Chukwudumebi Nwaokobia urges African countries to look inward to redefine her access and focus.
Since I formally announced my Change of Name from the transcultural names Christopher, Chris and Mustapha to the traditional/cultural names Chukwudumebi and Nkemcho not a few commentators have visited and addressed the issue online and terrestrially. And those who are within physical proximity have also debated me on the propriety of my decision.
Some have shot at me from religious cocoons, the Christian is offended that I have dropped the name, Christopher/Chris, and the Muslim aggrieved that I have dropped the name, Mustapha. They both forget that I have always insisted that my religion is Love, and that the symbolism of the names Chris and Mustapha is eminent to me, by Jove in meaning and thought the names go to the root of my mission and essence, and both names mean about the same thing.
“So, why have you decided to drop the names?”, a curious but dispassionate mentee of mine, asked. I haven’t thrown away the names, however, henceforth I want to be called and addressed by the traditional/cultural names given to me by my father and by my forebears as they tell the essence of my being in a more distinct light. I answered.
Christopher, Chris for short means The Cross bearer, the Burden bearer, like a Messiah. And Mustapha means chosen by Allah. I have since I was a boy walked in the path so chosen for me by the Almighty. But you know what, a popular Chinese saying puts it tritely, ‘when the student/pupil is ready, the teacher/master will show up’, now that I am manifestly ready, it is evident that in my traditional/cultural names were my essence most captured.
Chukwudumebi means God leads and sustains me, in God I live, and God is my enabler, therefore my strength. Nkemcho means you are the one I want. And my surname Nwaokobia means the Son of a Great Man. This is where the preamble stops, as this piece is more about us, and Africa than about me.
What’s in a name, you may ask? History has proven in so many ways that there is so much to a name. Sadly Africa appears to have chosen to look the other way, we abandon our good, brave, deep and meaningful names for the names of foreign saints, and religious phenomenons. We have chosen our neighbours’ mirror over ours.
There is one God, controller of the universe, owner of light and darkness and God over all flesh. Before I was born and when I was named the Almighty knew me, chose a path for me, and designed my essence, wonder why all the names I have been given are interwoven, interconnected and interrelated? However, a deep and dispassionate assessment of the names have left me humbled, and with a look in my mirror, I see the traditional/cultural names given to me by my father, by my forebears and nay by my ancestors as more apposite, recondite and esoteric. Don’t be hasty about yours, leave my mirror to me, and please take a look in your own mirror.
Time was in Africa when brotherhood, love, care for one another, and community were a given, where orphanage homes didn’t exist because each and every child belonged to all. Where monies lost or misplaced in the market, village square or anywhere would be found and returned, and it was the norm not to steal and impoverish our people. As boarders in a continent that had tremendous fear and respect for our God (gods) and ancestors, our continent was the cradle of civilization. So what happened to Mother Africa? How did we lose our pristine values, moral and mores?
Is it a coincidence that the topic of this contribution tallies with the fact that the colonialists brought us their mirror and alcohol when they came to steal our land and leave us with their religion? Were they giving us their mirror so we would lose the mirror of our soul, and drunk with their theology lose our essence and conscience? How could thieves, slave dealers and their religious allies bring us redemption? Think.
They corrupted our values and left us with teachings that permit wickedness and corruption. They taught us the forgiveness that ignores and forgets the greatest truth of piety, of right conduct and of right living, they undermine that unassailable truth enshrined as it were in African worship and in the Books of Faith of the Orients and the Occidents including the Bible, ditto “Be not deceives, God is not mocked. Whatsoever a man sows that shall he also reap.” If they were to have taught us that Karma is real as Sango, Orunmila, Atakpo, Obo-oshi, Ngene, Ogun, Chukwu abiama, and the various mediums of African worship taught us, Africa would have sustained her civilization and turned the world over to the God of Love, for in love is the salient ordinance, Treat others as you want to be treated. Instead we chose to look in our neighbours’ mirror and copied their hypocrisy.
The West brought us Christianity and the Arabs brought us Islam, we chose their mirror, and we lost ours. The originality of their access to God grew their civilization. They have overtaken Africa, nay the cradle of civilization has become the citadel of foreign worship and confusion. We have left the ways of our fathers, and appear condemned to the present circuitous rigmarole.
Our Christianity is egocentric and mercantile, our Islam appears more medieval and ‘pristine’ than even the Saudis, as we claim to know their way to God more than their forebears, and we brand our own forebears nay the ancestors of the Cradle of Civilization as satanic, yes we have chosen a look in their mirror, so like them we see satan as black, and we call our ancestors agents of darkness, sons of satan and servants of the devil.
We accuse Amadioha, Sango, Ogun et al of receiving human sacrifice, that’s the mirror they gave us, whereas in the Bible Jehovah ate up Jeptha’s daughter. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not preaching religious supremacy, God forbid, I believe in the Holy Bible and in the Holy Quran, like I believe the ways of our fathers. And my search through time has proven to me that God reaches you best through your forebears, your language and your genealogy. Any wonder why the Bible traced the Genealogy of Jesus The Christ? Any wonder why the Jews yet disputing his deity, own him? Any wonder why nations like China, India, South Korea and others who maintain the originality of access and worship prosper more than those with foreign access, mode, means and form of worship? Before you mention the United States of America, please note that the United States was founded by pilgrims, so Christianity is original to the United States.
Don’t preach religion to me, please. And please do not pray for me, for I know that God is love, and if your religion is not poised to conquer racism, ethnicity, hate, greed and egocentricity you have no place in the God I seek, serve and worship.
Need I remind you that Africa was first the continent of Love, and that in African worship was community and true love? Have you ever wondered why the Whiteman came building free schools and hospitals in Africa? To them mimicking our style was the only way they could get our forebears to listen to them, unfortunately our fathers’ chose to look in their mirror rather than to fine tune our mode of worship, and that became our Achilles Heel. Sadly, our neighbours did no more than to refine their worship pattern through several faith based revolutions, and today it is working for them. To this end, I call on Africa to rise up, look inwards and do the needful.
From accepting human sacrifice to bulls in exchange, from the Thummim and the Urim in the Ark of the Covenant as mediums of worship, to the advent of Yeshua (Jesus) as the human/God medium, and to the use of Olive oil, the Crucifix, Water et al as medium of worship, Christianity has gone through several revolutionary protocols cum refinement, and so has Judaism, and today it is working for the Occidents, and so is Judaism working for the Jews.
From ancient and strict Islam to what obtains today in Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirate, Dubai, Qatar, Iran et al we see modern Islam at work, where Churches are allowed and Mosques are named after Jesus and his mother Mary, but in Africa where some have elected to mirror Islam, there are those opposed to Western education they say Boko is Haram (evil and forbidden), whereas in the home of origin of Islam Boko is Halal (good, permissible and right). See what the look in a neighbour’s mirror has done to Mother Africa? Sad.
Rather than refine our worship centred on true love which is God, we chose ways not known to our Forebears and have lost our civilization to those we mirror. Sad.
Do you yet wonder why in Africa the Christian Priest milks the flock, whereas but for a few cases in the breach, in other climes the Priest caters to the need of the Flock like Jesus the Christ did?
Have you wondered why the theatre of radical Islam and religious fundamentalism is presently in Africa? Have you wondered why Al Qaeda and ISIS have more dangerous cells in Africa? The answer is simple, a copycat and the one who uses his neighbours mirror is always prone to want to impress and over do it.
I pray deeply and seriously that Africa will like some countries in Asia look inward and redefine her access and focus, and rather than curse our Ancestors, seek their forgiveness, bless them, reconcile with them, refine our mode of worship centred on TRUE LOVE and thereto begin a massive ideological, sociological and spiritual rework of the African Continent. So Mote It Be.
In the final analysis, may Mother Africa rediscover her true potentials and work the path of greatness, for this cause is my present initiative MAD (Making a Difference) in Africa Leadership, and it is completely dedicated to the past, to the present and most importantly to the future we seek.
Indeed, we can return Africa to her long lost leadership role in the World, and the way to go is to atone our past and reconcile with the Ancestors who made Africa through God the Cradle of Civilization.
Nwaokobia is the Convener of CountryFirst Movement and Head, MAD in Africa Leadership Series