Therefore, the clergy presently in our midst have a lot to do in making our people to continue to invest on faith and salvation.
Church leaders and natives should also know and understand that Sand to Sand or Dust to Dust observance is the most trivial aspect of burial ceremony in Igbo land that must not be allowed to cause serious rift, disaffection and mayhem amongst us. The natives should know this and the church must understand this too. No matter how we want to Christianize our burial ceremony(ies) in this part of the world, it is purely of traditional setting and highly culture-based, for people can never be separated from their way of life so easily as may be perceived. The Church must carry along with the natives and their leaders in any changes they want to introduce and inject into people’s ways of life, thereby using their knowledge to convince and integrate them. Therefore, burial rites in Igbo land must be administered and executed with the total consent and application of the most deserving people’s culture. It is the duty and responsibility of the natives with the help of the Church to bury their own by lowering him/her to the grave and cover him/her with sand as the custom demands, while the church blesses and prays for the peaceful and godly repose of the soul of the deceased. What every Igbo man wants is to be buried and buried well according to his wishes enshrined in his Will (Ike Ekpe). That is why Igbos lay so much emphasis in marrying and begetting children for them to have people that should help to see that they are given befitting burial/funeral ceremony when they die. To avoid pretences and falsifications, the duties of the Church and natives are highly spelt out during burial/funeral ceremony and must be observed and adhered to, in order to avoid interferences and undue clashes between the two communities (the natives and the church).
The knights within the Church who are self-acclaimed Soldiers of Christ should never use their swords which they bandied about to subdue and intimidate the people’s culture unreasonably and unacceptably, all in the name of Christianity. Their activities and functions during burial ceremony of their brother/sister knight must never contrast sharply with the wishes of the deceased, intentions of the deceased’s family and the desires of his (deceased) people’s culture. Therefore, it is being expected that Knighthood, while burying their fallen colleague, should endeavor to execute their own burial culture in total harmony and understanding with the natives/locals. Such rapport could be achieved through their burial committee which should have healthy and heralding conclusions before embarking on any burial function adventure of any of their deceased member. As we respect the culture and tradition of our various communities where we belong or come from, so must we acknowledge and appreciate other people’s culture when we visit them or attend their functions. We must realize that Jesus Christ Whom we are all following never condemned the Old Testament, which existed before His arrival in human form in this physical earth.
We must know and accept that burial/funeral ceremony in Igbo land is a very big traditional and cultural institution that has resisted certain changes and obliterations from western religion because the Igbos believe so much in life after death and reincarnation. It is a very strong and common belief among the Igbos (both Christians and natives) that anybody that is not accorded due burial/funeral rites will never get to the Promised Land. And, the deceased must continue to disturb his people until he is recognized, honoured and fulfilled. It is a known fact that when church goes contrary to the people’s culture and belief by burying a deceased person contrary to the directives and consensus of opinions and agreements of the locals, the relatives who felt maligned, injured, neglected and debased turn around and exhume that corpse of theirs and re-bury him. Such a macabre approach and situation makes the spirit of the deceased not to rest in peace as both the Church and his own people might wanted and wished him/her to.
We should all know that everything concerning our culture, custom and tradition is not idolatrous, evil, devilish and satanic. The culture of Igbo man is highly significant and wonderful if well understood and studied. With my experiences in most places I have delivered lectures on CHRISTIANITY AND CULTURE/TRADITION, I discovered that our people out of ignorance and dogmatic doctrines they received from the Church see anything Igbo as evil, heathen, local, devilish, occult, satanic, sinful, ritualistic, idolatrous anti-Christian Faith. Such obnoxious belief and conclusion must stop. Truly, Christianity has her roles to play in our life while culture of the people must be respected and upheld. Our culture and tradition should not be intimidated, humiliated, subjugated, subdued, overcome and overpowered by mere wishful thinking and wispy attempts. Culture and tradition of the people can only be served or substituted through healthy dialogue, interactions, integrations and convictions and not through confrontations, oppositions and conflicts.
Church must respect the good culture and customs of the people so that the people in return will appreciate and venerate the Church. For, Church to have strong base and evangelize well, it must be people-oriented and good culture-driven Church must never fight the locals that accommodate her and disestablish their culture, and disgorges all the people of the locality that practice such culture into refuse dump. Church must tread softly and subtly in her desired bid to change any age long culture of a people that has permeated into their nerves and arteries. For, any outright discard and flushing away of such deep-rooted culture might attract yellow or even red card to the Church. We must watch it before the bubble bursts, for it is not yet too late for the Church to retreat and reposition their theological and scriptural think-tank for proper evangelization and her attendant results.
Every Christian in this life irrespective of his/her denomination, must learn from the life and times of the most charismatic Pope of this century, and the most dynamic Catholic Pope that ever lived and reigned in this generation. Whom am I talking about? I am talking about the most highly loved, cherished and respected Pope, POPE JOHN PAUL II. When Pope John Paul II was reigning, he dismantled and buried that obsolete and archaic practice of segregations and superiority notion and inclinations by the Church by visiting some great religions of the world and their leaders, thereby promoting practical ecumenism. By that wise godly move by Pope John II, he made the world to realize that we are all children of God, and we must see ourselves as so. That is why when he died, the entire world was thrown into mourning and was even clamouring for him to be made SAINT. When Pope John II was alive, he was an epitome of humility, love, knowledge and Christ-like life. When he died, his life and the mission he lived and died for, were highly celebrated by the entire world, who uptill today feel that he is still ‘alive’ The present day clergy and the Church should learn and emulate the superb and superlative characteristics of this real ‘Man of God’, for he lived and carried out his religious works on earth according to the dictates of his calling and anointing.
Furthermore, culture is dynamic and prone to change. Culture/ tradition grows and is never static. Nothing is permanent in life. The only thing that is permanent is CHANGE. Therefore, Culture must listen to good voices of reasoning, modernity and modernization, for such will help her to realize and adapt into any new order for collective development of all and Sundry. The youths of the local community and the Church should please listen to the good voices and opinions of their community leaders and elders for better reposition and restructuring. In as much as Christianity stand for truth, love, right way to heaven and eternal life, culture is all about the constitutional structures of the people that is highly based on ethics, norms, purity immaculacy, guiltlessness, uprightness, integrity, modesty, piety, values and virtues of the land, which must be respected, observed and regarded, and can only be changed through amendments by the people through convincing explanations and dialogue, or allow it to die a natural death or overtaken by events. The Church has a duty to avoid and preach against conflicts, crisis and violence, while culture totally rejects such disorder and vices.
Conclusively, for peace and tranquility to reign, good harmony and proper integration to exist between Christianity and culture, culture must welcome and accommodate Christianity, and Christianity must accept culture. As a good Christian works hard to get to heaven, so also is a good traditionalist. Whether you are a Christian or a traditionalist if you believe well, think well, act well, react well, do things right and render the best services to humanity, the doors of heaven will be widely opened for you. To you and I, whether a Christian or traditionalist, let us work for paradise and walk graciously to heaven by living a godly life. Daalunu!
My God bless all of us. Amen
Chinedum E. Ofomata 84 Obinagu Rd. Enugu. 08033393296 (SMS Only)
The Data of Forgiveness
The most important ingredient in today’s media economy is data. The amount of data available determines how much and how long we can work or play on the internet. Currently, many of the service providers offer unlimited data plans but we know that those “unlimited” plans are not always unlimited. Sometimes, your download speed can get slowed down when you cross a certain point. Today, however, Jesus gives us the divine model of an unlimited plan. It is the unlimited bundle of compassion and forgiveness which never gets slowed downed shut down for maintenance. The theme for this week is that we must learn to forgive without limits no matter the injury committed against us.
In Matthew’s Gospel, today’s teaching on unlimited forgiveness comes after Jesus had told his disciples the parable of the wandering sheep, so it is plausible that some would have wondered among themselves how many times a good shepherd should go after the same sheep if it keeps wandering away. In those days, people believed that forgiveness was limited to three times only – a fourth transgression was not to be forgiven. So, by asking Jesus how many times he should forgive his brother, Peter was probably aiming to increase the limit to seven times. And Jesus makes it clear that we are to forgive others, “not seven times but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18:22).That means we must dispense an unlimited data bundle of mercy.
In Jesus Christ, we have the forgiveness of a debt we could never pay. Sin is an offence against God and a direct rebellion against his authority and creation. The debt of 10,000 talents mentioned in today’s parable symbolizes the magnitude of the offence that sin causes in God’s eyes, but he is always willing to forgive without limits. However, we can easily cut ourselves off from God’s river of mercy when we refuse to forgive others. We end up restraining God’s mercy and putting ourselves under strict justice. To unfold his mercy without compromising his justice, God leaves each person free to choose between the two. If we insist on strict justice when we are offended, we bring God’s strict justice upon ourselves. But if we offer an unlimited bundle of mercy to others, we draw God’s unlimited data of forgiveness upon ourselves.
The secret to forming a forgiving heart lies in recognizing the evil of our sin and the immensity of God’s goodness in forgiving us. Until we see the ugliness of our ingratitude and selfishness, we will never appreciate the generosity of God’s forgiveness. Let us examine ourselves now to see how much forgiveness we are giving. Is there someone we still cannot forgive even after they have expressed sorrow for their actions? Have we judged someone too harshly because of something they said or did that we did not particularly like? How many times have we failed to help somebody because we are still dwelling on an injury that we suffered many years ago? How many times have we treated someone differently based on preconceived notions or stereotypes? These are some of the factors that shackle us like chains and that disrupt the unlimited data of divine grace in our lives. When we close ourselves off to people or dismiss them based on our preconceptions, mistaken judgments, and prejudices, not only do we make them suffer, we suffer as well.
But it does not have to be that way. Jesus came to free us from and the burden of sin and unhappiness. Forgiveness is like mercury, which runs away when it is held tightly in the hand but is preserved by keeping the palm open. When we lose forgiveness, we lose the ability to give and to receive love because love is the foundation of forgiveness. And since God is the foundation of love, whoever refuses to forgive automatically rejects the love of God. This is the essence of today’s parable and it is highlighted by the contrast between what was owed by each man. The wicked slave owed his master some 10000 talents. In gold terms, that is 350 tons and at today’s price, he owed his master USD21.8 billion. This was way more than King Solomon made in a year which was 666 talents of gold or USD1.45 billion in today’s value (cf. I Kings 10:14). So, this unforgiving servant owed his master what no individual could never payback. In contrast, his fellow servant owed him the equivalent of one talent of gold or USD2.1 million; so a man who was forgiven $21.8b could not let go of $2.1m, and his wickedness landed him in the hands of torturers.
Dear friends, forgiveness is an act of compassion which is expressed in the free choice to pardon one another’s shortcomings every day, and to also pardon ourselves for own mistakes Forgiveness transcends the fear of being wounded again; it is a deliberate act in imitation of the redemptive work of Jesus, the advocacy of the Holy Spirit, and the loving kindness of the Father. The whole point of today’s parable is that our Father in heaven will do the same to anyone who refuses to forgive others. Whoever refuses to forgive is doomed to a life of bitterness, and as the ugly trend continues, the person ends up building invisible walls of resentment around themselves, thereby blocking off not just one’s relationships with other people but with God as well. Forgiveness is not just an emotional expression or a sense of righteousness; it means being merciful not only when there is an explanation or apology, or a promise of amendment from the offender, but even when the offence is deliberate, and the offender is adamant. Forgiveness is a precious gift of grace, which does not depend on the worthiness of the receiver. Forgiveness is what we called to do, and the Lord’s grace is sufficient for us in that regard. Amen.
Imo Deputy Governor’s giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture
By Joy Opara
The increasing cost of Agricultural products in Imo State in recent times has continued to be a major source of concern to the citizens of the state.
A critical appraisal of the development of Agriculture in this state reveals that successive governments had neglected this major sector of the economy, over three decades now, and this has adversely affected the revenue of government.
In line with the vision of the “shared prosperity” government of the Hope Uzodinma administration, the revolution of agriculture is among its cardinal programmes for which a high powered committee (on agricultural master plan for Imo State) has been set up.
For the purpose of resuscitating all moribund agricultural industries and facilities in the state, it is not surprising that this committee is headed by a world class Professor of Agriculture and Deputy Governor of Imo State, Prof. Placid Njoku.
The need to diversify the economy cannot be over-emphasized. It is a well known fact that there is no better and more sustainable means of diversifying the economy than through agriculture. It would be recalled that after the inauguration of his committee, the deputy governor went into action, first by visiting all moribund agricultural facilities in the state, which included Adapalm in Ohaji/ Egbema LGA, Avutu Poultry farm in Avutu, Obowo LGA, Songhai farms, Okigwe road, Owerri, ADP farms in Nekede, Owerri West. Others are Acharaubo farms in Emekuku, Owerri North, Imo Rubber Plantation in Obiti, Ohaji/ Egbema, amongst others.
Prof. Njoku in one of his speeches during the tour described agriculture as the economic base of most countries of the world. Considering the dwindling oil revenue, he said it should be a source of worry to people of good conscience that the vision of our founding fathers to generate revenue, food security, economic advancement, industrialization, employment and eradication of poverty was destroyed by successive governments.
The Deputy Governor, who not only is acknowledged as one of the greatest professors of Animal Science, a renowned Agriculturist and former Vice Chancellor of a leading University of Agriculture, the Federal University of Agriculture, Umudike, made it clear that the present government led by Governor Hope Uzodinma is desirous to return agriculture to its former glory.
The Ikeduru-born technocrat and farmer per-excellence said that the 3R Mantra of this administration namely: Reconstruction, Rehabilitation and Recovery is a base for making the dream of Imo State as the food basket of the nation come true.
Noting that government is a continuum, the deputy governor promised that his committee will build upon what is already on ground by rehabilitating the ones that could be rehabilitated and bringing in new facilities where necessary to ensure that the passion of the governor towards agricultural revival is achieved.
Meanwhile, in most of the establishments visited by the committee, it was discovered that indigenes of the communities had badly encroached into the lands and converted them to personal use. Investigations by the committee revealed that agents of some past governments in the state connived with the communities to make it possible, for their personal aggrandizement.
The deputy governor, whose humility has become legendary pledged his total support to the Governor, Senator Hope Uzodinma whom he described as God sent to right all that were done wrong by the previous administrations in the state. He called on all to give this administration the needed support to rewrite the history of Imo State in gold, especially the agricultural sector.
Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust
By Christian Uzoukwu
Some years ago, while as a kid, I fell out with my father due to an occasion of sheer disobedience and on that very day, I was given no food and was ultimately battered by hunger. Child abuse includes both acts of commission and omission on the part of parents, guardians as well as care-givers.
These acts have led to a lot of actual and threatened harm meted out on countless number of children. In 2014, the WHO made an estimate of 41,000 children (under the age of 15) that are victims of homicide and other related offences. This estimate, as expounded by this world body is grossly below the real figures due to the views of the society in relation to corporal punishment experienced by children. Girls are always most vulnerable to different forms of child abuse during unrests and in war-thorn territories.
Cases of child abuse can be established in some deadly human vices such as child trafficking, child labour, forced adoption as seen in the one-child policy prevalent in China. In the Asian country, women, by law are only allowed to have one child. Local governments would sometimes allow the woman to give birth and then they would take the baby away stating the mother violated the one child policy. Child traffickers, often paid by the government, would sell the children to orphanages that would arrange international adoptions worth tens of thousands of dollars, turning a profit for the government.
Other striking examples of child abuse are the various forms of violence against the girl-child which involves infanticide, sex-selective abortions, female genital mutilations (FGM), sexual initiation of virgins in some African cultures, breast ironing in some parts of Cameroon – involving the vicious use of hot stones and other tools to flatten the breast tissue of girls who have attained the age of puberty. As if those were not enough, female students are also subject to maltreatments in countries like Afghanistan and Pakistan. This is not to talk of recurring kidnapp of female students in some parts of Nigeria, as we saw in the case of Dapchi and Chibok schoolgirls.
Based on simple analysis, child abuse can be defined as “all forms of physical and/or emotional ill-treatment, sexual abuse, neglect or negligent treatment or commercial or other exploitation, resulting in actual or potential harm to the child’s health, survival, development or dignity in the context of a relationship of responsibility, trust or power”.
This definition by WHO also falls in line with the definition propounded by the United States Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, which says that child abuse are acts of commission. This commission includes “words or overt actions that cause harm, potential harm, or threat of harm to a child”, and acts of omission (neglect), meaning “the failure to provide for a child’s basic physical, emotional, or educational needs or to protect a child from harm or potential harm.
In Nigeria, most cases of child abuse have become cumbersome due to the fact that these acts of abuses are regarded as mere punishments to unruly young ones and by so doing, should be justified and doesn’t call for any further discussion and/or scrutiny. According to various statistical studies and researches, child abuse is a vast societal cankerworm and has four profound tentacles viz:
Physical Abuse: this involves undue hitting, beating, kicking, shaking, biting, burning, strangling, insertion of pepper into the eyes and pubic regions of children, maltreatments from house-help(s) and seniors at boarding/day schools, suffocating and forcing children to live in unwholesome conditions.
Sexual Abuse also includes persuading a minor into acts of sexual intercourse, exposure of the child’s private parts, production of child-related pornographic contents and actual sexual contacts with children.
Psychological Abuse of children can be seen in cases of excessive scolding, lack of proper attention that children should be receiving from their parents and guardians, destructive criticisms and destruction of a child’s personality.
Neglect of children can also lead to children dropping out of schools, begging/stealing for food and money, lack of proper medical care for minors and realities of children looking like ragamuffins.
Consequently, the causes of child abuse can be judiciously related to sex, age, personal history, societal norms, economic challenges, lack of Rights’ Protection Agencies, parents battling with traits of alcoholism and family size. These causative agents of child abuse can bring untold effects upon the society at large and these effects can be emotional, physical and psychological as the case may be, giving rise to individuals with dissociative lifestyles.
Furthermore, the treatment of individuals who have been malformed with respect to the abuses they experienced abinitio, can be a long process because it involves behavioral therapy and other forms of neoteric therapies. Treatments of psyche-related problems are not just a one-day process due to the long-lasting effects of abuses on various conscious mental activities. It is also noteworthy to point out that, prevention is always better than cure and holding fast to this true reality, entails that agencies who have the responsibility of protecting the rights of children must continue to do the needful which requires proper oversights of parent-child relationships.
To conclude this piece therefore, we must agree that untold hardships have been a great challenge for children especially in Africa and some parts of Asia. Children with long histories of abuses turn out to become societal misfits. To this end we encourage that: Children should be given a free platform to express themselves on many topical issues and issues relating to their existence.
Children should also be allowed to freely ask questions on any issue, no matter, how weird it seems to be.
Governments should make regulations outlawing societal norms and values that might amount to child abuses.
Corporal punishments by parents, guardians and care-givers should be discouraged at all levels, thereby making parents/guardians/care-givers who seem to be incorrigible, to face the full weight of justice enshrined in the law of the land.
Education system (both conventional and unconventional) in Nigeria should be able to train up young ones into becoming critical, analytical and evaluative individuals with a view of defending the vulnerable.
And again, since children are said to be leaders of tomorrow, it is pertinent to note that to secure their future, their present existence must be cherished and protected.
Christian Chimemerem Uzoukwu
08100029867 / 09025760804
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