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THE INVASION OF FUNKY PASTORS SERIES, PART 3

NOTE: This blog was uploaded here recently in 2021 because this is a new site. However, it was first published in 2016 on different platforms.

This, is No Bullshitting!

And, this is the third in my series on THE INVASION OF THE FUNKY PASTORS, and their battle against the African Culture. I have generally touched on the fact that peoples of the world campaign for the global acceptance of their cultures, apparently with the exception of the Africans, particularly Nigerians. Indeed, whereas the other races are actually beginning to appreciate Africa’s cultural elements and artifacts, we the Africans are increasingly shunning and destroying them. This edition speaks specifically on the shunning of the African languages and names by Christians in Nigeria.

I have also addressed the fact that the contemporary world has witnessed remarkable changes in intercultural interaction in the past twenty years or so. There is increase in mutual respect for one another’s culture in global intercultural encounters. From an African perspective, one of the best things that have come out of this global inter-cultural revolution is happening among African American youths, who are increasingly becoming proud to be associated with Africa. One particular boy that punched my nose in Houston Texas back in 1979 for calling him African, would probably buy me a drink today for that same reason; because, unlike then, he is now probably proud to be African. He has probably joined the African American growing trend of adopting African names; he has probably given his own children some African names. Yes, indeed, many adult African Americans have replaced their original first (western) names with African names, and others have actually replaced both their first and last names with African names. Dr. Molefi Kete Asante, founder of Afro-centric Philosophical Movement” is one prominent example. Indeed, for the purpose of this treatise, it is noteworthy that many Caucasian Americans and Brits now bear African names, too.

I am going somewhere with this line of statements, you know; they are taking me to my primary thesis question, thus:—if other peoples of the world are actually taking up African names in appreciation of the African Culture; how could some Africans shun African names, in the name of Christ? Yes, indeed; I have heard of Catholic Ministers inside Africa who insist that African names are not good enough for Christians? Mind you, I am not talking about European Catholic Ministers in Africa, no sir; I speak of Africans inside Africa!

Once upon a day in the year 2004, a young marital couple had a child in a remote village in Africa; my village actually. The couple, who are Catholic, went to their Catholic Priest to baptize their new baby, and the Reverend Father flatly declined. Why? I will tell you; the couple’s intended name for their baby was African, and the Reverend Father declared that he would not have anything to do with it. He rejected the baby’s name simply because it was African, regardless what it says or means. The couple’s chosen Igbo tribal name for the baby was “Chukwuka,” which means the Almighty God is Supreme. It did not matter to the Reverend that the name venerates and glorifies God in a God-given African language. He is African, but he is convinced that African names are un-Godly, no matter what they say. As far as the Minister was concerned, and probably is still concerned, a Christian has to bear a Latin or English name of a Saint. Sadly, to my dear misguided Reverend Father, a child with a meaningless English name is better off than a child with an African name that venerates God or Christ!!! What a myopic, ignorant, Eurocentric crap!

Mind you, a lot of people bearing the names of saints commit armed robberies, murders, and other atrocities every day, but our dear Reverend seemed or still seems to believe that names possess intrinsic (inherent) values, and the value must be English, Hebrew, or Latin. He believes that a child with a meaningless English name, or the name of a saint, grows up a better Christian than one with an African name that venerates God or Christ. Now, anybody with such mindset is simply confused; I don’t care if it is the Pope himself, or the Archbishop of Canterbury. A Christian’s emphasis in naming should be to venerate and glorify Christ and God in one form or another, and in any language or culture. God understands all languages. He made and owns all the languages, for Chrissakes! And, He does not see one language or culture to be more legitimate than the other. Indeed, God is just as much African as He is European, or Jewish, or Latino.

 The errant Eurocentric Reverend was very serious about his view, you know! He actually refused to officiate or even attend any naming ceremony where the child was to bear any Igbo name; and the son of Adam is an Igbo man himself! I truly regret that I didn’t have the opportunity to confront him with my cousin whose Christening he refused to officiate; I would have told him to his face—very respectfully, mind you—to take his nonsensical doctrine and shove it! If we all follow his and similar doctrines of some clerics and the new-wave born-again Christians, then very soon every Christian in Nigeria will be named John, Mathew, Mary, and the names of the other few saints in the bible. The resultant name-identity crisis would reflect the American comedy movie titled, “Ed, Edd, and Eddy.” Everybody’s name in the community would be the same or similar to the next guy. Who knows, maybe we would all start to behave alike, too. And if the ignorant Christians get their way, we shall all start to behave like the white man, forsaking everything that makes us African and Nigerian, and, for no good reason whatsoever! And then, we shall all wake up one day very soon behaving like a bunch of white people, or, indeed, a bunch of misfits caught in confusion between the white and the African cultures, because we would not be good in one or the other. Indeed, thanks to misguided Christians, the ‘Ways of Our Life,’ otherwise known as Culture, is in Clear and Present Danger of extinction!

Surely, there are African names that may not be good for a Christian. Naturally, any discerning Christian would not bear names that venerate smaller African gods, for instance. Incidentally, I have a born-again Christian friend that changed his surname in 2006 from Ogundipe to Oluwaseyi. Ogundipe is Yoruba name that venerates Ogun, the Yoruba god of iron, and Oluwaseyi means “God Has Done This.” When my friend saw “the light,” he discarded the un-Christian idolatry name and adopted another vernacular name that venerates the Almighty God. My friend, Jide Oluwaseyi, is a pastor, but he did not betray his culture like our dear Catholic Reverend would want him to. The ‘wrong’ in his old name was done by his ancestors who picked the name in the years long gone. He decided to right the wrong, and he replaced the bad name with a better African name of Christian value. He did not adopt a Caucasian name just because one African name was bad. No, sir! If one African name is bad or un-Christian, then a Christian should replace it with another African name that venerates Christ or God. We are not supposed to forsake our culture, period!

There is one thing which we, the Africans, should inform other peoples about African names—they are always sentences, and phrases. Maybe, to be on the safe side, I should put it differently—I am yet to come across any African name that is not a phrase or a full sentence. Some names venerate or talk about God, smaller gods, humans and other beings; others describe events, phenomena or situations. Essentially, Africans most often choose names that are relevant to the happenings of the time when the baby is born. Very often, the name is just one single word, but when translated into English, that single word is most likely to be a sentence, or at least a meaningful phrase shortened from a sentence.

Let’s illustrate with my own vernacular name of the Igbo tribe of Nigeria—”Nnadozie.” It is a phrase of two words—Nna (father) & Dozie (repair), and it literally translates to father repairs (amends). The father here is the Almighty Father (God). Hence the name is God Repairs, or God amends. Now, the phrase is only part of a sentence, but anybody from the Igbo tribe understands the meaning even without the second part of the sentence. Expatiated, it says that when anything wrong happens, it is God that amends or repairs the situation. The name is actually a little ambiguous in application, because it could be said as a general statement that: God does the repairing of broken situations; or it could be said as a prayer to God asking Him to repair or amend a particular broken situation. I have a friend also named Nnadozie. The story behind his naming is that there was a situation in his family when he was born, and his name was actually a prayer asking God to repair the bad situation using the new innocent baby as a point of contact.

Now, how about African languages; are we proud of our languages; are Nigerian’s in particular proud of our languages? I will not dwell much on this now, because it is not really relevant in the present discourse. My present focus is the impact of the new-wave of misguided born-again Christianity on the African Culture; and, I have to admit that funky pastors and their new-wave born-againism are not responsible for the increasing tendency to relegate vernacular languages in Nigeria. But you can be sure that I will get to the causes of this language-extinction malady in due course. Meanwhile, I can tail you that my Igbo race is probably the most culpable in the malady! It is my clear opinion that the Hausas and the Yorubas (the other two dominant races or tribes) are more proud of their languages.

And, what is the official position of the good old Catholic Church on the entire matter of negative impact of Christianity on the African Culture? For instance, was the Reverend Father who shunned my cousin’s Christening representing the view of the Roman Catholic Faith? Well, if you don’t know already check out my next edition and I will tell you what Pope John Paul the second had to say; as I discuss the general topic of the need to adapt Christianity to the culture of the land—any land in the world where Christianity thrives…No Bullshitting!!!

 

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