• Nnaemeka Ali, O.M.I - Black and Missionary

The mainstream Churches in Africa will face a serious problem if they fail to redefine their priorities. In countries where these mainstream Churches were once dominant, recent events have shown that they only have two options : reform themselves or bow out.

At this point, the greatest temptation will be remind me that the gate of hell shall never prevail over the Church. But, let’s not get into that exegesis today, for the truth is that we are often made to believe that the Church has always been this way, when in truth, every Church has evolved by adapting herself to her time and clime.

Let’s consider the preoccupations of the first Christian communities. You see, our major problem is that beyond the repetitive catechism we learn in our catechism classes and Sunday schools, little time is consecrated to learning the sociological problems that gave birth to every thing around our doctrines and beliefs.

At the beginning of Christianity, no one cared about the right vestments during their Jewish oriented liturgical activities. And there was nothing about the right or wrong posture during their non-institutionalized prayer sessions. They only became necessary with the change of time.

Even what we know as the Bible today was the first Christian communities’ response to their sociological problems. Paul, the first Christian author, was surely not mandated by a heavenly emissary to write any of his 7 (not 13) letters. Each letter was a response to a sociological need of a church of his time.

The authors of the Gospels, contrary to what we commonly think, were surely not reporting word by word what Jesus did or said. They were Church leaders confronted by questions of their communities. Each of their Churches had her particular problems and needs forcing the authors to present the Christ-event in line with these questions and realities of their communities.

Then came the second and the third centuries, and Church contact with the ancient philosophy. The Church at this point had left its initial place of birth — Jerusalem — and was courting Greek philosophy and the Western civilization. And through their intellectuals, we got both the theological categories and our social doctrines of the church. Many church dogmas and laws were also initiated, well enrobed in western jurisprudence, philosophy, and anthropology.

Then followed by Augustin, Thomas Aquinos and many other who were versed in the western philosophy and anthropology. These scholars made sure that the Church speak both the language, and to the people of their society. The same thing could be said of the modern European theologians.

But in Africa, we continue to glorify what Dr Fohle Lygunda calls “the contextualized theology from western theology” instead of “the contextualized African theology”. We keep on translating Jesus-event meant for another Church (needs and questions) for our people. We keep giving them a borrowed prescription instead of diagnosing their real problem. Repeating a question meant for another period and clime.

Today, the rise of Pentecostalism has proven that we have failed in our theology. It exposes our empty God quest and the dryness of our theology. And all our speculations in the field are borrowed from other heavens.

Yet, the Pentecostalism shouldn’t rejoice as it’s, in its actual state, a failed project. It’s simply a bomb waiting to burst any time. This is thus the time to rescue the African Church from the theological cowboys.

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  • Nnaemeka Ali, O.M.I - Black and Missionary

Have you thought about this in the past? The image of every nation or institution comes into existence through storytelling. Look at it thias way: everything you think you know about this or that nation’s strength comes from the way the nation tells the story of its civilization. This is why the smarter the storytelling capacity of a nation, the convincing and more beautiful their history sounds. And, though to tell the story of a nation, there ought to be facts and historical events to talk about, some nations are better equipped in selling their own story. And funny enough, it is, in certain cases, not because they have better stories but because they have better storytellers.

This is why some presidents travel with a very big and competent media entourage. They make sure that both within and outside their country, they have well-formed journalists who continuously sell the national image to the entire world.

Religion also is more often about storytelling. It is one of the places where storytelling is capital in the vitality, or better said, the veracity of its image. Every strong religion has better storytellers, and not forcefully better God-experience.

Look around you, your ancestors have been relating with God or gods, but who wrote all we know about their religious experience? You see why Chinua Achebe was not wrong when he said: “as long as the story of hunting continues to be told by the hunters, the animals will always be the losers in the hunting narrative.”

Think about the people of Israel. How did they know about the creation sequence even though no one was present during the creation period? Who was taking note of what took place during the passage of the Red Sea, or even during the flood?

Fast word to the New Testament composition and compilation. Assuming there weren’t the later great storytellers like Paul and the other New Testament authors, would we have learnt much from the illiterate Apostles Jesus surrounded himself with?

So, what do you know about your people, for example? Do you think your kindred have no heroes and heroines? The only reason why your village appears ordinary to you and might continue to appear so to the generations to come is that no good storyteller has considered your family resilience worth talking about.

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  • Nnaemeka Ali, O.M.I - Black and Missionary

Late Ms Ifeoma Stella Abugu

PRESENTED BY THE PRESIDENT, NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF UGBAIKE UNDERGRADUATES AND GRADUATES ON THE OCASSION OF

HER BURIAL AND FINAL FAREWELL TODAY, FRIDAY, APRIL 23, 2021


How do we express the depth of shock that your sudden death bestows on us without notice?

How do we speak to our emotions around death when there is so much sorrow by the corner?

The news of the demise of Ms. Ifeoma Stella Abugu is shocking and has left a sour taste in our mouths. Ifeoma wasillegally arrested by the personnel of Special Anti Robbery Squad (SARS) of the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja Command at about 5:00 pm on Friday, September 9, 2020. The deceased was on a visit to her fiancé—Mr. Afam Ugwunwa from Anambra State, resident in Wumba village in Lokogoma of Abuja. The subsequent news of her brutal rape and tragic death in cold blood was also a rude shock, to say the list. If there was anything, we would have loved to hear, this was the last of all our expectations.

However, writing a tribute for a person of Ifeoma whose life mirrored a brighter future with many possible exploits, which was terminated and wasted, is one of the hardest things to contemplate. It is indeed a huge and almost overwhelming responsibility; an emotionally charged task and daunting.

Stella, an amiable and industrious person like many other responsible of Ugbaike youths, graduated from the Institute of Management and Technology (IMT), Enugu. Ifeoma as fondly called also completed the national assignment of the National Youth Service Corps at Abuja. Like every woman would pray to have her own home, Ifeoma was equally fortunate to have got a fiancé. They had fixed and were preparing for the marriage ceremony for December 2020 when the pathetic cum traumatic story of the end of her earthly sojourn begun. What a nostalgic world; full of improbabilities, uncertainty and doubt.

Dear people of God and citizens of this country, life is full of ironies, and even the end of life seems to have its share. Otherwise, who would have thought of this ever bouncing, robust, cheerful, decent and ever smartly dressed erudite graduate with a wonderful personality, and a peculiar sense of humour and friendship, would fall so cheaply to the cold hands of death in this manner. It is hard, to sum up, a person and their journey in times like this. Ify we will forever miss you! Oh, death! Where is your sting?

As I reflect on the times and lives of this unique individual—Ifeoma, I give thanks to God for the way she touched each of us during her short earthly sojourn. She had great consideration for others and a deep love for life. Some are privileged to have met and known her as a friend, colleague and confidant.

I pay this immeasurable tribute to a lady whose unlawful arrest, rape and killing drew the attention of Nigerian youths, the Federal/State/Local Governments and parastatals, the entire Nigerians, and people and organizations of international repute, among others to the realities of life in Nigeria.

I am happy that her unjustified death instigated Nigerian youths to employ the #EndSARS hashtag to create awareness on police brutality in the country such as extortion, rape, physical and verbal assault, extrajudicial killings, wanton arrests, and other forms of intimidation tactics against young innocent citizens of our country. There are many gory tales of SARS’ horrific operations targeting innocent young Nigerians.

Dear listeners, please tell me:

  • What is this life all about?

  • Is it justifiable that parents in this hard time, after labouring and starving to train their children, would be exposed to this cock and bull story like that of Stella? What joy and gain are derived?

  • What is then the reason for all the struggles to ensure a means to livelihood without an iota of hope for the future?

  • Why would the Nigerian security personnel be imposing horrific operations against innocent citizens, especially the youths?

  • Why is the government becoming so unconcerned about all sorts of atrocities happening to innocent citizens in the country? Like Sonny Okosun a renowned artist would say, “Which Way Nigeria?”

  • Even though the official autopsy report revealed that Ifeoma was raped and strangled to death, with her private parts mutilated, the Nigeria Police Force remains silent in bringing the culprits to face the wrath of the law.

  • Has the government, the Police Force, etc considered what would be the fate of the Ifeoma’s entire nuclear and extended family members and her fiancé?

  • The Ugbaike youths, therefore, in solidarity, join the entire Nigerian youths to call for justice to be expressed on the illegal arrest, rape and death of Stella Ifeoma Abugu.

I thank earnestly, Governor Nyesom Wike of Rivers State, Justice Committee for Ifeoma of Enugu-Ezike Lawyers Forum Chaired by Professor Uwakwe Abugu, and all organizations both within the country and across the globe for their respective calls for the reformation or outright dissolution of the SARS unit of the Nigeria Police, and also advocating for a just trial of the case of Ifeoma Abugu. I cannot thank enough Hon. Senator Chuka Utazi, representing Enugu North Senatorial Zone in the Upper House of the Red Chamber (Nigeria Senate Building) for all his immeasurable efforts and supports that guaranteed the actualization of today’s event. I pray that God will repay all your kind gestures and lift you from a higher position to another. Amen.

I heartily appeal to the members of the Fourth Estate (the Press) present here today to help us project our passionate request to President Muhammadu Buhari and Inspector General of Police Mohammed Adamu, including other security agencies in the country, to please explore better strategies that will guarantee lasting solutions towards curbing the prevailing height of brutality and arrant disregard for lives of Nigerians they were employed and paid to protect.

Members of the National Association of Ugbaike Undergraduates and Graduates continue to request the President Buhari, Governor Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi and the Igbo-Eze North Local Government Chairman, Hon. Prince Engr. Ejike Itodo, including the Inspector General of Police to provide some reasonable financial compensation to Ms. Ifeoma Stella Abugu’s family. We further, passionately beg Mr. President to also offer a Federal Government job to some of Ifeoma'srelatives. All these incentives would assist the family to recuperate from a series of huge financial waste and trauma her death had caused them.

The old saying of “in everything give thanks to God” should prevail here among her family members, other relations, the Ugbaike youths and the entire people of the Ugbaike community. I encourage all here to always seek solace in God and be comforted. Ifeoma has left a footprint in the sand of time, sub-planting love and goodwill. To all that she left behind, we will be consoled that she lived an exemplary life.

Lift up your eyes unto the hills — Psalm 121

On behalf of members of the National Association of Ugbaike Undergraduates and Graduates whom Ifeoma was their colleague, I commiserate with the entire family and relations, including friends and well-wishers of late Ifeoma Abugu. I further pray that the blessings of God Almighty will continually be with her even in the worlds beyond. May her gentle soul rest peacefully in God’s Paradise, the abode of her creator, Amen!

Adieu Great Soul! Adieu Ifeoma! Adieu!

Requiescat in Pace. Until we meet to part no more.


Comrade Thecla Chigozie Eze

President

National Association of Ugbaike Undergraduates and Graduates (NAUUG)

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