By Remi Oyeyemi
“The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.”
– Bertrand Russell
Born a Christian, it has been difficult for me to justify remaining as one.
As far back as when I was 9 years old, I had issues with some stories in the Bible for not portraying God Almighty in good light. I had issues with stories that portrayed patent partialities being ascribed to God. I had issues with acts of unfairness perpetrated, allegedly by God. I learnt and read about the claims of bloodthirstiness of God. And so many ugly things about God. But I dared not verbalize my concerns and misgivings about a book that was and still remains the bedrock of the Christian beliefs, as a child.
Having been raised by my maternal grandmother, someone I considered and still considers the most marvellous woman that has ever walked the surface of the Earth, she had ingrained in me, a concept of a perfect God, omniscient, omnipotent and omnipresent. This concept to me could not be violated because of the source whence it sprang.
In my psyche, as I traversed the schools and the churches; as I went through further developmental and socialisation processes, in different contexts, different environments in different towns and cities of my youth, anything that ran contrary to my grandmother’s conceptualisation of ELÉDÙMARÈ, the God of my forefathers, as the perfect Supreme Being, was easily jettisoned.
Together, we had attended the Anglican Church, Oke-Imobi, two or three times a week. We had attended the Bazaars. We had attended occasional vigils and revivals. We had enjoyed several types of Church celebrations. It all remained a fantastic experience for me. It was a kind of experience that scribbled on the tabula rasa of my consciousness, the beauty of God and his perfection as taught to me by my grandmother.
With my grandmother, I also participated in the worshipping and celebration of Olode or Sonponna. The message about ELÉDÙMARÈ, from my grandmother, who acted as the Priestess of Olode during these worships, was not different. It was one and the same about the awesomeness of God of my fathers. We beseeched Olode with the same supplications that we had submitted in the church. We brought pure palm oil as our offering. With reverence and due soberness, we put our wishes at the feet of Olode and with the kind of joy and happiness that characterised those days, I was convinced that our supplications did not go unanswered.
My paternal grandfather had been a very powerful traditional Priest with awesome reputation of being a kind of a saviour of the afflicted. He lived less than three miles away at Ayetoro, but his reputation was far and wide. He was greatly and affectionately loved by all and sundry; poor and rich; the nobility and the ordinary man; kings and powerful kingmakers. In fact and indeed, before he died in 1948, he was the daily Ifa Priest to Owa Obokun Adimula, Ajimoko II, who reigned from 1942 to 1956 and who also happened to be a paternal uncle to my maternal grandmother.
My own father, and a powerful paternal uncle of mine had drank from the spirituality of Cherubim and Seraphim Church. My Uncle had joined others to create a branch in Ilesa. My father founded a new branch at Ife Road, in Ibadan. It is big now. I sauntered away from the Cherubim & Seraphim Church as I was leaving high school.
Even then, I still find the Aladura Churches more spiritually satiating and fulfilling than the Orthodox Churches. They are livelier, unpretentious, entertaining, deeper and more communal. The ascendancy of Pentecostalism has become the greatest undoing of Christianity in my own view. With all the questions about the Bible that have been nagging my mind, I began to search for answers, and with the benefit of hindsight now, in the wrong places. I began to look for a perfection that was non-existent.
I began to attend Methodist Church, Oke-Ese, Ilesa. I quit after 3 months. Then, through the influence of Mr. Akalugwu, I joined the Catholic Church, Oke-Iyin, Ilesa, whose Baba Ijo, was also my uncle, Pa Olarewaju. I quit after 6 months. I began to attend the Celestial Church of Christ, in Biladu, also in Ilesa. I quit after 2 months. Then, my classmate and friend, Gbenga Fadahunsi introduced me to Episcopal rave that held services at Agbowo Shopping Complex, Opposite the University of Ibadan. It was tagged the Businessmen Fellowship.I quit aftet 3 weeks.
I don’t remember now if this was the same church pastored by Femi Emmanuel, who once contested for the governorship of Oyo State. But I did not stay long.I found it boring, uninteresting and unduly mechanical. Then, it was Christ Apostolic Church, Sango, Ibadan, at Baba Obadare’s church. That one was more interesting. More convincing. The sermons were inspiring. But the questions, remained unanswered.
My efforts in this regard is best explained by the famous quote of the eminent English jurist, Lord Alfred Thompson Denning – “A blind man in a dark room, looking for a black hat that is not there.” It was a futility.
I studied and studied. Read and read. Researched and researched. My brief sojourn in Ibadan Gramnar School as an A Level student threw ajar the door of knowledge about faiths and or religion(s). At Great Ife, I swam in the beautiful pool of knowledge that fostered the love of God as represented by Yoruba Traditional faiths and religion, and without being necessarily religious. This was a departure from the ugly mud of ignorance, indoctrination, threat and fear of God that Christianity and Islam had and have continued to foster and engender.
I came to appreciate the big difference between the “love of God” and the “fear of God.” This distinction, probably partially, explains the disposion and attitude of many adherents of both Islam and Christianity. It probably explains why they use faith as tools of exploitation rather than a tool of liberation. Rather than being an intrument of setting the minds free, it has been an instrument of mental captivity and enslavement with its paraphernalia of invisibility.
As I got inebriated in the opportunity of making forays into the field, researching about Yoruba Traditional Faiths, I fell in love with my discoveries. I felt free and liberated. I found out beautiful and arresting knowledge about my past, my history and my people. I came to recognise the ultimate threat of ignorance and indoctrination as represented by Christianity and Islam. I became horrified about the shackles and invisible chains that have come to cockle the mentality of my people by those foreign religions.
I found out that any faith of any genre that is substantive would not need to threaten its adherents to get them committed. Ask all these politicians to do their swearings-in with Ayélála, Sònpònná, Ògún, Sàngó, Òsun or any other Yoruba prophet, you would see them balking. They know as a matter of fact, that they would not be able to swear falsely as they could with Bible or Quran.
They would look for excuses as to why they could not go by traditional faiths. They would dive insipidly, into the insidious pool of Eurocentric and Arabcentric banalities and inanities to mischievously characterize such as idolatrous and undesirable. They knew that swearing falsely with Sàngó or Sònpònná or Ayélála would have serious and devastating consequences. They would tag such as “evil” in order to have cover for their devilish intentions to steal public money.
My researches turned me into a big fan of YTFs while Christianity continued to drive me away with its authentic fakery. Islam too, held no attraction as a faith. It was and still remains too hollow for my liking. With my reading of many excerpts from Quran, it is not difficult to understand why it is a veritable tool of exploitation, confusion and enslavement of the unwary. It is too manipulative and, well like its fellow Middle-East inspired Abrahamic faith, too radioactive, unduly restrictive and antagonistic to the basic liberties of man.
I found Yoruba faiths more substantive, deeper, cleaner, more humane, more honest, more consequential and sincere in their philosophies. The Yoruba faiths are more liberating, unencumbering, unshackling and more friendly to the liberties of man. In their customary sacrifices, while they follow certain rules, they seek, engender and foster authentic spirituality. There is that protective chord from their God through their prophets, which the ignorant Eurocentric and Arabcentric commercialised Abrahamic Christianity and Islam, characterised as “small gods.”
Along the line, I came across Bertrand William Russel in his book, “Why I am Not a Christian.” You would have thought that the man was reading my mind while I was at St. Michael Primary School, Oke-Seni, Ibadan. All those questions nagging my mind. All those philosophical confusions espoused both in Old and New Testament books. All the contused contradictions in the Bible. All the denigration and misrepresentation of what God was, still is and would forever be. And so on.
My realisation of Islam and Christianity as being too shallow and hollow, were reinforced by the disgusting behaviours of many of those who profess to these faiths either as public office holders or leaders in their respective congregations or communities. Usually, they are the most religious on platforms of social media; they are the first to quote Quran and the Bible. It has always been a facade. They were and still are disgusting in their dishonesty, duplicity, defilement of women and children, uncouth and despicable appropriating of our commonwealth for their personal use and foisting as well as fostering the dregs of the dregs of immorality.
Unsatisfied, and in search of more control of power and the concomitant pecuniaries such as increasing the membership of their churches snd mosques, they have resorted to rituals, infesting the reputation of traditional faiths with the embedded negativity of Christianity and Islam. They have continued to negatively impact the milieu by indirectly glorifying illicit wealth, thus encoraging kidnapping of innocents for rituals of money and political power.
These churches and mosques, validate kleptomaiacs, glorify thugs, celebrate crooks and cannonize criminals. They apotheosize reprobate politicians, purveyors of parlous piety, propagators of falsehood, giving them pride of place in their supposed sanctuaries. These Pastors, Reverends, Bishops, GOs, Imams, Sheiks engage in false prophesies to deceive, mislead, misguide, misinform and miseducate their mentally comatose followers.
The followers too, already dindinrinised, sugomised and suegbeised, united and fortified in their donduism, with their thinking processes pruned, become pathetically lazier, lionized lethargic laggards; lousy and languid in their attitudes, expecting miracles on issues that demand practical application of intelligence and logic. Like “sheep” that they are called and characterised as, they live and function as herds, unable to use their God-given intelligence, and are easily manipulated with a sherpherd’s crook.
As they diddle in their donduism, fortified in their flailing foolishness, the followers have forgotten God and Allah. Like fatal accident victims, they no longer have a memory of why they gathered to worship. Rather than be awed by the greatness of Almighty, they are in awe of the diabolical, duplicitous and deceitful GOs, Reverends, Pastors, Imams and Sheiks. Hook, line and sinker, they bought into the asininity of “touch not my anointed.” They jackbootedly protect and excuse instinctively, the reprobates they should all have gathered to lynch, if they had not the mercy and patience to ex-communicate.
Watching them revel in the bliss of their stupidity, grandstanding with gusto in the grandeur of gory slavishness, one could not but be disgusted and repulsed. A manumitted mind marinating and luxuriating in liberty could only stay away, as far as possible, from such a congregation of groveling slogs. No self-respecting human being, in total control of his or her faculty, would want to be part of such an egregious gathering.
Churches and mosques, to me, have come to be worse than beer parlours, peppersoup joints or Iyan and Amala copulas. Those who frequent those places are honest, frank and unpretentious. When they discuss public affairs, they do so devoid of deceit and duplicity. Evidently, one is most likely to encounter unburnished truths in those places than you would in a church or a mosque.
Churches and mosques have become edifices of moral bankruptcy. They are monuments of miasma. They are habitats of heinous and hideous hits. They are citadels of crimimality. They are fortresses of faunal fiends. They are incubators and conduits of social contaminations.
They glorify in rapes, child defilement and greed. They swim in ostentatious, rapacious and conspicuous consumption. They glamourise avarice, sanctify absurdities, dedicate delusion, deodorize derangement, purify vice and vile, polish putridity and twist few verses in the Quran and the Bible to justify such.
Mosques and Churches have become destructive agents in our polity. Other than social felicitation, churches and mosques have no more value. And …. I stopped attending.