For sure that headline may sound so weird to religious bigots and many who have been lied to that our culture is demonic and nothing good can come out of it. Take a look around you and tell me what is working well as it should be. We were never created to go through this level of disorderliness and suffering in the midst of plenty. The black world is richly blessed to the envy of the so called developed nations. That is the reason Africa remains the theatre of action in the struggle for our God given resources.
History reckons that civilization started in mother Africa but today the whole of Africa is reputed as the third world. How did it happen? We read about great centres of learning such as the University of Timbuktu where the world came to sip from its fountain of knowledge. There was also the Songhai Empire and the great Mansa Musa of Mali Empire still touted as the richest man ever.
It doesn’t matter whatever belief you may hold or whatever relationship you may claim to have with God, it will be foolhardy not to recognize the damage the western world inflicted on our psyche and orientation and dislocated our values. We are as backward as we are today and mocked globally even with our rich endowments because through the instrumentality of religion we were made to abandon ourselves and follow the Oyibo man culture.
This is the crux of our problem today. It is the reason why nothing works in spite of all the efforts to make it. Virtually everybody is feeling sad, the leaders and the led. We put every feet wrong in all that we do because we copy from another environment to put on another environment with a different structure.
What is culture? In an interaction with His Royal Highness, Eze Lucky Ajoku, and the traditional ruler of Ihiagwa Autonomous community prior to the community’s Ogbudu Amogu festival last year, he said that, ‘culture is life’. If we reject our culture it means we have chosen death and that describes our situation today. Culture elementarily defined is the totality of the way of life of a people which has shared meaning or value among them.
According to Ralph Linton, the culture of a society is the way of life of its members, the collection of ideas and habits which they learn, share and transmit from generation to generation. Culture we have also learnt is dynamic and evolving.
Culture is developed consequent on the desire of a people to meet a need within their environment. Thus through various identified shared processes people find ways to make themselves happy through music and dancing, feed themselves through farming, commune with their gods through their deities, institute discipline through naming and shaming etc. Simply put people find solutions to their issues through their culture.
It is therefore easy to understand why things may not work for a farmer who at the beginning of a farm season approaches his gods with a little ritual to supplicate for a bountiful harvest, but now he has been lied to perform the same ritual by praying some rosaries and talk to a woman (molten image) he has been made to believe is the mother of God. This same molten image we have been warned again not to worship because it is idolatry according to them.
Our farmer is more comfortable and gets results with what he is familiar with than the new way he doesn’t understand but asked to believe. But because his way of life has been demonized and threatened to end up in hell fire if he continues, so he abandons it and lives in confusion. We consumed everything we were told without asking question even till today. Even where questions are asked which they have no answer you are cajoled not to ask because it is the will of God. For fear of being labelled as unbelievers we conform.
It is the same with keeping the security of the land, bringing stability and orderliness. Today everything is upside down. Life is highly treasured in Igbo land but today precious lives are wasted as if they have no value. Our people engage in all manner of negative tendencies that snuff out life ranging from armed robbery, cultism, assassination, kidnapping, abortion etc. In the time past these were strange occurrences and are considered sacrilegious.
Our culture has responses to all of these which have been demonstrated time and again. Let me highlight a few examples. At a time, Onitsha the commercial nerve centre in the South East became so unbearable to inhabit because of the activities of armed robbers. Lives and properties were so insecure that people began to relocate from the den of robbers which the city transformed into. Our prayers failed us. Conventional security had no response. There was hopelessness.
Like it is said, necessity is the mother of invention. A concerned Anambra governor rose to the challenge and dug up our cultural power by introducing the dreaded Bakassi boys. Bakassi is a group of boys who use the potency of traditional means to burst crimes. They decimated and demystified those bad boys who terrified everywhere with their cutlass that signalled and fished out anybody who may have shed blood in any crime. Their kingpins were lowered to join their ancestors and many took a flight.
With that singular effort calm returned to Onitsha, the believer and unbeliever had peace and life was once again activated. At this point nobody queried whether it was evil power which traditional powers have been labelled. The concern was on how to return life to normalcy. Truth at that point was that we needed food whether it came from a Calabar woman or Yoruba woman or from my mother, what we desperately needed was food to quench hunger and Bakassi provided it.
That was some years back. Again, right now the security outfit in Rivers State as we speak that has brought back peace in the state was activated from the hinterland and their strength is anchored on traditional powers. Most of us knew how Rivers State was engulfed in crimes-cultism, kidnapping, capitation of heads, assassinations, killings of all kinds about two years ago. Every day the state was in the news for the wrong reasons. Business flew away from there and the multinational oil firms relocated to Abuja.
Today, at the initiative of the local communities and the local governments a group called OSPAC emerged to plant their security bits at various points in each local government. The state is very calm. Previously, the bad boys ran rings over the conventional securities inflicting mayhem and getting away with it. In most cases, the security operatives who may have been compromised turn a blind eye while lives and properties are wasted. Except you are outside Nigeria, it doesn’t require any visa to get to Rivers State to confirm this success story.
Incidentally, everybody, believers and unbelievers silently also enjoy the benefits of traditional powers. Aside from the use of drugs which the bad boys indulge in to strengthen their menacing activities we must not lose sight of the fact that the prowess of the bad boys are anchored on juju. If the government can partner the native doctors they can dissuade them from preparing the charms that empower these boys.
Taking it back to Anambra again, it was popular at a time for some people and even people who live in groups in an estate or street to engage security men from Aguleri. They use native powers and are reputable. It is said that robbers flee any area where they are found. Have we forgotten that Aguleri is part of the ancestral origin of the Igbos? Hypocritically, some of those (believers) who engaged them are the same people who demonize traditional worship.
The above examples demonstrate the reality that with our natural powers we can curb crime. If this is so why are we still allowing the loss of precious lives? Truth is that we have chosen to live in deceit believing all the lies that were told in the scriptures. We believed everything to the extent of abandoning culture (life), the method we invoked to solve our problems. They told us our traditional activities are demonic, idolatrous, and offensive to God, same God we had worshipped in its pristine way before their invasion.
Today countries like China, Japan and India, who shut their doors and protected their culture have become the toast of the world. China is right now the enfant terrible of the world rubbing shoulders with America and Europe and getting set to loan us funds. India and Japan are the home of medical tourism and technology respectively. All resisted the European invasion. Given the exploits of Eastern region alone in global reckoning we would have gone ahead of these countries.
If you go to these countries all their streets have their shrines and temples dotted all over and our believers go there to do business. I thought they would resist use of their products or cast and bind their production. We have been deceived for so long. Rather than allow religion becloud our salient values that could deployed to develop our society our professors in social sciences should be engaged in research activities to tap this area of strength. Don’t miss the second part of the essay-very juicy.