By Austin Emaduku.
Let me say from the beginning that this is not a religious article. It is a social commentary on the Nigerian situation that is motivated by the evil to which religious sentiments have been put to keep the people divided hence the use of a religious metaphor.
Etymologically, a “familiar spirit” means “a demon that is summoned by a medium with the intention that the spirit summoned will obey his or her commands” Familiar spirits are supposed to be spirits of people known to us who have died. The Bible however sees such appearances as demonic forces imitating the spirits of the dead in order to deceive or evil spirits invoked by Mediums to cast spells on people in other to manipulate them. Duet.18:11.
In essence familiar spirits are agents of deception and manipulation.”The word “familiar” is from the Latin familiaris, meaning a “household servant,” and was intended to express the idea that sorcerers had spirits as their servants ready to obey their commands”. Familiar spirits are very manipulative. They appear with make believe faces to hoodwink their victims.
The familiar spirits of the Nigeria nation are many. They include but are not limited to religion, ethnicity, regionalism, resource control or any other such sentiment that may be conjured up from time to time by the ruling class to gain political traction. Their principals, mediums and sorcerers are for the purpose of this article members of the ruling class who employ their services for personal political gains.
For the purpose of this piece, I will dwell on just two: Religion and Ethnicity and show how these two have been used to remote control the people in recent times.
Of all the familiar spirits, religion is the one that has been most deployed. Sometimes with devastating effect because of its emotive nature. It is not for nothing that Karl Max called it the Opium of the people.
Not long ago, before the clone, fake or Jibril era, the main issue in political currency was religion. The fear of “islamisation” of the country was palpable. It was sold to us by a section of the ruling class who lost out in the power equation as the key problem of the country. We forgot all the problems of the country and fixated on religion. They cashed in on the menace of rampaging herdsmen – which by the way have always been with us to create a storm. They held it out as the immediate example of the imminent Jihad. The promise of Ahmadu Bello that he will deep the Quoran into the Atlantic Ocean was relived. What a rallying cry it was for those whose aim is to perpetually build a gulf between the suffering people of the predominantly Muslim North and the predominantly Christian south for their selfish reasons. The Church and its gullible congregation, always unwary of the sorcerers and their familiar spirits was quickly sold on it. Men of God fired prayers and curses from every altar across the land in defence of the christian faith.
Fast forward to less than two months to the general elections, the word “islamisation” seem to have dropped out of the political lexicon. As usual, the ruling class have decided. They have made their choice of Presidential candidates for their two political parties and they are both Muslims and Fulanis. The Church and the christian south have suddenly forgotten that there are other candidates of Christian faith in the race. The defence of the faith doesn’t seem to matter anymore. The fear of herdsmen colonies that would sooner than later overrun our communities is no longer there. The sorcerers have yet called upon another familiar spirit suitable for the situation and the people are lapping it up. They always make us think what they want us to think.
The North have ruled this nation for a longer period than any other region, the Fulanis/Hausas more than any other ethnic group. Today the North remains the least developed and poorest region of the country. It is the least educated. The ruling class of the North have been equally cruel to ordinary northerner as they have been to the average southerner. In any case no ruling class of any region have gotten to power without the active connivance of members of their class from the other regions.
Ethnicity is another familiar spirit that have been with us. It is mostly propped up in contemporary times to either shield corrupt people or as a counterpoise to the fight against corruption. Once a thief is from a particular ethnic group, members of his class from his/her ethnic group calls up the familiar spirit of ethnicity and the people pour out on the streets and on social media to defend him/her. They do not bother to ask what effect the thievery have had on the provision of social amenities in their area, on the health and education of their children or how many deaths it caused. The slogan always is “our thief is better than yours”
The northern ruling class propped up religious militia for the purpose of wining elections. They kept the people uneducated in other to keep them in perpetual ignorance. They sent their children abroad for studies while they encouraged the Amajiri system for the children of the poor back home. They masses foolishly hailed them as great religious and political leaders. Today, it is the same masses who bear the brunt of the religious crises. It is their villages that are sacked. Their wives and daughters kidnapped and raped while the ruling class kit and kin are tucked away safely abroad or far away in the city.
I do not blame the ruling class for their antics of keeping the people disunited. I blame the people for allowing themselves to be manipulated by familiar spirits. Even God Himself was wary of the limitless ability of a people united for a purpose. He had a fore taste of this power when he observed the people he created rose in unison to build a tower that would enable them peep into His innermost dwelling. He sent confusion into their midst in the form of different tongues that made it difficult for them to hear and understand themselves.
The Nigerian ruling class have us all firmly in their grip. They know how emotive we have been programmed to react concerning certain issues. They play on these emotions every time to divert our attentions from their evil activities. They have our “mumu button.” They know how to manipulate us using the familiar sentiments or spirits of religion, ethnicity, regionalism, resource control, etc, etc, which they have constructed over the years to keep the people disunited. They know what damage the unity of the people can do to their selfish interest. So they build a Tower, as in Babel, of religious and ethnic tongues to sow the seed of confusion amongst them.
Everyday we pray against familiar spirits in our churches, daily God shows us these familiar spirits but we fail to recognise them.