Good Day People,
Welcome to Spoken Voiceless!! This is blog post monthly albeit one week late as usual. June came too soon like the year is speeding. So today I’ll be doing something different out of passion for my Nigeria. I hope you enjoy it.
Today I will be shaking tables and I’m not scared. I’m actually too passionate to delay writing this any further.
One week ago, I was on the Panel at an event tagged “Citizenship, Responsibility and Accountability” and a woman in the audience raised a question. I can’t remember the exact words but paraphrased she asked something along the lines of how do we move on and progress as a nation when religion looms over and impedes us.
The Panel Moderator threw the question at me and said something she did that because I was the youngest and my generation is about to enter the spotlight. I gave an answer that day but I don’t think it was very good because I was put on the spot and I wasn’t really well at that time. But then I have thought about it and as such am writing this post.
Advance Warning – I’m going to say somethings you might not necessarily agree with. Reach out to me lets discuss in a civil way – don’t plaster my comment box with insults interlaced with half cooked arguments.
It is no news to anybody that religion is one of Nigeria’s chief problems if not the chief. Everything in Nigeria is tied to religion. Whether in academics, job places, politics, wherever you go, Religion is present like a denominator to the fraction.
Nigeria is a secular state – at least that’s what they thought us in school and has three major religions, Christianity, Islam, Freethinkers (our denial of them does not eliminate them) and AFRICAN TRADITIONAL RELIGIONS (capitalized emphasis because it is actually recognized). But as I continue to write about this disease, I will focus on Christianity and Islam which are the most pronounced.
I have a hypothesis (that can obviously be argued). The hypothesis is that the reason Developed countries have developed to the stage they are is either because there is mono-religion or because they have learned to separate religion from state.
Separation of religion from state is simply disassociating religion from governance and politics.
Now this is where I drop the whole point of this post.
NIGERIA NEEDS TO SEPARATE RELIGION FROM STATE
One thing that is obvious is Nigerians are very religious people that reverence their god. In a quite recent satirical piece, Elnathan John said the Nigerian god loves noise and zeal. But then Nigerians are EXTREMISTS. We just show our extremism in different ways. For some extremism is expressed in violence, for others in Radical evangelism and many other ways to other people.
Violence is one of the most pronounced and is even a factor for the rise of religion as a problem in Nigeria. I was born in an unfortunate time so to say in 1998. By 2001, the first Jos crisis happened (which my family escaped narrowly but that is another story for another day). From 2001 through the subsequent crisis’s, the sub narrative we (me and my peers) were being told is to run away from and avoid Muslims because they were going to kill us and go to hell afterwards. And sadly that is the narrative that has played till today. I had my primary education at Rhema CHRISTIAN Academy, secondary at Bethany CHRISTIAN Academy. Coming to the University of Jos is probably the first time I had to interact with Muslims. At 19 (almost 20) years of age, I literally cringe whenever I have to go to school through Bauchi Road and worst still when a Muslim enters the keke. But that is now what we should have – it shouldn’t be. But it is.
Extremism in evangelism is another nuisance I personally detest. I am always angry when I am in a public place like the faculty hall in the university and awaiting a lecturer, then a self-proclaimed student evangelist walks in and begins to preach. There are obviously Muslims and non-religious people there but yet they will shout and waste their saliva and end up accomplishing nothing (In my opinion too). That my friends is another form of extremism and lack of respect for other religions. I was finally happy with Nigerian music when Falz dropped the much controversial satirical “This is Nigeria” video but sad when MURIC spoke against it like there was a lie in the video!
I will stop here before I go off point. What is the solution to this? How do we move on? How do we solve the issue? I don’t know.
The wounds of years of insecurity and violence are real but we cannot keep reeling and crying and shouting. We must move on. And we must separate religion and state. And we must teach the next generation to respect everybody irrespective of religion, gender and anything else. As we advocate and work towards a New Nigeria we must work towards this too. Yes it is hard but that is the only way Nigeria will work and progress. A revolution never came easily – it won’t be different here but surely our efforts will pay off.
Peace out. I will attack Religions junior brother Tribalism on a different day when I cool off. Remember comment with sanity and without religious sentiment (low-key attempt at pun activated) and I would really appreciate your comments.