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As October 1 draws near

MIND AND BODY with  Rev. Fr. Vincent E. Arisukwu


It must be acknowledged that many marriages are undergoing intimidation today. It is also ironical to imagine that women suffer more intimidation than men in marriage as a result of their gender. Many married men are also undergoing psychological trauma. But because a lot of them struggle to protect their ego, they pretend that all is normal while internally bearing the brunt of a terrible marriage partner in the home. Let us postulate some panacea to overcoming the evil of intimidation in marriage.


Recognize that marriage partners are equal:

In the nuptial blessing given to newly wed couples, the Church prays, “May her husband put his trust in her, and recognize that she is his equal, and the heir with him to the life of grace”. The Church affirms from this prayer, that there is no superior or inferior in marriage. This equality derives from the image of God which each of the marriage couples bears ontologically from creation, “In the image of God He created him, male and female He created them” (Cf. Gen. 1: 27). Any marriage relationship that recognizes this equality usually enjoys their union. This does not rule out the idea of respect, obedience or love. The truth is that ordinarily every sensible man knows his position in the home so also every right thinking woman. The man doesn’t need to say to the woman, “Look I am your husband, your Oga”, or the wife to the man, “Don’t you know I am your wife”. There is no need to communicate one’s rights and privileges in marriage by intimidation in order to show one’s supremacy.


Let Love speak: The best language in marriage union is love. Saint Paul exhorts, “Over all these clothes, put on love, the perfect bond” (Col. 3: 14). When the language of love reigns, intimidation and abuse disappear. This is why marriage should arise from the pure and genuine love of the man and woman for each other. Marriage should go beyond what a person has or what he can offer. It should go beyond a person’s name or possession. It should be an appreciation of a person irrespective of anything. That is why the words of consent says, “…For better for worse, in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer, until death do us part”. Any marriage guided and propelled by love does not sour. Love does not expire. But marriages experience intimidation when the emphasis is on material possession and pretence. Some women in certain cases have married their men based on societal placement, financial background, political connection, etc. Some have married based on the man’s sexual activeness. Others have married for the man’s intelligence. The same thing applies to men who marry for mere physical beauty or financial connection. The sayings then would be that love is blind. Ironically, love which is blind opens its eyes as the couples advance in age and the financial elephant begins to trim down or the sexual lion becomes calm. The resultant effect becomes constant aggression which the woman brandishes on her husband or vice versa. This is wrong. It can only be overcome when love reigns, when marriage is genuine. According to St. Paul, “Let love be without any pretence… In brotherly love let your feelings of deep affection for one another come to expression and regard others as more important than yourself” (Rom. 12: 9-10). That is the language of marriage.


Forgive and Forget the past: When Peter put the question to Jesus, “Lord, how often must I forgive my brother if he wrongs me?” the response was, “Not seven, I tell you, but seventy-seven times” (Matt. 18: 21-22). This should be applicable in marriage. When love governs, forgiveness follows. The sister to forgiveness is forgetfulness. When a spouse cannot forget a wrong done to him/her, it becomes a reference point, sometimes in a sarcastic manner. To forgive is to imagine a wrong never existed. It means to erase completely from the heart. It means to realize that one can also offend another and as well be forgiven. St. Paul maintains, “Bear with one another; forgive each other if one of you has a complaint against another. The Lord has forgiven you; now you must do the same” (Col. 3:13-14). Husband, forgive and forget. Wife, forgive and forget. It eliminates intimidation in marriage.


Empower your partner: The idea of some men refusing to empower their wives in marriage is totally wrong. I have had a case whereby the man refused to allow the wife with Masters Degree work simply because he claimed he was shielding or protecting her from other men. Two ironies are involved here: (1) The same man kept complaining of the weight of solely catering for the family. (2) He couldn’t shield himself from women either. One way to make a woman reasonably busy is to empower her. This makes her appreciate her husband as well as get involved in the family affairs. When both parties contribute in marriage, the burden of training the children is reduced. When both contribute, no one becomes a pest on the other. When both are empowered, no one is intimidated.


Shun Cultural bias: The prejudice that holds male as superior gender to female is completely fallacious. It shouldn’t exist in marriage. When superiority is measured by an individual’s productivity, the implication would be that many men would be more inferior to women because a lot of families depend on the women for survival. A woman cannot be superior to her husband in marriage because she is the breadwinner. The man cannot be superior to the wife simply because he is Igbo and just keys into the anachronistic cultural mentality that the woman is inferior even when she is feeding, clothing and sheltering the man. When such superfluous arguments are eliminated in marriage, intimidation fades.


Avoid In-Law Syndrome: Abuses in most marriages have arisen from interference/intrusion from mothers and fathers in-law. Some mothers in law have become so domineering that they want to be the superintendents of their children’s marriage. We are not submitting that fathers and mothers are no longer relevant to their children after marriage. We are saying rather that parents should limit the level of their involvements in marriage. Your child’s wife should give you respect as a father or mother but it should be clear to you that she is not marrying you. Allow daughters in-law to breathe fresh air and let the husbands be the ones to dictate their faults. Husbands on their own should not be fed from some parents’ prejudices against their wives. This has been the cause of some intimidations in marriage. It should be eliminated for the marriage bond which is the union between a man and his wife to survive.


Be docile: Docility means openness to correction. It means acceptance of one’s mistakes and readiness to make amends. The docile husband/wife is humble and meek. He/she is submissive. He/she is the type that steals a man/woman’s heart; he/she wins a man/woman over in marriage. A docile wife not only absorbs the man’s temperament, she rather weakens his strength. A docile wife is quick to say sorry while a docile husband acknowledges his faults and quickly asks for pardon. He does not hide his feelings but expresses himself in such an amiable way that makes the wife give herself totally to him in love, care and compassion. St. John admonishes, “In love there is no room for fear, because perfect love drives out fear” (1John 4:18).


Don’t idolize Money: Christ said of money, “Use money, tainted as it is, to win you friends, and thus make sure that when it fails you…” (Luke 16: 9). Two things are deductible here namely: That money could be of great value and that it could fail or disappoint. Many marriages have been made by the prudent and wise manner they have approached money while others have been marred by the entrance of money. Men or women who idolize money pay less attention to their marriage. In fact, those who adore money love less. They become power drunk by negative pecuniary influence. Some women have treated their husbands as rags because they suddenly acquire wealth. Some men have also become stupid, extravagant and incorrigible because they have money. This is wrong. Money should be given its place in marriage and not allowed to substitute love for husband or wife. When it is worshipped, it becomes an agent of intimidation. When not idolized, intimidation is strangulated.


Seek Counseling: A spouse that feels intimidated should always seek counseling from professionals and experts. It is wrong to suppress bad feeling for one’s partner in marriage because it could result in wrong outburst. Psychologists have proven that cases of suicide and murder have resulted from suppression. It is important to consult marriage counselors to enable one come out of the problem of intimidation. This is in order to receive objective advice. These may be experts in psychology or pastors. The rule is, “Never consult the wrong person”. Seek the advice of those who will proffer sound solution without taking sides as well as help rescue the marriage from crisis. Above all, prayers are necessary because God makes all things possible (Cf. Luke 1:38). He can change the heart of your abusive partner at a time you least expect.



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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