The cultural atmosphere is greatly charged. People are sharing experiences, comparing notes and are very enthusiastic in the struggle to resurrect the dying custom of the people. However, some enlightened essayists are turning the movement into a racial conflict, others wish to re-establish the religion of our fathers. To the former, every white man in this our generation should be punished for the sins committed in the 17th century (400 years ago); to the latter, we should all go back to African Traditional Religion. How feasible are these?
A friend, after following me for a while, called to tell me how impressed he was with my African Essays. He spent hours impressing me with testimonies of how far he has gone in the practice of African Traditional Religion. He shared his mind-blowing testimonies but did not stop there. In his magnanimity, he offered to take me to a Traditional priest that will wash my face so that I would start seeing clearer. But what then will be my pride if my knowledge, which is instinctive, is induced by the rituals of face washing? I outrightly declined the benevolent offer.
Again, because I don’t understand why a boy in Onitsha would nurse the idea that he descended from the Jewish tribe without knowing how he is related to his Nigerian neighbouring tribes, I took a whole week to write about the similarities between the Igbos and the Yorubas. As a compliment to this write-up, a Facebook friend sent me a long message telling me how he loved my write-ups. He ended the epistle by telling me how insulting it was to link him to the Yorubas.
A house divided against itself will never stand. For these, I took a long break.
Let me put it straight: no one in history has ever caught a bird by scaring it. The neo-Africanism will never stand if the aim is to compete and not to cooperate. We will not achieve the African of our dream if hate is our only weapon. Gandhi was not a Christian nor a Muslim but we say great things about him. Do something great: invent something that would benefit humanity; then, tell people that you practice Africanism. This alone is a worthy evangelism.
Do not forget that an Africanist will never be in the house while the she-goat suffers the pains of parturition on its tether. You should join politics and handle the public affair with truth. Let it be that when your service time is over you can hit your chest and pronounce publicly that you did not touch what belongs to the public for it is against your African Traditional belief. Start a business and grow it with the truth.
Do not forget that bitterness of the grape is within. The challenges we face today are caused by poor leadership and docile followers. As crusaders, we should discuss history but will rescind in our heart the rancour of the past. Without love, we will never progress.
I will discuss the history and show generations to come the beauty of African Traditional Religion. If God permits, I will write more essays on African Customs. I – and you – can do a lot without attacking the belief of others.
If Africanism will not unite Africans irrespective of creed and tongue, then let it never come. If Africanism will be established as an institutionalized religion, how sure are you men will not abuse it and turn it into a mind manipulating organization? My dream African Traditional Religion is an idea, not a structure. It is a movement that will re-educate the black man to see that there is nothing like the ancestral curse. A movement that will open the eyes of Africans to know that there was nothing wrong with the customs of our fathers. Every creed has its ill and our ancestors erred on the side of ignorance.
Let the African movement bear upon it this singular creed: Every African is permitted to be a good Christian or a good Muslim or a good Atheist, and they also be a good African. Nothing short of this is fair.
Ozii Baba Anieto