Nigeria: One God, two religions.
Lately, I have been busy like a bee in an active apiary. However, a writer cannot fail to put pen on paper to illumine the dark corner of the nation's consciousness no matter his tight schedule.
As things are now, it only takes what theologians called hope to believe in the project called Nigeria. However, despite the huge religiosity of Nigerians, even the so called hope is becoming slimmer as the days goes by due to the harvest of blood in the polity in the name of religion. While fundamentalist are busy fanning the embers of hatred and intolerance, in the name of “Christ”, extremist are busy dishing out the menu of sorrow and death without fear or favour in the name of “Allah”.
Permit digression, for those of us who are Catholics, its advent; The purple colour on the alter of my Parish and the chasuble the priest wore last Sunday reminded me that the new born king is on his way to Nigeria again. The purple colour is a symbol of royalty expectation, retreat and change. Tradition has it that in Ancient Rome, the city was adorned with the purple colour when ever a king of class was to visit.
The year is on her way home and Christians are expecting the new born king but Nigerians can't wait to see the end of the bloodiest year in our history as a nation after the civil war. This year's advent, methinks, should not only be a moment of preparation, introspecting questioning and change of “metanoia” for Catholics alone but Nigerians at large.
Come to think of this, if Christ the King that Christians are expecting in Christmas is the Prince of peace, and Islam a religion of peace, it means that Christianity and Islam can eat from the same plate, drink from the cup and share the same bed harmoniously.
The first European pastoral voyage of Pope Francis speaks volume about the issue raise by this writer. Albania the nation that gave the world Mother Theresa of Calcutta is a majority Muslim country yet the tiny population of Catholic Christians enjoys their right, duties and privileges that the Bishop of Rome had to hail the peaceful co-existence, among the adherents of the two major world religions. If Jordan, a majority Muslim country invited the Supreme Pontiff to lay the foundation for her first catholic university, why must the case be different in Nigeria?
I spent my teenage years in the republic of Cameroon, a country similar to Nigeria in terms of religious and ethnic configuration yet the Christian population in Northern region of the country does not suffer any form of discrimination. It is not out of place to see a Muslim Governor or civil servant in a region populated by Christians. In fact, most Christian feasts are incomplete in Cameroon without the presence of Muslims. Back home, our Igala brothers in Kogi State are potent testimony that it is outright criminality to kill a fellow citizen in the name of religion. I once visited an Igala community and was amazed to discover that a brother to a Catholic priest was a Muslim.
In a sectionalized, tribalised Nigeria, facing eminent collapse, we need to cast our pillars in the fact that we are one humanity instead of building our castles on the accidents of life. I am from Nsukka a predominantly Catholic nation; I can bet my precious penny that if I was to come from Saudi Arabia I may be a son of the Holy See. As we move into 2015, let us move away from politics of religion, bitterness and confrontation to politics of issues, contribution and peaceful co-existence among Muslims and Christians in Arewa in particular and Nigeria in general.