Ritualists Turn Churches & Mosques Into Business Centers
Farouk Martins Aresa
Churches and Mosques played their roles in the indoctrination of Africans towards Western and Arab religious values. Though they established early modern schools, hospitals where outcasts and the poor could obtain free services. Compared to the new churches and mosques we have today, most Africans would give credit to those charity services of foreign religious bodies. You wonder if African religious bodies are indifferent, into it; for self-enrichment and rituals.
Every church and mosque have their rituals which they follow or adhere to. While some do not worship image of any kind, others pray to their images of saints. The United Nations and the so called “civilized” world were disturbed by the reckless destruction of historical statues in Iraq; and Afghanistan where Taliban militia supreme leader Mulla Mohammad Omar issued a decree ordering the destruction of all statues including ancient pre-Islamic figures. These objections were not based on religious grounds but on historical preservation of the past.
Since the days of Abrahamic religions when he almost sacrificed his son to God, the world has moved on and religions condemned human sacrifices. Ritualists replaced human sacrifices with animal blood. The blood and body of Jesus, replaced with bread and wine. However, it has not stopped powers from using human lives to please their gods or ego for fetish wars. They make distinctions between thirst for wars and human sacrifice; even when both result in loss of lives.
There is no doubt that the richest religious bodies today are the old churches and mosques that have made their money from tithes, endowments, investments including real estates all over the world. We now have empty churches and temples except in developing countries. Religious bodies are growing fast in poor countries while their members are declining in richer countries. There must be a link between poverty and religion, even among the poor in rich countries.
This may not be surprising because the poor and the outcast in Africa first ventured into church, mosques and their institutions like schools and hospitals while the rich ones were still in doubt or suspicious of the intentions of the new religious bodies in their mist. This is the reason that most of the first educated Africans were the outcasts and the poor who were the experimental breeds as test to fully understand the benefit of foreign religions, schools and hospitals.
Of course, there were others that were curious and decided to attend. Many of you that have read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart would remember that when sceptics like Okonkwo heard that they were serving wine as blood of Jesus, he decided to attend church. He also brought his horn with him for the drink of wine. Like many wealthy Africans, they later realized that these new religions were in Africa to seek converts into their own way of life.
Until later, in order to be accepted into their schools and hospitals, you must be converted to their religions. Indeed, they changed African names to English or Arabic names, so that Africans could be freed from the worship of the devil. Even if your name is Oluwatoyin or Chukwuemeka that had God in it, it had to be changed to Jesustoyin, Godwin or Abudu (slave of God)!
Nevertheless, Africans never totally gave up their religion. Even when taken overseas as slaves, they practiced Santeria in Cuba and Voodoo in Haiti. Bookman held on to Voodoo and invoked Sango to free his people while fighting for the Independence of Haiti. Slave owners were made to believe that Cuban slaves were praying to the Christian God, while in fact they were praying to African God. None of the foreign religions fully took Africans loyalty away from their God.
However, false prophets and evil doers have bastardized African religions by still practicing rituals others religions have given up after the time of Abraham. Evangelic religions have also sprung up exploiting the poor in the mist of poverty and sorrow; promising heavenly bliss on earth if they only pay their tithes dutifully. They have predicted calamities, cured the sick, walk on water and woken the dead to demonstrate their power and increase their congregations.
Instead of creating schools and hospitals for the poor, they used their tithes to build expensive schools for any religion. Schools most members of their congregations cannot afford to attend. They create churches and mosques as business centers to channel money into their coffins only to be used to their lavish lifestyles and hedonic appetites. Pastors instill fear, entice with lottery while buying mansions, exotic cars for their families, girlfriends and cronies at home or abroad.
The two shrines with human skeletons that brought attention to most Nigerians were in Okija and Oshogbo. Those in the know and many that patronized them faked ignorance and started pointing fingers across the Niger. It has since been revealed almost daily across the Country in churches and mosques that these were business centers where human parts were traded for money, cars and mansions. The last mission on their mind is how to care for the sick and poor.
These atrocities in the name of God have been going on for ages. People were kidnaped and their living bodies were chopped off, frozen and flown out of many countries for transplants overseas. Unfortunately, some recipients are prestigious hospitals that never want to know where the body parts were coming from. But locals usually think about people used for magic where live bodies were used for incarnation that produce money from the head or mouth!
Whatever was left from the bodies are then sold off to those asked to bring various body parts by some medicine men. These same evil men invoke the name of ancient Abraham, willing to kill his son for God. Desperate poor souls seeking money, fame, trying to get pregnant, miracles or salvation, met these horrible demands by locating someone for sacrifice. It is the same evil men that would demand that seekers of miracles cures in sickness or health sleep with some madmen or homeless women, sleep with their own relatives, children or albino to cure HIVs.
May devil not lead us into temptations or desperation where we could be driven by sickness or needs into the hands of evil doers waiting to take advantage of our situations? Some pastors, imams and Babalawo are no different from kidnapers seeking an eye, arm or leg for sale as body parts. When they become the head of churches or mosques, they have perfected and legitimized their trade in the open, licensed to extort anything from people.
What happened to the spiritual powers of Badoo, evil pastors and imams while police operating tractors, never seized or broke, while destroying their shrines and temples?