Tuesday, 24 February 2015

The Looming Identity Crisis Paralysing Nigeria

After observing carefully what is going on in the Social Media among Nigerians, more especially among the youths, I am left with many questions unanswered. Why have we all forgotten what really matters for our nation? Why have everybody been lured into focusing on less important matters of national interest? Who really cares about this nation, politicians? religious leaders? the youth? who? Where are the true compatriots? What about the labours of our heroes past, have we all allowed their effort to be in vain? This is my preoccupation on this brief reflection.
One of the problems of our generation is the failure to understand what counts; failure to focus on the essentials. For a long time now, Nigerians seem to have focused their attention on less important things, forgetting the essentials. Everybody has been tamed and forced to fight a war that does not exist. Politics has become the order of the day. In every platform people are obliged to politicize issues, whether they want it or not. In fact, we have all become actively partisan-  supporting a candidate that may not even know that we exist.
Even the unemployed youths have all been lured into advertising, a mediatized non-existing massive job creation, that cannot benefit them in anyway. They all speak of a President to be, whose credibility has no bound, even if they do not know how he is going to carry out all his political propaganda. Even the so called religious leaders have all been conditioned to see nothing except who becomes the next President of Nigeria. God has even revealed to some what He has planned to do to whoever votes a particular candidate. All we are yet to see so far, is when a Church choir will sing Vote Buhari! or Vote Jonathan!, even when it is not clear if they really have a plan for a united and better Nigeria.
We have been staged one against the other in a country that should have been one. People inculcate in us, through their sponsored video, ethno-tribal and religious hatred. And without knowing it, we have all become bigots; religious and ethno-tribal bigots; we have all become.  No one asks the prospective contestants which Nigeria they are campaigning to govern? A country divided between North and South? A country divided between Christians and Muslims? A country where political party members have no plan or intention, than to fight  each other?
Who speaks now of our dear Chibok girls who have now spent ten months in captivity? Who talks about the deceased people of Baga? Who cares about the Nigerian refugees in the Chad, Cameroun and Niger? Our concern now is how to get our Permanent Voters Card – which is very good – but then, what about our fellow Nigerians who have been forced to quit their territories without burying their loved ones?  Nigerians have lost contact with reality. I am afraid we have already forgotten what really matters.
Ali C. Nnaemeka, omi

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Le Premier Dimanche du Carême: Croyez-vous à la bonne nouvelle?

Gn 9, 8-15, Ps. 24 (25), 4-5ab, 6-7bc, 8-9, 1 P 3, 18-22, Mc 1, 12-15

Jésus a reçu deux types du Baptême : Baptême de l’eau au Jourdain et Baptême du feu au désert. Parmi tous les évangélistes, il n’y a que Marc qui a su exploiter ce fait. Dans l’évangile d’aujourd’hui, il les juxtapose l’un après l’autre et ne met en lumière que des moments fars de ces évènements non seulement importants de la vie de Jésus mais qui sont aussi des évènements préparatoires de sa mission. Les évangiles sont silencieux sur l’adolescence de Jésus. Après le récit d’enfance, les évangiles ne nous parlent de Jésus qu’en ce moment de son baptême et de sa tentation au désert. Et Marc avec son économie des paroles ne retient que les essentiels. Il le résume ainsi : Jésus s’était fait baptiser de Jean, puis, l’Esprit le pousse au désert où il fut tenté du diable. Pendant qu’il vivaient au désert pour Quarrant jours avec les bêtes sauvages, les anges le servaient. En fin, une fois que Jean Baptiste est arrêté, il part en Galilée pour prêcher la bonne nouvelle. D’autres évangélistes nous donnent plus de détails sur le baptême et la tentation du Jésus, mais a Marc n’intéresse que la mission de Jésus : Annoncé que le temps est accompli, que le royaume de Dieu est tout proche et donc, il faut se convertir et croire à la Bonne Nouvelle.   Qu’est-ce que Marc veux communiquer ? Il veut faire savoir que si Jésus après un long silence reprends le chemin, en passant par le Baptême, puis par la tentation au désert, si il était servi par les anges, et si Jean, celui qui doit diminuer pour que Jésus grandisse s’est fait arrêter, c’est parce que le moment tant attendu est arrivé. E donc, que le Royaume de Dieu qui est Jésus Lui-même est tout proche d’eux. Qu’il a repris le chemin de la libération. Il faut alors seulement une seule chose : se convertir, c’est-à-dire, se mettre à sa suite, suivre le projet de Dieu qui est rendre l’homme libre et digne. C’est justement en cela que consiste la conversion. Construire une société juste et équitable, respecter l’humanité et l’univers et mener une vie digne de Dieu.   C’est justement ce que la première lecture souligne : Dieu rétablit son alliance avec tout ce qui est sauvé de déluge. Les humaines comme tous les autres créatures. Et on voir qu’on ne parle plus des créatures non impures comme on avait attendu dans la lecture du Mercredi de Cendre. Tout ce qui est sauvé de déluge est purifiés. C’est le prototype de notre Baptême comme Saint Pierre le fait entendre dans la deuxième lecture que la mort de Jésus sur la croix nous a racheté tous. Et désormais nous sommes tous filles et fils de Dieu.      

Ali C. Nnaemeka (mekaalison@gmail.com)
''The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said''. Alison, omi.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Friday after Ash Wednesday: Is Not This The Fast That I Choose ?

Isaiah 58:1-9, Psalm 51:3-4.5-6ab.18-19, Matthew 9:14-15

The Book of Isaiah is constituted of three Books or three authors and three époques, depending on what one wants to lay emphases on or which school of thought one belongs. Today’s reading was taken from the third Isaiah and belongs to the post exile oracles. By the time the Israelites were in exile, the temple was desecrated and on top of the Holy Mountain were established other gods. At their return from the exile, they were unable to recognise their country. Many strangers have joined the community also. The problem of Israelites then was multiples.
Then there was also desire to continue with the old custom. The desire to continue keeping the fast, continue keeping the rituals etc. But, even in that religiosity, there were many immoral acts and injustice that reign in the society. The poor were deprived of their right, the needy ignored, servants maltreated, etc. Their religiosity was mere routine and their acts hypocritical.
The prophet, however, reading the signs of his time and more especially, being inspired by God, spoke out against their artificial religiosity. He listed to them what the Lord wants from them: humility, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, etc. According to him, it is only at this point that the Lord will listen to their prayers.
Isaiah, just like Jesus was to say it in Matthew 25, did not mention any traditional religious act as a means of fasting.
The situation of Israel by the time of third Isaiah was similar to our actual situation. In this our era, there are many idols enthroned on different high places, many of the so called places of worships today have been desecrated and religiosity transformed into mere social gathering. In a religiously confused society like ours, the only thing that count is a religiosity guided by love of neighbour and environment.    
May our Lenten fast be more of Love for our neighbours and the environment. 

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Thursday After Ash Wednesday: I Set Before You Life And Death

Deuteronomy 30:15-20, Ps. 1:1-2.3.4,6, Luke 9:22-25

The Tora contains 613 Laws given to the Israelites in different moments of their journey to the promised land. These laws were different from the 10 commandment received by Moses on Mountain Sinai. Each of the 613 laws, however, can be traced back to the 12. Their appearance, were historical. Each came as a response to a particular concrete situation of the people. They came either to correct a particular difficulty or give directions to follow in a particular circumstance. This is why St Paul calls the law a pedagogue, a disciplinarian in Rom. 3:24. They were mainly moral or ritual laws and served as models of conduct in both religious and social spheres. In another words, they were to guide the steps of the people. Living them, therefore, means following the right direction to life.
No wonder in the first reading of today, Moses tells the Israelis that they have before them both Life and death. That as they journey to the promise land, the same rules which has led them through the desert apply. If they must live, they must learn how to respect each other, to keep a proper hygiene, to have a proper eating habit, to keep good relationship, to respect their environment etc. As a matter of fact, God was like letting the people understand that their future was in their hands. That if they manage it well, then they live but if not they reap the consequence of their action.
A good society, therefore, depends on a collective acts of each member; the way they act, respect each other, involve themselves in the development of their society, entertain a good relationship with the cosmos etc. This was the objective of the law. It was never meant to suppress man but to give him opportunity to enjoy the universe.
This is also what Jesus expresses in the Gospel. He gives each person the possibility of choosing what is right. He expresses it in terms of Cross – «Take your cross and follow me». He did not say, take my cross and follow me. In another words, if we agree to live in function of collective good, if we accept to act just like him, to suffer, not because of our offense, to be condemned, not because we are wrong, but because we love each other, then we will resurrect with him.
Lenten period is a moment of choice making; choice between prayerful and loathful life, between fidelity and infidelity, between good and evil. The choice is always ours and God will never impose it on us.  
Ali C. Nnaemeka, omi

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Thank You ! It Seems Just Like Yesterday

On a day like this, (My One Year Anniversary as a Catholic Priest of the O.M.I), the only thing that can have meaning in my head is saying Thank You! Saying Thank you, first to God who started this good work in me. Thank you to my parents who accepted to give birth birth to me, in a world where, unfortunately, not every Child has right to be born. Thank You, to my family who loved me and thought me how to love. It was in this family I learnt the value of love and life. Thank you to this family who thought me how to fight for my right; how to appreciate what I have and how to accept not to have what I cannot have because I cannot have it. Thank you to every member of this family of eleven who has made me understand better the Igbo Adage: «Otu nne n'amu ma otu chi anaghi eke» – Each child, even though from the same mother, is unique. Thank You, to these seven soldiers and four Amazons that made up my family for by your love and respect, I have learnt how to love and respect not only humanity but the cosmos in general. I love you all.

Thank You also, to my relatives who have in one way or the other made me whom I am. I lack words to express my heart felt gratitude. To all my classmates in both primary and secondary school, I say Thank You earnestly.  You were all instrumental to my formation.

To my formators, both in Minor Seminary and in Scholasticates, I say Thank You very much. If not for your instructions and care, maybe I would not have endured to the end.

And to my friends and well-wishers, I say, Thank You. Thank You for accepting me as your friend. Thank You for allowing me to love you and for loving me. In hard moments, your love reassures me of a better tomorrow. Thank You for you give me every reason to forge ahead. Thank You for accepting my caprice and short comings. Thank You for being You.

And to my dear Oblate brothers, I say a bigger Thank you. You have been my immediate family since I started my formation. And since then, I have always passed 95% of my time among you. We have come to overcome our differences. Our different points of view of the world did not prevent us from loving those to whom we were sent.

Last but not the least, Thanks to You who is reading this post. Without you, all I have written here would have fallen on a stone. If you ask me what I have learnt in this one year, I would say that I have learnt to start afresh every day.

Thank You! thank You! Thank You! 

Ali C. Nnaemeka, O.M.I (Oblate of Mary Immaculate)


Is Air Canada different from the other Airlines?

Courtesy of Glenn Nordquist
There are those flights that when you come out from them you begin to understand better what «Safe journey» mean. I think I have come to understand it in a semi hard way today. At the end of my community experience in my new oblate province of service, I took Air Canada to fly back to my mission area. The flight was booked almost a month ago and was scheduled to take off at 18:05 (-5GMT), from Montreal to Sept-Îles. On my arrival at the Airport, I discovered that the flight time has been changed to 19:15. As I have learnt after a recent incident I had with CAM-AIR CO. (Cameroonian Airline), last two months, that the best virtue to cultivate with Airlines is patience, I decided to take my suffering with care.
As if it was not a problem changing the time of the flight, at 19:10, we received another announcement telling us to bear with them again as there were few logistic steps to be taken still. Happy enough, at 19:45, our flight took off.
Nikkon JPG (254)Throughout the major part of the flight, it went really swiftly and smoothly till we arrived in Sept-Îles. No one needed to be informed that we had arrived in one of the areas of Canada where winter and wind have sealed a dangerous alliance. The feeling was like the one you experience jumping from an asphalted road into an abandoned and neglected track. It is the type of road you take when going from my village (Ugbaike) to Amufie. A road where Okada men (commercial motorcycle riders) will double charge a pregnant woman who is going on maternity visit because of the time it takes him to assure that the woman would not enter into an early and forced labour.  
What came to my was «what could have been the reaction of the passengers if they were all from the country of Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche»? While many would have unavoidably started shouting «Jesus! Jesus! Jesus! others would have started invoking either The Blood of Jesus or Holy Ghost Power etc. Even those who, on normal days, do not know the road to the Church would have become serious believers as long as that was to give them the hope of surviving the incident. After what lasted for like 5 minutes, we landed at the Airport to the relieve of all the passengers.
And as if fate wanted to continue testing our patience, we waited and waited for our luggage to no avail. The only option left to us was to go home and come back the next day for our bags. Thank God we arrived well but I am tempted to think that Air Canada unfortunately has also proven it could act like every other airlines.

Sunday, 1 February 2015

"Lights out in Nigeria" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

 Here is another scholarly piece from the award winning author of Americanah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adiche. In her stylistic way, she expresses a situation that has remained a mystery to every Thom, Dick and Harry in Nigeria. It is all about the non-existing power supply that has become a sine qua non of Nigerian image. Funny enough, no country has an ostensible cabled system of electricity like Nigeria, yet ''Light is always out".

This is how she presents it. 

  WE call it light; “electricity” is too sterile a word, and “power” too stiff, for this Nigerian phenomenon that can buoy spirits and smother dreams. Whenever I have been away from home for a while, my first question upon returning is always: “How has light been?” The response, from my gateman, comes in mournful degrees of a head shake.
Bad. Very bad.
The quality is as poor as the supply: Light bulbs dim like tired, resentful candles. Robust fans slow to a sluggish limp. Air-conditioners bleat and groan and make sounds they were not made to make, their halfhearted cooling leaving the air clammy. In this assault of low voltage, the compressor of an air-conditioner suffers — the compressor is its heart, and it is an expensive heart to replace. Once, my guest room air-conditioner caught fire. The room still bears the scars, the narrow lines between floor tiles smoke-stained black. Continue reading

Ali C. Nnaemeka (mekaalison@gmail.com)
 ''The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said''. ALISON.