We apologise to our long-suffering readers. We’ve been away for too long that we have no idea how to craft an appropriate apologies without sounding like clingy, readership needing, page-view counting blog. Which we totally are. But you see, the Nigeria’s madhouse effect is gradually beginning to reflect on our carefully maintained schedules and we’re also going topsy-turvy. Really, there’s been lots of fun activities going around in the past few weeks. It’s a combination of : million dollar rewards, romance in the banks, wars and rumours of wars, killing of the gays, and the most important of all—Big Brother Africa.
But of course, it’s no real concern to you what assholes are waging wars, and which farmer’s ox is gored as long as you continue to have your three square meals and DSTV subscriptions. After all, life is short and fleeting, and the essence of getting up at unholy hours and going to bed at unholier hours, commuting to work with the suffering of a martyr, is to be able to be as happy as as practicable in this up and down world. that agreed, why then do folks get all riled up over issues that, when all the cards are down, neither takes a morsel of food nor cancels their right to watch that sweet African Magic?
And this brings us to the story of Lilliput (and Blefuscu–which is unimportant) and the issue of the Lilliputian Big-Enders and Small-Enders. These names would sound familiar to those of you who actually sat up to listen to the boring drone of that damned literature teacher (we will pray for your wasted childhood) instead of fantasizing over the potential response to the love letter hastily scrawled on a sheet of 2A Onward Big Exercise Book.
But back to literature class, the aforesaid Lilliput and Blefuscu were two neighboring island “kingdoms” in Jonathan Swifts book, Gulliver’s Travels. (Insert appropriate expression of recognition here.) Now, Lilliput had been at war with Blefuscu for a while, principally because the trouble seeking Blefuscu encouraged and supported some errant Lilliputians who had refused to toe the generally accepted beliefs of Lilliput. You see, it is a religious belief of Lilliput that a boiled egg (yep, religion does talk about food) should be broken “at the convenient end” before it is eaten, so the scripture said. Traditionally, “convenient end” had been interpreted as the “big” end of the egg—until some folks decided it actually meant the “small” end of the egg. The Small-Enders eventually converted most people to this religious thinking and gained the rulership of the kingdom. But some die-hard Big-Enders, now the minority, would have none of that shit. They got reinforcement from Blefuscu and a series of religious civil war began in which “…one Emperor lost his life, and another his crown.” Yeah, it was that bloody, they took that egg-breaking business very seriously.
But you see, it’s easy to make light of this story when you are unable to apply it to current realities. There are lots of Big-End and Small-End issues that cause unnecessary friction in real, everyday life. Of course, it is proper to hold a belief and stick to it, but it is improper to force that belief on others. Even more improper: taking violence or the threat of violence in order to force that belief on others. Because, as someone said, beliefs are like big swinging dicks—it’s good to have one, but bad to wave it in someone’s face. Only a club, tribe, cult and other exclusive societies requires that everybody must maintain the same beliefs. But in a complicated, admittedly fucked-up world, such as we have today, beliefs have gotten to complicated and numerous that everyone had better share the damned space together or simply blow up the world in the process of determining which belief will survive and which one must die.
And that’s the lesson for today, folks: the world doesn’t belong to anybody. You meet stuff here, you’ll leave stuff here. And all the stuff you think you’ve built up forever can be blown off in the puff of a madman’s nuclear bomb in a part of the world you didn’t even know exists. But as long as you’ve got to share this tiny portion of Space with other people, history has proven that any attempt by any majority to dominate a minority for the purpose of forcing everyone to behave in a particular direction always results in disastrous consequences. So you see, it boils down to everyone having a peace out or everyone having a piss out.
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Let’s take time off our political rants today—and despite all that evidence to the contrary, we are not a political blog—and get cracking, instead, on some important stuff that’s bound to make you a happy person in life. Of course, there’s plenty of things we could show you to achieve this: how to marry happily, how to pay your taxes; how to find good food and how to successfully manipulate your company’s financial records without getting caught.
But, before we focus on your future welfare let’s quickly dig up a favourite nightmare from the past—exams. Of course, at this stage of your life, you’ve probably gone way beyond the dreadful claws of examinations. You now have a job, you pay your monthly tributes in the name of bills and you have even attained the privilege of punching school teachers in the face. But no matter what age you are now, that primeval fear of exams and the horrific memories of those days of torture will always be there to mock your dreams. And every time you hear the sentence, “There’s going to be a test”, you’re bound to shiver inwardly. Sorry. Now that we’ve kicked away the lid of your subconscious, we’ll just give you a few seconds to shiver and recover from the repressed memories.
Now, here are some other reminders. Those damned examinations often come in two main types of indigestion-inducing questions: there’s the “objective” or multiple choice question and then there’s the “subjective” theory, or essay questions. And of course, you remember the rules—the “objective” questions are the ones that require you to give an objective, undisputed answer—usually achieved by simple guesswork, elimination processes and outright gambles of Las Vegas proportions.
You don’t even have to believe in rightness of the “objective” answer—just pick the freaking correct one, according to the dictates of the examiner. And unless your examiner is the Second Coming of Satan, there’s going to be only one correct answer. For example, when you see the question: “Was Hitler an evil person? You had better choose a “Yes” as quickly as possible or you’re on your way to a life of failure and hardship, or worse—a career of producing music videos for Tonto Dikeh.
Unlike objective questions, essay or “subjective” theory questions have no “right” answers. What you have are: fucking good answers, fucking bad answers and “whatever” answers. Answering a subjective question is where students prove their mettle. This is the point where your hours of posing at the library begin to count, and then you begin to write furiously as you dramatically defend your position—or, more likely, if you are human like the rest of us, you take up a sudden interest in the architectural structure of the examination hall ceiling while hoping the paper will sort itself out.
And here is the point we’re trying to make in today’s post: life works like a freaking examination administered by a bureaucratic examiner who keeps throwing you a bunch of objective and subjective questions in the guise of decisions and dilemmas. Your objective questions are easy to figure out and spout. It doesn’t take any effort to give the correct answers. Even the most superficial person can easily state all the nice principles of life objectively: “Love Your Neighbour as Yourself”, “Do Good to All Men”, “Democracy is Good”, “Corruption is Evil”, “Babies are Assholes.”
But when it comes to the subjective, essay, questions, things become less clear and the shit begins to spray around. That’s where life asks you to stand up, unzip your pants slowly and show the world your balls. Do you begin to count the ceiling at this point or do you draw up, and submit, a kick-ass paper?
Take a socio-economic scenario, for example: the objective answer states that “corruption is bad”, but when the President decides to cut down the bogus civil service—and you end up losing your job, how glad will you be that you have sacrificed something to fight corruption? When your 15-year-old car is impounded, do you praise God for the objective joys of road safety? When your beautiful house is demolished for the superhighway, do you rejoice in the objectivity of town planning and infrastructural development?
And here’s our moral for the day: a strong education is built, not on the ability to pick objective answers, but also to subjectively defend them. It’s the essay questions that get the high marks. The existence of a disconnect between your objective answers and your subjective arguments is a premise to failure. Your principles should be more than just agreements with objective facts, they should also have subjective application. You, as an individual, should be willing to defend your paper—otherwise, you will always be apprehensive whenever an exam is around the corner. Or if you prefer, you can always call in sick.
P.S. The upcoming book, Sorry Tales is still in progress. Keep your fingers crossed, folks, and also bear with our fortnightly publication schedule. We’ll be back to weekly in no time, seriously. 😉
You know we are asking for trouble on Idlemindset when we reference God in what is clearly an irreligious blog. Now that its virtually becoming Nigerian law not to take God’s name in vain, we really can’t predict the response of you, our dear, religiously sentimental, readers. Nigeria is a religious country and no one screws around with their God or Gods or gods. No one, that is, except us. Of course, when we use the word “God” on this blog, we expect you to fill in the relevant, itty-bitty details by yourself: e.g. gender, looks, musical preference, number of angels and tolerance level for bullshit. In fact, for our own purpose, and because we love women, we will consider God as a kindly ageless woman with plenty angels (three of whom will die shortly), listens to Afro hip-hop and has an unlimited tolerance for the bullshit we do everyday.
But today’s post is not geared towards a psychoanalysis of the nature of God, nor is it about defending the independence of God—She is perfectly capable of doing that Herself, otherwise She would have resigned the title “God” long ago. Instead, we’ll focus our precious time on examining that alarming, and almost specifically Nigerian, culture of invoking God in every half-assed achievement scenario, however irrelevant. And the latest of these infatuation with spiritual controllers is the relegation of God to the role of a favoritism prone, country partisan, asshole of a football official who lets one team win and double-crosses the other team.
Here’s an example of how prevalent that mentality is: at a barbershop yesterday, during the match against Ivory Coast, a Nigerian watching the play had a near heart attack when someone playfully suggested that some juju must have been involved in the seemingly improved performance of the Super Eagles. This cardiac-prone gentleman, like a desperate defense attorney, seriously began to rebuke his fellow fan for ascribing to Ifa what was clearly the handiwork of the Christian God. “This match belongs to Jehovah” he said with profound insight, and three angels collapsed and died on the spot (we warned you).
You see, playfully ascribing a football match to juju is one thing, seriously ascribing it to God, instead of hard work, practice and random factors, is another. The uncomfortable truth is this: God is freaking indifferent to the African Cup of Nations. And the Barclay’s Premier League, and the World Cup. But apparently, Mr. Keshi clearly thinks God is a Nigerian, because during the press conference after the victorious match, he confidently proclaimed that “God is wonderful, the boys showed character.” In fact, he started the conference with the verbal equivalent of tossing the ancestors a libation before commencing a social drink: “First of all, I want to thank God….”
Now here’s the crux of today’s post. Its okay to thank God in everything. But superstitious belief should not be confused with a personal thanksgiving. In a country where religion precedes common sense and folks are convinced that supernatural forces, and not human factors, decide what happens, we should not hesitate to fight against that mentality wherever it pops up. We will achieve a great deal more if we thank God less and work harder, than if we thank God more and work less—and it doesn’t matter what your religious leaders tell you. In any case they will be the first to abscond if this country crashes from the weight of their superstitious influences.
And God doesn’t mind your focusing less on superstitions, really. That’s why She gave you that pound of meat contained inside your skull—so get the fuck out and use it. And just like a fish doesn’t wait for God before using its fins, or a bird before using its wings, you shouldn’t sit on your sorry ass, praying, waiting for meat. Unless, of course, you live a zoo. Otherwise, you just have to work for your own goals. God is awesomely indifferent to your football matches, your fixtures, your players or your coach. And the same applies to a lot of everyday life and activity. The supernatural realm is very, very indifferent to a lot of things you consider very, very important.
And so what’s the use of religion and spirituality? Religion is an internal influence, not an external one. Your religion is a personal spiritual business, its not a physical force that will change things for you. Your religious beliefs will not change the laws of nature, logic and human psychology. Whatever your religion, either primitive ancestral worship or the more advanced Christianity, Islam and their several counterparts, if you jump from a skyscraper and fall on a rock below, you will break something. If you work studiously towards a goal, you will get it. Religion could give you knowledge, but it won’t give you resources. Religion could give you enlightenment, but it won’t give you progress. Religion could give you inspiration but it won’t give you success. You just have to do that freaking work yourself. And with that said, get off this blog and go do something useful.
P.S. Remember to order my short play “Death in the Dawn” here. It will not change your life, but it will entertain you some. 😀 😀 😀
Today, as tempting as that discourse is, we will say nothing referencing Goodluck Jonathan’s “media chat” yesterday. No, we will not go down that road. We will say nothing about the “subsidy” removal, or the Boko Haram “dialogue”, or the inter-state expressway contracts. We will, however, briefly mention our agreement with Mr. Jonathan when he said: “It is dangerous for this country if PDP should win all the states.” That aside, I am sure the saner readers of this blog have brutally murdered all the fucks they had for Mr Jonathan and his media chats. In any case, we all have more important things to do this morning.
That’s why, instead, we will take time of to commiserate with our ill-used Christian brothers and sisters who manage to endure crazy Sundays in Lagos—and certainly in other parts of Nigeria too. And by “crazy”, I mean the sight of tired, almost bedraggled, Christians, lining the bus-stops from Epe to Sango to Lagos-Ibadan Expressway, slowly baking under the sun, while their so-called shepherds, the “pastors”, drive past in nice air-conditioned cars. And sometimes, in a convoy of nice air-conditioned cars.
You would think by now, over 30 years after Fela sang about religious leaders boolsheeting their way to a life of luxury on earth, Christians, especially the Pentecostal ones, would have cottoned on to the mind-fuck of a religious scam. But noo! They had to go ahead and donate money for a private jet while most families paraded in motorised rickshaws and motorcycles. Fela would gladly stick the pointy end of his sax up their collective butts if that would let them get his point. Almost all Pentecostal churches in the country follow this pattern of neglecting the poor and donating to already wealthy pastors. If that’s not a confusing mind-fuck, then nothing else is.
Well, again, these materialistic pastors are not only to blame, their materialistic, divine intervention prone, miracle seeking, prophecy motivated congregation can be faulted too. Only greedy people are victims of a scam. And when you believe that your faith in God should be measured in Naira and Kobo, then you will only end up making your pastor incredibly wealthy.
Fela may be a moral scumbag, but he understands the Sermon on the Mount more than most Christians. It is the duty of the shepherd to feed the flock—and not just with spiritual boolsheet. Jesus fed the Five Thousand with some hardcore bread and fish. A modern pastor would have carried the original basket home to feed himself instead. On the fair side, though, Jesus was an ass-kicking Son of God, or maybe even the first incarnation of Superman; while these pastor folks are hungry humans also looking for a life of ease and a sizable pension. In fact, pastors and bankers have come a long way from the days when Jesus whipped the money-changers out of the temple.
Let’s cut to the chase here. If you were idle enough to check out the links above, you’d have seen from good ol’ Wikipedia that the word “pastor” is derived from the Latin for “shepherd”. And that’s the lesson for today: there is no moral justification for any pastor to be well fed while any single member of his congregation is hungry. There is no moral position for a pastor to transport in comfort while any single member of the congregation treks. As long as any single member of the congregation is unclothed, no pastor has a right to wear the best clothes—and the same goes for shelter, and other basics. Any single member. Its a high standard, but that’s why pastoring is not meant for just any imaginative Tom, Dick and Harry with a good command of English and a scrappy knowledge of the gospels. Pastoring is for people willing to suffer, and suffer hard, for the sake of others.
Well, as Mr. Jonathan could have told you in his media chat yesterday, if you’d bothered to watch: it is easier for a pastor to purchase a private jet than for a common man to travel on the Benin-Ore Road.
P.S. Sorry, I told you it was tempting.
Today’s topic in Prophecy 101: How To Prophesy and Not Get Caught. But first, a little introduction on the Nigerian mentality–our favourite topic on this blog.
Ordinarily, there’s something enjoyable about watching someone stake his credibility on the uncertainty of the future. If he effs up, God willing, we’ll be waiting to stone him with rotten eggs. But, the Nigerian style prophecies are a different matter. We treat prophecies as serious business, whether they ever get fulfilled or not. Every January, the media is flooded with prophecies ostensibly faxed straight from heaven. Either in the form of a long list of possibilities or short snappy catchphrases to put on car bumpers: 2012-the year of great expectations; 2012, the year of supernatural wonders; 2012, the year of anything goes.
One would think the copywriters in heaven would have made up their mind about what exactly will happen in 2012. One would also think Nigeria would have transcended the bounds of human knowledge, as we escape violence, survive disasters, make money on foreign exchange trading while the rest of the world stands helplessly, begging us for spare change.
Well, seeing as I’m not driving a Porsche, and since neither are you, something must be screwy about our prophetic system. (If you are driving a Porsche, wow, man! Get out of here and go catch some fun!) For the rest of us mortals, let’s get to the main lesson. We’ll take a look at some of the top Google result prophecies and figure out what the hell is not right with our prophets.
Our first call is at this site, where Prophet Michael of the Celestial Church of Christ gives not just the general summary for the year 2012, but also detailed monthly prophecies.
This has got to be a July set in an alternate universe. Meanwhile, take a look at some of the prophetic entries for the year: “Foreign investors will come to negotiate unscrupulous deal.” Wow, how original! “Riots, unrest and bombings at various places.” Wow, who could have seen that coming? “Notorious leader of a gang will face the law“.
Here’s one you’ll like: “Danger looms at the President’s home.” Hell, yeah! “Mr. President’s home could shake. The Lord says it has already started brewing.” Wow, the Lord is really on Jonathan’s case this year! And to cap it off: “Change of government seen.” The Lord must be gunning hard for GEJ’s ass.
Meanwhile, a commenter also posted “I hope you and your group are praying because I saw the same thing last week…” Now, feel free to shiver. As a bonus to Prophet Mike, God revealed the future of RCCG to our prophet here , without informing the RCCG Overseer himself, obviously because God wanted to give Pastor Adeboye a surprise New Year gift.
The prophet at the Seed of God, on the other hand, is more global in outlook, and less grammatically inclined. For instance, he warns against “universal plain crash” which has to mean either an international earthquake or an unprecedented rise in ocean levels.
Still on the global concerns, he prophesies that “David Cemeron, should be prayerful, else, he will not be back for second term in office.” On the assumption that this prophecy is for David Cameron and not David Cemeron (whoever that may be), I doubt the British PM would be worried about a second term when the British islands would definitely have disappeared with the eco-system distorting plain crash. As for our local politicians, it is prophesied that the crisis in Oyo state PDP is far from “been over“. I can imagine the dismay and agony this news mist have brought Oyo voters. “Oh Lord, no! Not another year of political party crisis! Help us, Lord!”
Of course, since God has taken a keen interest in partisan politics, you have a treasure like : “As revealed by the almighty God, the Igbo race should stop dreaming about ruling Nigeria come 2015.” That’s it, my Igbo friends, you read it. God “almighty God” has spoken. No Aso Rock for the Igbo in 2015. Then there are some almost annoying prophecies: “Flood will ravage Lagos.” “More rainfall in 2012.” “People of Ibadan should pray against fire outbreak.” At this point I just want to crawl to a corner and cry for shame.
My favourite prophetic site is by Rev Wildfire D-Favour. That name is so kickass you can win a fight simply by telling your opponent the name. I thought the prophecies were going to be equally badass. But despite my careful analysis, I couldn’t quite make out a definite prophecy–or lack of it. Clever idea, I tell you.
The rest of the prophecy is a painful merger between the book of Isaiah and primary school poetry. There are lines such as “Swords clash in battle, and blood flow” and other gems capable of inducing brain death. If Boko Haram bombs could be called “swords clashing in battle”, maybe he has a point. As for the gentleman, he states: “I am not at liberty to show those details as I am still interceding before the Lord, asking Him for mercy, considering that a lot of the things I saw are already beginning to happen.” The problem is, I still can’t finger what exactly are these “lots of things” and I’m sure the Lord is beginning to get bored with Nigeria’s issues one way or another. He has more pressing matters in Somalia.