• Sunday, May 19, 2024
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Religious charlatanism in Nigeria and Odumeje’s dangerous comic relief

Religious charlatanism in Nigeria and Odumeje’s dangerous comic relief

Nobody can deny the fact that Pastor Chukwuemeka Ohanemere’s religious displays are comic relief for millions of Nigerians who are experiencing severe economic hardship. Pastor Ohanaemere (aka Odumeje) is the pastor of a church in Nigeria. At a time, the commercialization as well as the bastardization of Christianity have led pastors and clergymen to perform religious mumbo-jumbo and hocus-pocus to achieve their diverse egoistical and pecuniary ends.

Christianity, which is one of the religions in our world, is said to be a human creation. And religion is defined as the way in which the peoples of the world try to reach their gods or gods. Beside Christianity, we have other religions, namely Taoism, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Shintoism, African Traditional Religion, and others. Each of these religions has a founder and a body of laws and teachings to which the adherents of that religion adhere.

Christianity is one of the best-known and most popular religions in the world. It was founded about two thousand years ago by the followers of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, as we all know, was the only begotten son of God and the ransom for our sins. Today, millions of people from diverse races around the world profess the Christian faith. And, in Christendom, we have many different sects in Christianity. Among them are the Jehovah Witnesses, the Roman Catholics, members of the Anglican Church, members of the Seventh Day Adventists, and others.

“The Christian clerics, especially the pentecostal pastors, propagate the prosperity message at the expense of scriptural passages that exhort us to live righteous and holy lives, which will guarantee us entrance into the kingdom of God when we die.”

Again, it should be noted that there are nuances in the doctrinal teachings and beliefs of the many different Christian religious sects; however, the foundation of their teachings is based on love. The Bible, which is the holy book of Christians, says that “love covers a multitude of sins.” It is said in the Bible that whoever loves his brother has fulfilled the commandments of God.

But today’s Christians, especially the Christian clerics, are putting the practice of Christianity to very bad use. They do not set aside the teachings and God’s commandments that border on holiness, righteousness, faithfulness, and charity. Neither do their sermons dwell on the reality or otherwise of heaven and hell.

The Christian clerics, especially the pentecostal pastors, propagate the prosperity message at the expense of scriptural passages that exhort us to live righteous and holy lives, which will guarantee us entrance into the kingdom of God when we die. The prosperity messages, which they propagate and spread, have continued to erode the moral fabric of our society, advertising the minds of impressionable young people to unscrupulous ways of making money.

Consequently, there is a high incidence of crimes in Nigeria. On a daily basis, people commit acts of homicide and carry out armed robbery operations. Across the states in Nigeria, kidnapping rich people for ransom has become a thriving business and pastime for some evil-minded Nigerians. And even security personnel are being ambushed and killed by bandits, insurgents, and terrorists. Has Nigeria not become an ungoverned space?

So it is evident to us that our religious leaders have failed in their onerous task of effecting moral regeneration among the people of Nigeria so as to direct them to the right path. Religion as an agent of socialisation can be utilised to reform the minds of our maladjusted young people and set them on the path of moral rectitude. Sadly, however, the reverse occurs in Nigeria today.

Instead of performing the roles that were assigned to them based on their ecclesiastical calling, they are obsessed with acquiring wealth at any cost. So the church founders in Nigeria, who are stupendously rich, fly in private jets, drive in posh cars, and own expensive houses in big cities around the world, But members of their churches are the dirt poor, who live on the margins of society and scavenge in refuse dumps for leftovers, which they will eat. The pastors exploit their naivety, vulnerability, and ignorance to fleece them of their hard-earned money.

But the indisputable fact is that most of the so-called Christian clerics are religious charlatans and Mountebanks. And they lay claims to possessing spiritual powers when they are, in fact, sorely afflicted with spiritual aridity and moral vacuity. Again, they do contrive miracles and perform religious mumbo-jumbo and hocus-pocus to deceive the credulous people in our society, who turn to them for help.

Happily, now, Nigerians are becoming aware of the antics and modus operandi of the religious dupers and con men who abound in Nigeria. In the midst of all this religious fakery and charlatanism has arisen Pastor Chukwuemeka Ohanaemere (aka Odumeje). The petite man of God, Odumeje, who has a church in Onitsha, is more than a handful. In videos on Facebook, he would be seen administering healings to people who were afflicted with all manner of illnesses. His healing sessions, which are comical in nature, are interspersed with his acrobatic displays and relapses into glossolalia utterances.

It is an indisputable fact that Pastor Odumeje is a delight to watch, as his displays make people double up with laughter. And his introduction of religious neologisms—”Idabonsky Bahose” and “Abidu Shaker”—into our religious register and mispronunciation of words—malapropism—have become his identity markers. So there is little doubt that Odumeje’s performances are comic relief for millions of down-trodden Nigerians, who earn their livelihoods by toiling in the sun and rain on a daily basis.

Sadly, however, Odumeje’s religious programme as well as the musical concert, which took place in London, was the apotheosis of religious idiocy. It’s the desecration of the sacredness of God’s words, which are contained in the Bible. And the atmosphere of solemnity that pervades the places of worship was non-existent where Odumeje performed and preached the word of God. And he had no aura of ecclesiastical gravitas or piety while he was performing.

But the good news is that Pastor Odumeje is gradually coming to realise that he has the makings of a comedian. And he should be encouraged to take a shot at comedy instead of trivialising and bastardising the practice of Christianity through his act of uttering gibberish and jabbering, which he mistakes for glossolalia. His invention of neologism and his committing of the error of malapropism—through laughter-inducing—should be frowned upon because they are unsuitable for propagating biblical teachings.

Chiedu Uche Okoye; Uruowulu-Obosi: Anambra State. 08062220654. Okoye is a poet.