Sunday, 25 December 2011
Wednesday, 21 December 2011
The earlier African intellectuals that first made the very experience of seeing their culture, tradition and custom undergo mutation, never hesitated to frown at the rapid transformation and transmutation of the African society. They were the first to oversee the danger and prospect of cultural hybrids in a constantly evolutional world. Though many of them aired their views only that of those that immortalized theirs in the new technique that they had come to embrace [Novels], remain the archetype and model of reference in matters of this nature.
Among the few ones that come to my mind is Gondia Cisse. In his book “L'Afrique de mes pères”, [Africa of my fathers], Gonda recounts the old and sweet memory of what he heard his father and the elders of his village say about their village and the mysteries that made its cosmos. A story of how nature and culture related in his small village, near Dakar in Senegal. He tells his story with mixed feelings showing the positive and negative impacts that development and globalization has made on the nature and quality of relationship between men and spirit of his fathers. Another of such writers, to mention but few, is Camara Laye in his book L’Enfant noir, [the Dark Child] where he sees the incompatibility that exist between what he knew as values and what he is forced to live by his social status after his studies. In fact, the key to understanding most of these earlier African writers is accepting that every developing society must fight to maintain their identity as a people. But the only problem is how to keep what is valuable and necessary and how to fathom what is worth keeping and what must be changed.
Even though this problem remains a universal issue, Africa as a continent remains one of the most vulnerable areas of the world exposed to its devastating effects. Her vulnerability is of course due to the diversity of her culture, tradition and people. A continent made up of thousands of different cultures, traditions and customs.
However, the diversity of the continent seems not to be her major problem for, though the people did not sometimes understand each other in their languages, even though they sometimes did not have the same Customs and Tradition they had, more or less, the same way of evaluating circumstances. Though they disagreed, many times on different issues, they always found a way out, either by dispersion or by pact making. In fact, the Continent was in the past more respectful and more liveable, than what we know today.
Nevertheless, without wanting to negate the progress made so far in the Continent, one might still think that there are more problems in Africa than before. While conservatives might deem this backwardness, the progressivists might estimate it a natural phenomena that accompanies any developing Continent. As for me, neither of the two opinions is ours, for the aim of this write-up is not to pass a judgment on the development of the Continent (for I am not competent to do so) but to share my view and dreams.
While maintaining that religion and western civilization have seriously helped the African continent grow positively, I am tempted to think they have also had much negative influence on African traditional values. There is no need filling these pages with neither of the example (positive and negative influences) for we all know them, but I must highlight one serious reality: No one, unless if one wants to close his eyes on the very problems of our continent, can disagree the fact that many positive values that made Africa a patria have been thrown away. We hear, here and there that old women are raped, young children mutilated, cities bombed and so on.
Should we talk of the present and modern slavery in Africa or the New organized Colonization of our dear Continent? Who ignores the movement of neo-colonialism in the continent, going from Rwandan Genocide, Congo gold alimented war, through the sierra Leonean diamond war? Who ignores the most recent democratic configuration in Cotes d’Ivoire or the battle for Libyan Mineral control? In fact, the list is inexhaustible. Surely, that’s not Africa of our dream.
Africa of our dream is neither an Africa of modern days institutionalized and western sustained dynasty nor self proclaimed life presidency; neither an Africa of western instituted puppet nor an African of traditional resistant leaders; it is neither an Africa of stolen Presidency nor of inherited government, it is rather an Africa of value, Africa of integrity, authenticity, independency, liberty and freedom. An Africa who knows how and when to say NO; an Africa who knows the value of human life, who loves progress but maintain the value of her Tradition. Not an Africa of excessive religiosity and fanaticism, but an Africa of spirituality and morality. I dream of a humanitarian Africa, an Africa where Love has a meaning, where no one dies of hunger and thirsty, where religious crisis has no place, an Africa where the love of the patria, of humanity and of nature is like a religious obligation. I am dreaming of Africa where the memory of Lumumba, Thomas Sankara, Ken Saro Wiwa, Kwame Nkrumah, Mongo Beti, Mandela and many other African leaders and fathers are re-evoked and respected. We are dreaming of Africa where knowledge is power, an Africa where independent countries enjoy their sovereignty and where there exist freedom of speech.
An Africa that tells the International Monitory Fund that we have an economic plan that has to be respected, that tells the world that we have a say in the climatic condition dialogue and that tells China that we need our lost Satellite replaced, that’s my Africa. That’s the Africa of my dream, a Charismatic and revolutionary Africa. And as Dom Helder Camara said: “when one person dreams, it is a dream. But when we dream together, it is no longer a dream but the beginning of reality” Reason why I call upon all the Children of Africa to dream dreams. Let your night be full of dreams, let it look like fantasy today but be assured it will not remains permanent for our situation must come to pass. All we need is focused and goal oriented Africans, visionaries and intelligent citizens. Whenever we arrive at this point, we will be able to sing like Efe Benjamin:
Africa of my dream by Efe Benjamin, Niger Delta, Nigeria
Africa, my Africa of my dream
Here is where I want to be
Here, I have always been
At my end, here is where I will sleep
Twenty years is a long time to be
Away from home
But I am still here, my one home
My Africa, my Africa of my dream
Many are leaving, leaving for America
As for me, here is where I want to be
My Africa is my America
We are working towards it, a better Africa, a great Africa!
This is Africa of my dream
My Africa is my America!
Monday, 19 December 2011
Recently, the President of the Republic announced a heart wrecking amount that will be allocated to Security in the New National Budget of 2012. According to the President, a staggering amount of N920 billion will be dedicated to the Security sector in this new budget. Though it might not sound dumbfounding with regards to the Security situation of the Nation, the problem with Nigeria seems not to be found in the amount of money dedicated to the security sector.
A proper analysis of what the national security has undergone in the past shows that, all things being equal, there should have been a serious change in that sector, but unfortunately, there seem to be nothing serious so far. How many branches of police have we created in these past years? “The Operation Fire for fire”, Operation wipe out, etc. are all created with the intention of bringing to an end the precarious situations that have marred every good intention of Nigeria as a Nation. No one asks why they have not made any serious positive change to the national situation, if not maybe by creating unnecessary fear and terror among poor citizens. If only the number of innocent Nigerians gunshot by the national security agencies in these last decades were to be proportional to the number of crimes aborted, the Nation would have been one of the most secured in the continent.
As a matter of fact, every right thinking Nigeria knows that the Nigerian security situation is not only lamentable but unbelievable and unbearable. How many citizens sleep with their two eyes closed? I would not want to mention the issue of fanatics we have produced in the nation as a result of insecurity. All one need is to board a commercial bus from one city to another to discover that the nation is under a heavy fear. Though, many might think it is a sign of religiosity, I am almost sure it is a sort of fanaticism, for it does not show that Nigerians are really religious, but being helpless they have no option than to call whatever they are convinced will protect them.
On another hand, it’s not long ago that the Nation spent a colossal amount in an old and almost good for nothing warship that America, in order to liberate and modernized his sea coast get rid of by dumping it in Nigeria after removing all the valuable materials in it. I never cease to wonder what motivated Nigeria, in a world where technology changes every day, to accept a warship that dates back to 1968. Was it that Nigeria really needed a warship, and if yes, is she incapable of buying something new? Of course the answer to any of the two questions is NO, for though the marital coast of the nation is porous, Nigeria as much as I know, do not need a warship, and even if there was a need for one, there is no reason why Nigeria should go for such an out fashioned and non functional warship that needed first to be refurbished before it becomes operational. What has the first four warships that the nation received in the year 2003 from the US done to stop piracy and Sea related security problems in Nigeria?
However, these are not the reasons why we think that the situational security of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is at a point which could be described, without mincing words, as a state of impasse. Four days ago, I was reading an Article according to which the Nation defence academy will, in the nearest future, train officers in the moon. A nation that has his cities invaded every days of the week by armed men is planning not to train men who protect the city but men who will fight in the space. How many Nigerians die on monthly bases only in the Northern region? How many are been kidnapped or shot dead by armed gangs in the southern and eastern part on monthly bases? How many police stations are attacked every now and then? The list is inexhaustible.
The fact is that the nation has always shied away from her responsibilities. The result of the national security agencies, at least this year, was too poor to be condoned, but no one dares contest it, for the simple fact that corruption is a tradition in the nation. How many arms have been discovered in the nation only this year and where have the cases ended up? How many crime networks have been revealed this year in the nation and what has been the outcome? We the citizens, of course, are not permitted to know about them since we are lesser Nigerians. Let me remind you, if you have already forgotten it that the security problem of Nigeria is more logistics than material. Any nation than have no control of his territory; no database of his citizens and no real control of the internal movement of individuals in the country will always be a failure security-wise like Nigeria.
What’s the need of a Federal Investigation and Intelligent Bureau, the Criminal Investigation department and a Forensic Science Laboratory in a country where no one is sure of the real population of the citizens? On what data are they working on? Who knows exactly the number of Nigerians that are alive or dead in a country where there is neither birth nor death registration? It always baffles me whenever I read stories like kidnappers asking families of their victims to pay up the ransom through SMS. It is only in a country like Nigeria where nothing is under control that such stories are heard.
What I want to say in essence is that the Nation should embark on data collection; on registration of every citizen of Nigeria, of every means of communication: telephone numbers, IP addresses, and every other useful data that can help them take proper control of the nation, instead of buying arms and ammunitions. No amount of prayers, good intention or whatsoever is going to change the national security situation unless these considerations are examined carefully. And whenever this is done, the nation will know its glory again.
Saturday, 17 December 2011
While the world is been changed by the power of protesters and the protester organizers are been recognized as Nobel Prize winners, Nigeria is using every possible means to suppress such. That is exactly the case free protesters in Lagos State. From the news giving by the AfricaNews.it
“Nigeria: police attack peaceful protesters By Chioma Ogwuegbu
Lagos State Government and LCC have used a coalition of thugs and MOPOL to disrupt what was a peaceful protest at the Lekki toll gate.People are being tear-gassed attacked by armed hoodlums and bundled into black Marias.
Women are being attacked and arrested. A lady I shall identify as MTA was arrested and taken to Maroko Divisional Police station, for daring to be attacked by hoodlums!!!
There is chaos everywhere. SHAME ON FASHOLA, Nigeria Police AND BOLA AHMED TINUBU!”
Friday, 16 December 2011
Some oblate scholastics before the monuments of the Martyrs in Pozuelo
Within this general climate of hatred and antireligious fanaticism, one may justly place the martyrdom of 22 Oblates: priests, brothers and scholastics from Pozuelo de Alarcón (Madrid).
The Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate had established themselves in the Estación neighbourhood of Pozuelo in 1929. They served as chaplains in three communities of sisters. They also provided pastoral service in the surrounding parishes: confessions and preaching, especially during Lent and Holy Week. Oblate scholastics taught catechism in four neighbouring parishes and the Oblate choir sang at liturgical celebrations.
This religious activity began to worry the revolutionary committees (socialists, communists and the radical lay labour unions) in the Estación neighbourhood. They were greatly worried that the “friars” (as they called them) were the driving force behind religious activity in Pozuelo and the surrounding area.
It irritated them that the religious went around in the streets in cassock with the Oblate cross very visible in their cincture.
Because of these exclusively religious activities, the seminary of the Missionary Oblates was becoming more and more intolerable to these Marxist groups.
The Oblates did not allow themselves be intimidated. They simply adopted an attitude of prudence, composure and calm, committing themselves not to respond to any provocative offense. And of course, none of the religious got mixed up in political activities, not even occasionally. In spite of that, they maintained their program of spiritual and intellectual formation and carried on the various pastoral activities that were part of the priestly and missionary formation of the scholastics.
Even though the demands of the revolutionaries were ever more hostile, the Oblate Superiors could not imagine that things would go as far as they eventually did. It did not even enter their minds that they could be victims of so much hate for their faith in God and for being messengers of Jesus Christ.
On July 20, 1936, socialist and communist youth took to the streets and began again to burn churches and convents, especially in Madrid.
The militia of Pozuelo, on the other hand, attacked the chapel in the Estación neighbourhood; they threw vestments and images into the street and set them afire in a gigantic and sacrilegious orgy. They then burned the chapel and went on to repeat the same scene at the local parish.
On July 22, at three in the afternoon, a large contingent of militia, armed with shotguns and revolvers, attacked the Oblate house. The first thing they did was to round up the religious, some 38 of them, and lock them into a small room where they were closely guarded and threatened by the guns. It was a terribly tense moment because they all thought that they had arrived at the moment of their death. They couldn't expect anything else, given the edgy, vulgar and chaotic attitude of the militia.
Next, the militia began a meticulous search of the house looking for guns. All that they managed to find were religious pictures, crucifixes, rosaries, and sacred vestments. They threw all of these objects into the stairwell to the lower floor so they could set fire to them in the street.
The Oblates were made prisoners in their own house, brought together in the refectory where the windows were barred. It was their first jail.
On the 24th, at about three in the morning, there were the first executions. Without an inquest, without an indictment, without judgment, without defence, they called out seven of the religious. The first ones sentenced were:
Juan Antonio PÉREZ MAYO, priest and professor, age 29.
Manuel GUTIÉRREZ MARTÍN, scholastic brother and sub-deacon, age 23.
Cecilio VEGA DOMÍNGUEZ, scholastic brother and sub-deacon, age 23.
Juan Pedro COTILLO FERNÁNDEZ, scholastic brother, age 22.
Pascual ALÁEZ MEDINA, scholastic brother, age 19.
Francisco POLVORINOS GÓMEZ, scholastic brother, age 26.
Justo GONZÁLEZ LORENTE, scholastic brother, age 21.
Without any explanation, they were loaded into two cars and taken to their martyrdom. The rest of the religious stayed at the Oblate house and dedicated their waiting hours to prayer and preparing themselves to die well.
Someone, probably the mayor of Pozuelo, informed Madrid of the threat the rest were facing. On that same July 24, a truck arrived from the police with orders to bring the rest of the religious to the General Security Office. On the next day, after filling out some forms, they were unexpectedly let go. They sought refuge in private homes. The provincial put himself at risk by going around to encourage the others and bring them communion. But in October, they were hunted down again, captured and imprisoned in the jail.
There they endured a slow martyrdom of hunger, cold, fear and threats. There are testimonies from some survivors as to how they accepted with heroic patience this difficult situation that implied the possibility of martyrdom. Among them, there reigned a spirit of charity and an atmosphere of silent prayer.
In November, the final moment in that Calvary would come for most of them.
On the 7th, two of them were executed: José VEGA RIAÑO, priest and formator, age 32, and scholastic brother Serviliano RIAÑO HERRERO, age 30, who, when summoned by his executioners, was able to get near the cell of Fr. M. Martin to ask for sacramental absolution
Twenty days later it would be the turn of the 13 others. The procedure would be the same for all. There would be no formal accusation, no judgment, no defence, no explanations: only the calling of their names on powerful loudspeakers.
Francisco ESTEBAN LACAL, Provincial Superior, age 48.
Vicente BLANCO GUADILLA, Local Superior, age 54.
Gregorio ESCOBAR GARCÍA, recently ordained scholastic priest (June 6, 1936), age 24.
Juan José CABALLERO RODRÍGUEZ, scholastic brother and sub-deacon, age 24.
Publio RODRÍGUEZ MOSLARES, scholastic brother, age 24.
Justo GIL PARDO, scholastic brother and deacon, age 26.
Ángel Francisco BOCOS HERNÁNDEZ, coadjutor brother, age 54.
Marcelino SÁNCHEZ FERNÁNDEZ, coadjutor brother, age 26.
José GUERRA ANDRÉS, scholastic brother, age 22.
Daniel GÓMEZ LUCAS, scholastic brother, age 20.
Justo FERNÁNDEZ GONZÁLEZ, scholastic brother, age 18.
Clemente RODRÍGUEZ TEJERINA, scholastic brother, age 18.
Eleuterio PRADO VILLARROEL, coadjutor brother, age 21.
We know that on November 28, 1936, they were taken from the jail, driven to Paracuellos de Jarama and executed there. A scholastic who was in another truck, bound elbow to elbow with Fr. Delfin MONJE, both of whom were mysteriously given a reprieve near the place of execution, said to his companion: “Father, give me general absolution and you pray the act of contrition since the end is near.” The priest, 18 years later, lamented: “It”s too bad I didn’t die then! I would never again be so well prepared!”
It has not been possible to obtain direct information from eyewitnesses about the moment of execution of these 13 Servants of God. Only the gravedigger has declared: “I am completely convinced that on November 28, 1936, a priest or a religious asked the militia if he could say goodbye to all his companions and give them absolution, something he was allowed to do. Once he had finished, he said these words in a loud voice: “We know that you are killing us because we are Catholics and religious. That we are. My companions and I forgive you from the bottom of our hearts. Long live Christ the King!”” There were also members of other religious congregations, but from what this witness has told us, it was the Provincial of the Oblates who said this.
The newly ordained priest, Gregorio Escobar, had written to his family: “I’ve always been deeply touched by the stories of martyrdom that have for all time existed in the Church, and while reading them, I would feel a secret desire to have the same fate as they did. That would be the best sort of priesthood all of us Christians could desire, each of us offering to God our own body and blood as a holocaust for the faith. Wouldn’t it be great to die a martyr!”
It was evident in the diocesan process that all of them died professing the faith and forgiving their tormentors, and that, in spite of the psychological torture during their cruel captivity, none of them denied nor lost the faith, nor did they lament the fact that they had embraced a religious vocation.
For that reason, their family members, their brother Oblates, and the Christian people who know of their fidelity till death, have unanimously considered them martyrs from the very beginning and are praying to God that the Church will recognize them and present them to all the faithful as authentic Christian martyrs.
The Cause for Canonization, for which the diocesan phase ended in Madrid on January 11, 2000, is now in Rome, waiting for a decision from the Holy See to include in the List of Martyrs these 22 Oblate Servants of God.
Tuesday, 13 December 2011
One of the problem with a country where corruption has become a tradition is that those that are called to speak out are sometimes tired of speaking. They are sometimes so used to the situation of things that they do no longer take note of the urgency of the need of their people. This is the case of one of the nations where corruption, indiscipline, insecurity, smuggling, religious extremism, pirating, bombing, violence, immorality, and almost all forms of evil have become the order of the day. All one need to verify this is just to Google the name of that nation to find out that out of 10 first News one get 5 are bad News.
However, in the middle of that nation is a city that was initially known for its tranquillity, both geographical and sociological. The city which is Jos, a State in the middle of Nigeria, blessed with cool and chilled climate, very beautiful mountains and one of the best animal reserve in the West Africa, has a shepherd who have decided to make himself heard, even when it seems that most of those that have the same role of crying out are keeping quite. The shepherd is called Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, the Archbishop of Jos archdiocese.
Archbishop Kaigama, in spite of all odds have always cried out fowl as regards to continuous destroying of that beautiful city; a city once known for its touristic attraction. He has always drawn attention of all Peace loving Nigerians to the root of the problem that has precipitated many poor Nigerians to their early graves. He as a good shepherd has vowed not to sit down and see his flock scattered. Notwithstanding all the stories we hear about Nigeria, he seems to be among those who do not fear to let the world know how his people are suffering. Among those Nigerians that have broken the custom of silence is him; those Nigerians who have accepted to take the bull by the horn by saying the exact situation of his city, in a nation where people prefer dying in silence, in the name of honour and national pride, instead of saying that they are being stepped upon.
Though, it might look as if Jos is the only city where there is violence, others cities like Maiduguri, Borno, Kaduna are not the exempted. The Eastern and Southern cities are not also lacking in that aspect. You cannot imagine how many Nigerians are been kidnapped every month? How many are been robbed, gun-shut, molested, oppressed in the Eastern, Southern and Western states? How many poor citizens are been denied of their right in our beloved nation? Are their no shepherds in those areas or have their flock no right to be defended? How many shepherds have decided to break the custom of silence and defend the less privileged of their cities? There are still many works to be done by those to whom this flock is entrusted to!
It might even be said that the pastoral method of this nation needed to be redressed. The poor seem not to be giving much attention. And that’s if their presence are recognized in a country where the poor have no place, even in their very home. We need more Kaigamas! more Romeros! more Don Puglisi!, more missionaries than sacramental administrators. Here is the time to act or the flock might be tempted to look for a greener pasture.
Sunday, 11 December 2011
Jesus Christ never wrote a book. The only scene in the Gospel where we saw him write was on the sand. But what he wrote was blown by the wind. What was etched in our minds forever in history and in eternity was his preference for the outcasts and rejects.
Get up and live, stand up and walk
Life is a gift from God
You've only got one life, live it well
Go to your brothers, help them all.
Get up and live!
Go to the poor, to the poor in your town
Go to the poor, to the poor, my friend.
Share their sorrows, let your pride down.
Show them you care, try to understand.
Get up and live ...
Stand up and walk!
Monday, 5 December 2011
''The truth might be hard to say, painful to bear or even drastic for the truth sayer but still needed to be said''. ALISON.