Who Are the “Evil People” Worrying Nigerians?
By Paul Omoruyi
Some weeks ago, I had a very interesting discussion with a Nigerian lady who just immigrated to the United States. Sitting in their plushy living room decked with resplendent African Arts, her husband and I talked about Nigeria’s affairs while she graciously prepared mouth-watery bitter leaf soup and pounded yam. Intermittently, she would passionately interject into the conversation expressing her opinions about Nigeria.
Out of the blues, she yelled “why would they allow people to know?” shaking her head rather pathetically. A Celebrity Entertainment TV show had just announced that a renowned American star might be pregnant. “Evil people go spoil that piking for her belle now”, she said.
Looking at me with a questionable smile, her husband nodded and said “naija mentality never commot for her body”. That was the beginning of a discussion that went on for another hour as she obdurately tries to convince us about the powers of “evil people”. It appears we were using stone-age anachronistic tools as we tried to recalibrate her mind set.
Hold your thoughts before you get judgmental here. She is simply the product of a society that has profusely inculcated such believes into the hearts and souls of the people. If you have ever stepped into a “typical Nigerian religious gathering” in Nigeria (unfortunately some in the diaspora), you will concur with me that majority of Nigerians live in that “evil people worrying me” world today.
Last year, in an attempt to be open-minded, I decided to fellowship in one of my relative’s place of worship in Nigeria. We arrived at the gathering shortly after Sunday school. From Sunday school’s closure prayer to the end of the preacher’s sermon, it was all about praying against witches; against people that want to see your downfall; against people that have cast a spell against you so that you cannot get pregnant; against your finances and all manners of prayers along that line.
Oh, the testimony time? It will make one almost puke. Nigerians these days give testimonies that range from the abysmal to the most preposterous. Hear this: “I see a big cockroach in my house that I never see before. I know “evil people” sent it to look for me. I try to kill the cockroach but it did not die. After I shouted in prayers, the cockroach come die”. Isn’t that just plain outlandish? Maybe, just maybe, a clean environment would keep the roaches away!
If that does not sound abysmal to you, hear this: “There is this fowl that cries every morning immediately I wake up. One day, I pray pray pray pray that God should kill all those that want to bring crying to my life. Some days ago, motor come kill that fowl. I know all my enemies did not succeed, God has killed them”. Are you kidding me? What in the world is that?
Surprisingly, the people would burst into an earth-quaking genuflection after each of these kinds of outrageous testimonies as they prayed against all the “evil people worrying their lives”.
If everyone in Nigeria’s landscape is praying against “evil people”, then who are these evil people? Sometimes I wonder if they are aliens. Or could it just be the same people gyrating around that is actually “worrying” themselves?
Let me be clear; I consider myself a “born again Christian”. I declare that boldly without any reservation with the understanding that no one is perfect. I have over the years studied the scriptures and understand very well the theological concept of evil forces. It will be callow for me to claim the non-existence of evil powers in the world. But I think Nigerians have taken “evil powers” to a troubling mind-boggling level so much so that their hearts and minds have been piteously exploited. It is what some close observers call “religious escapism from reality”.
“Religious escapism” has made most Nigerians not to take responsibilities for their lives, decisions and actions anymore. They can mismanage their finances and blame it on “evil people”. Some students would not study and blame it on “evil people” when they fail. Some will destroy their marriages by their actions or inactions and cry against “evil people” that have destroyed their marriage.
What about Nigerians that are suffering from common illness (like diabetes, high blood pressure) because of our lifestyle and the kinds of food that we eat? Instead of taking the time to study the cause of the illness, adjust eating habits and change life-style, Nigerians would go on pounded yam eating rampage (like me!) and blame it on “evil people”.
Do we need to talk about those that loss their jobs because of indolent unprofessionalism at the work place and then fault it on “evil people” when they get the pink slip? Sometimes, they make it appear as if these “evil people” are more power than the almighty God.
If you do not want to see Nigerians pray, simply tell them to pray for “God to give them a clean heart, the wisdom and knowledge to act right, make good decisions and choices in life”. The place will be as quiet as a mouse. Alternatively, request to pray “against their enemies and evil people”, then you will see how prayerful Nigerians really are. Even though both are valid prayer points, it tells you what takes precedence in the heart of the people!
As we drove home after that faithful Sunday service, I wanted to know how doctrinally knowledgeable my relative really is. Unfortunately, I was perplexed that after so many years in the church, she does not understand the fundamental concept of redemption, sanctification and justification. How would she understand her earthly responsibilities and God’s? Isn’t that the reason majority of the Nigerian populace are religiously gullible and taking advantage of by those that can appeal to their emotions and sensibilities?
There is no doubt that there are credible and faithful religious figures in our society. I am only worried about the new generation of Nigerian Christians that do not take the time to STUDY their bible themselves (like the bible said about the Berean brethren, Acts 17:11) and read to understand what they profess. Sometimes you ask simple questions, they fall flat. Unable to articulate their faith, they simply say “that’s how we do it in our church”.
Back at my friend’s place, his wife held convincingly to her believes that a child in the womb can be changed to an animal by “evil people”. I would confess that she won the debate because we could not persuade her otherwise!
In the Islamic part of the country, politicians have hijacked religion to brainwash young men and women into becoming “killer machines” against “evil people”. Every Nigerian can tell the result by the carnage of Boko Haram. I guess there are “evil people worrying” those Northern Nigerians too!
Instead of being fixated on “evil people”, it is time for Nigeria religious leaders to start teaching Nigerians again the core value of faith: love thy neighbor as thy self, tolerance, goodness and mercy, peace, etc. But one thing is certain, the consequence of religious ignorance and lack of knowledge can be more devastating than the seemingly effect of “evil people” worrying Nigerians. As the bible rightly said “my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”. Spread the word and share your opinions.
God bless Nigerians and may God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria.
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