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Friday, 31 July 2015

Soja Go, Soja Come, Barracks Stay

The above statement, a popular Nigerian saying, is about the same as saying that tough times do not last, but that tough people do, since tough times, like the soldier, come and go, but a tough person, like the barracks, is a permanent feature.
It has been the same with deities from whenever they were invented. I do not believe there are worshippers of Zeus today, but Zeus once held sway over the ancient Greeks, controlled their lives and every major personal and community decisions. Zeus and his fellow gods like Poseidon and Hades, and goddesses such as Hera and Athena, were revered and feared. They were faithfully and fearfully worshipped by people we would describe today as ignorant and clueless. They were celebrated and had very elaborate and expensive monuments dedicated to their honour. Places of worship and temples were built and days, sometimes a whole month, were set aside and filed with feasting and orgies, all to the glory of the gods. There were gods of war, fertility, the land, the sea, the dead, and just about every aspect of life that was worth anything then. It was no different with the various tribes which the British colonised and amalgamated into present day southern part of Nigeria. Like the Greeks of old, we had gods and goddesses for the land, the sky and so on. But Zeus and company were no gods. We know today that they were 100% a product of some very fertile imaginations. These gods were held in the utmost awe by their worshippers, but have now left the stage. They have been replaced by others, chief of which, today, is the god of the Abrahamic religions.
The gods of old, like the Abrahamic god of today, rarely communicated directly with the general populace, they had priests and priestesses who were their representatives and spoke on their behalf. They used omens, animal entrails, the weather and any other tool they may have developed, usually under the influence of alcohol or other potent stimulants, to decipher the ruling and will of the gods. Today, our men and women of god speak in tongues, perform 'miracles', engage in holy laughter (see video below) and perform "signs and wonders". These representatives, like the celebrity pastors of today, lived lavishly. Worshippers from all corners of the land brought gifts of all description - gold, expensive ornaments and jewels, the finest items of clothing and fabrics, various food items, and even whole, live animals like cattle and sheep - to the priests who usually lived in the temples or some isolated location. Today, televangelists shamelessly extort money from the poorest of their congregants while promising a hundredfold return, demand tithes, and devise ingenious ways to con their congregants out of their hard-earned money. Representatives of deities have always commanded respect and lived off the 'faithful'  like royalty.

Mankind has emerged as the prime living organism on planet earth. We have battled, and are still battling, innumerable wars and conflicts, catastrophic human tragedies, and even Mother Nature herself. And we have triumphed. The hell described in the bible cannot compare to what we have endured. Unfortunately, we have also had to battle a rather formidable foe of our own design: religion, which, to me, is another war we shall surely win.
I would like to make a statement of fact: this Abrahamic god will one day go the way of Zeus and countless other deities that have been worshipped and discarded, only to be replaced by others who will inevitably suffer the same fate. It is only a matter of time, and time is all humanity has. Gods are like underwear, they need to be changed regularly; but the truth is that they have outlived their welcome, not usefulness - they were never useful.