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Swimming in superstition

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Muslim pilgrims / AFP PHOTO / AHMAD GHARABLI

In those days, when there were no churches and mosques in this part of the world, certain superstitious beliefs and practices held sway.

Killing of twins, burying of dead pregnant women, people who drowned and people who fell from palm trees and died in the so-called evil forest were some of those superstitious practices that were expunged from the system through the instrumentality of the Church missionaries.

Since then, the gods and the ancestors have neither protested nor exerted their wrath on us. One of the effects of the activities of the missionaries was the spread of God’s word, which culminated in the founding of Churches.

At the moment, the number of Churches in this country is increasing at a rapid rate and in a short period, will outnumber the entire population of the country.

In view of the presence of the Church in every nook and cranny and our much vaunted faith in God, it is expected that superstition should naturally come to a minimal level or at best be pushed into oblivion.

But the reverse is the case. A man claims that his father, who passed away and buried about 10 years ago is responsible for his inability to make headway in life. According to him, his late father threatened to deal with him if he was not given a proper burial.

This proper burial implies organizing a revelry, featuring a lot of drinks, animals and food. The man is contemplating to sell the only piece of land his late father inherited from his ancestors to realize it.

Is it not irrational and unprogressive to sell what can be used to better the lives of the living to bury the dead? To cap it all, the dead man did not give his son a befitting training that will enhance his chances of securing a good job.

His siblings are also denied such opportunity. One of the daughters, after dropping out of the primary school due to lack of money for school fees, ran to a man and their whereabouts is unknown. Another lives in their house with three children from three men. The remaining three boys are parasites.

It is, therefore, mere superstition borne out of sheer ignorance for someone to think or accept that the dead can haunt the living for not burying it properly.

Is it not idolatry when many people venerate and offer sacrifices to creatures they consider sacred and untouchable. The people believe that if sacrifices are not offered them, certain calamities will be meted out to them.

If any of the so-called sacred creatures is inadvertently killed, it will be buried like a human being. In spite of their beliefs and sacrifices, do the people not experience some misfortunes?

I visited one of my acquaintances in his residence surrounded by big trees. Half way into our discussions, he heard the hooting of an owl on one of the trees. ‘Something terrible is about to happen,’ he said, panicking.

All my efforts to convince him that a mere noise of a creature can’t spell doom for the people were abortive. ‘A member of this village will die soon,’ he concluded, still panicking.

In some areas, before a corpse is buried, the oracles must be consulted to ascertain the acceptability or otherwise of the corpse. If the land rejects it, the so-called evil forest will be the next option.

It is believed that in the case of rejection and the people defy it and bury the corpse in the land, a severe calamity will be visited on them. I asked a friend who hails from that area the reason for this superstitious belief and practice. ‘I don’t know,’ he confessed, ‘it is an age-long tradition that is practiced mostly in the villages and I don’t believe in it.’

It is highly ludicrous to swim in these superstitious practices in spite of our much-vaunted faith in God. To cap it all, in some churches today, superstitious practices also prevail.

Going to the Church with pictures of some people, padlock and keys, salt, brooms and other objects for prayers is mere superstition, which negates the teachings of Jesus Christ. If we claim to be children of the Almighty God, then it behoves us to get rid of superstition. It is ungodly. No person can serve two masters at a time.

Udodilim Ijeoma, is a public affairs analyst, wrote from Sapele, Delta State


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