IS IT COMPATIBLE FOR CHRISTIANS TO BECOME TRADITIONAL RULERS IN IJAWLAND?
efore answering the question with a Yes or a No answer, it is necessary to explore the question critically. Similarly, before condemning the writer for being anti-Christian, it is necessary to read and digest the story in order to have a full understanding of the compelling reason for writing this article.
Although very controversial, nevertheless, it is necessary to ask whether it is compatible for Ijaw Christians to become traditional rulers in Ijawland at this juncture of the Ijaw struggle for self-determination. The reason is that many Ijaw beliefs, values, norms and practices are disappearing at a frenetic speed due to the unrelenting ideological crusades mounted by Christian evangelists, pastors and adherents to destroy Ijaw culture and traditions in an attempt to replace it with a Christian culture. Mr. I. E. Prezi published an article titled "Christian Religion and Loss of Ijaw Traditions and Cultures", in which he identified some of the rare Ijaw cultural beliefs and practices that are disappearing, following Christianization. Earlier, Dr. E. J. Alagoa had made reference to the fact that many Ijaw traditions have been abandoned as people convert to Christianity (1999). Indeed, the destruction of Ijaw culture is proceeding at a pace in which by fifty years from now, the Ijaw cultural world could be reduced to nothingness and replaced with Christian and secular-humanistic ideas. This means that some of the unique beliefs, traditions, rituals, festivals, songs, masquerades and dances might disappear. This further means that Ijaw traditional music would be replaced by CHRISTIAN GOSPEL MUSIC. Already, an increasing number of Ijaw musicians are now singing and producing Christian gospel music. It is evident that in the future, instead of having the Rex Lawsons, I. K. Belemos, the Sea Gulfs, Robert Ebizimors, Barrister Smooths, Timayas, Pereamas, Dennis Abassas, Allen Alabors, Alfred Izon-Ebis, Fere bon Epebifes, Sistr Ayagbene, and so on and so forth, most musicians would be singing gospel music to demonstrate their Christianity.
The increasing disappearance of Ijaw cultural beliefs and practices is easily detectable by asking young men and women questions about their cultural traditions. Most of them would not be able to explain why certain things are done in a certain way. Similarly, most of them would not be able to explain why certain festivals take place. Most Christianized Ijaws have no qualms about condemning their traditional religion as IDOL WORSHIPPING without even paying attention to the meaning of the word "IDOL". The word "IDOL" has been reinforced through classical and operant conditioning methods in the churches and Sunday school to the extent that many Ijaw Christians reflexively respond to the Ijaw religion without thinking about the implications. A considerable number of the educated Ijaws are not interested even in making an attempt to study and understand the traditional system. The reason is that since the days of their primary school education, they have been schooled, socialized and educated to believe that the traditional system is ungodly, satanic and devilish, therefore, it is something to be avoided. Hence, the chorus: IDOL WORSHIP, IDOL WORSHIP, and IDOL WORSHIP in referring to Orukarism.
With this psychological orientation, many, if not most educated Ijaws, do not mind consuming any idea that is associated with Christianity and European cultures and rejecting anything that is associated with Ijaw culture. The most disturbing part of the continuing decimation of Ijaw culture is that even some Ijaw traditional rulers and elders are beginning to reject their own traditional beliefs and practices by describing Ijaw religious culture as "IDOL WORSHIPING." It is understandable when a young Ijaw man or woman makes derogatory statements but when traditional Ijaw rulers and elders say that before Christianity, the Ijaws used to worship idols and not God, it really tells a lot about the intellectual state of Ijaw reasoning concerning religion.
Perhaps, due to the influence of Christianity, some Ijaw traditional rulers and elders no longer seem to subscribe to the notion that the traditional leader is the GUARDIAN, PROTECTOR, ENHANCER, PROMOTER and CUSTODIAN of traditional culture and religion. This is worrisome because all over the world, whether in China, Japan, India, , Tibet, Iraq, Morocco, Mexico, Vietnam, Yorubaland, Peru, Kikuyuland, Maya, Pacific Islands, Cherokee, Thailand, Maoriland and so on and so forth, traditional rulers/leaders and elders are generally regarded as the guardians and custodians of their traditional beliefs, cultures, traditions, religions and ancient wisdom. As a result, they serve as the protectors, promoters, perpetuators and preservers of their cultures, religions and ancient knowledge of their cultures. In Ijawland, the role of the traditional ruler and elder is systematically being eroded by some very important personages who subscribe to a religion that has nothing to do with Ijaw culture while serving as traditional rulers and elders.
Based on the utterances of some Ijaw traditional leaders and elders, it is inferable that they really do not care about being the guardians, protectors, enhancers, promoters and custodians of Ijaw culture, beliefs, traditions and religion. Hence, the ease with which they describe Orukarism as IDOL WORSHIPPING while ignoring the fact that all religions, including Christianity and Islam, engage in deification of certain beings, individuals, entities, artifacts, symbols, effigies, and totems. Moreover, Christianity and Islam came to the Nigerian region through military conquest, colonization and imposition.
The Declining State of Ijaw Culture and Traditions
It might be necessary to cite some specific circumstances to show the retrogressive state of Ijaw culture as some Ijaws, including traditional leaders and elders, uncritically embrace Christianity, which came to Ijawland through British conquest, colonization and imposition.
1. In 2010, due to the uncontrollable crime rate in Benin/Edoland, the Oba of Benin and the traditional political leadership decided to do something about the situation. They resorted to the traditional Bini system by invoking their ancestors to punish those who commit crimes. The Iyase of Benin, Chief Sam Igbe stated:
We are fed up. This is the way we reacted against this type of things in the
past and we have just gone back to the ancestors to help us clear them.
So, we believe that in order to put a stop to the insecurity, we just have to
put a curse, call on our gods to put a curse and stop all the activities that
threaten lives and property (Mmuta, 2010, June 11).
In Ijawland, His Highness, King Francis Ododo of Ikebiri Kingdom in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area of Bayelsa State decided to get tough with criminals in his kingdom. Instead of taking the traditional Ijaw path, since he is a traditional leader, as the Bini leaders did, he declared: "Henceforth, any person linked to criminal activities in the area will be handed over to the security agencies for prosecution'" (African Examiner, 2010 ).
The fact that the Bini traditional political leadership took the traditional African path and the Ijaw traditional leader took the secular-humanistic path does not say much. However, the boldness by which the Bini leadership decided to adopt the traditional path is what makes the difference. The Bini leadership did not doubt the efficacy of Bini traditional religious culture. This means that the leaders strongly believed in their religion. Hence, the Iyase of Benin further boldly reinforced the Bini religion by saying:
We felt as Edo people we are not Christians, we are traditionalists, we believe in
God through our ancestors." (Mmuta, 2010).
The question is, how many traditional Ijaw leaders and elders today would be able to boldly defend the integrity of Ijaw Orukari religion?
2. Around 2015, a Bini son won a local government council election in South Florida. To celebrate the electoral victory, he decided to hold the event in a university campus. A traditional Bini religious priest was invited from Nigeria to come and offer prayers for the event. When the traditional religious priest walked to the stage in traditional Bini attire and explained the intricacies of African Ancestralism to the audience, everyone was awe-struck. The Americans wanted to know everything about Benin religion.
On the other hand, how many educated Ijaw men and women would be bold enough to invite an Ijaw traditional religious priest to come and offer prayers? If this son of Biniland was an Ijaw person, it is probable that a Christian pastor might have been invited just to tell the world that the Ijaw son is a Christian and does not believe in "Idol Worshipping."
3. While perusing through Youtube to find information about Ijaw culture, a very interesting video about Ijaw culture, history and tradition, titled "Art and Culture Ijaw Episode" showed up. In the video, the traditional leaders and elders of Kabowei (Kabo) Kingdom narrated the history, beliefs and traditions of Ijawland. The chiefs spoke glowingly and explained the intricacies of Ijaw culture and traditions, including various festivals. It was very joyous and enlightening to hear very important elders speak about Ijaw traditions and culture.
However, the chiefs also noted that some Ijaw traditions are disappearing following Christianization. One of the chiefs also repeatedly referred to Orukarism as IDOL WORSHIPPING, thereby, reinforcing the Christian view. One other noticeable thing about the video is that a Christian gospel song is used as a theme song even though the story of the video is about Ijaw culture and tradition. It would have been preferable to use a song associated with Ijaw culture to back up a story about Ijaw heritage. Again, the gospel song simply reinforces the view that Christianity is literally eating away Ijaw culture and people do not seem to pay much attention to it. In other words, a sizable number of Ijaws are not worried that they are literally destroying their own existence while other ethnic groups in the world are working hard to protect, revive and reinforce their cultures.
4. On June 13, 2017, Emem Ido, a journalist with the Vanguard (Nigeria) newspaper published a report titled "Sabagreia: Bayelsa community where evil, wicked men dread." In the report, the paramount ruler (Amananaowei), His Highness, Dr. Bokumo Orukari explained the story of Lake Efi Festival. The story is very captivating and should be told and written about in order to preserve Ijaw cultural heritage. However, the worrisome part of the explanation is that His Highness said, as reported by the Vanguard reporter:
Life at the time was centered on the idol Efi.
Owing to this constraint, when the fullness of time came, the people and owners of Lake Efi, renounced idolatry and handed the lake over to the Almighty God.
The last festival in 2013 was the first time it was conducted with new modifications and alterations to reflect the rededication of the festival to Almighty God.
It is obvious from reading the story that Christianity had much to do with various decisions concerning the lake. Most importantly, the view that Orukarism is based on IDOL WORSHIPPING had a great impact too. This line of thinking is greatly influenced by Christian preaching which continues to maintain the view that Ijaw people in particular and African people in general, did not know God until Christianity arrived at the shores of the African continent. Thus, the quoted statement seems to create the impression that the people of Sabagreia did not know God, hence, paid homage to an IDOL in the past. The statement is perfectly acceptable for a Christian audience within Ijawland but does not sound well for the global audience. The reason is that it creates the impression that the Ijaws did not know God, hence, worshipped IDOLS until the Christians came to civilize them to embrace God.
The fact is that Sabagreia people knew even before the arrival of Christianity that there is a difference between being good and being bad, hence, they named their community Bolouseibokorogha, which translates into "where no evil/wicked person would settle." It is ironic that people who supposedly did not know God but worshipped idols, as the Christians claimed, banned evil people from their community even before the arrival of Christianity. So, if Orukarism is devilish, why would the Sabagreians banned evil people from their community? Likewise, since Bolouseibokorogha people revered Efi, does it mean that they did not worship God? If that is the Christian assumption, then, how did they know that there is Woyengi, Aziba, Azibarau, Ayiba, Ayibarau, Oginaere, Tamarau, Tamuno, Temeowei, Temuno and so on and so forth, in the past? Is it not true that the Ijaws know that God exist for thousands of years before the establishment of Christianity? If that is the case, then, where is the justification for spreading the view that the Ijaws only worshipped idols in the past until Christianity came?
5. The fact that some Ijaw traditional leaders and elders are feverishly working to destroy Ijaw beliefs, culture and practices is undeniable. In Aleibiri community, for instance, an active member of the community who is associated with the St. Luke's Anglican Church, Mr. Golden Garuwa, is allegedly credited for initiating an action which resulted in the stoppage of the masquerade festival in 2007 (Prezi, 2015, Ocotber 25). Again, the wonderment is that the traditional leaders, elders and members of Aleibiri community allowed such a rare cultural festival to be disregarded without thinking about the consequences to their sub-culture. Perhaps, it should be noted that the Anglican Church was established by King Henry VIII in an attempt to seek a divorce from his wife who could not bear him a male heir. The Catholic Church had repeatedly refused to grant King Henry permission to divorce his wife, hence, he created the Church of England (Anglican Church) to accomplish the goal. This is why the Anglican Church is regarded as a state church.
6. As part of the ongoing campaign to systematically wipe out Ijaw religious culture, which is the bedrock of the moral foundation of Ijaw existence, a forumite on Ijaw Nation Forum (INF) went as far as to indicate that the word ORU means devil in Ijawland. Of course, the fact is that ORU does not mean devil at all. ORU is the name of the founding deity, as well as the name of an ancient African ethnic group that is associated with the deity. Many ethnic groups in Africa today, including the Ijaw, Urhobo, Dogon, Nupe and others claimed to have originated from the ORU nation. The Ijaws are directly associated with the ancient ORU nation that is why sometimes the Ijaws are referred to as Oru people.
It is not unusual for people to equate their ethnicity directly with the creation deity. This accounted for why the Jews claim to be the children of their God. Logically, the Ijaws too claim to be the children of their God. This accounted for why the Ijaws refer to their religion as ORUKARI, which means the worshipping of a deity. In Orukari, there is GOD, gods and goddesses, and ancestral beings. The Orukari religion fits very well with the universal theory of the nine gods/goddesses. According to this theory, human affairs in the world are regulated by nine gods/goddesses. Thus, each god/goddess deals with a particular aspect of human affairs. The Bible also recognizes the multiplicity of gods and goddesses, as indicated below. Hence, St. Michael is regarded as an angel which protects and fight for justice. The Christian concept of St. Michael matches the Orukari concept of Egbesu which performs the same role.
The Orukari religion has stringent rules. These rules could be regarded as sacred COMMANDMENTS or LAWS. This is why an Ijaw person can only kill under the principle of self defense. Anyone who kills must perform a soul cleansing ritual to clean away the sin of taking the life of another.
Orukari religion seriously frowns at evil deeds. Thus, in some parts of Ijawland, any person who has engaged in sorcery cannot be buried in the same cemetery as those with clean hearts. In some parts of Ijawland, when a person dies, before burial takes place, the OBOBA Bi ritual must be conducted to find out whether the person was a good or a bad person.
Thus, every Ijaw person supposed not to violate the sacred rules or laws. As a result, in Ijawland, there are ABOMINATIONS or SINS. An abomination is a violation of the sacred commandments or laws. Evidently, any Ijaw person that commits an ABOMINATION must confess the deed. It is the only way to wash away the sin. There is a strong belief that if confession is not rendered, the sin could affect the members of the sinner's family also.
ORUKARISM is based on absolute truth due to the belief that truthfulness is tantamount to godliness. He or she who cannot tell the truth cannot be godly. This accounted for why no one can lie while entering the shrine. There is a belief in Ijawland that there are no secrets because anything done secretly or clandestinely can be verified through divination.
Indeed, ORUKARISM is based on the Worshipping of God. Consequently, the Ijaws have always worshipped God (WOYENGI, AYIBA, AZIBA, AZIBARA, OGINAERE, TAMUNO, TEMEOWEI, TEMUNO) FROM TIME IMMEMEORIAL. The Cosmology of ORUKARI Religion, as indicated above, includes God, gods and goddesses, and ancestral beings. It is from this perspective that the idea of Ancestralism takes place. This arrangement is not markedly different from Christianity which has God, Jesus Christ, angels and saints. The Christian saints are ancestral beings because they are the deceased members of the Christian religion who have been deified after death. Therefore, the Christians honor God, Jesus Christ, angels and saints the way Orukarists honor God, gods, goddesses and ancestral beings. When Christians honor the angels and saints by naming their schools, churches and other important structures after them, they do not say they are paying homage to IDOLS. For instance, the St. Luke's Anglican Church in Aleibiri is intended to honor St. Luke, who is a deceased member of the Christian Church. However when the Ijaws honor gods and goddesses and ancestral beings (dead ancestors), they are referred to by the Christians as IDOL WORSHIPPERS. Sadly, many Ijaws meekly buy into this propaganda without thinking about it critically.
Christianity and Idolism
By the way, when Christians claim that they do not honor gods and goddesses, they are either being very forgetful or mischievous since the Old Testament also acknowledges the notion of gods and goddesses. For instance in Genesis 1:26, it is stated "LET US MAKE MAN IN OUR IMAGE, AFTER OUR LIKENESS." The "our image, after our likeness" shows a plurality of deities.
Likewise, In Psalm 82:1, it is stated "GOD HAS TAKEN HIS PLACE IN THE DIVINE COUNCIL, IN THE MIDST OF THE GODS HE HOLDS JUDGMENT." Another way to put it is "GOD STANDETH IN THE CONGREGATION OF THE MIGHTY; HE JUDGETH AMONG THE GODS". Here again, there is an acknowledgment of the plurality of deities (gods and goddesses). Of course, most Christians prefer to pay little attention to the fact that there is an acknowledgement of the concept of polytheism (many gods) in the Bible. So, what is the difference between the acknowledgment of gods in the Bible and in Orukarism? There is no difference between the two ways, however, the Christians are very good in ignoring facts about their own religion while point fingers at other religions.
Christianity, like every other religion in the world, has numerous IDOLS made up of various symbols, effigies, images, and totems. The following provides a short list of items and activities which constitute reverence for IDOLS in Christianity:
1. The Bible: The Bible is a collection of written materials that span about two thousand years. Even though it is a book written by human beings to describe and predict their perceptions of God and the state of being godly, today, it is accepted as the WORD of God. This is why it is considered a sacred book. Thus, to know God through Christianity, it is necessary to read the Bible. Then, what happens to those who cannot read and write? Does it mean that those who cannot read the Bible cannot know and understand God? Is it necessary to read a book to know God? The truth is that it is not necessary to read the Bible or any book in order to know God. Human beings have been worshipping God for thousands of years before the establishment of Christianity ands Islam. This is why the Christian religion borrows extensively from other religions.
Moreover, the New Testament of the Bible is not necessarily accepted by the Jews. This accounted for why the Christians have persistently persecuted the Jews for refusing to convert to Christianity. Additionally, the information in the New Testament only reinforces the orthodox view of the Christian story. On the other hand, it does not reflect the Agnostic view of Christianity. It is necessary to have both views in order to draw a more objective picture of what actually happened in the days of Jesus Christ.
Problems with the Bible
a. There are many versions of the Bible, including the Hebrew, Greek, Ethiopian and the St. James. The Ethiopian version is probably the largest or longest because it contains additional materials.
b. The Old Testament and the New Testament are not compatible. The Old Testament deals basically with Jewish religious beliefs, traditions and culture while the New Testament deals with Jesus Christ and the emergence of Christianity. The Old Testament God is discriminative, revengeful, punitive, tribalistic and reactive. The New Testament God is very forgiving and tolerant. The Old Testament God sounds more like a tribal God while the New Testament God is globalized to embrace all. The view that the Bible contains two distinct Gods is not new. Around 142 CE, a man named Marcion, a rich ship magnate, the son of Bishop of Sinope of Pontus, a Pauline Christian who later adopted the Gnostic teachings of Cerdon, argued that the Supreme God is different from the creator God (Cosmocrater or Lord of Creation). In this regard, the God of the Jews (Cosmocrater) was lesser than the Supreme God. Cerdon had argued that the God of the Jews was not the father of Jesus Christ. (The Atheist Conservative, 2010, January 2).
c. Some of the stories in the Bible are contradictory. For instance, the Creation Story in Genesis dealing with Adam and Eve is confusing. First, it states that God created man and woman equally, then, in the explanation section, it states that God took a rib from Adam to create Eve. For instance, in Genesis 1: 27 "So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them". Then in Genesis 22 "And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man."
d. Some of the stories are incomplete. For instance, Cain is banished from the Garden of Eden to roam the earth. Then suddenly, the Bible states that he impregnated a woman without mentioning where the woman came from since the Bible had stated that only Adam, Eve, Cain and Abel existed at the time. Genesis 4:16 states "And Cain went out from the presence of the Lord, and dwelt in the land of Nod, on the east of Eden." Then in Genesis 4:17, it is stated "And Cain knew his wife; and she conceived, and bare Enoch". Where did the wife come from? Were there other people? If Nod was already occupied by human beings, then the story of Adam and Eve being the first human beings is nullified.
Despite these limitations and contradictions, the Bible is viewed as the WORD OF
2. Jesus Christ: Today, there is an unquestionable belief among Christians that Jesus Christ is not only the son of God but a manifestation of God. In the past, that was not necessarily the case. There are a few examples to cite from to show that in the past the status of Jesus Christ was highly debated by the early Christians.
a. For instance, Montanus and his two associates, prophetesses Prisca and Maximilla appeared on the Christian scene between 156 and 172 CE to spread a version of Christianity which devalued the importance of Christ and emphasized the importance of the Holy Spirit (Davis, 1983). This movement shifted the focus of Christianity away from Christ to the Holy Spirit before the Church banned the idea later.
b. The Council of Nicaea took place in 325 CE. Emperor Constantine of the Roman Empire organized the council to develop an official doctrine for the Christian religion. Before this time, the Christians had no official doctrine and preached different things about the religion. Emperor Constantine invited 1800 bishops to attend the Christian gathering but about 318 of them turned up.
One of the major issues the council tackled was determining the relationship between the Son (Jesus Christ) and the Father (God). This issue divided the council into two factions. One faction was led by St. Alexander of Alexandria and the other faction was led by presbyter Arius. St. Alexander, his assistant Athanasius and their supporters argued that the Son (Jesus Christ) was as divine and coeternal as the Father (God). Hence, there was no difference between Jesus and God.
On the other hand, Arius and his 22 supporters in the council maintained that the Father (God) was supreme and unique, hence, greater than the son (Jesus Christ). Arius further argued that the Son (Jesus) had a beginning and did not possess the eternity and divinity of the Father (God). Accordingly, the Son (Jesus) was made God by the permission of the father (God). This view of Jesus Christ and God is known as Arianism. The debate about the status of Jesus Christ went on from May 20, 325 to June 19, 325. This means that it took a month to discuss and resolve the issue of Jesus Christ and God.
St. Alexander and his supporters won the debate. As a result, the Bible only contains the Alexanderian view of Jesus Christ. The Church leaders banned the Arian view (Davis, 1983). As can be seen, the belief that Jesus Christ is the son of God and possesses godly essence as God is a product of human intellectual and emotional debate. Of course, many Christian pastors in Ijawland, Nigeria, Sub-Saharan Africa and throughout the black world rarely read the story of how Jesus came to be referred to as a God.
c. A careful reading of the Bible clearly shows that Jesus Christ did not write any of the books of the New Testament, yet, Christian leaders and pastors quote him as if he actually wrote those things in person. It is theorized here that St. Mark wrote the earliest gospel based on information provided by St. Peter since he was a discipline of both Peter and Paul. Thereafter, St. Mathew and St. Luke wrote their versions based on information partially gathered from St. Mark's writings.
e. Moreover, it should be noted that there are four versions on the story of Jesus Christ. They are: (1) the Horus version, (2) the Zeus version, (3) the Simon of Perea version and (4) Jesus Christ version. This means that the story of Jesus Christ is not as simple as many Christians tend to believe.
f. Likewise, Jesus Christ had a human father, mother and siblings. This is often ignored with the argument that he was born by a virgin who was married or betrothed to Joseph. Perhaps, the twisting of the story contributes to why the Jews do not accept the story.
g. The Bible does not provide much information about the most important person in the New Testament. This is why some people believe that Jesus Christ was actually married to Mary Magdalene. The Islamic Koran refers to him as a prophet, not as a God manifested.
3. The Cross: The cross is a pre-Christian religious symbol that the ancient Egyptians, Sumerians, Indians, Irish, and Native Americans used in their religions. The Roman Empire used the cross to crucify individuals that had been condemned to death. Thus, Jesus Christ was executed on the Cross, hence, the Christians adopted it. Now, it is treated as an exclusive Christian symbol and deified. As a result, the Christian warriors who waged the Crusades against the Moslems carried the Cross as a symbol of protection.
4. Statues: Statues have become part of the mainstay of the Christian religion. In many parts of the world, especially in Europe and the Americas, important Christian figures are deified through statues that are honored as if they are gods.
5. Church Buildings: Christians tend to build very large worshipping houses. There seems to be a believe that the bigger the church, the godlier the structure. This is why even in Nigeria today, there are huge church buildings sometimes referred to as mega-churches. Churches are now referred to as God's houses.
6. Christian Relics: In many Christian churches in Europe and Latin America, the body parts of former church members that have been deified as saints are kept and worshipped. It is very common for churchgoers to kiss and touch the body parts in the hope of being blessed and protected by the saints. Similarly, artifacts that are associated with Jesus Christ and other important members of Christianity are treated as sacred objects and revered.
7. Tithe: Tithe has increasingly become a financial mainstay of the Christian church. Churchgoers are compelled to give one or 10% of their wages to the Church. Christians are psychologically made to feel guilty and ungodly if they do not give tithe. Thus, the giving of tithe is now regarded as part of the Christian process for worshipping God. Some pastors exploit the tithe to become very wealthy. Some of the funds generated through tithe are used for building mega-churches.
It is arguable that Christianity is a product of Afro-Asiatic traditional religions due to the belief that the early Jews were actually black Africans. A Ghanaian scholar, Nana Banchie Darkwah, in his "The Africans who wrote the Bible" demonstrated the fact that black Africans wrote the Bible. Darkwah's position is corroborated by Dr. Ndagi Abdullahi (2017, June 30) who wrote :
But the truth of the matter is that the Jewish culture seen among the Ibos is also seen
among almost all other ancient Nigerian peoples including the Ibibio, the Kalabari, the
Ijaw, the itsekiri, Jukun, the Igala, the Nupe, and so on and on. All these ancient
Nigerian people have been practicing Jewish cultures for thousands of years even long
before the time of Our Lord Jesus Christ some two thousand years ago.
In other words, West Africa was the original homeland of the Jewish people.
Even Western scholarship is gradually coming to admit that the original Jews
were Black African Negroes and that Black Negro Africa was the setting of the
stories of the Scriptures - not the Middle East.
Professor Ze'ev Herzog, the Head of the Archeology Department of the University
of Tel Aviv in Israel, wrote a book and purposely convened an international press
conference telling the world that today's Israel, or Palestine (whatever you call it),
was not the place where the stories of the Bible took place.
Yes, the original Jews were Black African Negroes and they were resident here in
Middle Africa - that is West Africa, Central and East Africa combined.
Therefore, it is inferable that Christianity is a corrupted form of Orukarism and other African religions. Moreover, the Ten Commandments in the Bible seem to be a shortened version of the 42 Declarations that were the mainstay of ancient African religions, which the ijaws continue to practice under Orukarism. This is why in Orukarism, there are many abominations or sins, as indicated earlier. As a result, the Ijaws cannot engage in certain behaviors. The Roman Empire and the Christian Church Europeanized some of the Afro-Asiatic beliefs to create the current brand of Christianity, which, sometimes, is referred to as "Constantinian" Christianity.
Obviously, these are only a few of the cases where even Ijaw traditional leaders, either knowingly or unknowingly denigrate their ancestral religion in order to justify their Christianity. If they continue this way, the future generation of Ijaw children will know nothing about their past, apart from being fed stories in the Bible.
European Christians and Reverence for their Gods and Goddesses.
Why Are the Ijaws so eager to destroy their religious culture in the name of Christianity when others do not do so? Why is it that even Ijaw leaders and elders are willing at a moment's notice to give up their beliefs, culture, values and practices when others do everything possible to perpetuate their cultures?
Perhaps, it might be necessary to show that European Christians who brought Christianity to Ijawland continue to pay homage to their pre-Christian religious deities. They have no problem calling their deities gods and goddesses, just as the Ijaws do under Orukarism. There are many examples to cite from:
1. As stated in previous writings, the month of JANUARY IS NAMED AFTER THE ROMAN GOD JANUS. European Christians have no desire to change the name. This means that they are happy with honoring their god.
2. The month of MARCH is named after Roman god MARS. The Europeans do not refer to Mars as an IDOL.
3. The month of MAY is named after Roman goddess of honor and reverence (MAIESTA).
4. The month of JULY is named after JULIUS CAESAR (Here, a human being is deified).
5. The month of AUGUST is named after AUGUSTUS CAESAR (The same thing happens here).
6. The U.S. spaceship that went to the moon is named after Roman god APOLLO. American Christians have no problem with the name. They do not call Apollo an IDOL.
7. The U.S. submarine TRIDENT is named after the three-pronged spear that is associated with the god POSEIDON.
8. The U.S. submarine POSEIDON is named after POSEIDON, the Greek god of the sea.
9. The PLANETS are named after Greek and Roman gods and goddesses. They are MERCURY, VENUS, JUPITER, SATURN and NEPUNE. For instance, the Roman god (JUPITER) is regarded as the god of light and sky and protector of the state. Even Pluto is a name of a European god.
10. The Saturn spaceship is named after Greek god (SATURN), god of death.
11. ZEUS is the Greek god of the sky.
12. The English people, although Christian today, still pay homage to the Stonehenge.
13. In England, the town of Glastonbury continues to be revered as a sacred site.
As indicated above, European Christians actually glorify their ancestral past by continuing to honor their gods and goddesses while Ijaw Christians refer to their gods and goddesses as IDOLs. The Europeans who brought Christianity to Ijawland continue to honor their pre-Christian deities while Ijaw Christians are trying very hard to destroy their heritage in the name of Christianity?
The Indians, Chinese, Vietnamese, Japanese. Tibetans, Native Americans and South Pacific Islanders have God, gods and goddesses in their religions, just like the Ijaws. They do not refer to their deities as IDOLS.
Is it appropriate and Proper for Christians to Become Traditional Rulers in Ijaw society?
The simplest answer to the above question is that it is not appropriate because Ijaw Orukari culture and Constantinian Christianity are incompatible. Why?
1. Religion is a product of the culture and the environment. This means that religion and culture have symbiotic relationships. The culture molds the religion and the religion molds the culture. Thus, Ijaw culture is molded by the Orukari religion and the environment. Likewise, Ijaw culture molds the Orukari religion. Therefore, to establish morality in Ijawland, the belief and value system must come from the religious culture.
2. The traditional Ijaw political system is a product of Ijaw culture, religion, environment, and Ijaw ancestors. Therefore, to become a traditional ruler in Ijawland, the individual must be conversant with the traditional religious culture since respect for the ancestor is the core of the system. There is nothing wrong in Ijaw people honoring their ancestors just like the Christians honor their ancestors (saints).
3. Christianity is a product of Afro-Asiatic Jewish culture and religion, interwoven with European culture and religion through the influence of the Roman Empire.
4. To subscribe to Christianity is to subscribe to Judeo/European cultures. This is why many Ijaw Christians, like their Nigerian and other Sub-Saharan African counterparts bear Jewish and English names to signify their Christianity. It should be noted that those who are referred to Jews today are different from the ancient Jews.
5. The Islamic religion is also an Afro-Asiatic product of Arabic culture and religion. Wesley Muhammed, an Islamic scholar, believed that Black Africans were greatly responsible for establishing and spreading Islam in his "Were the blacks who founded Islam really Africans? In Black Arabia). Therefore, to become a Moslem is to subscribe to Arabic culture. This is why a vast proportion of Nigerian Moslems and their Sub-Saharan African counterparts bear Arabic names, instead of their indigenous African names.
6. Since both Christianity and Islam have greatly been influenced by Arabic and Judeo/European cultures today, Ijaw Christians must look to Israel for their religious pilgrimage while Nigerian Moslems must look toward Saudi Arabia for their pilgrimage. The fact remains that there are sacred places in every society. There are sacred places in Ijawland. For instance, during the Isaac Boro rebellion, Nigerian mobile policemen were advised not to step into an area that was regarded as a sacred place but they refused to heed the advice and all the policemen that defiled the place were reported to have perished. Unfortunately, many, if not most Ijaw Christians might not appreciate the fact that Ijawland has sacred places.
7. The Jewish, Arabic and most European cultures tend to regard God as a masculine entity. Ijaw culture tends to view God as a feminine entity. Thus, Ijaw culture is more tolerant towards women than Jewish and Arabic cultures. Apparently, if an Ijaw person inclines towards the Jewish or Arabic culture, he or she is going to view things more from the masculine perspective rather than from a dualistic perspective if the person subscribes to Ijaw religious culture.
8. If too many individuals with Christian orientation become traditional rulers in Ijawland, they would denigrate the traditional religious culture and transpose Judeo/European religious culture on Ijaw culture. Soon or later, they might end up creating an environment in which a traditionalist would not be able to ascend the political throne. They would do so by Christianizing the conditions to qualify for the position. This has already happened in Hausaland where Islam has been transposed upon the Hausa culture so much so that Hausa traditionalists rarely have the opportunity to become leaders in their own land. The reason is that the culture is so Islamized that the only way to move forward socially, politically and religiously is to become a Moslem. Hence, Hausaland is now dominated by emirs, rather than by Sarkins (the Hausa word for a king). In Ijawland, the Christians could end up giving Christian names to Ijaw traditional titles.
9. Therefore, if an Ijaw Christian becomes a traditional ruler in Ijawland, he or she is most likely to view the traditional religious culture as IDOL WORSHIPPING and avoid the rituals that are associated with being a traditional Ijaw leader. By so doing, the individual might tactically begin to kill Ijaw culture by avoiding those beliefs, practices and rituals that are essential for reinforcing tradition. In fact, in almost every society, leaders are expected to embrace the religion that most people identify with the culture. It might be necessary to cite some facts to explain the point.
a. In Britain, it is an unspoken fact that the queen or king must embrace Anglicanism. A British member of the royal family who becomes a Catholic would be encouraged to leave the religion and convert to Anglicanism.
b. In Italy, the rulers are expected to embrace Roman Catholicism.
c. In the United States, a would-be-president is expected to identify with the Baptist faith. This is why it is very difficult for a Mormon or a Jew or a Catholic to become a president. The late President John Kennedy was able to climb the presidential throne due to his family background.
d. For the Edo nation, to become an Oba, the individual must forego any foreign religious tradition and embrace Bini tradition totally. The person would be initiated into the mysteries of the traditional religious culture before being crowned. The same goes for Yoruba Obas. They are initiated into the traditional system before coronation.
e. Among the Efiks, every male (and some females) must be initiated into the Ekpe (leopard/lion) society. Any Efik male that is not part of the Ekpe Society has less social value. Thus, the Obong (king) as well as the chiefs are all members of Ekpe Society, regardless of religion. The head of the Ekpe Society is one of the most powerful individuals in Efikland. The Ibibios expect their traditional leaders and most men to be initiated into the Ekpo Society. The Abiriba Igbo people expect most of their men to be initiated to the Abiriba Warrior Society, as well as Ekpe Society. By so doing, the Edos, Efiks, Ibibios and the Abiriba Igbos are able to institutionalize their beliefs, traditions and practices.
F. Among the Ijaws, the Kalabari, Ibani, Opobo, Gbaramatu and Arogbo people are noted for institutionalizing their traditions. This is why the Kalabaris celebrate the Owu Aru Sun Festival and actively join the Ekine Society. They openly celebrate Akaso without apology to anyone. The Ibani and the Opobo people celebrate the Otam Ebukuma (Nwaotam) Festival with vigour and devotion. The Gbaramatu and Arogbo people are steadfast in upholding the Agadagba or Egbesu as the core of the traditional religio-political system. This accounted for why the Agadagba (King) of Gbaramatu insisted that the Nigerian soldiers who stole the Egbesu golden sword must return it or face the spiritual consequences that might follow. Okrika people celebrate the Odum and the Ogwein masquerades with boldness and joy. The Nembes continue to perform the Ofuruma (ofirima) masquerade.
Thus, due to the contradiction between Christianity and Orukari religious culture, the only way a strong advocate of Christianity can become a traditional ruler is that he or she must forego Christianity and embrace Okurarism as the religion of Ijaw people. The Binis, Yorubas, EFiks, Ashantis, and many other ethnic groups put restrictions or conditions that must be met before an individual becomes a traditional ruler. In fact, the Bini and Yoruba Obas go through extensive retraditionalization before their coronation. By so doing, they are able to ensure that the traditional religious culture is not corrupted by foreign religious cultures.
If the Ijaws do not put conditions based on the traditional religious culture, soon or later, the Christians might end up taking over all the traditional leadership positions in Ijawland. If that happens, Ijawland might end up like Hausaland. In Nigeria, it is inferable that the Hausas are the most colonized people in the sense that Islam has been imposed to the extent that Hausa beliefs and traditions are highly diminished.
The concern about the possibility of Ijaw culture dying out should be taken seriously. The Urhobos and other ethnic groups face the same danger. Hence, in Delta State, Prof. Christopher Orubiu and Dr. Emmanuel Biri of Delta State University "condemned the demonization of Urhobo culture under the fašade of Christianity" (Egufe Yafugborhi, 2016, January 7). Likewise, Prof. Olukayode Oyediran , the president of Egbe Atunbi Yoruba believed that the neglect of cultural and traditional values of Yoruba race" is responsible for the high crime rate in Yorubaland in the current generation (Ogunnesan, 2017, November 8).
Similarly, Governor Rochas OKorocha of Imo State, not too long ago, argued that public officials in Nigeria should swear their oath of office in the name of their ancestors. He noted "People no longer fear Bible and Quran that are currently being used, because they knew that God is merciful and did not kill instantly." Again, he recently stated that traditional rulers in Imo State should not speak English while addressing their people during public functions (Okeoma, 2017, July 12). Apparently, there is much concern that African cultural beliefs and traditions are increasingly being threatened due to undue conversion to Christianity and Islam and the embracing of secular humanism.
It seems that many Ijaws do not realize that Orukarism is responsible for the Ijaws being fiercely independent and fearless in expressing themselves. The traditional religion is responsible for enabling the Ijaws to predict or forecast past and future events through Ye bi or Obuba bi (divination) ritual. In fact, if not for Christian and secular-humanistic influences, the Ijaws would have used Ye bi or Obuba bi to find out who killed Chief Marshall Harry, Chief A. K. Dikibo and Admiral Daniel Ikoli. Similarly, the religion is responsible for setting the norms and mores that inhibit sinful acts like killing people to sell body parts and producing baby factories. The necessity to tell the absolute truth is a direct product of Orukarism. It is the Ijaw religious culture that encourages people to confess and make amends if they violate certain situations. Lastly, it is Orukarism that is responsible for making the Ijaws to be great fighters.
If the Ijaws destroy their religious culture, they would emasculate themselves and become a mass of helpless human beings who must depend on greedy, cunning, cheating, corrupting and conniving individuals to lead them. The signs of greediness, cunningness, cheating, corruption and lying are everywhere as some public officials embezzled public funds with total disregard for social and political consequences. Some Ijaws now hire thugs to intimidate and kill their opponents. Some youths are no longer afraid of even embezzling community funds that would have been used to develop their own communities. Self-centeredness is increasingly becoming the norm, thereby, destroying the communal culture that is the hallmark of Ijaw religious world. Stealing is becoming very rampant because the traditional taboos are being ignored as people claim to be Christians.
No society has operated successfully through Christianity because the Bible is read, analyzed, explained and interpreted differently by different people. This is why there are so many Christian denominations. Each denomination seems to think that its brand of Christianity is superior to other Christian branches. The pastors like to throw mud at each other as they compete to establish the largest and most populated churches in the world. In Nigeria, for instance, Prophet I. B. Joshua and Prophet Johnson Suleman re not in good terms even though both supposed to lead their Christian flocks to God (Opejobi, 2017, April 3). An increasing number of Christian pastors in Nigeria engaged in ungodly acts daily as they scramble to accumulate wealth while pretending to be servants of God.
Thus, it is difficult to establish morality and ethics in society when different pastors interpret the Bible differently based on their ideological orientations and self-interest. The same problem seems to exist in Islam where the Sunnis and the Shiites do not see eye to eye. Like Christian pastors, Islamic imams and clerics too read, explain and interpret the Koran based on their ideological perceptions and self-interest. In Nigeria, Islamic leaders and preachers tend to preach a version of the religion that is more applicable to the 13th century, as Emir Lamido Sanusi of Kano noted while the Arab nations are developing their societies with science and technology.
Throughout the world, Christianity is responsible for destroying many indigenous cultures. In After experiencing heart-wrenching situations in the hands of the Christians, the Native Americas in North, Central, and South America are now working hard to revive their cultures that Spanish Christians almost wiped out from the face of the earth while searching for gold and silver. It should be noted that the Spanish Christians almost wiped out all the writings of the Mayan people. Fortunately for the world, the Christians missed four of the writings. The four writings were taken to Germany and kept in the City of Dresden. Today, the Mayan writings are known as the Dresden Codex. The four writings have shown that the Mayans were very advanced, both scientifically and spiritually and built some of the largest pyramids in the world (World Digital Library, 2017, May 24). The Ijaws cannot and should not assist, in any shape or form, the destruction of their own culture in the pretense of avoiding the WORSHIPPING of IDOLS.
To safeguard Ijaw culture from total decimation by the Christians, it is necessary for all Ijaw traditional rulers to subscribe to Ijaw culture by serving as the guardians, protectors, promoters and preservers of the culture. In this regard, the Ijaw Traditional Rulers Council or Forum should hold regular meetings and discuss ways of ensuring the preservation of Ijaw beliefs, values, traditions and language.
Finally, in Ijawland, the traditional moral order should be the guiding light to shape peoples' behavior. This means that if anyone steals public money, the person should be compel to tell the absolute truth by swearing in the name of his or her ancestors. It is a fact that neither Christianity nor secular humanism is working effectively in Ijawland, Nigeria and Black Africa. This is why things are falling apart, as Chinua Achebe predicted in his novel "Things Fall Apart."
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Is it Compatible for Christians to Become Traditional Rulers in Ijawland?
Yahaya Balogun is a Law enforcement agent with the state of Arizona