We Are Boko Haram
As the Boko Haram “intifada” continues to transmogrify in monstrosity; upping the ante in barbarism and savagery, more Nigerians, undoubtedly, will be martyred. This is not a prognosis of doom, but a cringing deduction from the exegesis of the terror group. However, this article does not broach Boko Haram's future killing statistics.
All around the navel and fringes of north-eastern Nigeria, Boko Haram roams cutting down feeble “usurpers” who are pawned by fate. From the rustic communities of Borno to the slumbering towns of Yobe; it is the same fate that binds them in one tragedy loop. Boko Haram has become to the inhabitants of this axis of infamy and horror a festering sore which they have to live with; a nightmare that has become a daylight reality.
And so it is, today Boko Haram has become the spitting image of evil; the belch from the bowels of hell. True as this representation of Boko Haram may be, the fact is that it has always been with us. Boko Haram has always been the subservient, quiet and docile demon in our ultra-religious space. And when that demon has soaked up enough contaminated religious water, it unleashes itself fiercely on obverse people knifing, biting, mauling and mowing. All tools in its killing kit, it unleashes to relieve itself of religious concupiscence.
“Religicide” (killing in the name of God) is the child of ultra-religiousness. It is common where religion trounces reason. And in Nigeria, an ultra-religious country, reason is a prisoner. Again, what ultra-religiousness in Nigeria connotes is incessant frictions and clashes arising from the collision of different religions or faith. And that means, even if Boko Haram is subdued today, something greater than it may rise from its ashes.
As a matter of fact, Boko Haram is a manifestation of the loss of reason, and it can be apparelled in the robe of Islam, in the hood of Christianity, or in the raiment of any religion. The Anti-Balaka, a collection of Christian militias giving the Boko Haram treatment to Muslims in Central Africa Republic is a clear indication that a delicacy of terror can be prepared and served by Christians too. The truth is, a mind fecundated by religion is schizophrenic, and as a result, it is dangerous behind the trigger.
Come to think of it, have we wondered why terrorism is common in ultra-religious societies? The Middle East, in spite of all its resources is a hotbed of violence, rape, child marriage and gender discrimination. One would have hoped that being ultra-religious; societies in the Middle East would be front-liners in promoting democracy, fairness, gender equality and peace. But sadly, that is not the case.
Ours is an ultra-religious society with little care for reason. We hold our religious beliefs arrogantly to our chests, and cease to reason out or think through what our religious lords feed us. We gulp down large morsels of religious tommy-rot, and challenge any authority that disputes our “truths”. We keep contaminating our minds with religious poisons until our guts cannot contain them, and then we puke the poisons on people of obverse faith.
Besides, while Boko Haram is waging a Jihad against the country, churches in Nigeria are waging crusades against the pockets of their adherents. Nigerian churches employ mind-bending strategies to keep their faithful mass of penitents under a regimen of compulsory and thankless giving. Nevertheless, that is a subject for another day.
Truth be told, beyond the political and economic reasons that have been given for the rising and thriving of Boko Haram, one neglected reason that may be the kingpin of the other reasons is religion. Boko Haram is the fallout of our ultra-religious society. Our society being ultra-religious gives expansive room for the mushrooming of dangerous sects and groups. It also engenders religious conflicts and schisms.
In the 1980s what appeared to be a harbinger of today's Boko Haram rampaged through the north. It was Maitatsine and his boys. Then later, it was Musa Makaniki and the residue of Maitatsine boys. Many lives were lost in the riots that these ultra-religious men caused. These terrorists rose and thrived because the society in which they operated was ultra-religious.
So, as it is now, if the economic and political causes of terrorism in Nigeria are addressed, the same problem will persist because of the ultra-religiousness of its people.
The battle to stifle terrorism must be taken to the minds of Nigerians. Ridding the country of its ultra-religious garb is a necessary action that must be taken to salvage what is left of it.
Physical combat may stunt the growth of terrorism for a while, but it cannot kill its seed. The seed of terrorism in Nigeria today is religion.
Boko Haram's ideology is pickled in religion. Steering the minds of Nigerians away from ultra-religiosity through seminal re-education may be the one way out of the one-end street of naked violence. We must de-emphasise religion!
The truth is, we are Boko Haram because we are an ultra-religious society.
Fredrick Nwabufo is a writer and a poet. He writes from Abuja. Email:[email protected] 08167992075.