- Saving the Nigeria Poet From Nigeria’s Arbitrariness
I have just two words of prescription in this regard – scholarship and methodology. Let our young men go back to primary and secondary literatures and re-pick their English. Let them be humble to accept mentorship. Let them read, read and read books. Let them start with essays, graduate to short stories before writing full-blown prose, plays and poems. Let them be humble to submit their scripts for marking by English teachers and those they consider better. Mentorship is everything. Kayla Forde, a 2014 DC Pol Champion had this to say – ‘I’m really excited to be part of this experience. I never expected or imagined that I would make it to this point, I’m just grateful for my teacher pushing me to do it. They must equally shun road-side publishing which creates today, many unreadable books by school teachers, yet forced on our children to read.
But they cannot take all these prescriptions in combination with nudity, night-clubbing, alcoholism, wee-wee, kidnapping, rape, sexual pervasion and the like which are now, their Siamese twins. Granted that times are hard, pockets dry, electricity epileptic – no one can produce any good academic work now relying on Nigeria’s power supply, yet was it not the kerosene lantern that made the big names in poetry we have today?’ A determined writer can conquer Nigeria’s arbitrariness.
Poets being the conscience of society must dabble into politics to change things themselves though we concede that poverty of the intellectual, public fear of his next move and conspiracies against him may not allow him thrive in our rough political terrain. Most of us cannot win elections in our villages because of the opposition to the intellectual. A committed writer becoming the minister for education in his country can at least affect the education curriculum for the better.
The school system has collapsed, of course, yet we still have first class graduates from our universities, even though nobody can swear to the fact that they can write good applications for jobs as graduate assistants.
- Apostasy And The Destiny Of The Nigerian Poet
Frustration seems to be the greatest component of mental illness, of delusion and paranoia. Frustration may be the root cause of apostasy. Apostasy is loss of faith in one’s previous belief, especially in religion or in a deity. Colonialization actually ruined the culture of the Igboman as depicted in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart where Umuofia sons out of zeal for the whiteman’s religion desecrated their ancestral shrines, killed and ate the royal python, the personification of their deity. The confusion caused by these actions, especially the division it caused among the people with some demanding jungle justice on the offenders and others asking their gods to fight for themselves, led to frustration which brought in apostasy.
Elechi Amadi seemed to be one writer badly affected by colonialism. In his paper, ‘Religion and Culture in African Literature’ published in his book, Speaking and Singing (Papers and Poems) he said, ‘Now because religion has been a key weapon in our subjugation (by the whiteman) any resurgence of our native religion is viewed with considerable alarm….one argument asserts that our religion is brutal and barbaric what with human sacrifices and all. No one ever replied that Jehovah (Jewish/whiteman’s God) often had to be placated with human sacrifices. It was not out of caprice that Jehovah ordered Abraham to sacrifice his son, Isaac. He was used to that type of dish. And to this day Christians still eat Christ’s fresh and drink his blood in a symbolic ritual communion – so powerful is the ritual human sacrifice.
Yes, many writers and human rights activists now believe in nothing after the frustration of seeing their works go down the drains without arousing the public to revolution, after seeing wreckers of the land move about in luxury to the detriment of the empty-pocket poet, a man of eternal abstractness. Esiaba Irobi lamented wasting his time writing poems like ‘Hand Grenades’ thinking that he was going to cause a revolution, when he should have spent his time writing love poetry that is eternal. This mind-set can be confirmed in Isidore Diala’s scholarly critique on Irobi entitled ‘Esiaba Irobi’s Drama And The Postcolony…’ when he said, ‘For a writer committed to violent revolution and the destruction of the (politically) guilty, the myth of Amadioha is indeed a divine boon.
Soyinka and Fela Anikulapo Kuti are African traditional religious worshippers. Beko and Koye Ransome Kuti were known atheists. It is not unnatural for man to wonder at times if God is alive. I have at many times believed that our God is now an old man, suffering from multiple arthritis and senile dementia and conquered by emerging evils of man. But Psalm 37, a Psalm of David, the most renowned Old Testament poet, says ”Fret not yourself because of the wicked, be not envious of wrong doers! For they will soon fade like the grass and wither like the green herb…commit your way to the Lord, trust in him and he will act……he will bring forth your vindication as the light and your right as the noonday…Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him….” For us Christian poets, David’s word is a soothing balm on our frustrated psyche. If you couple them with Christ’s Sermon on the Mount (cf:St Matt. Chap 5) which pronounced eternal blessings for the good, especially those persecuted and killed like poets in the course of seeking righteousness and justice in our world, and eternal condemnation for evil man, then there is hope that can kill frustration which precedes apostasy.
Let us all believe that Jesus Christ is a historical personality who not only claimed equality with God, the Father (cf: St John 14:7-9) equally predicted his death and resurrection from the dead as a salvific sacrifice for the world (St Matt. 12:40). Now, if Christ had not come and through his teaching and miracles, especially his resurrection proved to be God, any one, Elechi Amadi, Nnanna Ukegbu, Soyinka, Fela, Beko, could have an excuse for liberation theology and apostasy. So let us all surrender to the superior argument and action which Christ through his Church has proffered for more than two thousand years – which in the process, conquered a highly polytheistic Rome and made it the centre of Christian worship on the piece of land where Peter was buried after his queer crucifixion by Emperor Caesar Nero (alias 666) in 70 AD. Elechi Amadi cannot claim that Rivers State has more gods and goddesses than Rome.
The promise of everlasting life and everlasting death by Christ is so wonderful and terrible for the good and the bad respectively that one must be involved, even though Theophilus Okere in his Odenigbo Lecture, Chibundu: Ofufe Chukwu N’ala Igbo quoted an Mbaise man who said that he was not afraid of hell fire. He was only afraid of its permanency.
St Paul said that neither the eye nor the ear nor any human imagination could predict what God prepared for those who loved him. (cf:1st Corint.2:9). St Peter at Mount Thabor after a little revelation of the glory of Christ forgot himself, James and John, his co-seers of the apparition and opted to stay there permanently and fabricate three tents for the transfigured Jesus and Moses and Elijah with whom he discussed (cf:St Mark 9:2-8)
St Thomas Aquinas before his death at 49, asked that all his writings be destroyed as thrash after his beatific vision of the Glory of Christ among his saints. Yet here was a man who was spoken to by a crucifix in a chapel at Naples in 1273 in these words ”Thou hast written well of me, Thomas, what reward wilt thou have?”34
So, how can somebody after all these self-evident pieces of truth decide to be apostate just as one young man at one of ANA meetings in the recent past announced his renouncement of the Christian Faith? Perhaps, his apostasy and delivering him from it is the raison d’etre of this section of this paper, to make him a Christian poet who can speak to all powers, deaf and dumb, since even when killed as a result of it, his eternal salvation – life after life – is guaranteed.
Thank you very much!
(This is an excerpts from a paper presented by Dr Madugba, Public Health physician, poet, author, philosopher, theologian, choirmaster, human rights activist and Imo State Co-ordinator of School Health Services Programme, at the 2014 Convention of the Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA, Owerri.)
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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