ACCULTURATION: Neopaganism, and social re-engineering, East of the Niger

Eze Jude Ogechukwu

Eze Jude Ogechukwu

Africa had witnessed one of the most immense geo-anthropogenic crisis in the history of man, courtesy of her long years of putting up with native primitive culture before she played host to Western civilization. Sporadic archaeological researches showed that African Traditional Religion (ATR) has been practiced here for more than two millennia before European missionaries tip-toed on her soil. Ever since, Africa never remained the same, obeying the theory of early Greek philosophers like Heraclitus in preceding centuries who had propounded the theory of “omnia flux” which teaches the constancy of change, supporting the assertion that “one cannot step into the same water twice.” Africa never recovered from her encounter with colonialism.

Prof. Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart was eloquent testimony to this. He placed within our perceptible visual range an obscured Umuofia village in the antediluvian Igbo setting where resistance to Western cultural invasion led to the tragic end of their hero — Okonkwo Unoka and the village never remained the same again. Though it might seem as if fate and random coincidences of events truced to engender Okonkwo’s ultimate end in suicide, akin to self immolation in protest against his kinsmen’s nonchalance that allowed Whites ‘infiltrate’ their clans and modify their culture. The denouemental statement of the novel ended this: “…the pacification of the tribes of the lower Niger,” but little the Achebe know that the story will continue to replay in numerous other tribes till the end of time.

Perhaps, he had published that book to serve a caveat to those who tend to resist change, especially the inevitability of sociocultural dynamism. Even biology, nay anthropology teaches that change is an inevitable happenstance in man’s environment. The topics in variation, ecosystem, as well as genetics points to the fact that nothing remains the same, despite the undeniable presence of constant fulcrum upon which the pendulum of change swings.

This was why it is possible that two deeply fair-skinned couple can give birth to an ebony polished dark-skinned child. Change is inevitable! So many variable and random coincidence of events abound that can engender the constancy of change.

Now, the question is: why after all the avoidable frictions that took place in centuries of Euro-African cultural interface, there are still people who want to reinvent and increase the tragedy? Granted, christianity came alongside colonial overloads. But today’s Africanists (who could as well be termed racial bigots) have gone to town preaching against everything Western.

To these people, culture no longer means sum total of people’s way of life. It is rather, in their pigeon-holed sentiment, everything that has to do with ATR. Thus they are currently on a match to restart fight for ‘self-realization’ against christianity to reinstall paganism in our hpmeland in an intellectual exercise technically called neopaganism

Oxford Advanced learners dictionary defined neopaganism as “a modern or revived form of paganism; modern pagan religion.” 

Britannica pictured it as follows: “Neo-Paganism is any of several spiritual movements that attempt to revive the ancient polytheistic religions of Africa and the Middle East. These movements have a close relationship to ritual magic and modern witchcraft. In doing so, it claims to be striving to revive authentic pantheons and rituals of ancient cultures, though often in deliberately eclectic and reconstructionist ways, and by a particularly contemplative and celebrative attitude. Typically people with romantic feelings toward nature and deep ecological concerns, Neo-Pagans centre their dramatic and colourful rituals around the changes of the seasons and the personification of nature as full of divine life, as well as the holy days and motifs of the religions by which their own groups are inspired.”

A paltry number of young men in almost all towns in South east today are resurrecting those paganistic ideals that their forebears left to embrace Christianity. The same belief system that kept Africa in darkness for centuries before the light of Christ’s gospel dispelled it. How could we forget so fast that paganism demanded the killing of twins, backed the sacrifice of virgins for some naturally social happenstances, permitted ostracism, beatified the stigmatization of “Osu cast system,” placed embargo against orthodox science, restricts exercise of mental freedom etc.

All these scandalous aspects of paganism made the ancient men of Africa readily accept christian ideals at the expense of their ATR. But today’s Africanists claim to know better.

The marvel is the frightening speed at which young men and women subscribe to this new wave of diabolic religious system. Youngsters going back to the era when sorcerers are consulted alongside ancestral deities for the cause and cure for infectious diseases? Daft era when people prefer the use of concussions from “ite uru” (local broad spectrum antidotes of deity origin) as vaccines? When people await a verdict from the soothsayer’s amphitheater to know when to planting season will commence etc.

This maddening acclamation of idolatry by disciples of Gordian religion is nothing short of a match back to stone ages. A degeneration as against regeneration.

But there is one other aspect of this new trend. It was occasioned by Pentecostal churches’ lack of sound catechesis and the untamed evolution of charismatism where pastors acts and administers their ‘prophetic’ rites in manners closely related to paganism.  They mix elements of traditional worships with that of christianity to creat their own brand. The technical term is syncretism. Since 1978 when christian charismatic renewal movement was permitted across the globe, African church never rested from its fight against syncretism which was the by-product of liberalization of charismatism by church hierarchy.

According to Archbishop Fulton Sheen: “Every heresy in the history of the Church has been either a truth exaggerated to an excess, or diminished to a defect.” These proprietors of church outlets were culprits of this error. They watered down the tenets of christian faith and had helped in raising an army of hypocritic christians who now felt unsatisfied with christian faith and unfulfilled in its spirituality, and now want to reinvent paganism in the guise of cultural evolution.

Neopaganism has brought with it, some unthinkable social vices. Juvenile delinquency is currently trending within Igbo boarders among youngsters, who, claiming to be free thinkers indulge in the abuse of crystal methamphetamine. Masquerade culture has been used as agents of terror against any perceived resistances to the ideals of these Neopaganists. Unfortunate instances of this abound during Onwesa Obollo, Imo Awka, Afia olu Nnewi annual festivals in Nsukka, Awka and Nnewi respectively.

The twist however is in the fact that Boko Haram is in the North demanding a wind back to the era when western civilisation was alien. Fatwa was declared on education, science and innovative thinking. Today, these neopaganists (mostly dominated by unlettered or half-baked educationists) populate pressure groups like IPOB and its militant group the ESN. They had invaded church services, desecrated sanctuaries of worship in the guise of enforcing seat-at-home, stopped students from going to school and writing exams etc, for Nnamdi Kanu.

It may look like a mere pressure group protest against ‘injustice’ to their leader, but if elders of thought from the zone don’t take precautionary steps, an obsolete culture is being reinstituted and dooms day is being visited upon us.

May daylight spare us!


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