Tuesday, 31 December 2019

An Elegy to the Nigerian Coat of Arm - Alisonomi

We had a nation forged in Unity 

And on our ancestors’ sacred Faith 

That unity and faith procure Peace 

And assure a nation’s Progress 


Unity independent of our diversities 

Faith in our willingness to embrace 

Peace as a nation of people who love 

Progress and human development 


But the symbols of our national unity  

Have been mowed down on bad faith

By a pack of hyenas, enemies of peace 

Who have vowed to hamper our progress 


Unity and progress they loathe with alacrity 

Faith and peace they destroy in its entirety 

This group of fossilized Generals in civil attire 

Who with awe, our nation’s death conspire 


Ours was a nation strong as fairy horses 

Mightier and endearing as a golden eagle 

She started progressing with all her forces

Connecting all spheres of life like Google 


Before these cabals took us all in hostage

Directing our nation like an affair of a village 

Killing and maiming those who raise their voices 

But one day revolution might be among our choices 


For these Generals are our real problems 

Manipulating religious fanatics and hoodlums 

And embanking on chronic ethnic bias for disunity 

Using the military to trample on us in all impunity 


Still I remember that Nigeria was indeed a nation 

Built and passed on to us by our ancestors 

Expecting us to keep for the next generation 

But today, she is in the hands of impostors  




Sunday, 22 December 2019

Goodbye beautiful Nigeria, An adaptation of “O Bella ciao!”

After our election I awakened

Oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao!

After our election I awakened 

And the cabals were in power


Oh Nigerians save our nation

oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao!

Oh Nigerians save our nation

Because I feel split approaching 


And if I die as a Nigerian,

oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao!

And if I die as a Nigerian 

Then you have to bury me 


Bury me deep in the forest 

oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao!

Bury me deep in the forest 

Under the shades of Iroko trees 


And all the people who shall visit me

oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao!

And all the people who shall visit me

Will tell me “what a sacred tree” 


This is the tree of our nation 

oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao, ciao, ciao!

This is the tree of our nation 

Sown for our national freedom 



Thursday, 19 December 2019

The Christmas of the Homeless Jesus by Alisonomi

Two thousand years ago 

In Nazareth of Galilee   

Was Mary’s son born 

In David’s royal family  

To a carpenter in the red  

Who couldn’t afford a room 

To her wife in labour pains 


It was in the heart of Nazareth

The city of the the most high 

The Saviour was sent back

On a very cold and hostile night

The prince of peace an inn denied 


In the 21st century of the Lord’s year 

New holy families have come once more 

Knocking at the gates of our metropolis 

With crying Jesus of hunger and wars

Little and innocent friends of the Lord  


They, like Jesus, are being sent back 

Surrounded by civilized roughnecks 

The Modern Shere Khans of our borders

Kalashnikov in hands and ready to shoot 

They separate the mothers from their kids

Without time to say a simple goodbye  


Locking Joseph far from the infant Jesus  

Mary hurriedly taken to a detention centre 

They traumatize again the holy innocents

While Pharaohs from their houses of colour 

Order to make the nation great again 

Proudly locking kids in detention centres

In nations built in trust and fear of God  


But I hear the Angels that roam the sea 

Flying on their ships to save the day

Hated by the Pharaohs of the old world 

Who take joy in curbing their golden wings

While smiling and dining with all the Neros 

Who reign in terror in the third world 


They all speak of peace like it’s a thing 

But gaily sow terror on the mother earth 

Distributing wars freely like Father Christmas

Evicting more Jesus from their motherland 

Only to lock them up in prisons or in isolation 

In modern Nazareth of homeless Jesus 


Merry Christmas, 

From a friend of the homeless Jesus ! 


Wednesday, 18 December 2019

Ugbaike General Assembly By Georges Owen

It was just some minutes past the hour of 3 pm on the 15th day of december, 2019. From one corner of a two storey building located adjacent to St. Anthony's Parish, Ugbaike I could see few people seated at the platform. One more person just arrived. He waved at us with a quick smile. We are the silent majority. He went and sat with the men on the platform - the Jones of the Animal farm. Their pomposity was visible. They put their heads together and lifted their eyes sporadically at us, their subject. There is an apparent feeling among the members of the platform. The feeling of "we are more equal than others" was readable in their behaviours.
At about 3:20, the one seated at the middle apparently the Chairman of Ugbaike General Assembly, Mr Simon Uja, got up to make an announcement which appeared somewhat a decree from a military junta. He raised his eyebrows as if he was just seeing us for the first time. Like a teacher expecting a greeting from his pupils he waited momentarily before he dished out his decree to the masses - "the us". He announced that the Secretary of Ugbaike General Assembly is yet to arrive. He added that the meeting will start as soon as he arrived. With little apology in his speech in a meeting which is supposedly to begin by 12:00 noon, he spoke as if it is the norm. His eyes blinked more than a hundred times in the course of his speech even as he turned either leftwards or to the right as if every word that comes out of his mouth is propelled by each gesture.
I was not sure if it was already 4 0 clock but the minute hand had gone beyond 3:30 pm when the long awaited Secretary arrived the venue. "We can now start", Mr Uja announced. I could hear the silent majority murmur over delays in the commencement of the meeting. However, they were silenced by few English words from the men at the platform which are presumably more equal than others. There is palpable fear among us that even the bravest could not say a word. Then came the announcement.
Mr Ujah told us that the election which was scheduled to hold today, 15th day of December, 2019 to elect a new President of the assembly has been shifted again for the second time. He gave his reasons that the ballot papers that are to be used for the elections could not be produced. There was obsevervable silence. Few elderly ones sitting a bit far away from me were seen seeking clarifications on the strange words "ballot papers". For a moment they sought to know what the announcement was all about. After some minutes of silence, there was deafening noise from the silent majority. They murmured on why they were kept waiting since afternoon and why the postponement again. However, no one summoned courage to speak up.
I could see some notable figures like the former Chairman of our local government, Hon. Nze Chidi Nwa Omeh. He struggled to look at the silent majority through his gigantic glass. I could site his eyes through the upper part of the lens of his eyes glass. He watched the crowd with utmost satisfaction over their reactions. The announcement was like a communique from a clandestine meeting which is often held to unseat an incumbent president in Nigeria. He stood up and had posited that the election be held on 11th of January 2020. This opinion did not go down well with the fellow "more equals". But after much negotiations, it was adopted that the election is to be held next year as stated. He had asked the Secretary to announce the vacant positions which he did almost immediately.
Umu Agbo: President, Treasurer, Assistant Secretary, Legal Adviser, Provost, PRO
Umu Ezenato: Vice-President, Secretary General, Financial Secretary and Provost
At this point the meeting came to an end and some visitors were invited to address the people on health talk. It was at this point I left the venue.
My experience at this meeting wasn't far from the one which was held on the 17th August 2018. The meeting which was held to give Ugbaike account of how her money was spent including the N5,000,000.00 donated by the state government For electricity project in every autonomous community. The meeting was supposed to commence by 10:00 am but was delayed till almost 2:00 o' clock in the afternoon.
In the meeting the Igwe had told us that some poles were bought with the money, let everyone cut down economic trees where the poles will pass, failure will attract fines, N1 million naira has been deposited to a bank (name withheld) as a prerequisite to attract a N10 million naira project. He told us among others things that more poles and transformers will arrive soon. He told us of a plan to make Ugbaike an economic hub of West Africa where we shall no longer use diesel and petrol to fuel our plants but use public electricity to power them. He also said that the chairman of Ugbaike General Assembly Mr Simon Uja has doubled as the Chairman of electricity committee. He also added that each clan in Ugbaike will receive 15 electric poles (that is 45 for a big clan). I quickly calculated how many electric poles each clan could get with the sum of N5,000,000.00 at the sum of about N14,000 per pole and I got almost 60 poles per big clan. That is assuming Ugbaike had zero amount in her account ab initio. I had expected a clear account indicating how much we had and how much spent but it wasn't part of theturn acounting process.
It is now over a year, those poles are yet to be distributed as stipulated. While some have received, some are yet to see the electric poles. The holes dug for the anticipated poles have turned out to be shelters for rodents who will ever remain grateful to humans for their magnanimity.
It is worthy to recall that sometimes around 2016, our community attracted a project that worth over N4 million from Christian Broadcasting Network (CBN) powered by Irish givernment into our community. A project my brothers and I personally attracted to our community. Over 30 sewing machines, weaving machine, hairdressing and palm oil processing machines were provided freely for our community. It was targeted at manpower development. While the charity organisation is to pay trainers for a period of 6 months, the community is expected to continue to support the trainers financially and try to make it sustainable through commercialisation. However, as soon as the CBN stopped their funding when due, the programme came to an end. The machines were abandoned. Trainers were owed and they finally quitted the training. The machine which was meant to process palm fruits never worked. The contract which was awarded to the President of Ugbaike General Assembly was not properly executed. The machine was hurriedly constructed. It was like a white elephant project. Till today dust and rust have taken over the whole machines at Ugbaike General Assembly Building Nkwo Ugbaike. This is a programme that had worked in other climes before it came to Ugbaike. Every effort I made to revive it was greeted with bureaucratic bottlenecks.
Then came the era of selecting more Igwes from two additional autonomous community in Ugbaike. While the news came to Ugbaike as a good news, it wasn't quite long before it turned to a sad tale just like others. There were as many contestants as the numbers of clans we have in Ugbaike. Even the President of the town union chose to contest for the position. This heated tye polity. At the end, the two slots for igweship was reduced to only one. This is what one gets when greed and self-interest are predominant in a society. How and where the Igwe was produced remains a story for another day. It is like whenever anything of interest to the masses comes up in Ugbaike, the Jones use unending meetings to disarm the populace until the decision is eventually made for them in the other room.
The question any sane mind will be asking in why is Ugbaike very difficult to manage? Is Ugbaike more than Nigeria where it exists? Why are there so much bottlenecks in procedures in Ugbaike? Why are some people holding Ugbaike to ransom? Ifesinachi singlehandedly provided electricity to Ugbaike. No one has beaten his record till date. In every project our people are tasked even when the project hardly see the light of the day. If Enugu state is in the hands of God, could it be that Ugbaike has slipped off from his hands far back? Have we fallen short of glory that nothing good seems to come into Ugbaike, the Nazareth? While my brother Hon. Chinedu Eya is busy promoting the bill board infrastructure of Igbo-Eze North local government, our community is rotting at home with no graded road, no electricity, no potable water and our schools are like temporary shelters for internally displaced children.
Respectfully, I salute the President of Ugbaike General Assembly, my brother and good man Chinedu Eya, and my people both at home and in diaspora. There is a popular saying that Rome was not built in a day. However, I am sure it wasn't built while the Romans were asleep. All hands should be on deck to ensure that we make our community better than what it is today. Only a fool goes about pursuing rat when his house is on fire. Let those who have the power help us to alleviate the sufferings of our people.
May God help us. Even as we celebrate this christmas in utter darkness in our community, I wish everyone a happy Christmas and prosperous new year in advance.

Sunday, 15 December 2019

How Religion Killed African Civilizations (III) - Protestantism by Alisonomi

According to James C. Spalding, et al, “Protestantism is the movement that began in northern Europe in the early 16th century as a reaction to medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices”[1]. It was then called reformation as the the intention was not to begin a new religious group but to reforms certain practices of the Catholic Church.
The Reformation, to be precisely, “began in 1517 when Martin Luther, an Augustinian monk, nailed 95 propositions to a church door in Wittenberg, Germany. These proposals for reform challenged many contemporary church practices. Committed to the idea that salvation only could be reached through faith and “divine grace”, Luther compiled the list of grievances known as the “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences” -- The 95 Theses.”[2]
According to Spalding, these reformers were first called Protestants when some German tribal leaders protested against the decision of the Roman Catholic emperor, Charles V, to allow each ruler to administer the Edict of Worms[3]. The term was later used to describe every other Christian groups except Roman and Eastern Catholicism.
But I am not interested in the history of Protestantism here. My aim of introducing its origin was to underline that the original intention of the reformers, at least as many believe today, was to rectify certain excesses of catholicism. From all indications, they also gave more value to social realities and the particularity of each local church.
The first among the Protestant missionaries to come Nigeria were with the Portuguese explorers. Unfortunately, they found it had to really engage with the population. However, at the beginning of the 19th century, some black Americans who came in contact with Nigerians helped to carry along the Nigerian dying Protestantism till the arrival of the colonial masters.
The Igbo region having been been dominated by Catholicism and the North by Islam; Yoruba land was the only fertile land for Protestantism.
Initially, they tried to indigenize their practices. This move gave the nation among others, greatest music composers, theologians and educators.
Unfortunately, in the 80s, evangelical and Apostolic Pentecostalism sprung up, mainly among indigenous traditional protestants and Catholics with a powerful promotion of prosperity gospel message.
Once it was certain that it was paying, many other ones joined the business with little or no knowledge of Christian theology.
Some of those who were fortunate enough went to the US to study group animation and communication and came back to play into the destabilized sentiments of the citizens. Today, Pentecostalism is serious dragging both our culture and Christianity down on her kneels by proposing a form of Christianity that divides and fights against anything that has to do with reasoning. It has again made Nigeria a bedrock of Protestant fundamentalism, killing publicly everything that other religious group couldn’t.

[1] James C Spalding, et al, Protestantism,  https://www.britannica.com/topic/Protestantism

[2] Protestantism, a brief overview of the History of Protestant Christianity, https://americanhumanist.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/11/christianity.pdf

[3] James C. Spalding, ibidem.

Friday, 13 December 2019

How Religion Killed African Civilizations (II) - Catholicism - Alisonomi

What this is not: 

It is not the history of Catholicism nor is it a trial of history of civilization. It is not even an evaluation of Nigerian Catholicism, etc. 
It is, simply, a personal historical-social analysis of why we, as African Catholics in general and Nigerian Catholics in particular, continue to romance certain circles in the Catholic Church instead of joining the Francis Effect that the Church is experiencing presently.
Christianity was born in Israel but baptized in Rome. Some say that think it started on the Pentecost Day, but others agree that neither Jesus nor the Apostles planned on starting a new religion. This group argues that the Apostles were just a group among many Jews who gathered around a spiritual leader. And if Jesus wanted to start a different religion, he never said it. All we know is that Jesus wanted to reawaken the faith of his people. He wanted to form radical Jews who were willing to worship God in spirit and truth.
Another group of people believes that Christianity only became a reality because of Saint Paul. According to this group, it was by the time the Apostles distinguished themselves in Antioch that they were officially called Christians – those who behave like Christ.
But the Church, as we know, her today was never the Church that neither Paul nor any Apostle knew. Christianity, as we know it today, has been Europeanized or better said westernized. Call it a personal opinion but remove the elements of Western civilizations and let us see what in the institutionalized Christianity maintains its Jerusalem originality. This, of course, is not my objective in this text. But let it be said that Christianity, as we know it today, is the fruit of Western civilizations just like the Western civilization is the brainchild of Christianity.
Huntington has this to say about that:
“Western Christianity, first Catholicism and then Catholicism and Protestantism, is historically the single most important characteristic of Western Civilization. During most of its first millennium, indeed, what is known as the Western civilization was called Western Christendom; there existed a well-developed sense of community among Western Christian peoples that they were distinct from Turks, Moors, Byzantines, and others; and it was for God as well as gold that Westerner went out to conquer the world in the sixteenth's century.” (S. P. Huntington, 1996, 70).
It was around this 16th-century expedition that Catholicism came to Nigeria. The initial evangelization started with the Portuguese missionaries but was unsuccessful. The successful missionary implantation in Nigeria took place in the wake of the 19th century. It was the Missionaries of Africa who brought in a very powerful mission program that eventually made Nigeria a bedrock of African Catholicism.
It spread like a harmattan fire that in less than a century, produced its first indigenous priest, created different dioceses, schools, and parishes. It overtook the Anglican Church and other earlier Christian denominations.
Today, there are over two hundred, both indigenous and non-indigenous, religious congregations working in Nigeria. An Nigeria and RD Congo are the two African countries with the highest number of priests and religious working outside the continent.
And though, in comparison with many Western countries, Nigeria doesn’t seem to enjoy the same position in the universal Church, she rightly has more Cardinals and Apostolic Nuncios than every other Church in Africa.
The problem is that, though the Nigerian Church is growing very fast, she doesn’t seem to be evolving as much. During her expansion years, she didn’t take time to effectuate a proper contextual theological transition. She instead settled with the translational model in her quest to form her local theology. The direct consequence is that she is becoming the bedrock of conservative Catholicism with many traditional congregations and religious groups finding in her vast population a last resort.  
The problem is that instead of Nigeria contributing to the Church through her own experience as a community of faith; instead of drawing from the wealth of her own diverse cultural and spiritual heritage, she has opted to protect projects that neither belong to her nor are valid in the contexts of their origin.
A casual example is the use of Latin in the liturgy. From my little experience in Italy, Nigeria Church uses more Latin in her liturgy than churches in Rome. The Litanies of Saints continue to be sung in Latin, her sacred arts are still more European than the sacred arts in St Mary Major Basilica, Rome. All her Catechism texts are still the translation of (with few insignificant touches to) the 1901 Catechism of Christian Faith by Alexandre Le Roy.
Brief, the Nigerian Catholic Church just like many other African Churches continues to be the deposit of outdated Catholic practices and the stronghold of expired relics of the Western civilization which subsisted in Catholicism since the medieval period. 

Sunday, 1 December 2019

La Ville où La Police « Is Your Friend » - Alisonomi

En anglais, on dit très souvent : « the police is your friend » — la police est ton amie. Or, nous le savons bien que, dans nos communautés, surtout éloignées, les policiers ne sont pas souvent nos meilleurs amis. Ils sont même de fois, vu comme l’ennemi juré d’une catégorie de la population.
Il suffit d’une petite promenade dans les villes pour le confirmer. On y trouve les inscriptions comme « Fuck the police » - que la police se fasse foutre, « Police dehors », etc.
Cette triste réalité les oblige, malheureusement, à rester souvent à l’écart de la population. Et même quand ils s’y aventurent, ils se voient de fois accueillir ou même avec agressivité.
Mais dernièrement, en balayant le plancher avec M. Louis-François Hétu, le chef de Sûreté du Québec à Schefferville, lors d’un repas organisé pour les aînés, je me suis rendu compte que la police peut bien être la meilleure amie d’une communauté.
Depuis mon arrivée dans la communauté innue de Matimekush-Lac John, j’ai vu plusieurs policiers arriver et repartir. Et même si je n’ai pas autant d’expériences d’autres milieux communautaires, ces années me montrent que la Sûreté du Québec desservant la communauté de Schefferville et Matimekush-Lac John a quelque chose de particulier.
Pendant ces années, j’ai vu les policiers en tenue courir derrière la balle molle avec les jeunes. J’ai vu les policiers monter la tente, arranger les salles, servir la nourriture, ramener des aînés à la maison après une activité communautaire, travailler à la cuisine, danser, etc., avec la communauté sans préjugé ni discrimination.
J’ai aussi vu des voitures de police arriver à l’école sans que personne ne se pose aucune question et sans qu’il y ait une urgence. Ils y viennent à volonté et se font accueillir par les jeunes qui les voient comme amis.
J’ai vu les jeunes s’attrouper pour saluer les policiers en contrôle routier, les policiers s’arrêter pour causer avec des jeunes sans que les jeunes ne pensent qu’il y a un problème.
À Schefferville, la police a compris qu’elle a besoin de la communauté pour réaliser son travail. Et la communauté a, aussi, compris que la police est là pour son bien-être.
Ensemble, la police, les élus et la population de ces villes du Nord s’assoient en amis pour réfléchir sur l’avenir de la jeunesse.
Et dernièrement, la police, l’école, les agents de santé communautaire ont mieux compris qu’ils ont besoin les uns des autres pour mieux lutter contre des fléaux qui menacent la communauté.