In pre-colonial African society, the native African maintained a healthy relationship with gods and other spiritual essences which served as his guardian
I have decided to adopt a supernatural approach this week because, besides being recognized as the poverty capital of the world, Nigeria is also renowned as the spiritual capital of the world. In Nigeria, it is impossible to imagine the existence of humanity without the constant presence of the supernatural realm. Humanity is inexorably drawn to the womb of the supernatural realm by the unease aroused through the uncertainties of life. In many ways, man upholds the existence of the supernatural realm by consistently relying on its many outlets for solutions. Such outlets like shrines, temples, churches, and mosques have become hosts to a number of people in their search for a redefinition of their destinies and solutions to the vagaries of their lives.
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Certainly, there are many people also who visit such outlets for sinister motives, to inflict sorrow on fellow humans. Indeed, the supernatural realm offers a paradoxical, binary option as a place of regeneration and life on one hand and a place of potentially destructive, hostile energies on another hand. Caught in this cosmic straddle, man relies on the inchoate matrix of the abundant resources that reside in the supernatural realm, both positive and negative. By the supernatural realm, I refer to chthonic elements which are not seen but exist in man’s consciousness, possessing ultimate powers to control the physical realm.
In pre-colonial African society, the native African man maintained a healthy relationship with gods and other spiritual essences which served as his guardian, companion and oracle of divinity. When man faced the prospect of war, he consulted the gods for insight and advice. When famine ravaged him, he consulted the gods for solution. In fact, the gods looking into the seeds of time, foretold the future. It was the same practice in the Judeo-Christian tradition which is succinctly captured in the Bible. While the African gods were represented by priests, the mind of the Almighty God was conveyed through prophets.
Ola Rotimi’s The gods are not to Blame recounts how the people of Kutuje, as was their custom, invited Baba Fakunle to consult the gods through the Ifa prognostic divination procedure and find out the future of the first child of King Adetusa and his wife Ojuola. After consultations, the oracle announced that the new born baby will kill his father and marry his mother in the future. Therefore, the gods advised that the boy should be killed in order to avert his evil intentions on earth. Eventually, the gods were proved right; the boy, as King Odewale, eventually killed his father and married his mother.
In Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, when a lion roared around the Capitol with very strong wind and storm, Caesar ordered to know the mind of the gods regarding the strange event of the previous night. A beast was offered as a sacrifice to the gods, but the heart was not found. The gods warned that it was symptomatic of an impending tragedy and therefore advised that Caesar should not step out of his house the same day. However, Julius Caesar, being a man who is consumed by his own sense of grandeur, disobeyed the warnings of the gods, stepped out of the house and was brutally murdered by the conspirators.
Many instances abound in history and in folklore which prove that the gods were always right in their dealings with humanity. Also, many instances in the Bible demonstrate that God was never far away from His people. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of the relationship between the spiritual realm and man in contemporary times. It is not because the Almighty God does not exist anymore, neither is it because the smaller gods have ceased to exist. It is pointedly because the human agencies have been defiled or grossly abused. It appears they only exist to express their negative energies towards man when they are manipulated by the wicked.
The supernatural realm cannot operate through a polluted channel for positive ends. If not, why is it not possible for the priests overseeing the gods or the prophets and pastors to consult and find out why Nigeria is the poverty capital of the world? Why is difficult for the priests and pastors to tell us, without delay who will be Nigeria’s next president and save us from all the tirade and toxic attack against one another.
Why is it not possible to consult the Almighty God and the gods of the land to find out, who between PDP and APC is guilty of plunging Nigeria into the abyss of economic despoliations so that they can face the wrath of Sango or Amadioha? Sango, the retributive god of thunder is still with us. Amadioha, its twin accomplice, famed for its ability to achieve vengeance through the swift agency of thunder and lightning is still with us. If they were very active and useful in the days gone by, why have they allowed the wicked to flourish like a bay palm tree in Nigeria while the people are gradually bludgeoned to damnation?
The Almighty God is eternally alive. However, why is it difficult for the showbiz superstars who oversee big business empires called churches not able to convey accurately the mind of God in Nigeria’s current political and economic quagmire? It is either because God is angry or cannot find a suitable instrument through which He can speak to us. Is there no prophet who can ask God what we must do to divest ourselves of the unenviable paraphernalia of poverty which has turned us into a ridiculous race in the comity of nations?
Can’t a prophet ask God to reveal to us who will win among all the presidential aspirants so that we can pray and avert future disaster? The gods must act in the interest of the nation or else, we will depose all of them. In the same vein, if the showbiz superstars who oversee churches cannot adequately convey the mind of the Almighty God, then we would proscribe all the churches, everyman to his house. After all, did the Almighty God not declare that He cannot live in a house built with ordinary hands? What then is the justification for building architectural wonders and use it for weekly procession where people go to, decked in their best clothes, dance and remit money? In exchange, their sensibilities are titillated with manipulated phrases urging them to embrace superfluities of life.
Adiele writes from Department of English, University of Lagos