Nnaemeka Ali, O.M.I
Biafra Needs Some Wise Religious Men and Women
Have you ever asked yourself why Israel always has sympathizers during most of her national struggles? Religious people will say that it is because God is with Israel — like there is a nation that God is not with. But being a man of religion, you have to understand that I need to ask if every nation is with God? Of course, the particularity of Israel is that she has always made all her wars a religious struggle. Whether they are about God is a topic for another day.
From time immemorial, the Israeli have made sure that they get their stories right. Starting from assuring that their cosmology and anthropology are well formulated, to basing their politics and culture on God. And every war they undertook, they made sure its narrative is weaved around God.
When they were defeated by Nebuchadnezzar, King of Babylon, and made Captives, Daniel did not sleep. He made sure he told the story of his people in the light of God’s intervention. We are told in the Bible how God revealed himself through dreams and miraculous interventions. The greatness of these people is that they always had wise religious people who kept the narrative alive. Their religious leaders also made use of every literature at their disposal to make sure that generations to come will never forget how God of Israel was always present in their evolution as a nation.
And in every generation, they made sure some wise religious men or women accompanied their struggles. Solomon, Zachariah, Esther, The Maccabees, etc., all played their roles in shaping the story of their nation.
Unfortunately, in our Biafran struggle, young people who know nothing except how to insult others on social media think that national consciousness is built by the numbers of “likes” and “shares” one has on Facebook. They attack anyone that tries to call them to order.
But national consciousness is built by men and women who, like the prophets and wise Israelis, retell the story of the people in the light of divine intervention. The political leaders though might not have always been on good terms with the prophets tried to respect the prophets. They did not mobilize children who take pleasure in insulting their elders and desacralizing holy places and people.
Even in secular societies, there has always been a need for wise men and women. And though they might think they are not religious, they create religious narratives of their nation, defining their cultural, ethical and political views. The history of philosophy shows how philosophers, from the antiquity through medieval to contemporary period, have shaped, through myths and history, the way people see their nations and participate in their evolution. Plato is a very good example in this field.
In our case, we have had, and still have, many charismatic leaders who mobilized or still mobilize the population. But though they might be good orators, their discourses lack authentic religious characteristics that could make the struggle something worth dying for. It is simple, people must be sure that whatever sacrifice they are ready to offer must lead them to a better afterlife.
But our greatest error has been to think that the “men with guns” could be our liberators. The truth is that they are dangerous to the population because the only reason why they have not turned against the population is that our government is ineffective. A functional government would have cut their source of income, and they would turn against the general population they appear to be protected today.
This is why Biafra needs wise visionary religious leaders to spiritualize their fight, creating a narrative of a fight where God—not of Israel—is with them.