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Wednesday, 29 July 2015

Prophet Fela

"Pastor’s house na him dey fine pass, my people dem dey stay for poor surroundings; pastor’s dress na him dey clean pass, e hard for my people to buy soap. Pastor na him dem give respect pass…" - Coffin for Head of State by Fela Anikulapo Kuti (1981).
When Fela released this song, prosperity gospel was still in its early stages, with the late Benson Idahosa as its champion. He is credited with mentoring Chris Oyakhilome, David Oyedepo, Mike Okonkwo, and Ayo Oritesjafor, some of the current champions of the prosperity gospel in Nigeria. These men have grown immensely wealthy off fleecing their adulating and gullible congregants.
Fela was hated by every Nigerian government of the day but was loved by the masses because he was a social change crusader. While Fela's stance against organized religion may not be as poignant today as it was then, it is even more relevant today because we need more than ever to have our thinking caps on and be more critical of religion in our society. Fela was a passionate crusader for African unity. He was also against the religions imported by the colonial masters. He was more of a prophet than Enoch Adeboye, or any of his brother charlatans would ever be. The corruption he was crying out so loudly about has eventually brought Nigeria to its knees. Religion, which has formed a deadly alliance with the corrupt Nigerian government, and was at its worst during the Jonathan years, has helped in crippling the nation further.
‎Jonathan's attempts to bribe religious leaders to prevail upon their vast congregations to re-elect him in the last general elections did not yield dividend; he lost the presidential election. David Oyedepo of the child slapping infamy shamelessly campaigned for Jonathan while indirectly denouncing and vilifying (current President) Buhari as a book haram apologist. The criticism Mr Oyedepo received was, in my opinion, very weak. The silence of the political class, especially those in then candidate Buhari's political party, the All Progressives Congress, APC, was especially telling since they did not want to be seen as being openly opposed to a man of god, and therefore anti christian. It is this fear of being seen as being overtly critical to pastors and other prominent religious leaders that has allowed them to continue to exercise a hypnotic hold over their congregation. Fela would be turning in his grave right now.
One does not need to be a fan of Fela to acknowledge that he was right. It is up to us to stand up and end this unhealthy and parasitic relationship with religion.