Of God and the African Indigenous Beliefs
by Hilary Odion Evbayiro
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Two weeks ago, Christians all over the world celebrated the Easter. In short, it was a very important weekend to them because of the salient nature of the Easter Sunday. It is salient because it commemorates the very day Jesus Christ was thought to have risen from the dead thousands of years ago. That event was and still is a miracle that has never been duplicated. But whether it actually happened is another thing. Personally, I cannot vouch for its occurrence because I did not live at that time and did not witness the miraculous event. I was only told, and perhaps brainwashed, when growing up as a lad in the Roman Catholic Church, and forced to believe by faith, without opportunity to even reflect or make inquiry. There is no question that indoctrination and fideism remain the very nature and soul of the Christian as well as the other alien religions.
As we know, Christianity is not the only religion in the world. Many religions abound, just as there are many different people and cultures. And whether these religions are speaking or preaching anent the same God is yet to be known. To bring it closer home, we have our own religion. Our forefathers used it to worship the God of nature, the God of the universe, and the God of creation. Our forefathers worshipped God before Christianity and Islam were even brought to us, but the mode of worship of our ancestors has been reduced to and dubbed a “traditional” religion, a cheap and denigrating way of describing anything not western or that is considered contemptibly inferior.
The world has wickedly downgraded and classified the African indigenous belief as Paganism, Satanism, Occult, Cult, Idol worshipping, and others. It is only recently, thanks to the work of the Organization of African Traditional Healers (OATH), that Amazon has agreed to expunge its negative classification of African traditional religion. In a similar development, the US Library of Congress has agreed to stop classifying African traditional religions as cults. The implication before these development is that the west, especially the Europeans and North Americans, have worked resolutely to put down Africa and African spiritual worships with highly degrading ascriptions. The denigrating terms that have been ascribed to the African religion are not even the issue. The concern is whether the religious belief of our forefathers is about God and good versus devil and evil.

Every religion is about the worship of the living God, but when it comes to the African belief system, people hold the annoying conviction that it is about evil or diabolism. Why should it be this way? Why do Africans have to embrace alien religions when the people do not see anything good about ours? What makes Christianity, Islam, or whatever the true religion? In the bible, God said, “I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” That God did not say, “I am the God of the universe or the earth. Why should the God Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob worshipped be transformed into the God of the whole universe? Why should the God Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob worshipped has to be the God every person on earth has to worship?

It is not surprising to know that our problem has been and will continue to be our inveterate yen for those things that are exotic to the untold disparagement of the African cultural system. We tend to be ashamed to worship the way our forefathers did. Some of us are even fiercely and vehemently opposed to knowing something about our indigenous religion just because some strangers came from far a field and condemned everything about us. As a testimony to the unspeakable loathing we have for our indigenous beliefs, about two or so years ago in the wake of an order of the Oba of Benin, Omo N’Oba N’Edo Uku Akpolokpolo, that a ritual be performed to appease the gods and avert the needless accidental dead of people at the Ikpoba River bridge in Benin City, most people, especially the so-called African Christians, went hysterical. They called the action barbaric. In short, the ritual was met with vicious condemnation from some elements among the Christian community, who think they are the only ones with the keys and passports to heaven. They claimed the ritual was a firm declaration of idol worshiping and that the only way to peace and tranquility is through Jesus Christ.

Why must we continue to spurn the way of serving God that our ancestors did? Even when Pope John Paul II have found reasons to publicly apologize to Africans and wrote to accept that African indigenous beliefs are not cults or idol worshiping, some of the African people, especially the so-called Christians, still think and believe otherwise. They think thus because they are still heeding the deceptive teachings of the early Christians missionaries who attempted to destroy our religion and imposed theirs on us. They claimed we were worshiping idols and asked us to do away with them. They claimed we were worshipping man-made objects and asked us to throw them away, but turned around and gave us a crafted cross of silver or gold for us to worship and wear around our necks and claimed it is symbolic of Jesus Christ on the cross. They asked us to cast away our traditional religious garments and gave us their colored robes to wear instead.

They claimed that our various religious practices or liturgies are fetish, yet they will always sprinkle drops of holy water and spread the smoke of incense or something, just as our fathers used to do to invoke the good spirits or drive away the evil ones, around their places of worship. They are yet to prove whether they fetched the so-called holy water from the Sea of Galilee or River Jordan in which Jesus Christ was putatively baptized by John the Baptist. They forbid us from consuming the flesh and blood of animals we use for worship, yet they will give us bread and wine in church and claim they are the “flesh and blood” of Jesus Christ.

They painted in the bible the idea of a perfect, loving God, yet they wrote in the same bible that the perfect God is a jealous God. They wrote in the bible too that the same perfect God chose only the nation of Israel, of all the nations of the earth, as his favorite. The same people wrote in the bible that the same perfect God asked the Israelites to go and dwell in the promise land he chose for them. We are told in the bible that the same perfect God helped the Israelites to destroy every living thing in their path as they proceeded to settle in the promise land. The remnants and fallouts of that sojourn are what we are still experiencing today in the unending confusion surrounding the nation of Israel and its neighbors. The interesting questions in all of these are: why would a perfect God be so destructive? Why would a perfect God choose only one of the nations of the earth as favorite? Did the perfect God not know that would breed jealousy, animosity, or enmity? If there were reasons for the perfect God to have a favorite among the nations thus created, what then was, or is still, the reason for the creation of the other nations in the first place? Why not create only the favorite? Why would a perfect God who, as we are told in the bible, created everything in the universe be at the same time fervently destructive as exemplified in his extermination of people by the Israelites in the bible?

Our indigenous belief system or religion is not about evil? There is nothing wrong with the African way of serving God? The Christian or Moslem way is not the only way of knowing and serving God? We should not be afraid or ashamed to serve God the way our forefathers did. I am not against whatever religion anyone wants to belong, but I am violently and vehemently opposed to the worshippers of alien religions impinging on our right to see and worship God the way we deem fit.

The book is meant for people who are hopeful but seem not to have yet found their purpose on earth. This book will help enable people and communities to progress with a peace of mind towards their destiny.

Need daily devotion materials for you and your family early in the morning or late at night? I used this daily at night to instruct my children about want I expect from them now and into the future. We pray about the devotional message to a higher power, which makes them feel that the expectation is an achievable goal. It is very good at helping you and your family stay focused in improving your quality of life and making better decisions. Always use this daily!

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