Sunday, November 16, 2008

Turning on one's demons..

While concerted effort I'm sure will now be made to challenge religiously-engineered child abuse in Akwa Ibom, the problem with focusing solely on the child-witch phenomenon is that it brackets out all the other dangerous and superstitious nonsense that people are wont to believe. The horrific story of the thriving albino body-parts trade in Tanzania is mirrored elsewhere on the continent, with blood, skulls, eyes and the like accorded much value, even if it is taboo to even begin to discuss the trade in polite society.

It seems that many places in Africa are stuck in a post-colonial rut: no longer able to believe in the old ways, not able to embrace rationalism/modernity, and thereby utterly caught up in a bastardised web of 'belief' that weaves confused and half-forgotten aspects of the old ways into dangerously contorted versions of Christianity.

Perhaps however we are at a tipping-point, where Africans in a collective critcial mass begin to question what has happened to belief in the African post-colony and whether being guided by theocratically-induced mechanisms of fear and craving are really the way to live one's life. This critical reflection is at least suggested by some of the comments to my earlier posts on child-witches..


Tolu O 8:10 pm  

when you speak of
1. old ways,
2. rationalism/modernity
and the dichotomy between them:

I would like you to explain further:

what would modernity be? (un-contorted Christianity or a complete abandonment of it?)

Are rationalism and modernity the (near) synonyms you want us to believe they are...

Waffarian 1:23 am  

I think the problem is the attempt to use "christianity" (or any other religion for that matter)to solve the problems of ancient superstitions and beliefs.

It amuses me that people do not go to babalawos/native doctors for these kind of issues. I am sure they would do a better job in seeing the "symptoms" of the dark world, afterwards, that is their area of expertise isnt't it?

Like you said, we seem to be stuck in the middle. It's not really about being unable to move towards "modernity" but rather, being unable to abandon such superstitous beliefs even while claiming to be christians or muslims.

This becomes very problematic when even the so called pastors, prophets, etc believe more in superstitions than in the Bible that they are supposed to be preaching. They seem to be spreading the word of Satan more than the word of God.

There is a kind of fear that I think we are seeing more and more in Nigeria. Everybody it seems has an "enemy" that is always after them.

Fear and Paranoia. That is the main issue. People are afraid and paranoid about anything and everything and these so called prophets have decided to capitalize on that.

Now, unto an an issue that has always bothered me. Has nothing to do with this post, but really what kind of parents do we have in that country?

I know many people would not agree with me but honestly, the way parents so readily abandon their children for different reasons is alarming. And its not only the "illiterates" I am talking about.

Children stay with all sorts of people.Relatives, housemaids, neighbours, etc. I have no idea why people choose to bring children into this world and so easily abandon them.

I have always thought parenting in Nigeria sucked. Many of my friends were brought up by relatives or housemaids. I was in boarding house, which I thought sucked too and I have since told my parents that I see no reason why I had to spend 6 years of my life in that miserable hell hole when I could have been warm, cozy and safe at home.

Fuck all that "great friendships" in boarding house bullshit. I would have been in a safer environment at home with my family. That is where every child belongs.

Before people come here telling me the great experiences they had in boarding houses...bla bla fucking bla. I will never understand why parents do that shit. I think it sucks.

Parents should concentrate on bringing up independent kids that can move the hell out at 18. Instead, they send the kids off to boarding house at ten, then the kids return home at 16/17 and remain there living off their parents until they finally get married.

How fucking absurd it that?

The child needs his/her family most at those life forming years...not as a fucking adult!

Sometimes when I see the way people treat their children...the kind of abuse and maltreatment these kids suffer (talkless of the ones that aren't theirs!)I truly wonder if we have not all gone mad in that country.

If you are a fantastic parent, then I am not talking to you. Do not feel obliged to leave a comment...

P.S: And to top it all, they all have the guts to be expecting these same kids to cover their retirement and pension plans...hehehehehehe

Steve Hayes 10:45 am  

Are there any reliable sources for the history of the Liberty Gospel Church and the sources of its theology?

Are there other bodies that preach a similar message?

R.E.II™ 6:52 pm  
This comment has been removed by the author.
AnyaPosh 7:14 pm  

This is my State they're talking about. I understand the context but killing/abusing children to such extremesis just wrong.

Anonymous,  12:47 am  

here here Waffarian on children. This is why I never understand Nigerians and their desire to have children, yet they so quick to abandon them to mad prophetess, maid, boarding school, DSTV, Drivers and what I have you. I look at my friends with children and I think why bother having them when you won't be involved in their upbringing only look up to see what they are wearing to the next party.
It all sucks sha!

Anonymous,  5:04 am  

Jeremy, as usual you have outlined some interesting thoughts but in my view, your analysis is missing certain critical issues. I think you are ignoring the role poverty and ignorance plays in this equation.

I think you'll find that a good number of christians in other countries believe in the supernatural as well. I don't know if it came to your notice that Sarah Palin was prayed for by a Kenyan pastor who is known for his witch-hunting/delivering work.

Belief in any number of things is not peculiar to Africans and i object to this 'otherisation' of Africans. After all there are people who believe that arranging objects in your living space in a certain way promotes positive energy. How is anyone else to know whether this is true or not? The answer is we don't.

Anyone is free to believe whatever they want, the problem arises where that leads to harm to others and this is where any productive work in this area will be achieved. So instead of deriding people's beliefs, perhaps we should be looking at education.

There is no best way to live a life and if someone wants to spend their own life afraid of anything be it cracks in the pavements or their neighbour's 'powers', it shouldn't bother anyone else as long as the effects of their belief are not afecting others negatively.

Waffy, for the most part i agree with your points about poor parental skills in Nigeria. I have thought about this issue a lot myself. However i have to disagree with you on the matter of boarding schools. The context is not the same as in England where children were basically sent away so as not to be nuisances to their parents.

So in my view,this experience of abandonment that you describe is not universal by any means. Of course i cannot deny your experiences but what i would say is that this kind of setup requires that parents be attuned to the personalities of their children and take approporiate action if boarding school does not suit their child. For every one of you, there will be others like me who absolutely loved it and flourished in that environment. I know i struggled to adjust to being a day student when i had to change schools later.

Secondly, you talked about parents not raising independent children that can move out at the age of
18. I think you are ignoring massive societal differences between Nigeria and other countries.

It is basically impossible in Nigeria to move out the way you can in many Western countries. To where is an 18 year old supposed to move in Nigeria? Who will hire him/her?

Just take a look at graduates working and earning a salary in Nigeria. You'll find that many cannot afford basic accomodation much less the other costs of living alone. Have you considered the cost of renting in Lagos recently? Or do you imagine that so many grown adults are happy to be stuck to their parents for so long? This state of affairs is a result of condition, as people say.

In the UK, a growing number of young people are moving back home after university because they cannot afford to live on their own and because it allows them to save for that vital mortgage. I think you are wrongly connecting this issue with parenting.


Waffarian 12:19 pm  

@ D:

I honestly thought of that as well. The issue of accomodation and work for young people. The issues you have brought up are mostly issues that certain "classes" have. Of course, if you want a "certain" kind of accomodation or a certain kind of job, then yes, it is almost impossible in Nigeria.

However, there are millions of young people that arrive daily in different cities all over Nigeria looking for a better life. People that do not have the luxury of living at home with their parents. How do these young people survive? It depends on what you are willing to do, what kind of work you are willing to do. That is mostly the problem.

Most young Nigerians will rather sit at home than work in sizzlers or Mr. Big, yet these same people would easily work in Mcdonalds when they travel abroad. Also, Nigerian parents do not encourage their young children to work in such environments, there is a a kind of "shame" that is associated with menial jobs and that is the truth.

I just think parents can do a better job instilling work ethics early on in their children. Many of my friends (middle class, upper middle class)never worked until they actually finished their university education.

Meanwhile, I know many young people that did not have such priviledges that have been working since they were teenagers to help make ends meet.

I do not think it is as impossible as we like to think. Its just that its not our world so we are blind to the opportunities that young people from another world would see.

Many times, parents can even employ their own kids instead of paying someone to do the cleaning, driving, gardening, etc and still, they do not do that.

I agree with you that for a certain class it might be impossible but they are many young people working in that country that somehow, manage to find work.

Three of my friends in Warri started working right after secondary school. Getting a university education was out of the question because of their circumstances. One worked as a receptionist, the other sold materials at a market and the third worked in a hospital.

As for boarding house, you are right. Not every child is meant for boarding house but I still insist that many Nigerian Parents send their kids away so they don't have to do the hard job. It is a way of avoiding their responsibilities.

ababoypart2 1:18 pm  

My solution (as advocated on my blog) is simple. Suspend ALL religious activities in Nigeria indefinitely. If it works, other African nations will follow.

Anengiyefa 2:30 pm  

Quantum mechanics has been cited as a realm of science so fantastic as to have supernatural connotations to the average individual. Quantum physicists distinguish virtual particles from real particles, blame the collapse of the wave function on their inability to tell us where the matter of our universe is at any time, and tell us that in parallel universes we may have actually been the wealthiest person in the world, whereas in this mundane universe, we are not. It is all relative. Ghosts are a fairly predictable phenomenon compared to the we-calculated-it-but-you-cannot-sense-it world of quantum physics. Most people will agree that ghosts are the souls of the departed, but quantum physicists cannot agree on where antimatter goes. It is there but it is not. Pseudoscientific and paranormal beliefs provide a sense of order and comfort to those who hold them, giving us control over the unknown. It is not surprising that such beliefs continue to flourish in a world as utterly fantastic as ours.

Practically everyone, even most scientists, have some form of belief in the supernatural, and I may even suggest that human society may not be possible without some form of such beliefs.

Christianity itself is an amalgam of suprenatural beliefs which some would see as superstitious. Modern Christianity has evolved over several centuries and continues to evolve. In South America Catholicism is garnished with a dash of belief in ancient native American gods. The same applies in a place like the Phillipines where Christianity was introduced into an already exisitng set of traditional beliefs concerning the cause, nature and purpose of the universe. What obtains in Africa is peculiar to Africa to the extent that our history and our culture are unique, but the processes are universal.

On boarding schools, I absolutely loved the experience. And I dont for one minute believe that in sending me to boarding school my parents were shirking their parental responsibility, since they continued to maintain a high degree of involvement in my life. And my capacity to function independently on a social and practical domestic level are enhanced by the fact that at boarding school I had to take responsibility, the cushion that would otherwise be provided by my "safe", "cozy" home having been taken away. And that, was not necessarily a bad thing.

Mike,  2:44 pm  

@Steve Hayes - a similar child witch phenomenon exists in Angola. I am not sure to what extent but I do get the impression that it may predate the publicised Nigerian example.


R.E.II™ 5:08 pm  
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Anonymous,  6:34 pm  

"Rationalism / modernity".. Hah!!!
Unfortunately, nowhere in the world is devoid of irrational beliefs. Just look at the prevalence of Christianity and Islam in the world today.
I don't find the teachings of certain religions more credible than others just because centuries ago, nations and cultures fought and won wars to eradicate opposing religions and beliefs, and establish prevalence.
To me (and to any non biased rational human being), all religions are equally irrational. Thinking otherwise is fallacious due to "Argumentum ad populum"

Jeremy, I know that you have occasionally tried to take on the validity of established religion but as usual the response was heatedly negative!

Funke 7:38 pm  

pray tell what is wrong with irrationality?

R.E.II™ 11:24 pm  

Deleted my earlier comment again. Must be the demons...

Anonymous,  7:07 pm  

R.E.II™ shouldn't you consider paying Helen Ukpabio a visit? She might help cast out some of those demons. Heehee!

AnyaPosh 10:01 pm  

When you said "It seems that many places in Africa are stuck in a post-colonial rut: no longer able to believe in the old ways, not able to embrace rationalism/modernity"I disagree. You see to this people, whatever it is they are doing, whether it is killing children/selling albino body parts; it is entirely rational to them. The question is how do you transform that kind of rationality?

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