‘The religion industrial complex’ Blessing or curse for Africa?
Have you noticed that in lieu of any firm commitment from many people, they’d tell you “Se Nyame boa a”? (In Akan, If God is willing …).
As clear as daylight, their obligation to perform may be shaky, and the intent unreliable — so why do they culturally and habitually use God’s name in vain?
On yet another occasion, you may be told this: “God willing, I’d be there between 8 am and 9 am”.
Then your phone rings about 10am and now you’re asked: “Will you still be there around 12 noon? God willing, I’d be there by Ipm.”
This story of a people’s noble belief, on one hand, and the ignoble backslidings on the other; of its inspiring faith and its failure to live up to that faith; is the story of a society incapable of grasping the full fusion of God and the truth; thereby, this whole godly thing is rendered a façade, and destroys a culture.
I tend to cite an incident in Zurich, Switzerland – some years back – where a hotel concierge checked my flight details for the next day and said, “Sir, a taxi will pick you up at 11.59 am to the airport”.
And to my utter surprise the phone rang in my hotel room exactly at 11:59 the next morning. The taxi had arrived.
Unbelievable precision! And to think the Swiss are not as church going as Ghanaians; and moreover, you’d not hear even a whisper of God’s name in your interaction with them! But they lived up to the truth of the word.
At the airport, my elder daughter happened to feel a gnawing pain in one ear. I asked an airport attendant for help.
She dialed a number, spoke to someone on the line briefly, and then said, “A medic would be here in five minutes to help out.”
Within the five minutes not only did a medic arrive attired in white for easy identification but had with him a syringe.
With that, he squirted water in the ailing ear, and soon enough a caked wax fell out of that ear. For good measure, he attended to the other ear as well.
Who are we fooling?
A friend sent me the following WhatsApp message recently. It went like this: “China is currently the world's leading economic power. In China, there is almost Zero Church presence .
“Finland has the most stable economy in the world today. There are less than 20 churches in Finland.
Sow-to-prosper doesn't work in Finland. Switzerland has the second most stable economy in the world. Switzerland has fewer than 30 churches. Miracle money is not welcome in Switzerland.
“Denmark is the third most stable economy in the world; there are about 23 churches in Denmark. Denmark doesn't pray for its economic stability.
These countries are considered to have the highest number of atheists, but they are prosperous.”
Korle Bu emergency ward
The news of the Gambian medical delegation to learn from Ghana (Daily Graphic, August 3, 2021) reminded me of an experience with a Gambian medical doctor who was interning at Korle Bu Hospital.
He happened to be at the emergency ward when I went to see him. It was not a pretty sight there.
Very sick people were scattered on the floor, many consumed in pain and some literally gasping for the last breath.
Noticing my horror, he lamented :“A lot of this could have been averted, but first they went to their “spiritual” healers, and when that didn’t work, they were taken to prayer camps. By the time they are brought here finally, it too late.”
Need for succour
One can understand man’s need for succour, but be they matters of health, marital relationships, etc. why not go to the right people in the first place?
In many cases “false prophets” are having a field day enriching themselves at the expense of the vulnerable.
And as they say, good people stand by, aloof, and do nothing, thereby holding the whole religion industry as suspects. Institutional checks and balances are truly in order to save the vulnerable.
There was an occasion when an assistant was so fast asleep at her desk that when the phone rang, she couldn’t hear it.
I proceeded to answer the phone and that was when she finally jolted. The eyes were red and dazed.
As it happened, she had gone to an all-night prayer vigil for a praising and singing spree, her voice had collapsed, and what was left of it were some creaky sounds.
I must have offered that she went back home to clear her sleep arrears and restore her vocal cords.
And to think this episode happened on a brand-new Monday morning, at the very dawn of the work week!
There are “born again” priests, prophets, and prayer bulldozers professing to not only have seen God face to face, but actually had breakfast with Him.
And people believe these wondrous things!
Back to Africa
A reader of this column forwarded me a message. It might have been hyperbolic but revealed some stubborn truths.
It said in Africa, there are thousands of churches per region “including 4,000 churches in the city of Yaoundé alone! Yet poverty is driving Cameroonians to even other poor countries. About 4,100 churches in only the city of Abidjan!
“Seven thousand churches in only the city of Kinshasa! 10,000 churches in only the city of Lagos in Nigeria! Lagos is just one state out of 36 states that make up Nigeria. Yet Nigerians are leading the world in corruption and crimes.
“In Africa, we have more churches than schools and hospitals combined! More pastors than doctors. Everyone is born again yet crimes are on the increase. Everyone is covered with the blood of Jesus yet accidents happen on our bad roads.
“Everyone is filled with the Holy Spirit yet our morals are depreciating in geometric progression. Africa's religiosity does not reflect on the morals that is hoped for in a society.”
“Our people need to distinguish between religion and […] or between spirituality and brainwashing! Meditate on this. Hoping Africans will shine their eyes and put religion where it truly belongs.”
The writer is a trainer of teachers, a leadership coach, a motivational speaker and quality education advocate.