within Nigeria. We must all look Biafra again in the eye, and answer the questions she raised in order to find our way and our children’s way into a safe, healthy and free future. There is a lesson in the timeless words of George Santayana, “Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When change is absolute there remains no being to improve and no direction is set for possible improvement: and when experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”

I mee la, Ojukwu, I mee la.

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