A war is apparently going on between the mystical teachings of jesus the former thrives today in all parts of the world. Some commentators have identified this war as “Culture War,” and others call it “Holy War.” I have read numerous commentaries on the subject, and most of my readings emphasized ‘misunderstanding’ or ‘misconception’ as the cause of the war. This is probably because the commentaries came from the rest of the world outside Nigeria, and the authors wrote about the rest of the world, and not about Nigeria. They did not know about the phenomenon called the Nigerian Factor, which makes a whole lot of difference as Nigerians increasingly join the war.
Slightly deviating from the common emphasis on “misunderstanding” or “misconception” as the source of the war, I focus on a third ‘m’ word called ‘Mischief.’ I frown at the fact that mischievous Christians in Africa, Nigeria in particular, are gradually perfecting the art of turning Christianity into a business franchise. However, I probably would not have paid much attention to this, if only they left the African Culture out of their mischief. But, no, they had to start annihilating the culture in the most ignorant way, all based on gross misinterpretation of the Holy Bible! And, since Nigerian Traditionalists are not sitting back and watching the assault on the culture of the land, there is truly a war going on between Christianity and Culture in Nigeria.
The “Holy war” is executed on two separate battlefronts. On one front, the battle is raging between Christians and the last-standing adherents of the Traditional African Religions who are protecting their traditional belief system against the foreign Christian principles. And then, there is the second battle that is internal among Christians themselves, who disagree on some basic principles of Christianity, especially as they affect the culture of the land. Grievously, mischievous Christians hide behind the confusion to prey on their emotionally vulnerable brethren to make a living.
So, now we have pastors whose money-making specialty in Nigeria is to desecrate all the elements of the African Culture, with “holy water” and “anointed oil” in hand, and an army of ignorant and destructive followers behind him. The ultimate interest of the funky pastors is m-o-n-e-y! Yes indeed, the pastors in Nigeria get paid for the culture-demolition escapades; and I mean huge fees! The more successful ones do not only make a living through pastorship, mind you; they live in outlandish jet-paced affluence like ancient Roman Emperors, all in the name of God!
My interest in the Culture-versus-Religion war was kindled in December 2007. I was visiting my remote village in a town called Nnewi, which is situated in the Southeastern State of Nigeria called Anambra State. It all started when a group of Christians woke up one day and decided to put a ban on a cultural element of art and entertainment called masquerade. They believe, and insisted that all the cultural festivities and other elements associated with masquerades, which make us who we are-Africans-must be abolished, in the name of Jesus.
Naturally, another group in the village, all Christian, too, said no to the ban, and…bang! A war broke out in the village, and I was right in the middle of it. The Progressives insisted, and still insist that the masquerades must be retained for their primary purpose of cultural entertainment, and if any particular masquerade is found to be wanting in any form, then it should be purified, sanctified or modernized where necessary. It goes without saying that I was on the side that said that the masquerade culture has to stay.
The pertinent question in the entire disagreement has to be: How does the cultural entertainment tradition of masquerade go against the teachings of Christ and the Holy Bible? I approach this question starting with the definition of the word masquerade. Various dictionaries and scholars define a masquerade variously as: Impersonate; Pretend to be; Make-belief; Disguise, subterfuge, to pick just the five. In essence, a masquerade is what the masquerader says that it is; what the “pretender” says that he is pretending to be, and nothing more. In other words, the masquerade itself (the “make-up”) has no intrinsic value. If we say that a masquerade is an element of cultural entertainment, then that is what it is. There are entertainment masquerades all over the world, and they are made in the likeness of reptiles such as crocodile; mammals such as elephant, and other conceivable creatures on earth, including man. Dragons and some sort of worms are common features in masquerades in Asia.