In Nigeria, different clans and tribes have the gods they worship. The Yorubas have Sango, Ogun, Osun, and Olodumare (Big God). The Binis of Edo State have Olokun, Obiemwen, Isu, Ogiuwu, Esu, and Osanobua (Big God). One thing they all have in common factor is the acknowledgement of a superior power, a Super God who controls all things on Earth. But the hypocrisy and cunningness of the colonialists got the better of them in brainwashing those of us who survived the massacre of our elites and intelligentsia.
Recently, in June 2020, the Archbishop of Canterbury, head of the Church of England, said that his Church should reconsider the portrayal of Jesus as a White man (Caucasian). Answering questions related to events by Black Lives Matter movement in the wake of George Floyd’s murder in the USA, he said that in his journeys round the world, he has seen images of Christ as Black, Chinese, Fijian, or Middle Eastern, the latter of which is the most accurate. He stated that the images are not what they worship, but they remind us of the universality of the God who became fully human in Christ. In other words, it has taken the Church more than 2,000 years to acknowledge that Jesus Christ was a concept, a good one at that. The missionaries burnt our carved images and plundered the bronze and golden ones in the guise of converting us from idol worship to the worshiping of the cross. But now, in the year 2020, they are offering what had been hidden in plain sight for years as the right explanation.
In like manner, the current Pope, said two years ago that you do not have to be a Christian to make heaven. This is purely common sense and the truth when you consider that Christ was here some 2,000 plus years ago and humans have been on Earth for well over 10,000 years. Also, Christ said there were only two important commandments for man to keep namely, “Thou shalt love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind,” and secondly, “Thou shalt love your neighbour as yourself.” You can achieve all that without having heard of, or believe in Jesus Christ and you will make heaven, according to the Pope.
It is therefore pertinent to understand here and now the true importance of religions in the lives of humans. Religion as earlier defined is a belief system. The various denominations arise out of different doctrines. Perhaps, and I believe so, it is more rewarding to talk about the spirituality of a people. This is what is embodied in our way of life. For my people, this is intrinsically embedded in our daily travails and journeys through life. We are judged by our pasts and present. We are in awe of ancestral justice. Remember the creed, “Never speak ill of the dead.” An Uncle of mine who lived to be 120 years old used to say to us that “Our ancestors are our lives’ auditors”. We need to abide by their ways, their effective ways.
Our struggles in life are in search of truth, to forge the right path, and stay on it. We draw lessons from history, written and unwritten. We must recognize that history happens every day of our lives. So, we must keep our eyes and ears open and receptive to events that may impact our beings. We should not allow people to tear us down or belittle us. There are no superior human beings. We are all equal in the eyes of our Creator. We should not allow people to put us in a box we do not belong or covet. The colonialists knew what they saw in our communities and it frightened them. Not with the fear of the devil, but the fear of reverence, the fear that the realization of all that they see could spell competitive doom to their own knowledge and civilization. So, the wiping of records, destruction of schools, plundering of our arts, treasures, and resources, and the enslavement of our able-bodied men and women were not acts of accident. They were all designed, just as the partitioning of Africa was. Again, those are waters under the bridge. What we must do now is to document our lives, our peoples, our exploits, our failures, and our successes.
The difficulties contemporary scholars of our culture will have revolve around the question, “How do we carry out research into the practices of our religion, our culture?” First, we must understand that our culture is the totality of our way of life. Our belief system is an interwoven fabric of our culture, and that belief system is our spirituality, our religion. It is therefore wrong to treat our religion as a distinct entity from our culture. The tools of modern-day research can be applied into studying our spirituality. These tools include but are not limited to; observation, following and participation, subscription and membership of cultural institutions, understudy of people and traditions, acquiring first-hand accounts obtained through interviews and records, written or oral. A researcher must be willing and ready to live with the people for many years, and then, follow events for many more. Unless you are part of the society through association, remote study will be useless.
Whilst agreeing with emperor Hailee Selassie, Spirituality is something that comes with the inner soul and out of our sub consciousness, therefore, to be able to attain such level of spirituality, some would need to build on the ability to meditate, to go into complete isolation, make some sacrifices and practice total abstention for days, months and even years.
I will end this series with the full quote from Emperor Haile Selassie I on spirituality. It is my hope that after this four part series we are better accepting of our spirituality without being chained by religion.
‘Spirituality does not come from religion. It comes from our soul. We must stop confusing religion and spirituality. Religion is a set of rules, regulations, and rituals created by humans, which were supposed to help people spiritually. Due to human imperfection, religion has become corrupt, political, and divisive and a tool for power struggle.
Spirituality is not theology or ideology. It is simply a way of life, pure and original as given by the Most High. Spirituality is a network linking us to the Most High, the universe, and each other.’