Born Again Christians and The Destruction of African Culture
Too many born-again Christians in Africa, Nigeria in particular, believe that a good Christian must destroy the African culture. They are categorical in their belief that all the elements and artifacts of African culture are idols, and forever evil. They believe that it is not enough to denounce an idol and reject idol worshiping without completely destroying everything related to it. So, they are on rampage, demolishing all the elements of our culture and cultural heritage, which define us as Africans. Their actions are based purely on wrong interpretation of the Holy Bible. They have suddenly discovered the notion of born-again Christianity that has always existed in the Holy Bible, and now, putting it in local Nigerian parlance, it is shacking them like ogogoro. This implies that the new-wave Christians are getting drunk on the concept of born-again Christianity, and they are waging a war against all the traditions that make up the culture of the land.
Information Vs Ignorance
Contrary to the views of the new-wave born-again warriors, more liberal Christians, who we refer to as the progressives, insist that reformation, and not destruction, is the answer to the ongoing dispute over supremacy and legitimacy between Christianity and Culture in Nigeria. They insist that religion and Clean Culture can, and must be encouraged to coexist in harmony. They insist that culture is not synonymous with idols, or synonymous with evil. They maintain that repentance and spiritual purity are all in the heart of the Christian, and not in physical demolition of cultural artifacts, nor in the extinction of the entire African traditional system.
With these opposing views, there are clearly two factions currently in the Nigerian Christendom. One faction is for the Christians who believe that Christianity and culture cannot mix, and the second faction for those who insist that the two can coexist in harmony. It is no exaggeration to say that a battle line has been drawn, quite literally. The two factions do wage physical war in various regions of Nigeria where Christianity thrives, some of which have resulted in great damages to life and property. Churches have been attacked in some cases, in retaliation of the damages that the extremist Christians are doing to the culture of the land. One of the notable conflicts in Igbo land degenerated to setting ablaze, and complete destruction of a local church building in a community known as Nsirimo Village in Umuahia Town, Abia State of Nigeria. Members of the Pentecostal church, going by the name Charismatic Renewal Movement, had gone on rampage against the culture of the land. Their casualties included a couple of peculiar, ancient trees, which had already been approved by the State government for Tourist Attraction development project. The overzealous born-again Christians decided and succeeded to fell the trees, along with the destruction of the village shrines. In retaliation, irate youths simply marched to the local church on December 1, 2007 and burned it down. The message from the youths was very clear:
‘You destroy our culture; and we destroy what you claim to be your culture.’
Do remember—the youths that burned down the church were not pagans, anti-Christ, or anything like that, which some holier-than-thou Christians would want everybody to believe. Indeed, some of the youths were probably more Christian in behavior than many of the hypocrites among the un-appointed Christian Warriors. What the youths were saying by their action was that the hypocrites were going too far, and must be stopped, even if it meant destroying the church that they also believed in and respected under normal circumstances.
It is very important to note that the Christian Warriors do violate the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria when they go on their destruction rampage. They actually forcibly dispossess villagers of their cultural artifacts and burn them amidst protest by the owners. This has resulted in another ugly trend in Nigeria—Nigerians are selling off all the artifacts of our culture, the cultural heritage that we are supposed to pass on to the next generations for the preservation of history, the story of our sojourn on earth. Some people, rather than being persuaded by quack brainwashing pastors, or forced by their converted and zombified brethren in the village to destroy the artifacts, choose to sell them off to foreigners who have great values for them.
There is a law against willful, wanton destruction of another man’s property. The law does not exempt anybody, with or without a Holy Bible in hand. The Nigerian constitution also clearly guarantees every citizen the right to freely associate with other citizens of choice for whatever interest that they may share. This means that one also has the right not to belong to a church, and, nobody has the right to force another to obey the tenets of a religion that he or she does not agree with. This, in turn means, for instance, that a Christian may destroy all the cultural artifacts that belong to him or her personally, but he or she definitely has no right to destroy another citizen’s property.
What Would Christ Advocate?
The situation in Nigeria’s Christendom is critical, and it calls for some very pertinent Christian questions, and sound reflection. Some of the questions are posed here by Culture Watch Africa:
- Is the destruction (on either side) really what Christ wants us to do?
- Did he as a mortal being on earth support physical fight and destruction as an option to settle disputes, any dispute whatsoever?
- Is it likely that he, now as our Lord and Savior in the spirit world would actually support anybody, whosoever, to fight another person for any reason, whatsoever?
It is our humble presumption that most sane and rational Christians are likely to answer a capital NO to the above three questions, no matter how one looks at the situation. Christ would never support anybody to fight another person for any reason whatsoever! He did not even allow Simon Peter to fight in order to save his (Christ’s) life just before his crucifixion. He asked Peter to sheath his sword, because, “He who lives by the sword dies by the sword.” In another instance, Christ said: “If a man slaps you on one cheek, give him the other cheek to slap also.” He did not say fight back! In yet another illustration of his position against violence and forcible approach to anything, we refer to the instances that abound in the Holy Bible where Christ emphasized “winning of souls” for the Christendom. He never asked anybody to force people to convert to Christianity. Violation of this all-important principle of choice in Godliness is one of the greatest errors perpetrated by today’s born-again Christians in Nigeria who force citizens to burn their cultural artifacts.
If we do agree that the above stated positions of Christ in the matter of Christianity are correct. And, the born-again extremists do know that there are people who are ready to fight in order to stop them from destroying the cultural artifacts. Then it makes sense, following the above stated Christian principles, that they seek “peaceful,” “soul-winning,” “non-combatant”ways to resolve the disagreement. It does not really make any difference who is right, or who is wrong. Christ would never support non-peaceful, forcible, combatant approach to win souls for God, no matter what! In essence, Culture Watch Africa is merely asking the extremists to slow down their tempo and ask the question: What Would Christ Do in a situation like this? It is our opinion that if a Christian endeavors to win and save a soul for God through Christ, then the approach has to be Christian, or Christ-like in nature.
The Almighty God Himself instituted the OPTION OF CHOICE in the world by allowing us the choice to either do good, or do evil; the choice to either follow His ways, or follow the ways of Satan. He has the power to destroy Satan who leads us to do evil. He can force all humans to do good at all times. But He does not destroy Satan because He wants to give us the chance to choose good or evil. We are saying, therefore, that even if they were correct in their view that the entire African culture is evil, the burn-again zealots are approaching their mission in very wrong un-Godly manner.
Culture Watch Africa is all about peaceful approach, with a systematic campaign to dispel the darkness of ignorance, armed only with the effective power of information about true Christianity. It is absolutely imperative to emphasize that this is not a war of culture against Christianity or any other religion. This is a campaign against misinterpretation of the teachings of our Lord Jesus Christ. In essence, what we want to wedge in Africa is a war between Ignorance and Knowledge in matters of Culture and Religion.
Egypt is favorably known all over the world today, and she enjoys huge revenues through tourism and various other culture-related avenues, all because ancient Egyptians had the foresight to preserve the artifacts of their culture. Far beyond the economic values of culture-preservation to Egyptians, are the scientific and historical values that benefit the entire world. Thanks to the ancient Egyptian artifacts, the world now knows a lot more about humanity, past, as well as present. Also, five thousand years old mummies recently exhumed in China have vastly enriched humanity and science in various ways. These are only a couple of many global instances of the benefits of protecting, preserving and celebrating one’s culture.
Museums in the western world are graced with artifacts of the African Culture, some of which were ignorantly given away by Africans, and others stolen from Africa by westerners who know their present and ultimate values in the history of the world. It is very ironic back home in Africa that misinformed new-wave born-again Christians are busy destroying what is left of the culture, all in the name of God.
What Is Culture
No doubt, many people that will get to read this brochure do not need a lecture on the definition of culture; they perfectly understand what it is all about. However, this campaign is not only for the intellectual elites, but also, indeed, mostly for the less intellectual masses. It is a campaign geared mainly towards the masses in the grassroots communities in Africa, who are the real custodians of our culture. And if we must convince the custodians to do a good job of nurturing, protecting and preserving our culture, then they must understand the essence of authentic cultural identity of Africa in the larger global community. It is imperative, therefore, to state a couple of functional definitions of culture.
Culture, very simply, can be defined as the ways of life (otherwise known as traditions) of a group of people, which set the group apart from other groups in a larger society. The African Culture is comprised of sets of traditions and elements that are unique to Africans, which make us different from peoples of other regions of the world. It is instructive to offer a few more diverse definitions from theologians and anthropologists who have approached it from Christian perspectives.
In his 1949 treatise titled Christianity and Culture, T. S. Eliot wrote: “Culture may be described simply as that which makes life worth living.” Emil Brunner, a theologian, stated in his 1948 treatise titled Christianity and Civilization: “Culture is materialization of meaning.” Another theologian, Donald Bloesch, had this to say: “Culture is the task appointed to humans to realize their destiny in the world, in service to the glory of God.” Later, in 1966, an anthropologist, E. Adamson Hoebel wrote a text—Anthropology: The Study of Man—in which he said that culture “is the integrated system of learned behavior patterns which are characteristic of the members of a society, and which are not the result of biological inheritance.”
“All of these definitions can be combined to include the world views, actions, and products of a given community of people,” summed theologian Jerry Solomon in his 1995 text titled Christianity And Culture. And, in Christ and Culture in Dialogue, Angus J. L. Menuge said, “It is impossible in practice to separate oneself from culture; as culture permeates our thinking and language, it is as much in us as it is around us. We may keep out some bad influences of culture but others will remain inside.”
“That the forest should meet Christian urbanism was the most natural thing in the world,” says one of Africa’s prides, Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka. “And I think that there were narratives in which the priest himself had to confront, shall we say, the equivalent of what you might call the goblins of the woods. And he had to bring his own Christian powers and negotiate a kind of existence with them.”
Far back in 1913, J. Gresham Machen (1881-1937) posed the key question in the controversy: “Are Christianity and culture in a conflict that is to be settled only by the destruction of one or the other of the contending forces?” He followed with his own response to the question: “A third solution, fortunately, is possible—namely consecration. Instead of destroying the arts and sciences, or being indifferent to them, let us cultivate them with all the enthusiasm of the humanist, but at the same time consecrate them to the service of our God.”— The Princeton Theological Review, Vol. 11, 1913.
A recurrent tolerant and reformist notion in many of the existing religion-inclined definitions of culture is the need to employ culture “in service to the glory of God.” The basis, theme, indeed, the entire essence of the argument of Culture Watch Africa is reflected in elements of such definitions. We campaign that the “bad influences of culture be kept out, and others remain inside” to be consecrated and employed “in service to the glory of God.”
Did Christ Preach Against Culture?
The source of the apparent confusion about culture (traditions) in the Christendom is the Holy Bible itself, which was built on parables. The biblical parables beget ambiguity, which means that one single line in the bible may be interpreted to mean so many different things, depending on who is doing the interpreting, and what his or her motive is. Progressive interpretations of relevant passages in the bible posit that Christ never preached against culture or traditions. He preached the coexistence of culture and Christianity, recognizing that religion may not exist in a society without a set of traditions. Indeed, Christianity itself becomes part of the traditions of any society that adopts it. Passages abound in the Holy Bible, which affirm this position. Christ actually encouraged and attended a good number of cultural events. He also partook in a number of cultural traditions/ activities, such as Jewish weddings, and the annual Passover festival. He went as far as making contributions to support some of the events. For instance, when wines were exhausted during a marriage ceremony at Cana in Galilee (John Chapter 2), Christ did contribute kegs of wine, which he made available through his very first miracle of turning water into wine. Christ also attended the funeral of his friend, Lazarus, where he performed his greatest miracle of raising the dead (John Chapter 11).
Christ, of course, did preach against hypocrisy amongst the people that make/ made up a culture. His teaching in the book of Mark chapter 7 verses 1 to 13 (New Living Translation version) is appropriately titled “Jesus Teaches About Inner Purity,” and his very first statement in verse 6 is, “You hypocrites!” Before this response, verses 1 to 5 condemn ‘window dressing’ within the culture, and not the culture itself. Pharisees and Teachers of religious laws were making a fuss about the violation of their tradition of dipping hands in water for “cleansing” before any meal, and Christ chastised them for hypocrisy (window-dressing), because they cleaned their hands whereas their minds and souls were dirty. He lamented that they still hated their neighbors; they still showed no respect to their parents, and still violated all the other components of the Ten Commandments. In other words, they were pretenders who were putting up a show of being pure, whereas they were actually evil at heart. This is absolutely true of many of today’s new-wave born-again Christians who are destroying the African Culture.
In the scripture (Mark 7), it is said that Christ quoted Prophet Isaiah, who had written earlier saying, “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship is a farce (a lie), for they teach man-made ideas as command from God.” Some new-wave born-again Christians choose to interpret the above-cited passage (Mark 7: 1 – 13) to mean that Christ taught against culture and traditions. Their strongest argument seems to be drawn from the line:
“For you ignore God’s law and substitute your own traditions.”
Surely, when misinterpreted, or interpreted out of context, this line might support the view that Christ preached against traditions (culture). The fact, however, is that he was only condemning hypocrisy. In so doing, he pointed at the fact that the Pharisees were adamant in sticking to their sinful traditions, at the expense of the Ten Commandments. Certainly, no commandment asks anybody to destroy his or her culture. Emphasis is on sinful traditions, and not the entire culture. The passage says nothing against any of the good traditions that the Pharisees and Teachers in question were practicing within their culture. “I did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets,” said Christ, according to the Book of Mathew, chapter 5, verse 17. “…No, I came to accomplish their purpose.”
Reform It; Don’t Destroy It
It is recognized that some of the African cultural artifacts were actually symbols of deities that were worshiped by our forefathers. The reformists also admit that there are cultural traditions that are obviously unwholesome, whether viewed religiously, or from any other perspective whatsoever. For example, human sacrifice and killing of twins are clearly wrong, bad and condemnable any day, no matter what perspective they are considered from. Naturally, the reformists insist that such archaic and bad cultural traditions must be eliminated, but definitely not by completely condemning our entire culture. They also argue that violated artifacts can be demystified, sanctified, reduced to mere objects of cultural identity, and preserved for the history of the land. In other words, the reformists are saying: Let’s reform it, and not destroy it! Essentially, this argument strongly upholds the wisdom behind the adage: Do not throw away a baby along with dirty bath water. We must rinse our baby up with clean water, keep the baby, and then throw away the dirty water. In other words, we must protect and celebrate a purified form of our cultural identity.
For instance, masquerade is a cultural entertainment concept, which actually exists in various cultures of the world besides Africa; but Africans, particularly Nigerians have suddenly redefined the concept as evil. We do recognize that some masquerades have been associated with deities in non-Christian ways in the past. However, the reformist argument insists that we may not condemn every masquerade as being evil. If indeed our fathers and forefathers dedicated some of their masquerades to deities in negative ways in the past, the reformists insist that they can all be demystified, purified or sanctified, then retained as elements of art and entertainment in our culture. As a compromise, we can put our fathers’ masquerades aside as artifacts, and make new ‘clean’ replicas for ourselves. One way or the other, the tradition must not be allowed to go the extinction-way of some other traditions that we have lost due to ignorance, simply because they had flaws. By comparison, there are so many bad people among the anti-culture crusaders, and also among Christians all over the world, but nobody goes around campaigning for the abolition of Christianity for the sake of the bad Christians.
The Power Of Infotainment
When we speak of reform, we speak of reforming everything that makes up the culture, including the human minds. The aim is to have all things made by God to glorify Him. The important message in this segment is on the power of infotainment and subliminal education in spreading the word of God. We emphasize subliminal education as the preferable Christ-like alternative to the current approach of extremist Christians. The infotainment approach is founded on the proven fact that people learn better, and they are amenable to changes when they are informed while being entertained.
On the matter of culture, Christians should learn to design their soul-winning programs and gospel with cultural elements in a manner that venerates Christ and glorifies God. They should effectively utilize the concept of subliminal learning. For instance, many youngsters have nothing against church revivals, but they would rather see some masquerades sometimes as well. This is where reformation can work hand in hand with the concept of Infotainment to achieve maximum result that cannot be attained otherwise. Give the young group some masquerades, but ensure that the masquerades incorporate the Christian scripture in their entertainment songs and music, and not foul lyrics. The expected result is actually very obvious. They would learn about Christ and God without making any effort. Indeed, they would not even quite realize that they are learning important messages about God, until the messages start to manifest in them. That is the proven power of subliminal education through infotainment!
Reforming The Masquerade For God
It is always advisable to proffer solutions when one condemns an existing policy or practice. Hence, Culture Watch Africa proffers the following as preliminary alternatives to the extremist approach of some Christians in Nigeria:
- Reforming the Mindset Of The Masqueraders: We believe that we have sufficiently argued the need to change the mindset of the people inside the masquerade to be good people, rather than abolish the entire concept due to the evil deeds of some people who would do evil whether or not they are masquerading.
- Changing The Looks Of Evil-Looking Masquerades: There are masquerades in Nigeria that do look evil enough to suggest that they are actually evil. On the other hand, there are some masquerades that look so fanciful that even little children admire their beauty and relate with them. Our reformation agenda advocates that the ugly, evil-looking masquerades be modified to achieve less sinister appearances.
- Changing The Demeanor Of The Masquerades: As a matter of consistency, the beautiful masquerades in Nigeria are usually of approachable demeanor. They are friendly, amiable, playful, and generally convey the message that they are not harmful. Women and children troupe around and interact with such masquerades, which often entertain them with beautiful songs and dances.
- Christian Songs: With good looking, well-behaved masquerades, all we now need to complete the reformation in the name of God, is to apply the same approach of the progressives who started the idea of turning reggae music into God’s music. It was hitherto dubbed ganja music because some reggae musicians smoke marijuana, aliasganja. Now more people know that reggae rhythm does not smoke ganja, and therefore should not be committed to the devil. The devil does not make or own any music, God does! Our responsibility to God is to use His music called reggae to praise Him, not to surrender it to some people who happen to smoke ganja. By the same token we say let’s give the masquerades good Christian songs to replace some of the shoot-them-up-and-bang-them-up songs that some of the masquerades are currently singing.
The Role Of Traditional Rulers
It is ironic that the struggle to destroy African culture is often led by some traditional rulers who are actually supposed to be the custodians of the culture. Primarily, our traditional leaders swear to protect and promote the culture of the land as they take their oath of office when they ascend their thrones. Now the new-wave born-again Christianity has changed some of them, negatively affecting the way that they look at the culture of the land. In their newfound mission to purify and sanctify the land, they have gone against their oath of office by aiding the destruction of the same culture that they swore to protect and promote. Again, sanctification, of course, is great. The problem is that they have bought the new born-again idea that the only way to do it is by destroying the culture of the villages that they preside over. The genesis is that they blame all the mishaps in business, professional and social lives of all the members of the communities on the pagan ways of our forefathers, as well as the witchcraft of the contemporary generations. If anybody’s business suddenly goes sour due to conditions that have easy-to-understand scientific explanations, they find it easier to blame it on our culture and witchcraft.
As they obliterate, rather than seek to purify key elements of our culture, the traditional rulers must realize the fact that an assault on the culture ultimately means an assault on their traditional thrones. They must recognize that if the culture goes down, then the thrones will, sooner than later, go down with it. The logic is very simple: The thrones derive their powers of influence over the subjects from the culture, and they cannot survive without the culture, or the traditions of the people. Culture Watch Africa wishes to remind our beloved chiefs and kings in Nigeria that they cannot eat their cake and still retain it in their possessions. They should not continue to keep custody of the culture if they are bent on destroying it. They should decide either to protect the culture that has been placed in their custody, or give up the thrones.
The High Points
- Museums in the western world are graced with artifacts of the African Culture, back home in Africa, ignorant New-Wave Born-Again Christians are busy destroying what is left of the culture, all in the name of Christ.
- True anointed “men of God” battle principalities in the spiritual realm. When Prophet Elijah battled Baal and the prophets of Baal for supremacy, all he did was summon the power of God to do the fighting.
- Christ never did, and is ever unlikely to support the level of violence that Nigerian born-again warriors often perpetrate when they encounter resistance as they go on their culture-destruction rampage. Very often, they claim to be more Catholic than the Pope, as they defend their ignorant new-wave born-again Christian practices, such as destruction of masquerades and other elements of the African Culture.
- If we destroy the subject or the abode of an evil spirit, the spirit simply finds another abode nearby, period! If you destroy a masquerade, for instance, the guy inside the masquerade, if evil, simply changes his method of doing evil, period.
- “Instead of destroying the arts and sciences or being indifferent to them, let us cultivate them with all the enthusiasm of the humanist, but at the same time consecrate them to the service of our God.” (J. Gresham Machen, for The Princeton Theological Review, Vol. 11,1913).
- The Reformist Theory, which this campaign upholds, maintains that Reformation, and not Destruction, is the answer to the ongoing dispute over supremacy and legitimacy between Christianity and Culture in Nigeria.
- Christ never preached against culture; he partook in cultural traditions. “I did not come to abolish the Law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.” (Mathew, chapter 5, verse 17)
- “Engaging in secular (worldly, material) activities does not make anyone a `secularist’ (worldly person), an exponent or adherent of ‘secularism’. Secularism as a philosophy, a worldview, is a different matter.” (Harry Blamires, Recovering The Christian Mind. 1988)
- “That the forest should meet Christian urbanism was the most natural thing in the world, “…And I think that there were narratives in which the priest himself had to confront, shall we say, the equivalent of what you might call the goblins of the woods. And he had to bring his own Christian powers and negotiate a kind of existence with them.”—Nobel Laureate, Wole Soyinka.
- This is certainly not a campaign against Christianity, rather, a campaign against ignorant, misinformed Christianity.
Far beyond the protection of African masquerades, the following are some of the objectives ofCulture Watch Africa, and the methods through which we aim to achieve them:
- CultureWatchAfrica.org: This website is up and running, comprising:
- Video clips of unique and significant Cultural events and traditions, such as masquerades and festivities, rituals and rites, short documentaries and discourses on cultural events.
- Gallery of Still photos of artifacts, with background information on each.
- Print Information, such as:
- Articles and stories.
- African names and their meanings. The website is operated like a weekly television magazine program, to be updated every week.
- Seminars: As we organize seminars, two key issues are constantly emphasized: (a) Reformation, which emphasizes consecration, rather than destruction of cultural artifacts that are perceived to be violated, and (b) Employing cultural elements in service to the glory of God. For instance, the masquerades that sing songs are encouraged to include Christian lyrics in their songs.
- Broadcast Media Campaign: The media campaign includes Radio and Television Talk Shows where stakeholders are brought together to discuss the culture-annihilation problem and its causes. This will happen on various existing popular weekly television programs, such as Channels Television morning show, “Sunrise,” AIT’s “Kakaaki” Breakfast Show, and other primetime programs on various stations. Campaign jingles will be regular features on Television and Radio.
- Print Medium Campaign: Newspapers articles, newspaper ads, posters, and flyers to be distributed in the streets and university campuses.
- Billboards: Culture Awareness Billboards will be raised at strategic locations around the country, and our sponsors will be visibly carried along.
- Cultural Events: Festivities to promote and celebrate the Africa Culture. Stage branding— Sponsor’s Logo and slogan on Back Drops on stage at all the venues of our cultural events. Our festivities will be carried on national television.
- Road Shows: Road Shows are getting very popular in Nigeria as an effective means of reaching the people.
- Collating And Warehousing Artifacts: All rejected and abandoned cultural artifacts will be collated for preservation, in collaboration with relevant government and non-governmental agencies, such as museums, the National Commission for Museums and Monuments, and the Federal Ministry of Culture.
- Promoting African Languages: E.g.— encourage establishment of curricular for ethnic language studies in institutions of learning in Africa, and kindle parental interest in teaching ethnic languages to their children no matter where they reside. The catalogue of African names, along with their meanings on our website, is designed to encourage the use of African names around the world.
- Constitutional Awareness Campaign: To counsel, and provide legal support system for victims of the rampaging anti-culture crusaders in Nigeria. Clearly, the crusaders do often violate the Nigerian constitution when they go on their destruction rampage. Most often, however, neither the culprits, nor the victims are aware of this fact. Culture Watch Africa strives to bridge this information gap. A good example of areas of interest to Culture Watch Africa, which calls for constructive intervention, is the role of the Nigeria Police in the entire conflict. It is very important that the police officers know exactly what the Nigeria constitution says about certain issues involved in the conflict. Presently, some of the officers apparently do not understand that there is no religious sentiment in law. They have to understand that the law does say that wanton and willful destruction of another citizen’s property is illegal, and punishable no matter who does it, clergyman, or pagan. It is the observation of Culture Watch Africa that Nigeria police officers often get caught in the emotional dilemma of whether or not to enforce the law against a “man of God.” Hence, they often let the so-called “men of God” go unpunished after forcibly dispossessing a man of his cultural artifacts and setting them ablaze amidst the owner’s protest, all in the name of Christ. More grievously, the police officers often further victimize (oppress) the protesting owners of the artifacts, and in defense of the erring “born-again Christians.” In a case in study, the police in Nsirimo village near Umuahia Town, Abia State, arrested the protesters, and, reportedly, extorted money from them in an unconstitutional, illegal bail scam. Newspaper report had it that the villagers had to pay large sums of money to the police officers in order to secure their releases from jail.
The struggle to protect and promote the African Culture in Nigeria can easily be won through concerted efforts of various relevant institutions. The following are some of the obvious stakeholders:
- The National Commission for Museums and Monuments: This is the Nigerian agency responsible for protecting the country’s cultural antiquities. It has already responded to the problem with a sensitization campaign. “We are … telling the Christians that they can’t detach themselves from their past, that there is a beginning to their history,’ said Omotosho Eluyemi, a senior official of the commission. “The commission urges those who do not want to keep sacred objects to take them to local chiefs. It also seeks stricter enforcement of the law prohibiting export of artifacts.”
- UNESCO: Culture Watch Africa aims to partner with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in achieving the Educational and Cultural portions of its overall mandate.
- NICO: By its name, the role expected of the Nigerian Institute of Cultural Orientation in this campaign is obvious.
- Federal Ministry of Culture: Naturally, Nigeria’s Federal Ministry of Culture is a clear stakeholder in the promotion of the culture of the land.
- Traditional Rulers: They have a major role to play in the promotion of the African Culture. Indeed, they are the custodians of the culture, and it is their sworn duty to protect the culture.
Beyond the above listed bodies, we call on corporate bodies and philanthropist everywhere to support this very, very important campaign to halt the extinction of the African Culture. We consider this a call to civic duty and cultural patriotism.
- Harry Agina: Communications & Human Relations Consultant; Broadcast Producer/ Filmmaker; Texas, USA. BA, Theatre Cinema; BA, Telecommunication; MA, Mass Communication.
- Ahmed Yerima, PhD: Director General of Nigeria’s National Arts Theatre, and the Director of the National Performing Troup, Lagos, Nigeria.
- Jide Oluwaseyi: Pastor of a Parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Lagos.
The Invasion Of The Funky Pastors
The convener of the Culture Watch Africa Movement, Harry N Agina, has written a book on this subject, which is titled The Invasion Of The Funky Pastors: Church Business At War With The African Culture. Published by AuthorHouse USA, the electronic version of the book is ready for purchase through www.funkypastors.com .The hard copy debuts in the global book market on March 31, 2010.
When I left Nigeria as a youngster for the USA in search of the proverbial greener pastures, there was Christianity, and, there was the African Culture; I had grown up in both. Christianity fed me the word of God, while my African Culture made me desirably and proudly different from a white man, an Indian, Mexican, or Asian. That was many years ago in the mid-1900s.
Today, when I miss my culture and visit my African village, my brethren say the culture is no more. Indeed, the entire Nigerian Christian community seems to be heading towards the ugly notion that the African Culture is suddenly out of fashion. The people’s excuse as they annihilate our culture is that they have seen The Light in a new-wave born-again Christianity; the truth is that they grossly misinterpret the Holy Bible. Some traditionalists are not taking this lightly, and, with their “fire-for-fire” response to the born-again zealotry, there is truly a war of cultures in Nigeria.
In my primary case scenario, anti-culture crusaders put a ban on masquerades in my village, insisting that masquerades are evil, and must be destroyed. Another group, all Christian, too, said no to the ban, and…bang, a war broke out in the village, and I was right in the middle of it. This is my story, which is not limited to my village Akamiri. It is a story of Religion in the context of Culture, or should I say, Culture in the context of Religion, in Nigeria. It is generally a story of a raging war between Christianity and Culture in contemporary Africa.
I must prepare my reader’s mind for my hard-nosed criticism of “Commercial Christianity.”
However, I am a Christian, and would never advertently say one bad word against Christianity, or any religion for that matter. My grouse is with the growing number of mischievous wealth-seeking pastors, their zombie-like followers, their gross misinterpretation of the Holy Bible, and the war that they have all declared against the African Culture. One might call my criticism venomous, but I prefer to call it brutally frank, or frankly brutal.