Nigerians and the burden of religion

The average African, it has been noted by analysts, is a captive of two major influences, namely imported religious ideologies and obsolete customs. When a famous scholar, Karl Mark, once said that religion was the opium of the masses, few had doubts that the statement aptly fitted the African.

Consequently, it has been observed that not even the civilisation of Europe and America was strong enough to influence Africans who existed in those climes as a result of trans-Atlantic slave trade against own traditions.

I began to consider the prayer-side of Africa’s religious ideologies and my emphasis was to understand the meaning of the noise or shouting part of prayer. While on this, the one question on my mind was: Are prayers best presented to God or are answers quickly obtained when such supplications are disturbingly noisy? If I started to find answers by, say, to make a comparison in leadership between Africa and Europe, I would dismiss noisy prayers as mere traditions and nothing more.

If I compared the technological advancement between Africa and Europe, I would still dismiss noisy supplications as empty habits believed to hold a meaning in the minds of the African. If I compared the degree of charities that poor countries of the world benefitted from Europe and from Africa, I would still treat the noisy supplicant as a mega joke! If I compared the standard of living between the European citizen and the African citizen, still I would call off the noisy prayers as mere pollution.

If I compared the level of integrity of an average European and an average African, I would still come to the same verdict that noisy prayers were, indeed, worthy of being criminalized. If I compared the ease of doing business in Europe with those of Africa, I would not conclude any differently still. This means that if the Europeans prayed in their closets and privacy and were better placed or rated in terms of every good thing that appeals to the conscience of sane men, Africa would simply not observing what works.

About a month ago, the social media was awash with stories of how President Paul Kagame closed down churches in 2018 in Rwanda and how he claimed the citizens were not financially buoyant enough to sustain those many churches.

That shocked Nigerians! For many back here, it was strange that government should regulate religious worship and I ask: why shouldn’t they? If there was no justification for continuing a thing, why should it continue?

I marvel too why not many Nigerian Muslims bothered to emulate the cosmopolitan lifestyle of the Saudi Arabians who are the true custodians of the religion. It is time we began to do the same by taking a second look at the things that worked among civilized people and differentiate from the ones that did not. Praying aloud is nothing but noise pollution! It is like believing you could cast a stone at Satan when you cannot see him let alone decipher where he is located per time.

If Africa must move forward in this age and civilization, she must rid herself of those shackles that held her stagnant through all these decades.

Comrade Ifeanyichukwu Mmoh,