By Bolanle Bolawole
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“Die Religion…ist das Opium des Volkes” – Karl Marx
Interpreted, the above celebrated dictum of Karl Marx means “Religion is the opiate of the masses“ or “Religion is the opium of the people” Drug abuse or drug addiction keeps its addicts stranded in a world of illusion, cast far away from reality; wasting its adherents incrementally and in instalments. Colonial Britain compelled its colonies in Asia to cultivate opiates; while sales from the drug helped to finance the colonial administration, its consumption helped to dull the edges of the colonised mental abilities so they could perpetually be kept in servitude. The colonised had to fight long, bitter battles to end the enforced cultivation of opiates.
Under apartheid South Africa, hard drugs and “hot” drinks were some of the cheapest commodities deliberately made so by the racist government for the same reasons that the British employed opium to serve in Asia. Little wonder, then, that South Africa’s crime rate under apartheid, and even so up till now, is one of the highest worldwide. Alex La Guma’s “A walk in the Night” gave a graphic account of how life in the South Africa of the apartheid days was worse than (English philosopher Thomas Hobbes’) Hobbesian “state of nature” where life was “nasty, brutish, and short”.
To equate religion with opium is to say that both have the same deleterious impact on those “addicted” to them: Their mental capacity for clear and rational thinking is retarded and their ability to act in their own self-interest is arrested. They thus suffer loss of dignity and loss of self-esteem, most times without knowing, acknowledging or caring about it. They lose or give away control over their own life to someone else and even though this outsider acts contrary to their interests, they either do not see or know it, and if at all they do, it is either they lack the capacity to do anything about it or they have been brainwashed into seeing themselves as being helpless. Worse is when they come to believe that what is happening to them is the best that can ever be or they harbour and operate under the illusion that they have better dreams and desires and need not allow the contrary things that happen around them to bother them a bit.
Religion in itself is not necessarily a bad idea; every people and every civilization has had, from time immemorial, one form of religion or the other. Even atheists who dispute the existence of a Supreme Being have one “god” or the other that takes the place of God in their life. The use to which people have put religion has always been the issue. The misuse or abuse of religion dates farther than human memory can recollect. A “special” set of people claiming to possess an expertise and competence not available to others have erected themselves between God and Man. Religion, both as booming business and as a front for politics, dates back to time immemorial.
Ever since, the religion bureaucrats or bourgeoisie have not looked back. Today they are some of the richest and most powerful individuals in society. They are usually treated and or they demand to be treated as sacred cows in that they wield the power of blackmail over anyone who may want to call them to order. In many climes, they are State power unto themselves. Most times, their excesses rankle; yet, they employ the name of God to fight off any attempt to call them to account. I dare to say that the ordinary people suffer as much from our Lord spiritual as they do from our Lord temporal.
But times are changing. Circumstances are freshening up dulled brains and compelling hitherto pliant and comatose people to wake up from their slumber. Religion will experience a radical transformation hitherto unknown in these climes – that is, if the process has not started already! We live in interesting times and in interesting times, interesting things happen. Dogmas are challenged. The barriers of comfort zones are broken and people venture into hitherto uncharted territories. Taboos are interrogated and cans of worms are prised open. These are things that happen when the road is rough – as they are now – and the going is tough – even as they promise to get tougher.
Did you believe the hogwash that ordinary Christians were opposed to CAMA – or its earlier cousin, the Financial Reporting Council? No, they are not! I dare anyone to conduct a referendum! Christians fervently desire liberation from corrupt, selfish, and worldly church leaders as much as they expect the second coming of Christ! What most Christians are not comfortable with is that they do not trust the APC/Muhammadu Buhari administration enough to entrust the implementation of those laws into its hands. Majority of Nigeria’s Christians, with the harrowing experience they have had with Buhari, cannot trust him with such pieces of very important legislation. A time is coming – and may it be soon! – when a righteous leader will mount the saddle in the country and Christians will lead the agitation for the implementation of those laws.
Read the post that follows and, after that, we draw our conclusions: “A communique issued at the end of the National Meeting of Yoruba Jamatru Islam held in Osogbo, September 15, 2020:
“This day, young Muslims drawn from the six South-west States, including Kwara, Kogi, Edo and Delta states, met this day, September 15, 2020, in Osogbo following months of consultations on what should be the response of young Yoruba Muslims who are students, workers, farmers, the unemployed, including women, to the economic and political situation in Nigeria.
“We recognise that the Yoruba people of the South-west have a rich history spanning thousands of years. The people in the 9th Century launched a theocratic state with satellite states established dotting the expansive kingdom that extended to today’s Ghana, Togo, and Benin Republic. The empire lasted until the last part of the 19th Century.
“That in the 12th century, the Yoruba people had encountered Islam in a peaceful manner and the Muslim population began to grow in great leaps and bounds.
“However, in the early part of the 19th Century, the 1804 Jihad was launched by a Fulani warrior, Uthman Dan Fodio, who introduced a violent and vicious campaign in the name of Islam, taking over most of Northern Nigeria. This campaign of terror in the name of a Holy War was extended into Yoruba territories in today’s Kwara and Kogi states.
“That this war did not spare Yoruba Muslims, including Afonja, a Muslim, who were massacred in the most barbaric manner. Obviously, the unhidden desire of Fodio was to conquer and subjugate every nationality not for Islam but purely for expansionism, forceful land acquisition and through a ceaseless whirlwind of terror.
“That since the 1960 independence, this primordial desire to conquer to the sea has been a rabid and unquenchable goal of the Fulani Emirate and this conquest appears difficult to accommodate within democratic norms; hence, the reason for the military coups that have characterised Nigeria’s history.
“That the democratic culture is alien to the Fulani Muslims and that tolerance is not in their own Holy book – all of which oppose the grundnorm of Yoruba civilisation.
“That Yoruba history has shown clearly that the promotion of faith by Fulani is linked to ethnic supremacy, a feeling of superiority and contempt for other nationalities, including but not restricted to the Yoruba Muslims. This has been shown clearly in the orchestrated killing of MKO Abiola and his wife, Kudirat Abiola, and Alhaja Suliat Adedeji – all of whom were Muslims.
“That, unfortunately, vampires, rogues, and common criminals who parade themselves as Yoruba leaders tend to align with Fulani hegemony for bread and butter, sometimes using the false sense of Islam but whose primary motive is bread and butter. These people are ready to sell Yoruba Muslims for a morsel of bread.
“That the Muslims in Yorubaland are some of the least empowered economically and socially. This can be linked partially to the quality of leadership of Muslims, the conservative nature of many Muslim organisations and the contempt for education still in many Muslim homes. This situation has to change through active involvement in the aspirations and common goal of the Yoruba Nation, of which Muslims are an integral part.
“However, we recognise the contributions of several Muslim organisations, especially the earliest Muslim societies that funded educational institutions and provided scholarship to many Muslim students.
“That we recognise the current siege imposed on Yoruba land through kidnapping, rape of Yoruba, including Yoruba Muslims, and an atmosphere of siege imposed on Yoruba communities making livelihood difficult for Yoruba Muslim farmers and their children. Many Yoruba Muslims have been killed in the North by terrorists.
“That these terrorists are moving down South in the face of a helpless or compromised State and we must never allow Yoruba land to be turned into Lebanon.
“That we recognise the current agitation for Yoruba self-determination up to the point of secession being canvassed by several Yoruba groups.
“As Muslims, we recognise the right to self-determination as an inalienable right guaranteed by nature, the United Nations, and the UN and African Charter on Peoples and Human Rights.
“That we reject attempts to introduce religious dimension into the self-determination movement. Many who parade themselves as Muslim leaders actually use it as meal ticket at the expense of the poor and agonising Muslim population who have no access to decent housing, education, healthcare, and job opportunities under persistent regimes that consider other ethnic groups as inferior.
“That we resolve to work with all credible Yoruba self-determination groups like O’odua People’s Congress, OPC, Yoruba World Congress, Apapo Oodua Koya, AOKOYA, Yoruba First, and others to ensure that Yoruba Republic emerges within the shortest time possible.
“That Muslim youth all over Yoruba states must enlist in any progressive Yoruba self-determination group and be part of the fighting spirit, if and where necessary. That it will be disastrous for the Muslim population in Yoruba land not to participate in this historic and epochal movement across Yoruba land.
“That the campaign for the emergence of a Yoruba Nation will be of ultimate benefit to all Yoruba people – Muslims and Christians inclusive (and) that Muslims should mobilise the faithful from house to house to take active part in the current momentum.
“Delegates approve the name ‘Yoruba Muslim People’s Congress (YOMPEC)’ as the new Islamic front for Yoruba Muslims and towards the liberation of Yoruba people and the emergence of Oduduwa Republic by the power of Almighty Allah. Amin”
The communique was signed by Abdulazeez Olayiwola (President) and Suleiman Olu Quadri (Secretary General)
Whether as Christians or as Muslims, the scales are falling off our eyes! The days of religion as an instrument of oppression are numbered. Let all those using religion to oppress, suppress, repress, subjugate, intimidate, vilify, rob, kill, maim, dispossess our people know that the people have awakened from their slumber and are already reading the Riot Act to their oppressors.
Christians and Muslims are so intertwined and interwoven in the South-west that it is not possible to separate one from the other. We either float together or we sink together.
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