Teribogo, or Papa Davina,
depending on your preference is the wonderful creation of the ingenious mind of
Like him or not, he is your typical Nigerian man of the cloth. He represents everything that this group of people are, and as shown recklessly in the days leading up to the recent elections, sources of confusion, all hearing from the same God different messages. Of course, when we met Teribogo in the Chronicles from the Land of the Happiest People on Earth, he is yet to take his practise to the heightened level that has been achieved by these gods of men.
Teribogo tells his congregants that only the ignorant regard sicknesses as medical conditions when in reality they have spiritual undertones – the work of those camouflaging as friends but are really the spiritual wickedness in high places that Paul wrote to the Ephesians about. And he does have explanations to back it up.
He uses the story of Sarah to illustrate his point. Teribogo will have us believe that Sarah’s bareness was due to envy. Those who envied her success, her demureness, humility and family placed the devil-stone in her womb, causing her barrenness.
We will come back to Teribogo but for now, let’s talk about Opium whose use has a long history with the earliest records dating back to 5,000BC in the Mediterranean. Those who use it, in its different forms, have described a feeling of warmth, loss of anxiety and detachment after use. This is the Opium ‘High’ described as a rush of Euphoria that gives a sense of safety, brings about changes to thoughts and feelings.
Now that you understand this, it becomes easier to understand Karl Marx. Having observed religion at close quarters and aware of the highs that it gives being similar to that of someone on Opium, this German sociologist and economic theorist penned that what has become one of the very significant quotes of our time – “Religion is the opium of the people.“
If you are Nigerian, you probably have come across the words “Nigeria – good people, great nation”. It is the slogan of the country as created by the beautiful mind of Dora Akunyili, her then Minister of Information.
But before becoming the minister of Information, Dora was the daring colossus of our time that treaded where angels had dared not. The markets in Aba and Kano were notorious for the trade in fake drugs, enriching a select few while sending many to their graves early. In one incident in 1989, over 150 children died as a result of using paracetamol syrup containing diethylene glycol.
The task to be done was gargantuan and needed to be done pretty fast to stem the nefarious activities decimating the population. Entered a previously unknown government agency, NAFDAC headed by an also unknown lady -Dora.
Dora Nkem Akunyili had received a Ph.D. in Ethnopharmacology in 1985, so she was well qualified for the job of Director General of the Agency. 8 years after being around as if it didn’t exist, NAFDAC was to undergo some of the most enduring reform seen. She put together a team of mostly female pharmacists and inspectors and started a war against counterfeit drugs that saw many open-air medicine markets across the country closed down, including one in Kano.
From the foregoing, it is evident that this is not only a thoroughbred, extremely experienced, well-educated woman but someone with a deep resolve, conviction and strength on acting on her conviction. Being ravaged by cancer from within, she sought all medical help she could get in her desire to live. The diagnosis gave little hope, her cancer was terminal.
As Jaiyesola Badetona would say to the Gumchi kid in that Soyinka’s book, “when trouble really hits, one turns no matter where, anywhere, for help”,
with a desire to live, at her weakest point, she embarked on a help-seeking journey. At the altar of religion, our lady stood no chance as she was fed with more than sufficient doses of the opium of the masses. And, oh my, the blood-sucking, faith peddling leeches approached, hooked their proboscis in her and started feasting like mosquitoes.
“Have Faith” was the saliva used to dilate her and block her rational immune response. The Teribogo’s of Nigeria approached, telling her of the visitations they have had from God himself that ‘this sickness was not to death’. They asked her to make religious pilgrimages to mountain tops and different holy of holies in their assemblies on the Lagos-Ibadan Express Road. Whatever they asked, she did. They gave her hope and kept her away from family and friends, denying them the opportunity to spend her last hours with them.
She forsook knowledge from years of evidence based medical research as they asked her to trust only in the redemptive mercies of the unseen God. As her life fleets by, they drain her of her finances and in the end abandon her to succumb to the cold hands of death.
These Immaculate Jero like characters, Articulate Heroes of Christ’s Crusade abound all around us. They ask that we dispense with our wisdom and cling tight to faith. And many have fallen and are still falling victims to their ludicrous schemes. One of such is Kehinde, a lady I came to know years ago. A brilliant mind and a well liked person, she was made to abandon the wisdom that is in taking medicines to see the healthcare personnel as witches and blood-sucking demons that she needed to distance herself from. In doing so, she succumbed to death earlier than she probably should have. Another case was that of Nike who developed hypertension and was prescribed the needed anti-hypertensive drugs to be taken daily. She was rebuked by her faith leaders for not having enough faith, an action that led her to abandoning the use of her drugs and led to her paralysis. Many more examples abound.
What is challenging is why people that are versed in making well informed decisions in other areas of their lives suddenly find it difficult to do so when religion is involved? To understand this, taking a cue from prophet Nathan’s visit to King David, a test was devised. The test asks “What will you do in the scenario below?”
A very wealthy man and his family of many children is a close friend. One of his sons had gone ahead to build the man a house, borrowing money that he didn’t have. The son had told you that he built the house at the request of his father who requested an edifice to be constructed to his name.
The bank is after the son, asking for repayment of the money he borrowed along with accumulated interests. The son has approached you, asking for a bail-out to settle the bank. You asked the son to request the funds from his father and he told you that the father has promised to only repay if you bail the son out.
You approach the father, but he would neither refute nor assert the claims of the son.
Everyone that this test was applied on advised that they would avoid bailing the son. This is the pre-God discovery position. When asked to substitute God for father, Pastor for son and Congregation for you in the story , the post-God discovery, the rationality in decision making disappears for some. They would give the money to the son. When asked why? The answer ranges from ‘because of my faith’ to ‘because of the nature of whom the father is’
Isn’t it a wonder that a loving God would create man, give him brains and require him to abandon using it for utmost faith in him? Afterall, isn’t it said that the wisdom of this world is foolishness with God? He then goes ahead to choose the foolish things of the world to confound the wise in the wisdom he has given them?