Editor’s note: The internet was agog recently with pictures of a Catholic priest dancing with masquerades in Ukpor Nnewi, Anambra state. Many criticised the priest for associating with the traditionalists, saying it was wrong an not in line with Christian values.

In this opinion, media executive, Tobenna Obiano points out that the comments by many who reacted to the pictures were intolerant and ignorant.


Obiano says no religion is better than the other

Obiano says no religion is better than the other

Read the insightful piece below:

I had read through what this young man wrote and decided to offer him what I usually offer many who choose to come to a public domain to showcase how intolerant and misinformed or uninformed or perhaps ignorant they may be. I should have given him a red card straight away.

Well, it would become wholly unbecoming of me and perhaps wrong if I leave him in a state of an unidentified self-lost, misconceptions and helpless to hapless state of mind, thought and person. I can’t let him be, without bettering him. Obviously, even without knowing it, he needs some help. Infact, he needs serious help.

As a matter of concern and laying facts bare, never ever allow your deceptions, misconceptions, ignorance and particularly, hate to ever becloud your common sense of reasoning or of judgement.

Priests freely participate in cultural activities in Igbol and

Priests freely participate in cultural activities in Igbol and

Hear this today and take it as I say it, no religion is better than the other. Not Catholicism, Not Pentecostalism including Anglicanism and others in her class. Not Islam, Not Buddhism and obviously not African Traditional worship or Idolatry.

Yes, history tells us about advent of Christianity and how the Roman Catholicism took charge after the early Christians and then followed by the Church of England or Anglicanism which was a breakaway from Catholicism because the Royals needed a male child and for choice of taking another wife. No second wife remains the choice of Catholics and no wives for their religious, the priests and no husbands or the Sisters ordained.

Before I continue, most of those letters in the Bible from St. Paul et al were written from or to early Christians in Turkey which obviously had a large percentage of Christianity, today, over 90% of the populace are Muslims. It was a radical turn of events. It can happen anywhere even in our Nigeria. If they, Muslims can overtake Turkey which had a deep rooted Christianity, who are we as Nigerians?

Some of the cultural activities in Igboland are interpreted incorrectly by many

Some of the cultural activities in Igboland are interpreted incorrectly by many

For the records, the founder of Facebook and perhaps youngest richest in the world today, Mark Zuckerberg does not believe in God. This does not make him any worse. Muhammad Ali the world best known fighter, may the Lord repose his soul strongly believes in God. We all must not be as Holy as the Holy Sea, but whatsoever we believe should guide us, while we respect others and their choices.

As a young secondary school boy, I wanted to become a Catholic Priest and that informed my many decisions while growing up. I was born into a deeply religious Catholic home with an Uncle a Priest, a Cousin a Priest and perhaps, if I had remained there, I might be ordained to the Priesthood in about three to five years from now together with another cousin of mine who shares a common baptismal name as myself. I wish him well in that call to service of God and the rest of mankind and life of celibacy. Well, the call is not always for all. God wanted me elsewhere for His choice reason and I am happy with my progress thus far.

While at Tansi International College, Awka, the secondary school I attended which is situated in Awka, the Anambra State capital, which still ranks amongst the best secondary schools even up until this day, I was in atiliogwu dance troupe and we did all these wonder gymnastics that seems undoable. I was a champion in those. The flips, summersaults, acrobatics, name it, we did it all. There were other several dance troupes, but I guess ours was the most strenuous and hard to learn because it was usually very quick dance steps and many “magics”. There was Igba Enyi and there was Igba mmanwu.

Those who understand the meanings do not have any qualms participating

Those who understand the meanings do not have any qualms participating

Now, Igba Mmanwu troupe is those who perform with the Masquerades. I would have forgiven you as ignorant if you were to be a young girl, because as ndi Igbo, women do not know how Masquerades come into be. They come from the underworld and obviously, even as a young Igbo man, you do not know. This is class ignorance on your part. An eight to twelve years old boy knows where mmanwu, the spirit masquerade comes from, but you, no, it is Alusi or Shrine or from the Deity.

Now, the Igbo’s say, “ihe amuru amu ka ihe agworo agwo nma”, which when looosely translated means: practice makes perfect or for a wider definition, what is well learnt and practiced is always and often better than what is often made to be magics or make ups. Series of strenuous practices, with trails an failures made those things you see there perfect.

As a people, should we wholly throw away our cultural heritage, norms and core values, sacrificing same on the altar that the white man’s religion has gotten here, no, never!

The signs have connotations that reverberate around Igboland

The signs have connotations that reverberate around Igboland

In Nigeria, a young girl had met with me and while she spoke in what is often referred to as phonetics, she not only murdered the English language. The English Queen and Britain would obviously mourn, had they heard what this young lady was speaking under the pretense to showcase class and prove who and what she is not. I asked her what she scored in Englis for WASSC, she managed to score a Credit. I made an A and I have a mother tongue I prefer. I have also been to lunch and just next to my table was two young persons obviously out on a date; to eat common fried rice with salad,m and chicken, instead of our conventional spoon, it took the young girl over fifteen minutes to decide the choice side of her culteralies, sadly the fork was on the right and the knife on the left. Imagine that!

Even in those resident in Onitsha and surprisingly Aba, unbelievably, parents insist on their kids to speak nothing but English. They also wouldn’t allow anyone speak our native Igbo to them, why? Because it is not classy and it shows they are from the village. Here aboard, I have met somany persons who obviously know that I am Nigerian by my dress sense or when on calls, yet they begin with phonetics and speak rubbish.

I have decided to ignore many and choose to rubbish some, I could respond in words I know they may never know the meaning. I once responded to someone, a fellow Igbo, “you know we as Igbo’s are the most peripatetic set of people in the world”. She looked at me, obviously lost. I continued, am sure you know the meaning. She responded ofcourse and I asked her what it means, her responds should shock you. Let’s leave for another day.

The priests have long been practicing these cultural activities and it does not impede their relationship with God

The priests have long been practicing these cultural activities and it does not impede their relationship with God

During the Papacy of His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI, at his first visit to the American soil as Pope and leader of over 1.6 billion Catholics globally in New York City where he celebrated mass to a large crowd. Something near magical happened. I watched this through CNN from my fathers house with my parents and some other guests who had visited us.

During the time for the prayer of the faithful, a selected few had been prepared most likely before hand to pray on behalf of the congregation. Lo and behold, they were to pray in various languages to showcase diversity, backgrounds, heritage, rich cultures and yet oneness under one God. That is for me, speaking in tongues in its truest form.

Behold this elegant and richly dressed black woman with African bubba and wrapper with the extra large head tie often called canopy. She prayed in typical Igbo izugbe. I and everyone who watched this couldn’t believe our eyes. She made our day and the memory still lingers on in my mind till this day. We couldn’t have been more excited and proud of this woman. In unison, we shouted “Amen” as she concluded. This happened before the whole world in New York City, USA during the Pope’s first official visit . It’s verifiable!

priest 6

Obiano says we must remember that heaven only helps those who help themselves

As a people, what we treasure is what others respect. What we call our dog, it answers. We must therefore remember that heaven only helps those who help themselves. Again, it is only in the dictionary of mediocres that success comes before hardwork; it should be the other way round. And so, we must as a matter of fact, take the lead in appreciating our own before others would see the good in them. We must be proud of our own.

I was challenged to write a novel in a competition under the watch of former Governor Peter Obi. I told the challenger that I won’t just write a novel, I am going to write same in Igbo language. I did and today, the novel is selling in virtually all the schools in my home state of Anambra as it was approved by the State Ministry of Education for use in schools.

The African Traditional worship which our fore fathers worshipped served them well. They served the Alusi, Deity and Shrine with all their hearts and dedication and it yielded positive results. People of the olden days lived far longer and happier than people of today. You dare not commit any crime, else Amadioha would knock you down.

READ ALSO: How this church wedded 80 couples in just one day (photos)

Today, the internet world, the jet age, the globalised community had taken its tool, where even girls of 12 years are turning porn stars, boys of 15 as cultists do handle guns, the youth engage in internet fraud and prostitution taking same as in vogue. Small girls left their mothers kitchen and drink more than their fathers. Parents now draw tattoos like it’s no man’s business.

Nowadays, every clown holds up the Holy Bible and swear and oath, begin with our “misleaders” during their swearing into office et al and commit various crimes, particularly looting unperturbed. Ask them why, they would quote the Bible to buttress their fact, reminding you that God is a merciful God! Try such rubbish with the god of old, that god would make your life either miserable or your very existence to be referred to in the past tense.

Not too long ago, one of my closest friend of all times was born a Catholic but choose Pentecostalism. As good friends, we never allow our religious backgrounds to come in between our friendship. Whenever he visits, I escort him to his Pentecostal church, stay a while with them and leave him for my Catholic which is some distance from his.

We were to go take an exam and while on the way, he reminded me that we needed to pray. I told him I have prayed privately, Urnell wouldn’t give up. We have to pray again. Okay, we agreed, but it’s obviously not gonna be from me, but unless we would say the prayer of St. Joseph of Curpertino for success. It was a  o for my friend who insists that St. Joseph is dead and so can do nothing for us at the moment. He though agreed that as a saint, he must have lived a Holy life and would be in heaven with God; he then asked why don’t we pray to God directly instead of using “dead” Saint Joseph. I am not given to unnecessarily debates and since, he choose we pray directly to God, we have it his way and later, in private I ask for the miraculous intervention of my Saint Joseph.

There is this my town’s man who I often respect even though the oga knows clearly that I am one no nonsense young man who wouldn’t wait a second to hit back if I am dared. We have been friends on Facebook and one thing with me is that I mind my business. Oga wouldn’t mind his. Anytime I profess my faith proudly in whatsoever manner, oga comments in passing or updates and tags me that as Catholics we are worshipping images or idolatry. He is my senior brother so to say and he deserves my every respect, what can I do. I felt bad most times with his stands against mine, but I ignore.

I was not his only victim. A few days ago, when another kinsman of mine, a very dedicated Catholic who he had dared same thing he has been doing with me and I kept ignoring. This time, this kinsman of mine still on same FB wouldn’t take it, he remarked respectfully that he should allow him to his own believe and believe in whatsoever he prefers, and if he dares show such intolerance in his wall, Delete is assured!

When I saw that update, I felt like singing and dancing; not necessarily because of the way this second townsman of mine sounded but because someone else wouldn’t take what I have all this while entertained for the sake of respect.

We are who or what or where we are as a matter of circumstance and privilege not usually as a right. If I was to be born into the Sultan of Sokoto Family and Usman Dan Fodio lineage, I must be a Muslim. If I were to be a Chinese, chances are that I would be a Buddhist. As an American, I may believe in absolutely nothing but science. As an English, I might be an Anglican. These are possibilities.

As have been shown by this young man, why he choose to input what he knows nothing about and round it up with an abysmal show of ignorance. Obviously, he wants or chooses to spread hate and divisionalism. Assuming he is a Pentecostal, if we agree as he had wrongfully claimed that Catholicism has caged the Igbo’s, then we must accept also that Pentecostalism has misled the entire Southern part of Nigeria running through West, East and South. And religion has finished the rest of Africa.

I have friends from different religious backgrounds and I can say proudly that they are amazing people. The Muslims, the traditional Idol worshippers, the Anglicans, the other Pentecostal churches and I am a proud Catholic. I do not allow my believe to distort my choice of right and wrong or choice of people to deal with. I love Catholicism and I pray to live and die in same.

READ ALSO: Why I will not allow women become priests – Pope Francis

While practicing mine, I respect their every stand and choice to the later. Bible would save Christians, Koran would save Muslims while Offor would save traditional idol worshippers. Anything outside this thought is intolerance and that’s extreme radicalism. If you practice same, then you are no better than those who kill others in the name of religion.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the editorial policy of Naij.com.

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