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Dust To Dust Practice of Burial Rite in Igbo Land – Before The Bubble Bursts



burial riteI have decided to write on the above – mentioned issue as my contributions to the solutions of the  Imbroglio caused by the subject matter aforementioned. Although, to title this paper was not so easy, but I eventually settled with the caption – SAND TO SAND OR DUST TO DUST PRACTICE OF BURIAL RITES IN IGBO LAND – BEFORE THE BUBBLE BURSTS.

In some parts of Igbo land today, the traditional and cultural practice of performing Sand to Sand or Dust to Dust function while burying a deceased person and committing him to mother earth is seriously raising a lot of dust and causing devastating ripples between the Christians and their host natives. The crisis generated by this age-long cultural practices amongst the Igbos while burying their own, has gotten to a very frenzy, frightening and breaking point. The situation, no doubt, is tilting and degenerating towards a very irreconcilable situation and assuming a very dangerous dimension. This prevailing ugly situation which is fast developing dangerously between the natives and Christians in most of the towns in Igbo land is not only disturbing but should be a matter of concern to every true Igbo man.

Undoubtedly, there is rusty and outlandish relationship between the church, and their host communities over certain cultural/traditional practices which have culminated into uneasy calm and even violent attacks, either to church members or both (the host natives and the Christians), thereby claiming casualties. In the bid by the Church to stop the native community/communities from observing their cultural practice(s) in their most acceptable ancestral style is most often greeted with stiff and violent resistance from the natives.

In my state (Anambra State), most towns through their natives, are in daggers-drawn with Christians over the issue of Sand to Sand or Dust to Dust Performance during burial of a deceased indigene. Presently, as I learnt the church/parish (es) in particular and the Diocese(s) in general are at loggerheads over who owns a deceased native and determine the best way he should be buried. This fight for supremacy between the host natives and the church in their midst is raging on now like a deadly inferno. Simply put, it is a clash between the culture/tradition of the people and church culture!

Since this unfortunate incidence has been rampaging and ravaging the supposed peace, correlationship and co-existence between the church and the natives, I have received several calls seeking for my advice on the sensitive and discredited matter on discourse. That is why I have decided to come up with this piece which is purely on advisory platform and position. I am neither standing for the native communities nor for the church, but in all standard, useful contributions are needed for peaceful resolutions of this discourteous, unwanted and avoidable brouhaha that is fast evolving and developing sharp canine teeth and fangs to devour the good order and tranquillity that have long being existing between the host native communities and the church.

We should recall that Christianity came into Igbo hinterland through the Niger River in the 19th Century. The first set of missionaries that landed in Igbo soil were led by Rev. Samuel Adjai crowther, a Yoruba, who was later ordained Bishop of the Anglican communion and Rev. Simon Jonas, a negro.  Both were ex-slaves that started their journey to Igbo land from Freetown, Sierra-Leon where the freed slaves from Europe were quartered and settled initially. Church Missionaries Society (C.M.S) which has metamorphosed today to Anglican Communion, set their feet first in Igbo land in 1857 while Roman Catholic Church (R.C.M) that is known today as Catholic Church came to Igbo land in 1885, after almost thirty years (30 years) C.M.S (Anglican Church) had started their missionary work in Igbo land. The coming of Catholic Church and other churches then such as Methodist, Presbyterrian, Qua-Ibo Church, Apostolic, Faith Tabernacle, Jehovah witness etc. led to unhealthy competitions then and serious scramble for Igbo land/hinterland.

Although the church came with good news and good intentions which they displayed through their honest dissemination of the gospel based on the holy scripture. They did wonderful works then in educating, directing, teaching and converting our people (the Igbos) to the new religion and believe from the Western world. The church used her highly powered reasoning, intelligence, education, maturity and understanding to penetrate our people (the Igbos). The Igbos, on the other hand welcomed and accommodated them. The church never imposed her new gospel culture on the people, rather she used convincing mechanism and conversion, as their tools to win the souls of the Igbos, who accepted them, believed in them and strongly identified with them. That was the early missionary for you then! The missionaries in those days were crises managers and people- friendly. They were with the natives in the most acceptable way while the natives were with them in the most appreciable way. They never lorded their good news on the people they came to minister to, while the natives welcomed the new gospels and changes on their belief system, cultures, customs and tradition with cordiality and enthusiasm. In fact, these early missionaries were with the people (the natives) and the people were with them. The natives loved them so much which they expressed and showed by giving them empty land to establish and build their churches without any charge(s). They appreciated these early missionaries and their new religion with gifts such as healthy tubers of yam, eggs, fruits, vegetables, fatty goats, fresh palm wine, fleshy fowls and other proceeds from their farms then. The then missionaries loved them and they loved the missionaries more. The missionaries recognized the natives’ culture, so also the natives accepted their (western) religion with its attendant cultures, with every happiness and hope.

But today, most clergy in our land seem to be arrogating so many powers to themselves and are erroneously catapulting themselves to the status of our Lord, Jesus Christ. Some have even assumed, regarded and confirmed themselves as the sole and astute replacements and substitutes to Jesus Christ here on earth due to the little understanding and ignorance of the majority of the local people. But that their outrageous belief, calculation and assumption is not true and must never be true. It is a mere configuration, confirmation, and figment of their self and domineering minds and imagination that have totally derailed. But such misconception seems to have gained ground and almost rooted in our ecclesiastical domain. Such conception and contrivance by the selfish, self-opinionating, self-proclaiming and self-serving Ministers of God in our midst, must be dislodged and obliterated without delay, for the masses whom they feel they are deceiving and lording it over, are feeling intimidated, becoming restless, complaining and murmuring and seem to be getting fed up with the system and entire arrangement they so much cherished, adored and venerated before. The present day Ministers of God must see themselves as messengers and servants of God who must carry out our Lord’s messages with love, humility, harmony, understanding, meekness, submissiveness and most importantly, lowliness. The time to act is now, for our Ministers of God must realize or be informed that more than 80% of the Christians in this part of the world don’t practice at all what they are being preached to do in their various churches. But, ironically almost 100% of the Christians participate fully and extensively in all the activities of their church (es)/ (denomination(s)). What a deceit! It is very unfortunate and disturbing that in almost all our Christians today, within them (inside them), the church and words of God are different. They are world apart. Proper integrations and assimilations are lacking and have not taken place within them. That is why crimes, atrocities, iniquities, injustices, disharmony, dislike, infidelity, divorce cases and all sorts of vices are rearing their ugly heads unstoppably and very commonly in our society. The church must sit up and concentrate more on getting repented souls and not getting individuals or population/crowd.

It is very important to reiterate here that in any conflict situation between the church and the natives, the leaders of the church should come down from their Olympian heights and interact with the people. They must desist and avoid any form of confrontation with the people (the natives) and engage them in a very meaningful dialogue and discussion. We must know that the society is growing and growing very fast. There is a complete and total awareness today amongst the generality of the people; although, truth is bitter, but it must be told because the world is now a global village. Days are gone when the clergy are being regarded as untouchable and infallible instruments of God. Igbos in particular and Nigerians in general travel to Europe and other continents in the world. They also watch internet and engage seriously in social networking/media. People are becoming wiser and more knowledgeable! Whether we like it or not, the Western culture is already eroding our culture/tradition.  But the most important factor that calls for concern is that the present day western attitude to religion and church is brain-washing and re-orientating our people, mostly our youths.



To be contd

Chinedum E. Ofomata
84 Obinagu Rd. Enugu.                    
08033393296 (SMS Only)


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The Data of Forgiveness



The Universal Character of Salvation

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.

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Imo Deputy Governor’s giant strides towards revitalizing agriculture



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.

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Child Abuse: A case of betrayal of reciprocal trust



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
Admin Critical Thinkers’ Forum.

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