JOHN JULIUS |
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 corners of the nation’s consciousness no matter his tight schedules.
As things are now, it only takes what religion-minded 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 go 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 Catholics, advent is almost here.
The purple colour on the altar of a Parish i visited and the chasuble the priest wore on that Sunday, last year, 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 it way home and Christians are expecting the new- born king but Nigerians can’t wait to see the end of yet another bloody year in our history as a nation after the civil war. This year’s advent, methinks, should not only be a moment of preparation, introspection questioning and change of mental attitudes 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 raised 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 Pontiff to lay the foundation for her first catholic university, why must the case be different in Nigeria?
A friend of mine, who spent his teenage years in the Republic of Cameroon, told me recently that it is 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 Ondo State, South West Nigeria. My mother is from Anambra State, South East Nigeria, a predominantly Catholic community. 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 the second half of 2015, a year that has given us a new President, a muslim from the opposition, 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.