Indeed, throughout the late 19th century, there was no African more important to the British Christian missionary activity in Africa than the renowned Bishop Samuel Ajayi Crowther. Crowther worked his fingers to the bones to convert a myriad of Africans into the Christian faith at a time when it was unfashionable for his breed. There are several accounts on the numerous resistances and death threats encountered by Crowther during the course of his Christianizing mission in the territories that subsequently became modern Nigeria.

In 1864, the efforts of Crowther paid off when he was consecrated as the first African Bishop of the Anglican Church from West Africa. Many biographical accounts on Samuel Crowther however have intentionally remained silent on the disillusionment and regrets that followed the last days of the Bishop’s life on earth. Incredibly, after dedicating a well spent 20 years into the propagation of Christianity, often by demonizing African spirituality, Crowther became a victim of the Indo-European inherent, inescapable racism.

Crowther in the 1880s was well publicized by a number of White Christian missionaries as a “corrupt” and immoral” Bishop. Of course Crowther resigned from the missions, but the burden of an undeserved treachery must have instigated the stroke he died from in 1891.

The 19th and 20th centuries are important periods on the destruction of African spirituality by the combined efforts of both the European missionaries and their African counterparts. Western biases and distortions of African spirituality were structurally invented to impose Christianity on the Africans. The process of divinations and sacrifices by the Africans were structurally destroyed. The Yoruba Esu for an instance was erroneously portrayed as a devil. Songs and bible passages were used in justifying the supposed “primitivism” of African cosmological beliefs and practices. Essentially, the Christian missions needed to achieve all of the above because they were a reflection of all facets of the then emerging European capitalistic, individualistic society.

But as the story of Samuel Crowther had shown, the aftermath of the gravediggers of African spirituality had always been enmeshed in regrets. W.H. Clarke, a renowned American Baptist missionary of the 19th century, had to contend in his latter writings that the Yoruba people had the knowledge of the Supreme Being before the arrival of Islam and Christianity. Certainly this contention is a departure from the prejudiced narrative of the “civilizing mission” of the two foreign religions.

Through conversion into Christianity and Islam, the Africans were perceived as being “liberated” from “paganism”. Interestingly, whilst the foremost distributors of these religions, the Arabs and the Europeans, have recounted some of their racist perceptions on African spirituality, at least a few number of them had, it appears that the converted Africans are not going recount their “imposed ignorance” anytime soon.

It is in the spirit of the unending wrestling between foreign religions and African spirituality that the Pastor of the DayStar Christian Centre recently threw a jab at the Yoruba Orisa, Sango. The Pastor in an attempt to uncover the nexus between fear and culture exploded that had Sango was powerful as portrayed, why was it impossible for him to invent electricity and also halt European colonialism vis-à-vis the Christian missionaries. Beyond the fact that this statement is a display of sheer ignorance and stupidity that reigns across churches in Africa today, it is also an outrageous attack on the concept of religious tolerance. The arrogance in display here is that Pastor Sam Adeyemi could careless about the feelings of many Sango adherents in not just Yorubaland but also in Brazil, Cuba, Mexico, etc. Apparently, with such inflaming statement, the difference between Pastor Sam Adeyemi and Muhammed Yusuf, the erstwhile leader of Boko Haram, is pretty tiny.

The commercialization of Christianity today has breed an army of uninformed, unenlightened, gullible, duped, conned, “hope peddlers” styled as “men and women of God”. And as rightly put by Martin Luther King Jr. “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity”. The persistence of these conned men and women had unfortunately led to the continuous reproduction of a mass of confused people in the larger African society.

About some months ago, another popular Pastor-conned man, exploded that the African people virtually sold themselves to the European slave merchants during the Atlantic Slavery.

The massive congregation, especially the younger ones, that joins in the psychosomatic disorder state of these Pastors, ultimately are the major concern. The DayStar Pastor firstly has got to know that he rarely did not have to draw an instance from Sango to drive home his point around fear. What he needed to do if he were to be an honest “man of God” was to dig into the history of Christianity itself. The spread of Christianity and Islam across the world was hinged on imposed fear and violence. These two Abrahamic religions had to create the concept of “hellfire” so just to instill fear in the minds of their adherents. Just like European Christians slaughtered over a million people in Europe during the 11th to 13th centuries War of Crusades, Africa was also invaded by Christianity, but of course in an artful way.

The Christian missionaries in the 19th century basically were a dominant colonizing force in Africa after the European merchants, explorers and armies. The British colonial officer, Sir Henry Johnson had to concur with the remarkable roles played by the missionaries towards the colonization of Africa when he expressed that “each (Christian) mission is an exercise in colonization”. Needless to mention also that the invasions of Lagos and Benin in 1851 and 1897, respectively, were aided by the snitch roles adequately played by the European missionaries. And beyond doubt, we are beginning to uncover that biological warfare was also a tool employed by the missionaries in colonial Africa with the aim of “winning souls”.

Archival materials have pointed that there was an outbreak of small-pox in Ondo town circa 1879. Although no document had exhumed the cause of this epidemic. But the Christian mission in that town under one Charles Phillip, was going to exploit this tendency to convert a huge section of Ondo natives, who were hitherto uninterested, into Christianity.

The helpless natives of Ondo town were informed by the Christian missionaries that the disease was the “wrath of God” on the people for refusing to jettison their spirituality for Christianity. The mission further induced the populace by performing supposed miracles on its members who were afflicted with the disease. Consequently, the number of converts in Ondo town after the containment of the epidemic was enhanced. Intriguingly, some parts of colonial Lagos, concurrently with this time in Ondo town, were also confronted with the spread of small-pox. Just like the indigenous Indian population was wiped out by European small-pox, it could not have been impossible that the proliferation of European deadly diseases in late 19th century Africa was consciously or unconsciously part of a wider genocidal mission. This technique was most exploited by the turn-of-the-century. The missionaries, in most cases, intentionally withheld the discovered vaccines of that era, so just to “win souls”.

If Pastor Sam Adeyemi is in search of an analogy on the nexus between fear and culture – the above again is a classical instance. The ill-informed “man of God” ultimately did not have to berate Sango. However, the extent he went was not shocking to us. Pastor Adeyemi and his cohorts have to be down to earth and ask themselves an important question – why has it been impossible for African spirituality to go into extinction despite the over 200 years attacks and distortions? Could it be that these conned men and women are panic over the continuing resurgence of the receptivity to African spirituality? Herman Melville posits “Ignorance is the parent of fear’. Pastor Sam Adeyemi perhaps is a victim of the same fear he intends to demystify in the minds of his vulnerable congregation.

A probe into the various accounts on Sango will reveal that he represents a direct contrast of the incriminatory, nebulous image Pastor Sam Adeyemi intends to fabricate.

Sango, the son of Oranyan, was the fourth King of the Old Oyo Empire, and after his death he was deified by his subjects because of his inventions, bravery and heroism. Under the productive seven years reign of Sango, he expanded the territories of the empire into Popo and Dahomey.

Sango prowess was his habit of emitting fire and smoke out of his mouth, and also invocating thunder and lightning during wars. Traditions have it that Sango’s attraction to explosive and lightning was a product of an intensive exploration he carried out with plants during the early days of his life.

The continuous exploration of botanical studies and microelectronic forces induced Sango to build a somewhat research laboratory at Oke Ajaka. In the course of one of his frequent experiments, a storm of electrical spark collided with his lightning and the palace of the Alaafin and other buildings flared up. With the deaths of many of his subjects, Sango resolved to abdicate the throne and retire in Nupe. Sango’s devotion to justice must have possibly accumulated into a feeling of guilt that obligated him to commit suicide. The death of Sango struck the whole of Oyo. He was afterwards deified as the Orisa of thunder and lightning.

Sango subsequently rose to become an Orisa to be identified with justice. R.H. Stone in his “In Africa’s Forest and Jungle”, published in 1899, in fact had to stylishly acknowledge the goodwill of the Orisa, Sango, in maintaining peace and order in Yorubaland. The author writes that the people’s belief in the power of Sango… “so dominates their thoughts that the most thievish among them will not touch anything which is protected by the symbol of Sango’s power. People on the farms often exposes for sale by the highways fruits and vegetables while the owners are far away at work”.

The author also narrated a firsthand experience he had of Sango’s powers. Now to the pressing demands of Pastor Sam Adeyemi. The ignorance that he spewed is enormous. Firstly, a Sango could probably had invented electricity had he lived beyond his untimely death. Obviously, Sango was specializing in microelectronic forces way before Thomas Edison ever invented electric light bulb in 1879.

Certainly, the above would be considered as a myth by any random deluded African because a European is yet to affirm it. We have contended that everything about the technological advancement of the African people – one that vanished after the discovery of iron, was halted following the arrival of the Indo-European plus Arab invaders.

And as a matter of fact, it is illusory for a Pastor, under whatever disguise, to relinquish members of the ruling class their sole duty of providing the citizenry an adequate power supply in the 21st century.

In addition, what the European missionaries did prior to colonialism was not to colonize Sango or Sanpona, etc. as claimed by the “man of God”. European missionary activity was an attempt to suppress the Orisa, just like Islam was suppressed in medieval Spain and Portugal. To colonize means to “take possession of”, the unceasing return of Yoruba and other Africans in the diaspora, to the venerating practices and beliefs of Sango and other Orisa are pointers to the fact that the Orisa never dies.

So ultimately, what the African masses should throw away today are not the “foolish idols” as proclaimed by the ill-fated Pastor. What we have to jettison at this material point in time are the foreign religions that have played a prominent contributory role towards our physical and mental enslavement.

What we have to do, and we will do eventually, is to throw Jesus Christ and Mohammed that were both silent during our over 500 years of enslavement; that were silent during our half a century colonization; and now still silent as poverty reigns on the land, into the trashcan of history. These religions have never done us any good in actuality. Islam and Christianity are avenues for thieving Pastors and Imans to exist. The national foolishness is the persisting existence of these houses of brainwashing and hoodwinking styled as “houses of God”.

The renowned African American historian, Dr. John Henrik Clarke had said; “Nearly all religion was brought to people and imposed on people by conquerors and used as the framework to control their minds. My main point here is that if you are a child of god and god is a part of you, then in your imagination god is supposed to look like you and when you accept a picture of the deity assigned to you by another people you become the spiritual prisoner of that other people”.

I dare Pastor Sam Adeyemi to call for a public debate and see if a number of his trusted congregation would not shift loyalty when confronted with the denied truth about their religion – Christianity.

The Africans today must drop the European and Arab deities for the purpose of understanding squarely who their true enemies are. The culture of fear today is the fear of Christianity and Islam because of an imaginary “hellfire”. Pastor Sam Adeyemi should remember the Yoruba adage that says; “Eiye ki ipe ki eiye miran ma fo, eiye ti o sowipe ki omiran ma fo nse ni apa re yio da”. Literally, this means “no bird should prevent another bird from flying, any bird that does so would have a broken wing”.

Temitope Maberu-Fagunwa

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