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Current Affairs Analysis Devotional Infomation

THE CONCEPT OF DEJA VU: MONISM, PLURALISM, AND DUALISM

Deja Vu is a French term, which literally means “already seen”. It is the phenomenon of having the strong inkling that something you are currently experiencing has already been experienced before. It is a feeling of familiarity that is brought about after the sensation that a person has been through the exact same sequence of things he is presently passing through. 

Some of you reading this right now might have been in a situation for example where you found yourself maybe at a restaurant you had never been to before yet recognizing to the last detail everything that took place including the guy ordering food in a red shirt accompanied by the lady with a yellow tank top and brown hair and you said to yourself “Wait a second, this has happened before. I have been here before”.
It probably is not the same as above that happened to you but you might have been through a similar situation where you felt that this was familiar.

I almost see someone nodding her head in acknowledgment.

So let’s talk about this phenomenon and see how we can explain it as there are obviously people who have questions on it. 

I was directed to and saw an interesting post on the phenomenon of Deja Vu, and I saw several people in their comments to the original article speculating on what could be the explanation behind it.
Some spoke about Monism and Pluralism, while others suggested it was the “Multiverse Theory” that is most appropriate in explaining it. Yet another introduced the possibility of the person who has such occurrences being a sufferer of Temporal Lobe Epilepsy (TLE). 

I looked with interest at the variety of potential explanations they each put forward and told myself it would be good to unpack these and see what they all mean. 
I will break the unveiling of this concept and its nature into installments and will run it as a series.

This will be the first installment. 

So, let us start by taking a look  at the first suggested explanation for Deja Vu- “Monism and Pluralism”

Monism is the metaphysical and theological view that all is one, that there are no fundamental divisions, and that a unified set of laws underlie all of nature. Monism denies a distinction between body and soul, matter and spirit, and object and subject.
Everything according to the monist has one source, and for most of them it is the mind. Metaphysical thoughts like “mind over matter” and the “law of attraction” are largely monist thoughts.

Pluralism at the other extreme sees life as being a result of a multiplicity of factors. Religions like Hinduism that offer a plethora of gods for each circumstance and situation are patterned after pluralist thought.
In Epistemology “pluralism is the claim that there are several conflicting but still true descriptions of the world, and that no single explanatory system or view of reality can account for all the phenomena of life”.
We see that this train of thought is popular with traditionalists and adherents of polytheistic religions.

In Ethics, pluralism is “the supposition that there are many independent sources of value and that there is no single truth, even in moral matters.” What is right for one does not have to be right for the other.
Invariably what this means is that Pluralism is essentially the same as Relativism when it comes to Ethics.
Let me break down what that means. It literally means that nothing is right or wrong as there are no absolutes. Everything is right and wrong and both concepts are relative to who is asking, the situation in which he finds himself and what he stands to gain.
It is then neither right nor is it wrong to take another person’s spouse as yours as truth is relative. If it feels good then just do it.

I will gloss over the confusion in those patterns of thought.

The best way to understand life and existence is through a dualist perspective. 
Dualism, in it’s moral sense, has been defined as the belief of the conflict between the benevolent and the malevolent. It simply implies that there are two moral opposites at work. 
The dualist perspective distinguishes between good and evil, spirit and matter, and soul/spirit and body.

Think of spirit and matter for a second.
In the book of Genesis there are two words used in the creation process. The first Aramaic word used in the creation process is the word “Bara”; that word shows up throughout the first chapter in Genesis and is what is used for practically everything created, including man in chapter 1:27.
It means to “create” or make out of nothing tangible.
So we see that man was created in the first chapter, but when we look at the second chapter we see that the Bible records that man was then formed out of the dust of the earth (chapter 2:7).
When a casual observer takes a look at the creation story he assumes there is a contradiction as it looks as though man was created twice. 
There is no contradiction, yet man was created twice. 
Understand that two different words were used.
The second word is the Aramaic word “Asah” and it means to make out of pre-existing material. This is the word defined as “formed” in chapter 2:7.

God first created from and in the intangible realm, and then made in the tangible physical realm. He formed in the tangible realm what He first created in the intangible.
Everything we see exists in two dimensions- the tangible and the intangible. 
God first created things in the intangible 4th dimensional world before manifesting the things He created in the tangible 3 dimensional world we live in. 
And that is the pattern God uses with everything He does. Remember the following statement- GOD FINISHES EVERYTHING BEFORE HE STARTS IT.  
Everything is created twice. 
It is first created in the spiritual realm before it is created physically,  just like the translating of a script to a movie; the script is first conceived and written, after it is ended then it begins.
There is an invisible and intangible world, this invisible world has a higher level of traffic than the tangible and physical world in which we live. 
Some people scoff at suggestions like these but it does not change the fact that there are many more things that exist that cannot be seen than there are that can. 

On a handkerchief or face towel exists more bacteria than there are human beings in most major and densely populated cities yet it was only recently equipment was developed to pick up on those previously invisible beings we now call bacteria, germs, viruses and microbes. 
A man could be sick with a fever and be vibrating with intensity and people would not know what was wrong with him, but it would be those almost invisible beings that would be responsible for the issue. 
There is a spirit world and there is a physical world. Spirits exist and since life abhors vacuum everyone at some point or the other is under the influence of the invisible. 
The Holy Spirit can take control of people and function through them, and evil spirits/demons can also take control of people and function through them. People tend to manifest the characteristics of what spirit is in control of them.  Demons in control of people is a bit like a car whose driver has been kidnapped and thrown into the trunk by a violent criminal who then begins to drive the car very roughly in his bid to evade law enforcement.
The car will take on the nature and characteristics of the driver.
Being driven by a responsible person the car will stop at traffic lights and stop signs and will keep within the speed limit, but when a drunk, a junkie, or an erratic person takes control of the same car it literally becomes a dangerous weapon that can put everyone at risk.
The same car but different characteristics with different drivers.
The same way it is with human beings. People are like cars being driven by different drivers, some cars being driven by several different drivers at different times.

This is not to put every errant behavior or act on the activities of demons but to point out that they do exist as do other spirits like angels. They exist and exercise different levels of influence over the physical world. This is what dualism is about.

Yet dualism in its purest form (or absolute dualism) does not explain the supremacy of God over the devil.
In the context of the problem of evil, evil is not the opposite of good, rather it is just the absence of good. Evil has no existence in itself anymore than darkness exists in itself. Darkness is not as much an independent phenomenon as it is the absence of light. 
Where there is no light there is darkness, and where there is no good there is evil.

C.S Lewis referred to evil as a parasite, this is because he viewed evil as something that cannot exist without good to provide it with existence. That is a very good way of looking at it.
Absolute dualism is not a proper representation of what exists between God and the devil, this is because if we consider the law of equals and opposites we realize that for something to have an opposite it must first have an equal. God and Satan (aka Lucifer) are not opposites; this is because God has no equal, thus no opposite. 
A more appropriate comparison would be between Michael the archangel, rather than God, and Lucifer the devil.
So the dualism I subscribe to is not Absolute Dualism but Limited Dualism- the type of dualism where the devil attempts to frustrate God’s plan but only because of the Freewill given by God and the duration He allows it last for. 
Monism and Pluralism do not explain the concept of Deja Vu; it is actually Dualism that does and in subsequent articles we will understand just how this works.
We will continue this series in the next installment. You do not want to miss it for anything.  

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Current Affairs Analysis Devotional motivational

THE MONASTIC CYCLE (Part II)

THE MONASTIC CYCLE (Part II)

I had finished writing and had a few days earlier posted the first installment of the Monastic Cycle before I got into an interesting conversation that led to the writing of the second. 
I was speaking with a friend of mine, an economist and senior lecturer in a private university of repute, and we were discussing the article when the terms “economy of salvation” came up. I had never thought of such a construct before; so I sat back to listen to him as he told me how the concept of the Monastic Cycle I had brought up fit into the science of economics.
Among several other things he said, he said to me- “Suffering is what scarcity is in economics.  Scarcity determines value and it is for this reason that need is essential in seeking God.”

I immediately understood what he meant as I had done some research previously on human nature and why it was that we only turned to God in our times of need. That was the basis for the article on the Monastic Cycle in the first place. 
The need makes us seek God and along with the material benefits that seeking Him brings there is order, meaning, and some sort of structure that is added to our lives. 
However, for most humans there is a tendency to turn away from Him the moment we assume we have achieved or attained the comfort, convenience, or relief that made us turn to Him from the onset.

That turning away brings considerable tragedy, disadvantages and pain for the whole community and society that does so. It has implications for the lives of those who do.

I once heard a person recount a story he heard from someone many years ago. Many decades ago in the foothills of the Eastern Himalayas, that “someone”, a missionary was preaching in a village marketplace; he held up a Book and said to the people- “This is God’s Book!” Then he explained to the people how it would affect every area of their lives. After he spoke, and the crowd dispersed, a man walked up to him and told him the story of his tribe. His ancestors had had a Book they lived by and it produced unprecedented prosperity in their land far west of the great mountains; but one thing led to another and complacency entered. His forebears were then driven from their lands and in a perilous crossing over the mountains to the east they lost the Book.
Generations later the tribe did not know how to live anymore as they had lost the Book that was a compass for every area of their lives.
The man then told the missionary that two weeks prior to their meeting an old lady from his tribe had a dream of a foreigner standing in a village marketplace and holding up the Book. She saw in her dream that if the elders sent someone on that particular day he would meet the foreigner. So the man looked at the missionary and asked a simple question- “Will you bring God’s Book to my tribe so that we will know how to live again?”

In this second part of the “Monastic Cycle” we will take a historical journey through the annals of time and see that there is a common tragedy among different people groups throughout the various epochs in history; the tragedy of losing God’s Book and forgetting how to live. We will see records that clearly reveal that when a critical mass of people have this Book and apply what it teaches in their lives, a nation is transformed; in like manner whenever a critical number of people abandon this Book and stop applying it in their personal lives, that nation begins to destroy itself. 

According to Americans for Divorce Reform the divorce rate in the U.S is one of the highest in the world with 43 % of first marriages ending in separation or divorce within fifteen years. America is said to have more than two million inmates incarcerated in prison- the highest per capita in the world. I will not speak much of its alcohol, drug abuse, gambling, and pornography epidemics.
Interestingly, according to the World Christian Encyclopedia, more than 84 percent of Americans identify themselves as Christian. 
The apparent contradiction in this is resolved when we consider the results of a 2002 poll by the Barna Group of Ventura, California which shows that only 7 percent of adults aged eighteen to thirty-five make moral choices based on the Bible.
In Western Europe the situation is worse; according to the European Values Study only 21 percent of Europeans say religion is “very important” to them and just 15 percent attend a place of worship once a week. I would wager that a great number of these people that attend a place of worship are likely to be from both Sub-Saharan and North Africa. Europeans increasingly view a belief in God and the concept of religion as an irritant and an impediment to progress. 

But it was not always like this. We saw in the first part of this series (Monastic Cycle part I) that Gordon Cosby, the founding pastor of Church of the Savior in Washington D.C, noted a pattern as he studied the evolution of religious orders. Like we said in the first part-
“First, an idealist attracts people with a strong sense of devotion. The devotees then form a community. Usually there are certain behavioral traits  that become prevalent in most of such communities. One of such traits is discipline- hence the strict rules of founders of orders like Benedict and Ignatius.
 Disciplined groups tend to prosper, this is because discipline creates industry and industry produces wealth, but that very success ultimately undermines the group’s commitment and leads to self-indulgence, and at this point the movement begins to fall apart. 
All these happen and then someone comes along to revive the spirit of idealism. After this happens the cycle starts over again.”

In England in the time of John Wesley (1703-1791), the Monastic Cycle was at the bottom phase and English society desperately needed that idealist who would lead the upsurge. The wealthy elite who were products of the revivals that ensued out of the practice of the principles enunciated by the Bible from pulpits of yore had grown complacent and over time had become impervious to the needs of the less privileged. There was no advocate for the poor and the oppressed. There was terrible hunger in the land. The weak and the young succumbed to epidemics of tuberculosis, diphtheria, and cholera. Children of the poor, from as early as the ages of four and five, went working in factories and mines, often working for more than twelve hours a day in hazardous conditions. In textile factories little children were scalped while crawling under big machines to pick up loose cotton; several fell into the machinery and died.
In the mines, children hauled large baskets of coal on their backs. Because animals cost too much to replace owners used small children to work the coal mines. Businessmen took advantage of the poor to build their empires and the Church of England did nothing.

It was against this backdrop that John Wesley emerged.

While studying at Oxford he became disenchanted with what he saw. The disconnect between the Church and society, the low morals and the unbridled cruelty, and the complacency of the clergy. Being a clergyman himself he felt a need to reform those practices and aspects of Church culture that were not in consonance with what he read in the Bible. He felt the need to help make the adjustments that would see to it that the Book produced the transformation in society he knew it could.
Having been rejected by members of the Establishment he began to reach out to thousands of people. As he was not given the opportunity to share in church buildings he went out in open squares and fields, preaching and making converts by the thousands. From them he trained over ten thousand small group leaders and with them discipled the larger body of new believers; they were taught accountability, honesty, leadership, godliness, the value of hard work, and love and respect for one another among other things.
His work led to the emergence of a middle class that moved the economy of England and also produced new innovations and products that led to the transformation of society. 
An example of John Wesley’s work was a businessman named Samuel Plimsoll who constantly witnessed the sinking of merchant ships and the subsequent drowning of hundreds of sailors and employees as a consequence of the overloading of the vessels. Most of these merchants were fond of this because they made huge insurance claims and maximized their “losses” in order to make humongous recoveries. 
To combat this Plimsoll created a device, since called the “Plimsoll Mark”, which marked a line on the ship to indicate a safe loading level. 
Other examples of the Wesleyan Reformation include Florence Nightingale who developed the modern nursing profession, and Elizabeth Fry, who led the reformation of the prison system.
William and Catherine Booth picked up Wesley’s legacy, and having been directly influenced by his writings and teachings they went on to found the Salvation Army, an organization that has done arguably the most work for the poor. 
As the reforms that John Wesley produced from the Bible worked in England many of the nation’s elite watched in trepidation as the French Revolution (1789-1799) saw the massive uprising that led to the killings of members of the upper class constituted by members of the French monarchy, it’s nobles, and the corrupt priests who had used religion as a tool of subversion. The movements led by the Wesleys prevented the same outcome from occurring in England. 

Earlier, it was a similar position Martin Luther found Germany in. Things had gotten to the bottom, there was a massive wave of corruption and the rot that was a characteristic of the Dark Ages saw to it that there was complete spiritual and academic illiteracy among the masses. The nobles and priests had exclusive authority and the people were kept under perpetual servitude by keeping them ignorant and separating them from truth. 
Luther was a young man in 16th Century Saxony who entered a monastery of Augustinian hermits while hoping to find salvation for his soul. After trying everything he could he felt all the more lost as he soon found that no amount of works would soothe the guilt he bore. As he heeded the advice of the leader of the Order of hermits in the monastery he began to search the Scriptures himself. While on a trip to Rome after being sent on an errand by his abbot he came to the “very gates of heaven” as Rome was then called; while there he opted to do more penance by walking on his knees up the stairs as he was instructed; the tradition was that a person could receive a fifteen year reprieve from “purgatory” if he did this. It was as he did this he heard a voice that said to him “The just shall live by faith”, he realized this was a portion of scripture he had seen in the Book of Romans, this scripture made such a deep impression on him after he heard this voice speak it to his heart that he got up from there and walked away.

While in Rome he was further burdened by the licentiousness and greed that was a normal occurrence in the behavior of the priests who supposedly stayed at the “very gates of heaven.” He was completely appalled by what he saw and this first led him to seek personal reformation. Six years after his ordination into the priesthood of the Catholic Church and being a professor at the University in Wittenberg he had a personal conversion experience; he felt the power of God’s Word and His Spirit in such a profound way that he immediately went out to start preaching that salvation was a gift from God and was to be received by faith, it was nothing to be earned.
In 1517, Martin Luther went out to write his famous “ninety nine theses” that addressed issues of repentance, forgiveness of sin, and the greed and worldliness of the church hierarchy. What followed was a storm that took the world apart and caused total transformation as the Monastic Cycle took its course. 

As Luther translated the Bible into common language and spread it in the hands of the masses there was mass education as people learned to read and write. They soon found that as they could read the Bible they could also decipher Arithmetics, read Architecture and write Poetry. It is not coincidental that the Reformation practically coincided with that period in history called the Enlightenment.
The Reformers launched reading programs across Germany and other parts of Europe. People were taught to read the Bible and could thus read other things like political pamphlets, news, and books on everything from Geography to Geometry. All kinds of information was then deployed, and this led to the spread of innovations and the release of creative energies. 

As Loren Cunningham noted about the renaissance in Germany at this time, “This changed all of history. Before this, there was no generally rich country on earth. Kings and tyrants were individually wealthy. A few aristocrats were wealthy. But not the common people. Individual potential exploded after the people were empowered by the concept of the priesthood of all believers. And as people learned to read, unprecedented numbers began to use their minds ever more broadly, coming up with ideas that created wealth and changed the lives of many. A middle class blossomed, and whole nations became wealthy after a significant number of people applied the Word of God in their lives. The gaining of new knowledge began to pick up speed. For centuries Europe had actually lagged behind the Middle East and Far East in creative development. They forgot much of their inheritance from Greece and Rome, while the Islamic world happily absorbed it and built on it. The Arabs invented the numbers we all use and the concept of zero; the Chinese had many inventions before the West, including paper and gunpowder. But these innovations soon paled in comparison to bright, new discoveries coming out of Europe. ”

Mariano Grondona, a professor of government at the Law Faculty of the National University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, made a remarkable statement in an article “A Cultural Typology of Economic Development” in the book “Culture Matters” after many years of painstaking research.
In listing his discoveries he said no country was a developed nation before the 1600s, neither in the East nor in the West: “It was the Protestant Reformation that first produced economic development in northern Europe and North America.” He then added that today the rate of economic growth in Protestant countries had declined in part because of the cooling of religious fervor.

We find that the effects of the Protestant Reformation and the Bible as a whole in society are not limited to the economy or educational sector.
In the United States Common Law there are Bible verses certain things are premised on, according to David Burton, constitutional expert, political historian, and author of “The Jefferson Lies” and “God in the Constitution”, John 8:10 was the basis for which a person became constitutionally empowered to stand before his accusers, while Proverbs 18:17 was the basis for the concept of cross-examination in Common Law. 

We find that the Monastic Cycle played a role through the history of practically all developed nations, and we can also trace the dire straits most of such countries found themselves in to the last few phases of the same Cycle, the point at which they turned their backs on the very factors that paved the foundations of their greatness. 

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Current Affairs Analysis Devotional motivational

LEADERSHIP SERIES- THE UNDERDOGS: THE REAL STANDARD FOR MEASURING THE STRONG AND THE POWERFUL (Part II)

LEADERSHIP SERIES
(THE UNDERDOGS: THE REAL STANDARD FOR MEASURING THE STRONG AND THE POWERFUL- PART II)

When we take a look at the disciples of Jesus we notice that He didn’t go in search of those with the most impressive CVs. In fact it would seem that He deliberately went for those who had very obvious defects. There was something that attracted Him to deficient and weak people, He would rather be involved in the making of others than celebrate finished products. 
This is quite different from the kind of “leadership” many chief executives and socio-political leaders are involved in giving. If you have ever been involved in human resource development in any capacity whatsoever, whether as the pastor of a church, as the team leader in a unit at your workplace, or as a teacher who is genuinely interested in the lives of the students you teach you  would have had first hand knowledge of how arduous it is to train or develop people.
The easier things to do would be to avoid “raw material” and go for the “finished products.” 

Jesus did neither.

He knew that the most profound treasures were hidden under huge volumes of dross and dirt. He knew that the treasure in the human resource was no different and as long as there was a longing for change in the heart of man and a predilection to work towards it there would be nothing that could hinder transformation from manifesting.
So He picked His twelve and did not pick men who had no reason or desire to be helped. 

It would seem to the untrained eye that He had a bunch of very unpromising recruits; men who would ordinarily not be considered by most of us for such a sensitive task even though most of us are very much like the same men. 

Consider Matthew (also known as Levi) the tax collector. Matthew essentially had a franchise to collect taxes, some of which he most likely kept for himself, while remitting the remainder to the Roman authorities to help support their pagan system. Tax collectors were so hated by the populace that calling a person a tax collector (or publican) by way of insult was considered one of the most derogatory and demeaning invectives.
By rabbinic custom Matthew could never enter the temple, never give testimony in court, and never be forgiven for his sins. No God-fearing Jews would have anything to do with him. That was how much of a traitor he was considered to be.
Yet Jesus picked this outcast among Jews as one of His twelve disciples, and Matthew had the privilege of writing one of the four gospels. 

We could easily imagine why Jesus could be tagged a renegade and trouble maker by some people when we see how He recruited insurgents like James and John the sons of Zebedee to fit into His core circle of twelve apostles. These were people that were known as “the Boanerges”, and the “sons of thunder.”
A little glimpse into the background to all these would explain the mindset and prevailing orthodoxy under which these men operated. 
The Roman Empire ruled over much of Europe, North Africa, and the Middle East.
One of the farthest corners of the Roman Empire, Judaea was a land of ancient traditions and religious fervor and decades of Roman rule were causing ever more resentment among the indigenous people. 
During the first century, Rome had dominion over Israel.  In 63 BC, after the Romans invaded and conquered Jerusalem, in order to keep control over the Galilean and Judean peoples, Julius Caesar and the Senate installed Herod as king. He became one of Caesar Augustus’ favorite military leaders, and was admired by the new emperor because of his immense development program. He undertook several projects successfully and had administrative acumen that endeared him to the Roman authorities.  
Not only did Herod expand the Temple in Jerusalem to be more grandiose and Hellenistic-Roman in style, but he also imposed a sacrifice that the priests would give on behalf of Rome and the emperor.  

Additionally, Herod had whole cities named to give reverence to Caesar as well as imperial temples and fortresses to reinforce Roman control.  The great building campaigns were not possible without taxing the peoples of Galilee, Samaria, and Judea greatly; leaving the majority in poverty.  Not only were they required to pay taxes to the Empire, but they continued to function as a “temple-state” and were also required to pay the customary tithes and sacrifices of the Jewish religion.  There was an intense offense against the Romans that was the product of being forced into idolatry along with the difficult economic reality they imposed on them.
As one writer stated:
“The demand for tribute to Rome and taxes to Herod imposed on them in addition to the willful tithes and offerings to the Temple and priesthood dramatically escalated the economic pressures on peasant producers, whose livelihood was perennially marginal at best.  After decades of multiple demands from multiple layers of rulers many village families fell increasingly into debt and were faced with loss of their family inheritance of land.  The impoverishment of families led to the disintegration of village communities, the fundamental social form of such an agrarian society…”

 The Jews responded in various ways to the rule of Rome and the appointed governors and client-kings.
 The first response saw some Jews, as in the case of the Sadducean priestly order and the Herodian dynasty, live in compromise and subservience to the Empire, implementing the Romans’ wishes and playing the classic Uncle Tom role; this was deliberately designed to secure their place in the scheme of things and maintain the status quo. These people effectively sabotaged all efforts of their kith and kin to attain redemption from the Romans and in return they were rewarded with positions and the perks of office that came with them. 
The second kind of response from another group of Jews was a basic acceptance of Roman rule, with an implied readiness to challenge the Empire when Roman injustice became too much to bear. This “challenge”  was usually carried out as nonviolent subversion and protests.  
The third response was a total and complete rejection, though nonviolent, of Roman rule.  
The fourth way that Jews responded to this circumstance was embodied by the Zealots in violent rejection of Rome, this would lead to the eventual destruction of Jerusalem in 70 AD.
 It is in this fourth category you would find James and John “the sons of thunder.”

To think that even after their three years of close proximity to Jesus while He walked on the earth they would still be asking if the aim of His death and resurrection was to lead the final insurrection against Rome that would overthrow it and put Israel in its place was astounding.
He was patient and simply told them it was not in their place to know what times and seasons God had set in His power.

Of course we realize He did not leave them the same way He met them. He was patient to guide them through their misguided notions and obstinacy. He had spent three years teaching them and pointing them towards a superior ideology that was extra-natural, the ideology of the Kingdom of God. Even after all these they were still asking at His resurrection “Will you now restore the Kingdom (authority) to Israel?” (Acts :6)

These were examples of the human raw material He had to work with.

It is completely superfluous to speak about the likes of Judas Iscariot whose penchant for avarice Jesus already knew sufficient about before selecting him to be part of the twelve.
There was Thomas who is the poster boy for incertitude and skepticism. 
There was of course Peter who was noted for his impetuousness, instability, and garrulousness.
These were just some of the other members of the group of twelve whose individual dispositions were equally dismal.

I cannot but imagine the dreary outlook a person who took a cursory glance at this bunch would feel, especially when one considers that it was these same men that would be the custodians of divine secrets. 
It was on these men that all hope for the advancement of the Kingdom of God would lie. 
Jesus did not just take a casual glance at them, He took a long look and saw potential that many of us would not see.
This is the way God sees- He sees the possibility in every “impossibility.” He sees the finished product in the primal matter of the human resource.

It is this same perspective that sets the genuinely strong apart from those that have some indices of power and thus think they are strong.
True strength is measured by how the “strong” treat the weak. 
There are human beings who imbibed this same mindset through history, and it was this mentality that made them strong in the eyes of God.
The one who is genuinely strong is the one that protects the weak. 
The one who is genuinely strong is not the one who is willing to trample on others in order to look like something he is not, he is the one who wants to make men.
He is the one who is committed to making heroes out of zeroes.

This is the kind of leadership we must all aspire to give, and the sort of leader we must all strive to be.

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Current Affairs Analysis

CLASS DIVISION, SOCIAL STRATIFICATION, AND GOD’s POSITION (Part 2)

You may choose to judge me or disregard my thoughts, but I do not believe in evolution as it is postulated by materialists, secularists and humanists. I am a creationist because I have seen more than ample evidence of the existence of God and His work. The concept of evolution as it is propagated is not consistent with what I have seen and experienced of the Divine record and expression.

Now, I have mentioned this for two major reasons. The first is that there is another extreme on this spectrum. We have seen that the first extreme has to do with the spread of enmity and hatred through the stratification of society on the basis of individual differences; we have seen how extremely myopic, distasteful, and gross is the behavior of tribalists, racists, misogynists, and every other misguided element that claims superiority over another on the basis of some social difference. If you have ever been discriminated against or been the object of ridicule and scorn because of a basic difference you have from others then you will understand how it is; that is the first extreme, and the other extreme is that one adopted by several people who call themselves Liberals. This extreme is the first reason for which I have said the above. 

This extreme they have adopted is the one that seeks to completely abolish all differences and embrace the concept of All-Inclusiveness. Humanists among them espouse the absolute pre-eminence of humanity in the universal order, and as such believe that human beings are superior to everything- including God, if He exists. For them there are no absolutes, there is no right or wrong, everybody’s right and wrong is relative so you cannot say anything is certain in moral terms since there is really no objective standard for measurement. Thus they expect and demand that everyone, irrespective of their beliefs and practices, as long as they do not “harm anyone” (physically and immediately speaking) be allowed and even encouraged to live as they please. By so doing there is a social and legal corridor opened for the spread of all kinds of perversion, and by so doing all the things that were once considered as not in line with propriety are increasingly being accepted and considered as appropriate.

The second reason I have said this is to highlight the complete evil of the Humanist concept of Relativism.
Relativism is the concept that viewpoints and perspectives have no absolute truth or validity within themselves, rather their importance, relevance, and value are only relative, and subjective according to differences in individual perception and consideration.
When understood as “moral relativism”, the term is often used in the context of moral principles, where principles and ethics are regarded as applicable in only a limited context. The term, relativism, often refers to truth relativism, which is the doctrine that there are no absolute truths, and that truth is always relative to some particular frame of reference, such as a language or a culture.
Relativism, as a denial of absolute truth, leads to moral license and a denial of the possibility of sin and of God; it constitutes a denial of the capacity of the human mind and reason to arrive at truth.

Have we paused in an attempt to understand the implications of such a mindset? Can we relate to the import of this kind of perspective?

The implication is that nothing is right or wrong anymore. Wrong is relative and, for now at least, can only be absolute when it immediately infringes on the rights of another. So this perspective posits for instance that nothing is wrong with a female being sexually attracted to another female as long as it is mutual and does not “affect” a third party; never mind that third party observers can be thrown into an internal conflict of identity when exposed to an environment like this; never mind that children that grow up in such environments are not given the opportunity to be nurtured in the natural order. 

I will divert a bit and then tie in what I am saying with where we are headed. I will first speak about this natural order. In this context the natural order is a family started by a man and a woman; if man and man or woman and woman were natural they would be able to produce their offspring. A basic law of nature is procreation. A basic characteristic of the natural system, and any other system for that matter, is that it is self-propagating. This is why you will find a mango or orange tree that does not produce fruit as unnatural. If it does not produce fruit it will not produce seeds. If it does not produce seed and have the ability and environment to duplicate itself then it is unnatural.
I have learned to obey health laws and so I have along with exercise adopted the act of eating fruits occasionally. One of the days I was having a serving of fruits in my hotel room during one of the conferences  I was speaking in I got thinking about the seedless apples and grapes I was eating and where they came from. So I decided to read up and saw that many fruits today do not come from seeds, rather they come from cuttings. This is true of grapes, blueberries, apples, cherries, and most other fruits designed and prepared scientifically. How it works is that a piece of a vine or branch is cut off, dipped in rooting hormone and after it sucks up the chemical is placed in dirt moistened lightly, it is in this process that roots and leaves form. So because they come from cuttings, new grapevines and other fruits are essentially clones of the vine and trees they were cut from.
Seedless fruits are clones and man-made; God designed nature and put in it the ability to procreate and sustain itself to a degree.

At this point I will state that there is no justification for hating another person on the basis of social distinctions and differences. A person’s sexual desire for another person of the same gender might be a perversion but should not be a reason to hate him or her; the person should be separated from that act in the same way that a patient is separated from the illness. The hatred should be for the disease and not for the sick person. Nobody has a right to hate a person on the basis of his sexual orientation, race, religion, or any other distinctive. We must be very clear about that.
Then again we must not attempt to explain away a terminal illness and make such excuses as “I was born this way”; a child with a congenital heart defect was born that way but that does not make it acceptable to dismiss the condition and accept it as a way of life, especially when something can be done to correct it.

The natural order has variety ingrained in it. By way of illustration think about a pen and a piece of paper, a chair and a table, or a spoon and bowl; the strength is imbued in the variety of the objects. There is very little a pen and a pen can accomplish as a pen cannot write on another pen, a chair and a chair will not give the level of comfort and convenience that a chair and table will provide, and a spoon and a spoon will be useless as it will be awkward while eating to use a spoon to scoop food out of another spoon. In the same way God created black and white (and every race in between), male and female, the varieties in language, and several other distinctions. 
Yet we must note that it was not every distinction that was created by God.
Like there are man made fruits that are genetically engineered and unnatural there are also lifestyles and belief systems that are unnatural.

The reason I now speak about this dimension is that there are people who are completely against every form of discrimination, and I support that, but the way they intend to go about it is the abolition of classes and divisions and the adoption of equality across board. I will use the term “division” in a more positive sense than it is used normally. I am using it as a synonym for distinction rather than an expression of rancor and animosity. 
Merriam Webster’s dictionary defines division as “: something that physically divides or separates something else”. So, in this sense the abolition of division is not only a futile task, it is also an incorrect one. 
Some attempt to pursue Inclusiveness  and completely cancel distinctions when appealing for it. This is the driving logic behind the prevalent genre of human rights activists that encompasses the pseudo feminists, liberals, atheists, gay rights activists, pro-life activists, and every other group that fits into their frame of reference.
The mantra is “Equality for All”. And many fail to understand this very simple point- Different choices produce different consequences, and while we may determine our choices we cannot determine the consequences of our choices.
It is for this reason that “Equality for All” will never work…people will never make the same choices.
Historically there is a prevalence of poverty, violence, repression and backwardness that follows a particular religion; not regulating that religion and opening the doors of a secular society to people that espouse it is a choice made by the political class in Europe, the consequences are being seen in Germany and around many parts of Europe where pockets of such Islamists have taken root.
A woman can do what she chooses to do with her body and have unprotected sex with multiple partners, but when the consequence becomes an unwanted pregnancy she cannot in all good conscience kill an unborn child and deny him/her the right to live…the same right granted her. She cannot in all GOOD CONSCIENCE

In the United States the Democratic Party is known for its official position against every form of discrimination, so all minorities find solace in its fold. There are political groups, socio-economic groups, and many of the civil liberties organizations that have those who want to equalize all classes; people that advocate freedom in sexual orientation, people that advocate equality of the sexes, people that advocate freedom of worship, and then those that insist on the “freedom” not to worship (usually by the imposition of atheism), along with many other different groups, find their way into them. 
Usually there is a kindred spirit that binds all these disparate and distinct groups together- the fight against discrimination. That is okay but if it goes beyond that into the abolition of division then what the person is attempting is an abrogation of the divine order. 

There is a difference between division and discrimination and we must realize that division does not have to lead to discrimination. 

There are two things I will say in summary about this- the first is that there are divinely ordained divisions and it is these that serve as the foundation of the natural order. Not accepting racial inequality is not the same thing as not accepting a different sexual orientation. Not accepting domestic abuse is not the same thing as not accepting that a woman does not have the right to kill another human being just because he/she has the misfortune of being in her womb. Not accepting that a person should die for his religious beliefs is not the same thing as not accepting that people should believe in a Supreme Being.
Nobody has a right to force his own interpretation of life down another person’s throat. No human being has the exclusive preserve to arbitrarily determine right and wrong. Only God does.
I know God is the center of the universal order. He is the ultimate Absolute and His perspective is what determines standards of life, humanity, and existence. What He says is right is right and what He says is wrong is wrong. 

The second thing I will say is there is a divinely constituted reward system and this system is based on equity and not equality.

What is consistent with the character of God when it concerns blessings, productivity, and reward is equity not equality. This is why He is a God of justice.
A Work and Reward system is premised on Equity.
All the parables used to describe the workings of the Kingdom delineate this work and reward system. An example is:-

“There was once a man descended from a royal house who needed to make a long trip back to headquarters to get authorization for his rule and then return. 
But first he called ten servants together, gave them each a sum of money, and instructed them, ‘Operate with this until I return.’ But the citizens there hated him. So they sent a commission with a signed petition to oppose his rule: ‘We don’t want this man to rule us.’ When he came back bringing the authorization of his rule, he called those ten servants to whom he had given the money to find out how they had done. The first said, ‘Master I doubled your money.’ He said, ‘Good servant!’ Great work! Because you’ve been trustworthy in this small job, I’m making you governor of ten towns.’ The second said, ‘Master, I made a fifty percent profit on your money.’ He said, ‘I’m putting you in charge of five towns.’ The next servant said, ‘Master, here’s your money safe and sound. I kept it in the cellar. To tell you the truth, I was a little afraid. I know you have high standards and hate sloppiness, and don’t suffer fools gladly.’ He said, ‘You’re right that I don’t suffer fools gladly- and you’ve acted the fool! Why didn’t you at least invest the money in securities so I would have gotten a little interest on it?’ Then he said to those standing there, ‘Take the money from him and give it to the servant who doubled my stake.’ They said, ‘But Master, he already has double…’ He said, ‘That’s what I mean: Risk your life and get more than you ever dreamed of. Play it safe and end up holding the bag.'”

Luke 19:12-26 (Message Translation)

Reading the above passage it becomes clearer that faithfulness, commitment and consistency will determine reward, and where rewards are not equal it becomes immediately apparent that some form of class is automatically established. As long as there is equity there will be a class system.
For this reason stratification cannot be expunged. It is part of the original design. God also stratifies and classifies. What He does not do, and what we should not do, is discriminate.

Yet, God does not stratify like man does; and His stratification certainly does not give room for anyone to gloat or boast. 
“For who regards you as superior or what sets you apart as special? What do you have that you did not receive [from another]? And if in fact you received it [from God or someone else], why do you boast as if you had not received it but had gained it by yourself]?”
1 Corinthians 4:7 (Amplified Translation)

Culture has been defined as “the sum of attitudes, customs and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another.” God has a culture. This culture is adopted by everyone that puts faith in Him through Jesus Christ.
We will call this culture “Kingdom Culture.”
God acknowledges different cultures- and even uses certain parts of them. This is because all cultures have some redemptive value. 
While there are diabolical practices that have infiltrated different socio-cultural groups most of these groups still retain some elements of the Kingdom culture.
For example, there are cultures that might have a pattern of disloyalty in them even as they have an ingrained respect for elders. There are some other cultures that have an inordinate desire for money with greed an albatross for them, yet these same cultures have the virtues of courage and diligence woven into the fabric of their lifestyles. 
My point is that God understands diversity and does not intend to destroy it; instead He intends to use it.
He has redeemed people from the fallen aspects of their culture. He has redeemed people from every nation.

“And they sang a new song, saying:
‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals,
Because You were slain and with your Blood You purchased for God persons
From every tribe, and language, and people, and nation'”
Revelation 5:9 (New International Version)

He delivered people of all nations and cultures from bondage and He expects them to maintain their diversity in order to be instruments He will use to redeem others in the same cultural groups from bondages similar to what they were held by.

This brings me to tribalism…especially tribalism in church. Tribalism is the twin sister of Racism.
I remember a White American professional I was speaking to who made a matter-of-fact statement, he said, “The most segregated time of the week in the United States is a Sunday morning.”
 
Very true. Very tragic.
This is a result of racism. Stratification that God did not design and Classification He did not intend.
He created Races, He did not create Racism…the Fall of man created that.
He created Tribes, He did not create Tribalism…the Fall of man created that; and the most deplorable thing is when people who should know better are at the vanguard of this travesty.

God created different tribes. These tribes are ethne (plural for ethnos, which means “nation”). And from these ethne He created a new ethnos, a new nation, one that draws from all the people groups in existence.

“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, A HOLY NATION, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light”
1 Peter 2:9 (New International Version)

I will speak about a very disturbing trend I have seen make its way into the national consciousness of countries like Nigeria- tribalism in Church.
The church is a nation. Just like the Ashanti, Igbo, Yoruba, Fulani, Efik, Zulu, Xhosa, Native American, Arab, and many other nations of the earth. 
If you have given your heart to Him then you are part of this new nation and it is your responsibility to not only live by the dictates of the Kingdom Culture but also to express it and show by your behavior how it supersedes the one you were carved out from. You are meant to transcend the elements of that culture not consistent with the Kingdom Culture you have been redeemed into.

Yet in Nigeria, I see people who claim to be followers of Jesus Christ who have more loyalty to their clannish attachments than they have to Jesus and His people. These people will sell a Kingdom cause out without blinking an eyelid when it conflicts with their primordial tribal affiliations. They will deliberately undermine even God’s people to push petty clannish agendas. Their Christianity is a farce and mimicry…they have no understanding of the covenant. 

“That which divides us is of the world, and we are not of this world.”

If people who claim to follow Jesus do not understand the above statement how can the world be helped?
The Church is meant to live through the template the world will see and be inspired to live above Racism and Tribalism. 

“So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life- your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life– and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.”
Romans 12:1-2 (Message Translation)

This is part of the essence of God’s stratification- variety. 
So, let us not attempt to destroy the natural order that God has created by, on one hand, destroying all distinctions, and on the other hand creating and upholding other distinctions He has absolutely nothing to do with.

Categories
Current Affairs Analysis Infomation motivational

CLASS DIVISION, SOCIAL STRATIFICATION, AND GOD’S POSITION (part 1)

CULTURE, ETHNOCENTRISM, TRIBALISM, SOCIAL SEGREGATION, AND GOD’S POSITION

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man, true nobility is in being superior to your former self.”- Hemingway

As a social scientist I like to study human behavior, as well as the theories that seek to explain them. One of such theories is the conjecture referred to as Social Stratification. 
In sociology, social stratification is a concept involving the “classification of persons into groups based on shared socio-economic conditions … a relational set of inequalities with economic, social, political and ideological dimensions.”
Stratification is the relative social position of persons within a social group, category, geographical location or social unit. It is a system of social classification that unfortunately serves for many as a basis for discrimination.

This theory is premised largely on Socio-economic conditions but the truth of the matter remains that wealth and social status are not the only indices upon which the division of society is made.

There is something intrinsic in human beings that makes us get a false sense of worth by thinking we are superior to others. There is a mentality deeply embedded in the psyche of many human beings that produces discrimination. The default paradigm for most people seems to be the conception that personal value is determined by the number or the type of indices of stratification in which one has an “advantage” over others.
The ensuing consequence is that people are now stratified on the basis of every discernible distinction and variation.
If a sense of superiority is not postulated on the basis of Socio-economic considerations like wealth and social status it will be argued on the basis of gender, or other factors like educational qualifications, race, or some less consequential things like physical features and attributes. 

It is tragic and highly regrettable that even religion is one of such social variables used for discrimination.

There are several others. It would seem that every possible variation in the human race is used to stratify people.
Let me break this down and give some illustrations.

On the average, many people measure their success and value on the basis of how much they earn compared to others. If Mr. A has a higher income than Mr. B, or has a bigger car, or bigger house, or lives in a nicer neighborhood, the tendency will be for Mr. A to feel he is superior to Mr. B. 
If he went to an Ivy League School in a place like the United States he would be “superior” to the one that went to a State College or Community College in the States who naturally would feel he is “superior” to someone educated in Nigeria for instance.
Then even in Nigeria the Private or Federal University graduate would feel in a different class from the product of the State University, who would in turn feel like he is ahead of the person who went to a Polytechnic, who of course would feel he is on a pedestal beyond the reach of the person who went to a College of Education.

Think about stratification and discrimination on the basis of gender. How many times have we seen cultures and communities that deliberately put women under? In many communities and cultures in several countries women are treated as possessions, they are flogged like animals and treated even worse than that in many cases. 
There are still communities in countries in Asia for example where widows are either buried with their dead husbands or killed through immolation or strangling. It is suggested that such women should be killed in order to keep their husbands company, and serve them in the afterlife.

Think about other forms of stratification. 
Unfortunately, there are many people who profess a creed or religion in and through which they believe themselves to be superior to others. The average Jew believes himself to be superior to others, he sets himself apart not as much because he is interested in seeking God or a higher purpose to life as he is in not associating with men of lower stock. The radical Muslim straps a bomb on himself or picks an AK 47 rifle and walks into a restaurant to kill “infidels” he is sure are hell-bound even as he is confident he is going to some kind of paradise.
The Catholic looks derisively at the Protestant and is confident his Block Rosary makes him more of a Christian and that he is more broad minded than the Protestant, who is in turn convinced every Catholic is an idol worshipper. 

Think about the catastrophic consequences of stratification and discrimination on the basis of race.
The evils of racial segregation are well profiled. Slave Trade and ownership in the U.S, the Americas, and Europe was the height of man’s abominable inhumanity to his fellow man. The South of the United States has produced monstrosities like the Ku Klux Klan which made it a project to eliminate minorities, and the African American response to this saw organizations like the Nation of Islam, and characters like Malcolm X with his message on “all white men being devils” step into the limelight.
The white Apartheid government of South Africa committed reprehensible acts against native and indigenous blacks and arrogated to themselves the right to govern the multiplicity of races that eventually made up the multi-ethnic South African society. And govern they did…with brute force and criminal ferocity. 

We have heard about the complex caste system in India, the four different classes that make up the varna classification system and then there are the Dalits that don’t even feature in that system. They are not in any class as it were.  The class at the top of the chain in the Hindu caste system are the Brahmins who are supposedly “priestly people”, then directly under them you would have those that are supposedly predestined to be warriors, rulers, and administrators, these are called Kshatriyas. 
The next class under this would be the Vaishyas  who are artisans, tradesmen and merchants. Then the last on the spectrum are the Shudras, these are those that make up the laboring class and are the last considered on the varna classification list. 

Then there are the Dalits who have no class and no caste. They don’t even make the grade. They are literally outcasts and are off the scale totally.
An example of the Brahmins would be the Bengali people, while an example of the Dalits would be the Sangli people. 
These people don’t mix as Dalit literally means “untouchable”. 

So, people are already defined by others before they are conceived. Defined by others and having their destinies set by others. Set on the basis of their skin color or caste system or some other primordial consideration. 

I see that two major evil consequences of stratification not managed properly are a hindering of potential and an inability to take initiative. The reason for this is quite simple…
Whenever you allow anyone classify you the fact is you have given him a right to cancel you.
If you allow people fix you into a category you would also have ensured they determine the way you think and behave. This is because there are pre-conceived notions of what people in a certain category can think, believe, do, and aspire to.
For instance, if you are just a black man you will likely act in the way people who are merely black men behave. You would live within the framework of the stereotype and the “generally accepted” code of conduct expected of black men.  
If you are just a sexy looking girl, you will likely behave in the way that ladies who are merely sexy looking girls behave. You will most likely give into using your body to gain some sort of significance or relevance because you would have given into the mindset of those who like to objectify women.

There is a very popular religion which has a factor in its belief system that best exemplifies this. This factor is called “kismet”. It simply means “Fate”. Invariably, there are some born to be poor; they are designed to, according to this belief system, remain as the dregs of society and thus their aspirations are already set by society…this is what has produced the Almajiri system in Northern Nigeria. 

The tragedy of the human situation is that there will always be indices for segmentation in human behavior and history. This is inevitable.
And the truth of the matter is segregation in its entirety is not a product of man’s rebellion. Man’s rebellion indubitably exacerbated segregation and stratification, but even without it there still would never have been a classless society.

There is no point in time when there will be an equal system, on earth or in heaven, which gives people equal rewards for various levels of effort.
I believe in God, and I believe in the Heaven He created. I have studied the Bible and everything I see leaves me in no doubt that the Kingdom of God is premised on a reward system. A reward system based on equity.
I make bold to say that even God does not reward or bless on the basis of equality, instead He rewards and blesses on the basis of equity.
The principle is EQUITY not EQUALITY.

There will never be a time when everyone will be rewarded equally. If this ever happens it will make nonsense of incentives. 
Equity is justice and fairness. Not everyone will make equal contributions in life, so not everyone will receive equal results.

This is why communism will always be utopian. 

It never was, and never will be practicable that everyone in a society will be on an equal footing. We see the practical out-workings of this utopia in the satirical masterpiece by George Orwell, “The Animal Farm”. It is a literary composition written to express the prevailing circumstances before, during, and immediately after the Communist Revolution in Russia. If you have read it you will remember all the commandments that were initially given to the animals on the Farm, the first being “All animals are equal.” 
After Napoleon took over at the death of Old Major that commandment was surreptitiously changed, and it became, “All animals are equal…but some are more equal than others.”
This is the contradiction of the Communist ideology and its mode of production.

There is a fundamental part of human existence and the human constitution that ensures not everyone will receive the same output. This is simply because input will never cut across board.

We will continue this series

Categories
Current Affairs Analysis

The Directorate of State Services and the Fulani Herdsmen problem

THE DSS  STATEMENT AND THE FULANI HERDSMEN PROBLEM

This writer knows a reasonable amount of well educated and well intentioned Hausa-Fulani. This article puts to light the same things a hood number of them have commented against.

Throughout history the major premise of violent conflict has always been the contention for resources. People groups, communities, and nations have gone into full scale war over material resources. This is not uncommon.

More than half of the wars Israel has fought with its neighbors for instance are directly traceable to skirmishes over water or land.

Fulani herdsmen and farmers conflict in Nigeria was partly a land resource based conflict predominantly in the North of the country. It was once customary and understandable that herdsmen and local farmers would have some sort of strife as their interests, though complimentary, looked mutually exclusive more often than not. The herdsmen supply much needed beef through the cows they lead around, while the farmers produce food items the beef compliments. This, in theory, is straightforward and facile, the practice of it, on the other hand, is another thing entirely. 

According to a Human Rights Watch report of December 2013 violence between Fulani herdsmen, farmers and local communities had killed 3,000 people since 2010. Fulani herders and farmers are in constant violent conflict over herdsmen’s increased need for access to grazing lands against the expansion of farmland by farmers into corridors traditionally used by the Fulani. Farmers accuse the Fulani herders of allowing their animals to feed on still-growing crops and contamination of community watering-places. The Fulani herders in turn accuse the farmers of denying them access to grazing areas when alternatives cannot be found. 

It is comprehensible that there would be a certain amount of strife between farmers who plow their ancestral farmlands and herdsmen whose livestock intrude on such lands eating the crops and destroying the remnants, however, what is happening with the crises between herdsmen and farmers has seen a profound degeneration, one that portends unimaginable repercussions.  

Previously, the conflicts between the Fulani herdsmen and indigenous farmers was largely in the core north of Nigeria. There were skirmishes in the Middle Belt, but they were few and far between. Now these conflicts have gone beyond mere skirmishes and Fulani herdsmen wielding sophisticated weapons move into entire communities, in a mode of operation that is similar to the terrorist group Boko Haram, and ransack them while killing and raping innocent people.
 However, unlike the Boko Haram menace which is localized these marauders rampage through communities and have now spread their activities to the South of the country.

With the massacres of thousands of innocent people in recent years (incidents like the Dogo Na Hawa massacre of over 500 indigenous people in Plateau State and the recent genocide of multiplied hundreds of Idomas in Agatu, Benue State readily come to mind) there has been the sustained question by well meaning Nigerians as to how best the situation can be handled.

There have been systematic and sustained killings going on for many years in places like Plateau State and in many other places where Fulani take their cows for grazing.
In the past few months there has been an upsurge in sporadic killings and the wanton destruction of communities in many different places across the country. The kidnap of a former Secretary to the Government of the Federation in his country home in Ondo State was traced to the Fulani. So was  the kidnap and murder of a traditional ruler from Delta State. After the murder of a 65 year old farmer in Edo State and the subsequent discovery of his mutilated body by relatives the youth in the community burnt down a Fulani enclave after it was learnt that the perpetrators came from there and every single Fulani had subsequently taken to their heels.

With the situation getting out of hand responsible citizens have looked for succor from the government but recent events have brought out a very ominous pattern. 
Apart from the fact that there have not been any arrests after the pogroms committed by many of these Fulani herdsmen it would seem that the relevant security agencies have taken sides with the criminal elements among them.
After a series of protests by some farmers over the activities of the Fulani herdsmen in Awgu, Enugu State a few weeks ago 75 of these farmers were arrested and detained without charge. 
It is not clear if a single Fulani was invited for questioning.

In the most recent of ambivalences the Directorate of State Services has gone on to make a very callous, irresponsible and inflammatory statement, to the effect that a group of “Biafran activists” murdered and buried five Fulanis in a mass grave.
In a statement signed by its spokesperson, Tony Opuiyo, the DSS said the killing of the Hausa-Fulani residents has triggered tension among different communities in Abia State.
Although Mr. Opuiyo said five men were killed alongside several other unidentified persons, only the names of four individuals were provided.
“The Service has uncovered the heinous role played by members of the Indigenous Peoples of Biafra (IPOB), in the abduction/kidnap of five Hausa-Fulani residents, namely Mohammed Gainako, Ibrahim Mohammed, Idris Yakubu and Isa Mohammed Rago at Isuikwuato LGA in Abia State,” Mr. Opuiyo said.
“The abducted men were later discovered at the Umuanyi forest, Abia State, where they were suspected to have been killed by their abductors and buried in shallow graves, amidst fifty (50) other shallow graves of unidentified persons.
“Arrest and investigation conducted so far, revealed that elements within the IPOB, carried out this dastardly action”, he added.
Mr. Opuiyo said he was alerting Nigerians to the ‘divisive’ and ‘gruesome’ activities of IPOB operatives.
“It is pertinent therefore to alert the general public that IPOB, is gradually showing its true divisive colour and objectives, while steadily embarking on gruesome actions in a bid to ignite ethnic terrorism and mistrust amongst non-indigenes in the South-East region and other parts of the country.
“Following this act, tension is currently rife among communal stakeholders in the State with possibilities of spillover to other parts of country”, Mr. Opuiyo said.

Even if we are to disregard the fact that the aforementioned group is one which has no history of engaging in violence and is simply fighting for self-determination even as its  members have been tortured and killed by security forces while having peaceful demonstrations the DSS statement is still reckless, unconscionable, and morally reprehensible.

In the face of its apparent inability to stop the murderous rampage by the criminal elements within the ranks of Fulani herdsmen, or worse still, it’s complicity, the DSS does not have the moral right to speak about the fanning of mistrust and the igniting of ethnic terrorism in any form.
To then make such a brazen statement in the face of its incompetence in providing adequate security for the citizenry it is meant to protect is taking irresponsibility to previously unimaginable lows. 

Just what is the thinking of the authorities in allowing their spokesman make such unfounded and highly polarizing claims? And even if it is valid is there no better way for such information to be managed in such a tense environment already deeply divided along the fault lines that are so apparent in the Nigerian society?
Why have they not made arrests and intelligent statements concerning the internecions and decimations of entire communities and families by Fulani marauders? Children in diapers are slaughtered like fowls along with their family members and burnt alive in their multiplied hundreds. The loss of lives by these vampires in just the past few months has hit record highs and is numbering in their thousands, and all the security agencies have the nerve to tell us is that the perpetrators are foreigners.

For the avoidance of doubt, I believe in the sanctity of human life, and I believe that it must be respected. Murder in any shape, form or guise is completely unacceptable. For this reason I find some things absolutely befuddling.
One thousand Shiite Muslims were massacred in Zaria and buried in mass graves. Thousands more Nigerians of every other ethnic stock have been brutally raped and murdered by Fulani herdsmen. The International Terror Index has listed the Fulani militia in Nigeria as the “fourth most deadly terror organization in the world”; and the DSS has said absolutely nothing about these.

Why has the DSS only just found its voice? The double standards here are just too acute to be swept under the carpet.
Are the security agencies attempting to serve sectional interests to the detriment of everyone else they swore to protect?

Anyone can readily do the research and see how much an AK 47 rifle costs in financial terms. Havocscope, a global black market information site puts the average cost of AK 47 rifles worldwide at $534 per gun. Other unconfirmed sources put the cost of rounds at between $3 and $5 for a box of 20.
The question then becomes, “how do these mostly indigent nomads afford to buy and use these weapons?”

Anyone that has even a superficial knowledge of the Fulani will know that it is customary for their elite to own heads of cattle. Between the Sultan of Sokoto, the Emir of Kano, the President of Nigeria and all the other members of the Hausa-Fulani elite across Nigeria there is the ownership of multiplied hundreds of thousands of cattle. 
These cattle are not ranched and so are given to Fulani nomads to lead about. 

Following the rapid desertification of the core north  of Nigeria many of these nomads are heading south with their cattle in search of grazing fields…which are fast becoming killing fields. 

Nigeria is a country that is currently a melting pot of a very dangerous brew of things. With the current unemployment situation, the acute fuel scarcity, hunger, desperation, epileptic power supply, corruption, exploitation of ethno-centric and religious leanings, mass illiteracy, inept and arrogant political class/ leaders bereft of both ability and vision, their crass impunity, and culture of mediocrity, the flagrant disregard of due process and court orders, and the continuous violation of the constitutionally backed secularity of state we already have a very full plate.
To now add a divisive and sectional security apparatus intent on further stoking well lit fires will lead to a conflagration.
The questions at this juncture would now be, “Is this what they want, or are they obtuse to the point of not realizing what is bleeding obvious?”

Categories
Current Affairs Analysis

HURRICANE TRUMP: STOPPING THIS NATURAL DISASTER

Populism is a doctrine that appeals to the interests and conceptions, especially hopes and fears, of the general population.
Political parties and politicians often use the terms “populist” and “populism” as pejoratives against their opponents. What this means is that populism is merely empathising with the majority of the public, (usually through rhetoric or “unrealistic” proposals) in order to increase appeal across the political spectrum.

This pejorative aptly describes the political operations of one man- Donald Trump.

This abrasive, brash, and arrogant billionaire, reality T.V star, and real estate mogul  is the front runner in the race for the Republican presidential ticket. He is the last of the outsiders (the other two being former Silicon Valley chief executive Carly Fiorina, and world renowned neurosurgeon Ben Carson) standing in a field of professional politicians and Washington insiders. Interestingly, up until Super Tuesday and Super Saturday, with an extremely resurgent Ted Cruz, his rating in percentage terms was more than that of the remaining three…combined.
His astounding success on the campaign trail thus far can be attributed to the fact that he plays on the fears and hopes of the public and has become the personification of populism. 

He was never a career politician but is sweeping in delegates with the ferocity of a hurricane.
This is largely because he is speaking what many Americans are thinking.
What they are thinking but are unable to say because of political correctness.
And it’s not just what he says but how he says it. 
In stating his points and position he releases gaffes like they are going out of fashion. 
Indiscretions about breast-feeding women, women in general, the disabled, minorities, and many other policy statements that range from banning Muslims from entering the U.S, through expelling all illegal immigrants, stopping birthright citizenship, to building a wall separating Mexico from the U.S, and of course getting the Mexicans to pay for it.

With every gaffe Donald Trump seems to have his street credibility and ratings with the American public soar, while those rivals that take him on directly have theirs diametrically opposed to his.
When Rick Perry took him on his ratings dropped and he subsequently dropped out of the race. When Lindsey Graham took him on his ratings dropped and he followed suit out of the race. Jeb Bush who was supposed to be the favorite to clinch the ticket was blown out of the race when he took on Donald Trump; the likes of Louisiana State Governor Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum froze off the radar just after they tried taking on Trump.

He seems to be unstoppable. 
But just who is largely responsible for the rise of Donald Trump?

Trump initially came to public attention in 1973 when he was accused by the Justice Department of violations of the Fair Housing Act in the operation of 39 buildings, including false “no vacancy” statements, and sham leases presenting higher rents to minority applicants, all to facilitate the denial of housing to racial minorities.
Today, Donald Trump, probably as a result of his Democratic background, takes an economic and ideological position that leans to the left, but he mixes this position with a toxic brew of bigotry that is appealing to a section of the Republican party, and this second part is largely why several people in the mainstream conservative media did not call him out on time for who he is.

 There were conservative radio talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh and T.V stations like Fox that could have put a spanner in his works but only stopped short of putting the wind in his sails. When he took advantage of his protest over President Obama’s birth certificate to launch his political profile he did so with the tacit approval of several members of the GOP that are today ironically fighting the upsurge in Trumpism. 
Many conservatives turned a blind eye to his verbal attacks on minorities because racial enmity is a big driver of U.S politics and the conservatives were comfortable with Trump playing this card, but now he  has taken it to another level. 

So what can the world expect from a Donald Trump presidency, and can such an unstable personality be trusted with the topmost executive job on the planet? 
This is not just a question of the choice of Americans. The choice of U.S president is bound to have an effect on billions of people around the world.

The second largest economy in the world is the Chinese economy, second behind the U.S. The Chinese economy experienced a mind-boggling GDP accumulated growth of almost 350% between 1990 and 2006, yet the American economy is still at least three times the size of the Chinese.
This is not an economy you would want to be run by such an unpredictable and divisive character.

The U.S has 4,500 nuclear warheads, and the U.S President carries around a briefcase called “the Football”. This briefcase has launch-codes  that can deploy the armed warheads.
I can’t imagine that too many people around the world would be comfortable knowing that that briefcase was under the custody of a President Trump.

Much has been made of how much of a Midas Touch Donald Trump has. Let me rephrase that- Donald Trump has made much of how much of the Midas Touch he has. He has held the world spellbound with fantastic tales of how much astuteness and business acumen he has, and how he turned a one million dollar loan from his dad into his present vast fortune.
Former GOP Presidential candidate Mitt Romney is among those who have questioned Trump’s purported wealth and his unwillingness to release his tax returns, suggesting Trump might be wary of revealing a potential electoral “bombshell” such as a failure to pay expected tax rates, dishonesty about charitable donations, or that “he’s not anywhere near as wealthy as he says he is.

In 2005, The New York Times referred to Trump’s “verbal billions” in a skeptical and highly critical article about Trump’s self-reported wealth. At the time, three individuals with direct knowledge of Trump’s finances told reporter Timothy L. O’Brien that Trump’s actual net worth was between $150 and $250 million, though Trump then publicly claimed a net worth of $5 to $6 billion. Claiming libel, Trump sued the reporter (and his book publisher) for $5 billion, lost the case, and then lost again on appeal; Trump refused to turn over his unredacted tax returns despite his assertion they supported his case. In a sworn deposition, Trump testified that he once borrowed $9.6 million from his father, calling it “a very small amount of money,” but could not recall when he did so; Trump has since told campaign audiences he began his career with “a small loan of one million dollars” from his father.

Estimates of Trump’s net worth have fluctuated along with real estate valuations: in 2015, Forbes pegged it as $4 billion, while the Bloomberg Billionaires Index (which scrutinized Trump’s FEC filings) estimated a net worth of $2.9 billion. On June 16, 2015, just prior to announcing his candidacy for president of the United States, Trump released to the media a one-page prepared financial disclosure statement “from a big accounting firm—one of the most respected” stating a net worth of $8,737,540,000. “I’m really rich,” Trump said.

 Forbes called the nearly $9 billion figure a “100%” exaggeration.

However, while it is indubitable that he has street sense and has made  headway producing a great deal of lemonade with the lemons he started with in life his capriciousness becomes evident when we see how disingenuous he has been with the amount of lemons life handed out to him.
Donald Trump is said to have inherited at least $200 million from his dad, and the fact that he has had a litany of failures in business which include his foray into the airline business, his failed casino business, and several bankruptcies puts a slight dent in his self-appraisal form.

An analysis of Trump’s business career by The Economist in 2016, concludes that his “…performance has been mediocre compared with the stockmarket and property in New York.”

But the controversies in his statements about his investments do not hold a candle to the amount of controversies he strings up in other areas.
One that has been noteworthy of recent has been the type of people that have endorsed him.

David Duke is an American white nationalist, antisemitic conspiracy theorist, far-right politician, and former Grand Wizard of the most racist group in U.S history, the Ku Klux Klan.
An avowed racist and white supremacist, Duke is a former felon and criminal who has been convicted of fraud and traced to many brutal racial hate crimes.

This was the man that gave a stirring endorsement of Donald Trump.

David Duke, a white nationalist and former Klu Klux Klan grand wizard, told his audience Wednesday that voting for anyone besides Donald Trump “is really treason to your heritage…I do support his candidacy, and I support voting for him as a strategic action. I hope he does everything we hope he will do.”

In December, Duke told POLITICO that Trump’s candidacy allows Americans to be more open about their racial animus.
“He’s made it okay to talk about these incredible concerns of European Americans today, because I think European Americans know they are the only group that can’t defend their own essential interests and their point of view,” Duke said. “He’s meant a lot for the human rights of European Americans.”

Trump has since denounced him, but his initial unwillingness to do so has stirred the hornets’ nest, with the House Speaker, Paul Ryan, the Senate Majority leader, Mitch McConnell, and other high profile Republicans trying to disassociate themselves from Trump. 

And it’s not just them. 
There’s a good amount of people who share the same sentiments. 

The situation is so dire that there is a massive number of people who have indicated their interest to migrate if Trump wins the election. A remote town in Nova Scotia, Canada, has had a humongous amount of enquiries on its website by Americans who are anxious to relocate if Donald Trump wins the presidential race to become the Commander-In-Chief of the United States

There are a lot of Republicans who are very uncomfortable with the potential of a Trump nomination, and for good reason too. Being from New York, and having been a Democrat who has allegedly written ten different checks to Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton in the course of her political career, and spent loads of money on a Bill Clinton campaign for the White House, his loyalty to the Republican party is at best checkered and at worst non-existent.
Add to this his numerous unguarded statements and penchant for verbal diarrhea it is perfectly understandable why this man cannot ever be the poster child for the Republican party.
Mitt Romney, a former governor and presidential candidate of the Republican party, recently released a scathing attack on Trump calling him a phony and a fraud. A high point of that speech was when he said Trump’s statements were about as worthless as “a certificate from Trump University”, an “institution” credited as a fraud and which serves as the reason for several legal suits.
Interestingly, several other mainstream Republicans, notably former presidential candidate John McCain, have openly backed Mitt Romney’s position. 
Romney exhorted Republicans to think long and hard about who they would want to represent them in their race for the White House. He stopped short of endorsing one other candidate and encouraged delegates to vote different candidates at each of the caucuses, implicitly suggesting the game plan to stop Trump is a contested convention.

WHAT IS A CONTESTED CONVENTION?
The primaries and caucuses are now on. These are designed for delegates from both the Democratic and the Republican parties to pick the flag-bearers (presumptive nominees) of their respective parties. A Republican candidate needs to win 1,237 of the 2,472 total delegates in order to become the presumptive nominee. 
Most conventions are a bit of a rubber stamp because the presumptive nominee would already have been decided. In most election years, one presidential candidate wins enough delegates during the primary-caucuses process in order for the presumptive nominee to earn a majority of the delegates before the convention begins.
 
In a contested convention, however, no presumptive nominee exists because no candidate garners a majority of the delegates on the first ballot. A contested convention means the meetings actually make a pivotal difference for who the nominee will be. This is because all delegates will cast votes at the convention until a candidate is decided.

This is what Mitt Romney and most conservatives are hoping for. 

His game plan as evidenced by his speech would be for Republicans in Florida to support their senator Marco Rubio when their caucus takes place on March 15th, Republicans in Ohio to support John Kasich, who incidentally is their governor, during their caucus, and Republicans in other states to support Ted Cruz who is the senator representing the state of Texas. This ought to end in a Contested Convention if it goes according to plan. And this would increase the chances of Trump being knocked off on the floor of the Republican convention.
 He might have the sympathy of the grassroots (many of those derisively referred to as “trailer trash” would love him), but for much of the educated, elite and upwardly mobile he is a non-starter.

 So, we have Donald Trump, one of the most polarizing and confusing figures in recent times. For many people around the world he must be stopped. The GOP Establishment sees a potential Trump candidacy as a rollover to the advantage of Hillary Clinton and the Democrats.
They can’t afford to let this happen.

Would their plan work? Would it be enough to stop this potential natural disaster- Hurricane Trump?

Categories
Current Affairs Analysis

ON ESE ORURU: A PERSPECTIVE

Adam Johnson is a professional footballer whose career had seen him play for English Premier League clubs like Manchester City F.C, and Sunderland F.C; his contract with Sunderland was recently cancelled on the strength of his sexual involvement with a 15 year old girl.
It has since been discovered that this young lady led him on and even bragged to her friends in the tweets she sent them that she was going to be sexually involved with him. 
Adam Johnson is 23 years old and is now facing a criminal charge. Barring some last act of providential intervention we can safely say his professional career is over.

There are several other cases of people who were sexually involved with minors in countries around the world. Politicians, entertainers, and business people; in most cases they had their careers truncated and were summarily punished.

Having it any other way would be catastrophic…but elements of society in some other countries don’t seem to share that line of thought.

Nigeria has the highest prevalence rate of Vesico Vaginal Fistula (VVF) in the world with an alleged number of between 400,000 and 800,000 women living with this scourge. There are anywhere between 12,000 and 20,000 new cases occurring annually, with 90 per cent remaining untreated.
 The implication of this is that an average of 55 women are infected by VVF on a daily basis and it is conservatively estimated that two million women suffer from obstetric fistula globally. 

Northern Nigeria has a disproportionate amount of VVF cases with over 85 per cent of these figures.

 VVF is an occurrence of an abnormal hole which becomes an unnatural connection between the Bladder or Rectum and the Vagina and is characterized by a continuous and uncontrollable leakage of urine.
 Dr. Ahmed Yola, a VVF surgeon, disclosed that a significant percentage of VVF is caused by prolonged unattended obstructed labour.
It  occurs when the blood supply to the tissues of the vagina and the bladder is restricted during prolonged obstructed labour, the tissues die between these organs, forming holes through which urine can pass uncontrollably.
Other  major causes of it obviously include sex with minors and Female Genital Mutilation.
Sadly, Dr. Yola said, VVF accounts for 75% of loss of babies at birth and is responsible for 55 – 60% of the divorce rate in the country.

In Nigeria, VVF has social, economic, and religious implications. Many women with VVF are regarded as social outcasts and marriages have been dissolved as a result of this. Many girls between the ages of 11 and 15 in the Islamic Northern part of the country become mothers either through early marriage or through unwanted pregnancy. As a result of the less than advanced stage of their reproductive system they experience obstructed labour, and this is further worsened by the ineptitude of some unskilled birth attendants who tend to simply cut through the vagina in a bid to create a passage for the baby.
This can result in VVF, with its major manifestation of leaking urine and faeces through the vagina. 

The odoriferous nature of the condition automatically makes women with VVF outcasts in society.
A visit to any of these VVF centres in Northern Nigeria would reveal a high number of teenage patients who have had their internals lacerated and turned to a mesh by creatures that engage in random acts of sexual intercourse with these young girls who are at various levels of physical development, none of which can be logically referred to as advanced. As they uncontrollably leak urine and fecal matter and give off obnoxious smells these pedophiles that are supposedly their husbands dump them and look for the next child bride. Dropping “damaged goods” and picking the next trophies in a spate of uncontrolled frenzy further complicates the already terrible problem.
When this is done under the garb of religion it becomes all the more unwholesome.

The Northern oligarchs and Islamic elite are complicit in this as they do not only turn a blind eye to this unfortunate and illogical phenomenon but actively engage in such activities. A serving senator, and former governor, from a state in the North-West was in the news for marrying a little Egyptian girl who was between 11 and 13 years of age. The little girl was allegedly the daughter of his chauffeur. 
This should not be a question of religion as this Senator took the girl away from Egypt, an Islamic country where child marriage and pedophilia is not allowed, and brought her down to Northern Nigeria to “marry”  her, a child, under the rituals of a Sharia system he imported into Nigeria when he was a governor.
Rather than ensuring the education level in their region goes on the upswing some of these Neanderthals have buried themselves into defiling little children that are supposed to be their future.
A massive developmental index is education and these people that should know better seem content to keep their people light years behind the rest of the world and have kept them in a condition where they remain appropriate “poster boys” of the concept and perception the Western media is excited to portray of Africa.

The dearth of education in Northern Nigeria is acute when compared to the South, and is abysmal, even alarming, when compared to the developed world. According to Rachel Hatch, a Research Associate, Education Policy and Data Center, in many northern states more than 50% of young women aged 15-24 have no experience with formal education.

The female secondary school net attendance rate in Borno State is only 29% in comparison to a national average of 53%. An additional 18% of secondary school age girls attend formal school in Borno but at the primary level. These girls may benefit from exposure to schooling but they are behind for their age and at greater risk of dropping out. 
A further 7% of secondary school age girls attend non-formal programs. Nearly half (46%) of girls of secondary school age aren’t attending either formal or nonformal education programs and therefore don’t receive any benefits of schooling. 
The Northern Islamic elite are either oblivious to this or couldn’t care less. 
 
Now, rather than solve their retrogression they have decided to go down South, across the Niger to spread it.

The case of 14-year old Ese Oruru, abducted in Bayelsa State and taken to Kano for marriage under Islamic rites has taken over the headlines of national dailies and social media for a considerable amount of time now. 
Ese’s ordeal began on August 12, 2015 in the South-South city of Yenagoa, the Bayelsa State capital. Mrs Rose Oruru, Ese’s mother, is a food vendor who has several different customers who patronize her. 
One of such customers was a certain Yinusa, a commercial tricycle operator who apparently hypnotized Ese and took her from Bayelsa to Kano on the purported excuse that she had converted to Islam. She was kidnapped and hypnotized or bullied into telling so many lies about her age, desire to be away from her parents, willingness to “convert” to Islam, and several other issues.
Some commentators have attempted to give a very feeble position on her abduction, saying she was not kidnapped but she, a 17 year old girl,  eloped with her lover. It took an interview with her 16 year old elder brother to show this was clear mendacity as Ese was just 13 she was kidnapped.

A very disturbing twist in this case was that this girl was kept in a location that was openly known. She was literally kept in plain sight. And Ese’s  parents are said to have travelled to Kano State on several occasions in the past six months with officers of the Nigeria Police Force to secure her release without a positive result.
Let that sink in for a second.
The Police Force could not secure the release of the girl for 6 months.
The Inspector General of Police is reported to have said he would not be able to act until the Emir of Kano, who was out of the city at the time, returned.

Unbelievable and Astounding. 

The fact that this happened is proof positive that this is not an isolated case. This is obviously a trend that has one theme running through the various portions of a single narrative.
It is very clear that this is not an exception but the rule as local authorities sat down on this and in all likelihood actively connived with the abductors to perpetrate this heinous crime.
Since the unveiling of the matter there has been the unearthing of several other such cases of criminal conspiracy and abduction of Southern girls by some Northern Islamic adherents. 
The pattern manifested shows that this cannot be done without the collusion of the powers that be in these Northern Islamic communities. 

In a tweet, a former Minister of Education, Oby Ezekwesili, quoted the Emir of Kano, Muhammadu Sanusi II, as saying that Ese was to be taken to Abuja last Tuesday and handed over to the Commissioner of Police in charge of Bayelsa to reunite her with her parents.
“She is crying and refusing to go home. She does not want to go back but I have insisted she must go,” she quoted the Emir as saying.

It has since been alleged in the girl’s most recent confession that she did not even know how she got to Kano. She was taken to a place she referred to as “Kura” where she was put before a marabout and commanded to repeat whatever incantations he made…and that was how she purportedly “converted” to Islam.
In all of these, there seems to be very little mention of the apprehending and punishment of the criminals that corroborated to carry out this heinous crime.
These people are meant to be arrested, arraigned, and severely punished on several counts- kidnap, inflicting psychological trauma, grievous bodily harm, rape, sleeping with a minor, and intimidation among many other crimes.

Many of such things must have happened on previous occasions and they have not just been swept under the carpet but are still being perpetrated with such gross impunity. There has to be a loud statement in this case that will serve as a deterrent so we can save our future.

Like a friend of mine will say, “It is our problem, we can solve it.”

Categories
Current Affairs Analysis

The Monastic Cycle: After God’s Blessing

THE MONASTIC CYCLE: WHAT USUALLY COMES AFTER PROSPERITY AND SUCCESS

One day a friend of mine called me up from the U.S to ask me a question. He had something that was bothering him, he said, and he needed to discuss this with me. 
He had a friend of his who had lived in Nigeria for a little while before heading off to the United Kingdom. While he was in Nigeria he was reportedly “close to God”, but after staying in the U.K for some years he found himself going down a more “rational” path. He began a series of soul searches and came up with questions he began to ask this mutual friend of ours.
Our mutual friend called me and this was more or less what the questions were about-
“If God exists how come He seems to be doing more for people that don’t know Him than He is for those that do?”
It seemed to Him that those who had no need for God were those that had more prosperity and success than those who did. 

He asked a pertinent question about many members of the Church in the developing world when he said, “Assuming some rich fellow who owned a dating agency walked into a Nigerian church and offered all the people who needed a job automatic employment, and gave brand new houses or cars to those that were in need of them, gave a salary increase to all who wanted it, and hooked every unmarried person to the man or woman of their dreams, what percentage of people would remain in the church? How many people would still serve God after they had their needs met?”

He also said how, going from home to work everyday, he would notice how the social welfare system worked and how the disabled and elderly were treated. He couldn’t help but think there really was no reason for God in a society that worked so seamlessly. His logic essentially was that the British that had continuously tended to an impious and godless position where they referred to themselves as post-modern and post-Christian actually had a valid point.
So he came out with the conclusion that people are only religious because they have needs. God is only relevant because people have needs, so the more needful a person is the greater the tendency is of his being religious.

My friend was perplexed that his friend had adopted this line of thought and wanted some reassurance from me.

I might have shocked him a little more after I immediately said to him- 
“There is a grain of truth in that…
This is because N-E-E-D is a four letter word that keeps man constantly motivated to seek God.”
Then I told him that although his friend’s assessment of “needs” was not incorrect it was incomplete. 
Material needs are the lowest level of human needs according to Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Human Needs”

            HIERARCHY OF HUMAN NEEDS 

                            /   \ (1) FULFILLMENT
                         /         \  (2) RESPECT          
                      /               \  (3)LOVE & BELONGING  
                   /                     \  (4)SAFETY
                /                           \(5)BASIC NEEDS
             /                                 \
          /___________________\

I said to him, “Even when material needs are met there will still be several others. At what point in time, for instance, would a person ever get to where he can say with all certainty that he can provide all the protection he and his family need?” I continued, “If he had all the guns and skills he needed to stave off armed hoodlums how much exactly would he have to protect himself in the event of an automobile accident, or plane crash?”
“If he had all the money in the world and could hire the best bodyguards, afford to buy the most sophisticated planes and employ the most experienced pilots he still wouldn’t have enough to buy up love and get everyone to like him. If he had everyone like him he would still not have everyone respect him. And even if he had everything in the world he would still not be able to buy fulfillment.”

The reason is quite simple, there are very few things that produce genuine fulfillment, and having lots of material possessions is not one of them.
Nobody can ever be fulfilled without God. 
An unprejudiced look at the situation and a  glance at all the needs stated above would show that nobody has transcended need. If nobody has transcended need then nobody has transcended God.
God does not cause need in order for people to seek Him, no, not necessarily. He is not an egotist.
Instead, think of it this way- He is all sufficient, and all the answers and solutions rest in Him. A disconnection from Him is a connection with the alternative- emptiness, a void, need, and nothingness.

This still doesn’t explain why it would seem that those who have no fear of God and are not inclined to religion appear to fare better than others. This still doesn’t explain why the fastest growth the Church records today is in indigent places like Asia, Africa and Latin America.
Why are there countries today that call themselves “Post-Christian”? 
Why are there countries today that believe they have grown beyond God?

Let me answer this by bringing something to our attention.

Have you ever considered the fact that the countries that call themselves “Post-Modern” or “Post-Christian” are countries that were once called “Christian countries”? 
As an aside, has it ever dawned on you that ALL the countries that fit into the genus “First World” were at one time referred to as “Christian countries”?

We will take a look at the second question at a later date.
Let us look at the first now. 
These countries that believe they have grown beyond God were mostly Christian countries at some time. China is not among them, nor is North Korea as, especially in the case of the latter, they cannot be called “Post-Modern”. China is still on the path of modernization so we will concentrate on the Western nations that were all part of Christian civilization at some time.
Without exception these countries attained national transformation through a familiar path, and true to type fell away afterwards. It is nothing new, and is a pattern ingrained in the process.

Gordon Cosby, the founding pastor of Church of the Savior in Washington D.C, noted a pattern as he studied the evolution of religious orders.
First, an idealist attracts people with a strong sense of devotion. The devotees then form a community. Usually there are certain behavioral traits  that become prevalent in most of such communities. One of such traits is discipline- hence the strict rules of founders of orders like Benedict and Ignatius.
 Disciplined groups tend to prosper, this is because discipline creates industry and industry produces wealth, but that very success ultimately undermines the group’s commitment and leads to self-indulgence, and at this point the movement begins to fall apart. 
All these happen and then someone comes along to revive the spirit of idealism. After this happens the cycle starts over again. 

Cosby has called this the “Monastic Cycle”. 

We see this pattern through history. The movements led by idealists such as Ignatius of Loyola, Francis of Assisi, and Benedict of Nursia, demonstrate this very sequence. 
If we take a look at the early Benedictines we will see that in keeping with their culture of devotion and discipline they worked hard to clear forests and cultivate land, investing their earnings in drainage, livestock, and seed. A few centuries later they were hiring people to do the work while they sat back to enjoy the fruit of their labor, such as Benedictine brandy. At times half the order’s revenue went into maintaining the luxurious lifestyles of the abbots. Every so often a reformer would arise to remind the order of the original Rule of Benedict, and start a revival, only to see the same downward spiral and negative pattern eventually repeat itself. 

Beginning with Adam and Eve’s brief sojourn in the Garden, human beings have shown a remarkable inability to manage prosperity and success.
In Old Testament days, whenever the economy boomed and peace prevailed the Israelites attended less and less to spiritual things and instead looked to military power and  alliances for their security. 
In the prophets’ telling phrase they forgot God. We turn to God out of need, and forget Him when things go well. 
That is customary with human nature.
And so we as individuals also succumb to the Monastic Cycle in the same way that nations can and do.

It is this pattern that most of the people that are part of Western Civilization have subsumed into.

Two centuries ago, John Wesley warned Methodists about material success and it’s effects on faith when it is not put in its place-
“I fear, wherever riches have increased, the essence of religion has decreased in the same proportion. Therefore, I do not see how it is possible, in the nature of things, for any revival of religion (Christianity) to continue long. For religion (Christianity) must necessarily produce both industry and frugality, and these cannot but produce riches. But as riches increase, so will pride, anger, and 
love of the world in all it’s branches.”

Union with God will inevitably produce prosperity and good success. This theme runs not only through the Bible but is consistent with human experience. 
Even before noting the fact that the Bible characters that were the most godly were also the wealthiest (the likes of Abraham, Job, David, and Solomon readily come to mind) a cursory and dispassionate look at several communities in Nigeria, Africa, and the developing world as a whole will show that those that admitted the gospel and the missionaries that brought it usually  end up faring much better than those that hold on to idol worship and deities constructed by their forbears.
In the same community there is usually a considerable distance between families that have accepted even the most  basic precepts of the gospel and those that have cohered to idolatry and diabolism. 

The question usually for us as individuals and nations is, just like with countries who have experienced significant prosperity and success,- “Can we stand to be blessed?”
It’s not a proposition of whether God will bless us or not if we seek Him the right way, it is more an issue of whether we will change when He does.

Will we cave in to the pattern of the Monastic Cycle?

Categories
Current Affairs Analysis

I Remember: Going Down Memory Lane

THE DOWNWARD TREND AND DECLINE IN EVERYTHING THAT MATTERS

I grew up in the 70s and the 80s. I have a lot of memories. I remember how a lot of things used to be back then, and many of those things I remember with nostalgia.
Coming back home from primary school in the early 80s I was always looking forward to watching my favorite T.V programs and shows on the afternoon kiddies belt. 
I still have vivid memories of programs like, “Danger Mouse”, “G-Force: Guardians of Space”,  “Munch Bunch”, “Fraggle Rock”, “The Great Space Coaster”, and the more educative ones like “Telematch”, “Muppet Show”, and “Sesame Street”.
These were programs my siblings and I would eagerly sit around the tube to watch.
Memories, beautiful memories.

I am grateful for genuinely exciting and interesting  animated series like “Tom and Jerry”. They’ve been around for over 50 years and are still bringing good entertainment into a countless number of living rooms around the world. At least my children are watching a bit of what I watched while growing up.

Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for the majority of content on offer today. 

As I look through what is meant to be programming  for children today I can’t help but shudder at the level of witchcraft, violence, lewdness, perversion and impropriety these programs are heavily laced with. The decline in quality is absolutely shocking.
Diabolism, Wizardry and Black Magic are now designed to look appealing to children. The younger ones get entrapped by “Sofia the First”, and the slightly older ones things like “Harry Potter”

We learnt so many things and still have fond memories of the likes of Sesame Street from which we learnt good diction and early analytical skills. The quality of T.V programming then was indubitable.

For the life of me I can’t put my head around what sort of education much of today’s programming is meant to give my children. 

The evening belt on T.V included interesting sitcoms like “The Jeffersons”, “Good Times”, and “Diff’rent Strokes”. These were shows we’d sit with our parents and watch till it was time to go to bed and retire for the night. 
Now, I look for sitcoms and see things like “Modern Family”, which is deliberately designed to put into the subconscious the “option” of homosexuality and the alternative family as a mainstream substitute.

Then there is a proliferation of what they now call reality T.V shows. “Shows” like “Keeping Up with the Kardashians” and different variants of “Big Brother” are the things that many families now refer to as entertainment. 

Jack Cafferty famously spoke about the travesty of having two girls with “the combined IQ of a box of cereal” (Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian) being role models for young people. 

That’s where we are today.

Seen a number of such “shows” that just made me shake my head. 
Amazing when it’s Snoop Dogg that has to teach us about “Fatherhood.” That’s the quality available to us right now.

I remember when lots of stuff on T.V was good and when it became bad

I also remember the kind of music we would hear coming through my dad’s car stereo, or in the barber’s shop, or the shopping mall. We would go for other children’s birthday parties and it would be the classic Stevie Wonder hit “Happy Birthday” that would be wafting through the air. 
I was recently listening to a radio station whose specialty is classic hits, as they went through each song I felt a wave of nostalgia go over me. Two songs they played were Donna Summers’; there was “Unconditional Love”, the song in which she featured the group called Musical Youth, and the other one they played was “She works hard for the Money.” They brought back lots of memories.
I remembered songs like Madonna’s “La Isla Bonita”, “Like a Prayer”, and “Holiday”.
As the years progressed it dawned on me that there was a point at which the songs considered provocative were songs like Madonna’s “Who’s that Girl?”
Looking at what makes the list of regular tunes today who would ever have thought that?

I was an ardent fan of Hip-Hop, and I remember Kurtis Blow who was the first mainstream rapper. Years later, I remember how Rob Base and D.J EZ Rock came on the scene with their “It Takes Two” album that featured a personal favorite of mine, “Joy and Pain”.
I remember the likes of Run DMC, and  Special Ed who would just rap about their props, their hood and similar trivial stuff. I remember Public Enemy, I also remember lighter yet more melodious rhymesters like  LL Cool J and Heavy D. 

Then I remembered when rap music took a downhill turn with 2 Live Crew that was eventually “Banned in the USA” for their lewd music and objectifying of women.
N.W.A (Niggaz With Attitude) took it off a tangent when they entered a new degree of gangsta rap. They glorified “smoking niggers”, and “f*#%ing bitches”, and all sorts of other lyrics that threw propriety out the window.
The likes of Eazy E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube became the springboard for a new and more insidious genre of rap music. A genre that saw a journey through the tarot card and Ouija Board using group named “Bone Thugs N Harmony”, and several others like Snoop Dogg (who reportedly attempted releasing an album he called “DogsiNatas”, which is meant to be a reversible anagram or anadrome for “Satan is God”), and Notorious B.I.G and 2Pac (who incidentally was a very decent rapper when he was with Digital Underground).

Forgive my inexorable incursion down memory lane.

I remember when music was good and when it became bad

I also remember growing up, and how my dad loved cars. He had different Mercedes Benz cars and some other European brands. These cars were made in the 70s, were of top quality and were very rugged, they had very strong metal frames as well.
I used to joke then that if any of those cars ran into a brick wall it would smash through the wall and come out on the other side unscathed.
I love automobiles. So I can tell that they don’t make cars anymore like they used to.
Now, there are lots of brittle looking cars moving around. The plastic components of most of them have been increased considerably, while the steel has reduced. One of the reasons no doubt is to reduce gas consumption and carbon emissions.
Whichever reason is adduced one thing is sure…they don’t make them anymore like they used to. The quality is not what it used to be.

I remember when they used to make good cars and when they became crap.

I also remember the electronic gadgets I grew up seeing around the house. The Television sets looked like they were made out of some indestructible material or something, the stereo sets and turntables, the refrigerators, and practically every other appliance seemed like they would last forever. Now I try to contrast them with much of what is obtainable today….
Only recently, the first set of mobile phones were very tough and rugged. You could very easily have your infant drop your Nokia 3310 on the concrete floor and you’d be sure nothing would go wrong with it. That was their level of quality.

Think about what would happen to that iPhone if it dropped on a carpet now.

I remember when they made good and durable phones and appliances and when they became debile and pallid. I remember when they were good and now they are bad.

I can recall very clearly when I went on my first date; I still have vivid memories. I was thirteen years old was a girl I wanted to take out. He gave me one of his ties; over twenty five years later that tie still exists….somewhere.
The suits and winter jackets my dad had in the 70s and 80s were so rugged that most of them still exist in 2016.
I have had “designer” suits I bought within the last ten years that ended up having a tear designed somewhere less than two years after buying them. They just don’t make suits the way they used to.
Going to buy school shoes for my children I couldn’t help noticing the durability of the leather most of them were made with. I compared them with the shoes and sandals I used while going to school. Of course they were of far less quality.

I remember when the quality of shoes and clothes they used to make was enduring, and now they don’t last.

By now the keen observers among you would have noticed where I am heading with this.
There is an unfortunate trend that has pervaded almost every facet of life and aspect of society. That trend is quality products are fast giving way to more substandard ones, leaving us with only memories of “the good old days.”

The most tragic thing about it is that this trend has also pervaded and permeated Christianity today.
There was a time the word “Christian” was synonymous with terms like “Integrity”, “Morality”, “Faithfulness”, “Commitment”, and every other virtue that could ever come to mind. 
It is no longer the case.
There was a time men of the cloth were viewed with unbridled reverence because of their chaste and moderate lifestyles, and their focus on transiting people to higher realms of glory.
That is mostly no longer the case

I remember books by servants of God. Books that made a profound impact on me after I began my journey of faith. Literature from men like A.W Tozer, Andrew Murray, C.S Lewis, Watchman Nee, John Eddison, E.W Kenyon, and Kenneth Hagin. I can’t help but compare them with many of the books that are peddled in mainstream Christianity today.
The difference in quality is clear.
There was a time when many of the messages that came from the pulpits were soul-stirring and placed a deep conviction in the hearts of the hearers. It would seem the only thing that is stirred when many sermons are given today is uncrucified desires. Most are merely intellectually stimulating discourses and pep talks that tickle the fancy. 
Many ministers today are anything but what they ought to be.

Eugene Peterson said, “The Pastors of America have metamorphosed into a company of shopkeepers, and the shops they keep are churches. They are pre-occupied with shopkeepers’ concerns- how to keep the customers happy, how to lure customers away from competitors down the street, how to package the goods so that the customers will lay out more money. Some of them are very good shopkeepers. They attract a lot of customers, pull in great sums of money, develop splendid reputations. Yet it is still shopkeeping; religious shopkeeping, to be sure, but shopkeeping all the same. The marketing strategies of the fast food franchise occupy the waking minds of these entrepreneurs; while asleep they dream of the kind of success that will get the attention of journalists…..The only problem is that we are called not to be shopkeepers, but shepherds.”

This story is true for several doing ministry in Nigeria today.

A.W Tozer said, “There Tozer said,

“There has come in modern times a new cross into popular evangelical circles. It is like the old cross, but different; the likenesses are superficial, the differences fundamental….The new cross does not slay the sinner, it redirects him. It gears him into a cleaner and jollier way of living and saves his self-respect…The Christian message is slanted in the direction of the current vogue in order to make it acceptable to the public…The old cross is a symbol of death. It stands for the abrupt, violent end of a human being….The cross made no compromise, modified nothing, spared nothing…We who preach the gospel must not think ourselves as public relations agents sent to establish 
goodwill between Christ and the world. We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum. God offers life but not an improved old life. The life He offers is life out of death.”

This is very sad. The same decline of quality that has percolated through society has also suffused through the primary agency for the redemption and transformation of humanity- the Church.
Many of us are now public relations managers and are taken in by the PC squad. We muddle the truth all in our bid to be appealing to everyone. Political Correctness has swept large portions of the Church in America and its spreading round the globe real fast.

The quality of everything seems to have dropped substantially, tragically also in the areas that matter most. Until we realize this we will never take the necessary steps to correct this rot in our personal experiences. 

I remember when the cross was at the core and Jesus at the centre, and now the things that truly count are on the fringes.