My principled father used to regularly recite a poem that I did not make much about, or give a passing thought to, whilst growing up. It read somewhat: Help the poor, if you are rich. Protect the weak, if you are strong. Hold your tongue, if you are angry. Hope lies a-hed!
In hindsight, one could easily see what relevance the poem has in our world, with regards to the fast-paced events occurring in it. Also, we can configure the salient point of the Christian message, especially within the economy of salvation. God’s message or rather command to Adam played out its full significance after the fall of Man. Will all the imperfections and incongruity in life, mankind needs to live a life that is more nearly as close as possible to the one that Chukwu Okike Abiama (God) pointed out in the Garden. For all fingers are not equal. And so, as Cain belatedly realised, we have to be our brothers or sisters’ keepers. And with this kind of life in place, peace and prosperity will prevail in all the world.
But this is as far as speculation about the better life goes. Much as we can’t get enough of the Good news, nor mistake the actual intentions of God for mankind, we have a contrasting situation where the political structure evokes too much religious sensibility, for alternative reasons. And that is relatively just all about it. Especially in the Nigerian case, which is vastly complicated.
At the coming of the Son of Chukwu Okike Abiama, humanity, especially the poor, seemed to have been thrown a huge lifeline, as Yeshua Ha Masshiah plotted to rescue the poor, blind, deaf, lame, oppressed and all sorts of people in less privileged positions . It started with a message of hope and joy expressed to a cross section of the society that was deemed one of the very lowliest. And one might rightly ask: what were the handful of shepherds doing late at night and out there in the fields ? It was in connection with their flocks. But that is not the right answer to give. Why at night? For even in the South of Nigeria, the Cattle Fulani are not afraid of grazing in broad daylight.
In Israel, pastoral farming was common. Either cattle or sheep, as well as others. But twice in the year there was what was called the Lambing (I nearly typed Lamborghini !) Season. In Spring and Winter, the sheep were expecting to expel their young ones. And Bethlehem, being literally the place of bread, offered many shepherds an irresistible gift. After the harvest, the farmers who cultivated wheat, barley and similar grains left a sizeable amount in the fields for shepherds to feed their livestock. It also compensated for the manure and clearing that the said farmers should have provided or taken care of. For as the said livestock fed on the farms, they equally dropped their animal waste on the farms and ate up what the farmers would have had to clear, or at least, much of it.
As the time was ripe for the sheep to give birth to their young ones, the shepherds, or a selection of them for each herd of livestock, had to watch over them, in order to assist them during birth, which usually took a good dose of time and could encounter complications.
This was why the shepherds kept awake for such a long time at night, but we would never understand whether it was bravado, excitement or callousness that made them to decide to go up to the part of Bethlehem to see for themselves what wonderful experience God had prepared for His oppressed people in general, and the poor and lowly, in particular.
We could however see that the said glad tidings of great joy were soon truncated by the political class which does not, as ever, wish to go on the back foot or burner. (Herod Abba K. nakwa echecki o). And since then, the poor and marginalised groups have found out that they can not activate the guarantee that the angel bore in his goodwill message, as offered by Chukwu Okike Abiama. And for all sorts of reasons, hell has been let loose in all the world. Why, for instance, are white Australians New Zealanders and Canadians classified as Ex Parte citizens, whilst their black counterparts are seen as immigrants, even if they co-existed at the same time ? Why were white slaves in America and elsewhere called Indentured Slaves and had the option of purchasing their freedom after seven years of servitude? And why did their black counterparts remain slaves till kingdom come? If not for the abolition which was prompted by the Industrial Revolution, which in turn was made possible by the largest haul of money or wealth, arising from the slave trade, which implied unpaid labour.
And now in Imo, a likely hope has risen in the horizon, after the short-lived reign of the fantastic Emeka Ihedioha, who in many ways restored the gait and swag that was common to the Imolites, who so cherish equal rights and justice. For Hope, and as Obasanjo said at Murtala’s death, he should say of Ihedioha: I can pay him no better tribute than to continue in the spirit with which he has ruled this country, and that of simple dedication. Also Read: Governor Ihedioha Replies Fr Mbaka