A Nigerian man who took to Twitter 3 weeks ago to thank God for his child who came after 8 years of waiting, with prayer…
~ By Godknows Igali
The world around us and not forgetting in particular, “our dear own nativeland”, Nigeria, appears to be in throes of various types. Killings, bloodletting, oppression, hunger, corruption, kleptomania, unemployment, accusations and counters, intolerance, so on and on and on. The endless atavism, schism, betrayals, manipulations, oppression, repression, suppression have odiously become the norm, than lonely exceptions etc. At the global scene diplomacy and interstate interactions which should, ordinarily be the alternative to dissention or war, are at best conducted in arrogance, deceit and treacherous predilection by dominant silk-back gorillas of the world.
Political leadership at all levels around the world, particularly complex plural polities such as Nigeria need deeper and insightful reflection on the pains which their conducts and attitudes are unleashing on humanity. Yet, the world we are taught, was created and energized for good ends. Easily, most recline to religion for succour and explanation; putting on spot, German philosopher, Karl Marx’s most perceptible conclusion that religion, is often an opiate – a calming psychotropic substance.
Faith and Religion, simpliciter, are no doubt excellent and indispensable nuggets for living. Some of the greatest of men ever, like George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, all disclosed in their lives’ stories to have fallen back on faith for emotional strength at the most testing points of their statesmanship. Many can easily relate to this, because, their bended knees at moments such as this are therapeutic balms for daily existence.
As a matter of fact, even the main religions of the world, to wit: Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Judaism, Hinduism; may appear to have many differences. But, this scenario will appear exaggerated and perhaps unfounded when they are made to overlay one another on most critical existetential issues. In particular, when it comes to explaining human society, prescription of standards for social relations and ultimately defining the rather inferminate and indeterminate place of so called ‘Man” in all these.
It is true that the biosocial instincts of man are innate and complex. We recall that the fictional character in Daniel Dafoe’s masterpiece “Robinson Crusoe” once tried to live in autarky and isolation. Alas, he soon discovered that he needed other people to enjoy, maximally, daily existence. This appears to be the greatest bequeathal of our progenitors to humanity. Even thinkers such as Philosopher, Franz Oppenheimer who in 1908, through his seminal work ‘Der Stat’, doubted the voluntarism implied in the origin of the State, nonetheless, appreciated its worth and value. So with the exception of such groups as Anarchists – a rather narcissistic view which propagates unrestricted individualism or related extreme neoliberalists such as Nudist or so called Naturalists – virtually all people believe in staying together under presented norms of political and social decay.
From a metaphysical standpoint, human society or the idea of communal existence is considered as a reflection of true creative essence. So beyond the theoretical postulates by the wisest men to rationalise the idealism of human society, the existence of the state is an act of faith. So it goes beyond the whimsical outcome of human progress and intellectual contraption. Rather, we live together impulsively as a matter of divine and creative order.
Indeed the State seems, according to most doctrinal inferences, to be a typological depiction of a superior supernatural pattern or what the Holy Bible, for one, refers to as existing after “pattern of things in heaven”.What this means is that the rainbow of statehood, nationhood, racial kaleidoscope and the variegated linguistic aggrupations must be seen in their true worth: the way God wants things to be in the world. No wonder, the authors of the Book of Acts in the Holy Bible state that “God has made all nations on the earth from one man to inhabit the whole earth, and He had determined the times of their histories and the boundaries of their lands” (17:26). More than that, repeatedly, Christian scriptures state clearly that “God rules in the affairs of men” and is actually “monarch of the universe”; inferring divine approbation of social existence and the State.
In Islam, daily existence and collective actions are seen, according to most doctrinal postulates as central to faith. Patriarchs of Islamic rationalists thought such as Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi, Ibn Sina (Avicenna) , Ibn Rushd Averroes, amongst others, all insisted the existence of the state as central to faith. It was along this line that while reflecting on Lord Luggard’s 1914 Amalgamation of Nigeria, Amb. Maitama Sule, one of Nigeria’s founding fathers, from an Islamic slant, concluded in a media interview on 7th November 2016, that it was a deliberate ‘act of God’.
Having identified its moral background, what about the political and social ordering of human society?
This problematic has, perhaps, occupied the greatest amount of enquiry and query by thinkers and also enjoyed the most unambiguous injunction by faith. The truth is that nature, according to creative essence is highly organized. The world and all of creation, are intricately complex. Just try to pause and think, that there are over 170 billion galaxies and 100 trillion planets, suns, moons and stars of which our Earth is amongst the smallest. Yet, they work in perfect harmony. Here on earth, we have over 7 billion persons and 8.7 million different species and classes of creatures in their trillions of individual existence, each very complex in morphology!
God is therefore, obviously, very thorough, organized and perfect.
Against this backdrop, what is the place of Man even at the behest of his political glory? On the earth, man is obviously favoured to be in charge. Though the weakest in physical strength, the gift of spirituality, of mental faculty and of innate commanding powers places him in charge. That is work towards the betterment of society to reflect as much as possible, following the heavenly order. Make the world more pristine, more pleasurable, more edifying, more fulfilling, more happy and so on. And what is more demanding is the fact, that this task must be performed as a matter of urgency. This is because man even in his most accomplished attainment is merely a product of a mortal destination that is in no way different from say a hen or the smallest of ants. Paleful, woeful, helpless and irrelevant.
Ordering the State, outside its original purpose, is therefore, a miserable attempt of feigning divinity or plainly stated playing God.
Nigerian elite of today at all levels (centre, states, local level, ethnic tradition, religious, academic, etc.) are not free from this tenuous game of playing God. How? By the arrogant display of power to cause disaffection or even demand accruals of glory and; indirectly worship! It’s all self deception and a total travesty. On the contrary, any mortal man whose predilections are short of the original purpose for which God created societies, nations and states puts himself as a direct enemy of the creative essence. Or plainly stated, combatant against God.
Pause! King David, was one of the most accomplished men ever. His life has been well chronicled in history, literature and religion (Judaism, Christianity, Islam and Bahai and other schools of enquiry). Having tasted power, pageantry and addulations of men, from personal experience, he once queried “why do the kings of the earth imagine vain things”. But it took his son and successor, King Solomon to conclude that “the whole duty of man is to do good” aside from serving God. Solomon was adjudged the wisest and materially richest man ever but ironically. He ended his reflections that the sum of razzmatazz of power and opulence is “vanity”!
Whether it is in Christiandom, Islam or even in our indigenous thoughts the injunction to building a harmonious society is constant and divine. The perspirating pains which all in our country are going through today in the country, reign of intolerance, pride and arrogance, fear and feelings of despair can only be reversed by a fresh realization of our togetherness, in the face of our claimed spirituality irrespective of our different faiths. The proclivity to playing God to fellow man and upping the negativities of living together therefore appear direct afront against God. Or is it not? The task of reordering, reconstructing and rebuilding the Nigerian society in an atmosphere of mutual respect and forbearance is there a collective task that must be seen as critical backbone of faith and spirituality. Or do we prefer to continue, perhaps unwittingly to combat the Almighty?
Dr. Igali, is a Career Diplomat, Historian and award winning Author of the 2014 book “Perspective on Nation State Formation in Africa”.