(Warning: There is nothing funny about this piece. On the contrary, I’m as mad as hell.)
I know only one African who owns a gun. I was in his house the day he bought it. I asked him why he needed a gun. Like most Americans, he said it was for the defense of his family. According to the man, the only day he would kill someone would be the day someone attacks his children or his wife.
This was over ten years ago. I recently asked him if he had had any reason to use the gun. He said no. I wondered if the ammunitions he bought then were still good.
I remembered this incident as I followed the news of the killing, on Tuesday, of Pakistani Minister of Minorities, Shahbaz Bhatti. Mr. Bhatti, a Christian, was shot eight times by gunmen who ambushed him on his way to work. His killers left a pamphlet at the site with his name on it. The pamphlet warned against any attempt to change Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Mr. Bhatti had led a campaign to reform the blasphemy laws.
In January, Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri; a bodyguard assigned to Salman Taseer, the Governor of Punjab, in Pakistan, turned his gun on the governor. Oadri assassinated the governor he was assigned to protect in defense of Allah.
Qadri killed Taseer because the governor opposed the same draconic anti-blasphemy laws of Pakistan. These are laws that impose a death sentence on anyone who says anything bad about Islam or Prophet Mohammed. These laws have been used primarily against minorities in Pakistan; especially Christians.
The law attracted worldwide attention when Asia Bibi, a Christian woman, was sentenced to death for defaming the Prophet Mohammed. This 45-year-old mother of five was accused by Muslim women, with whom she worked as a farm help, of saying something bad about Prophet Mohammed. She denied the charges. Muslim mobs came to kill her but she was saved by the police who arrested and locked her up. The police quickly filed a charge of blasphemy against her to avoid the usual situation where Muslim mobs storm police stations to seize the suspects and murder them. Her Christian brethren described the accusation as a familiar one used to discriminate and oppress Christians in Pakistan. She was held in isolation for one year before a death sentence was passed under the blasphemy law. Governor Salman Taseer opposed the blasphemy laws and Bibi’s death sentence.
The story of Asia Bibi is a familiar one to many from Africa. In Nigeria, there are many instances where Christians in Northern Nigeria have been killed for similar offenses. The most famous one was the case of the Christian named Gideon Akaluka who was accused of desecrating the Qur’an in 1996. Mr. Akaluka was removed from prison and beheaded by Muslim youths. The youths hung his head on a stick and danced in the streets of Kano. None of the killers of these Christians have ever been arrested, tried, or convicted. They roam the streets of Nigeria, free like dust.
I’m confused about this relationship between man and his God. Who created who? Did God create man or did man create God? The way man is behaving, I think the untold secret of this life may be that it was man who really created God. Otherwise, there won’t be this insane need to defend God by all means.
Why are men everywhere fighting to defend God as if God is their child?
Are the Gods crying that ordinary mortals they created are ridiculing them? Are the tears of the Gods drowning people and threatening to swallow the earth unless laws are passed abolishing the right of any man to look at the Gods with a bad eye?
I don’t get it.
I believe something is really twisted in the mind of anyone who thinks that he has to fight to protect his God.
For God’s sake, when did God stop being God? If a God cannot protect himself, he should retire.
The world is full of retired Gods. Zeus, Oduduwa, Apollo, Amadioha, Juno, Fa, Mukuru, Wele etc once had lots of followers. They have since retired. Those who did not want to retire were quietly retired by the Pope in Rome, an Archbishop in Canterbury and an Imam in Mecca. Some were retired by children of these Gods - people like Benson Idahosa, Enoch Adebayo, Emmanuel Ede, Chris Oyakhilome, David Oyedepo, William Kumuyi, Ejike Mbaka, Mattew Ashimolowo, Helen Ukpabio, Mike Okonkwo, Temitope Joshua, amongst others. So it is not an unheard phenomenon that Gods who cannot defend themselves should retire.
I reserve the right to give the Gods a middle finger. And I think you should, too. After all, the Gods have been giving us the middle finger since Creation. If not, how do you explain the craziness of this world?
I will not worship a God that will need me to defend him whenever someone abuses him. If I need a simpleton, I will worship the earthworm.
Why are we so screwed up? It is such a shame what we have allowed religion to turn us into. Two thousand years ago, none of these head-butting religions were important in the scheme of things. And two thousand years from now, a new set of Gods with their new age religions will be rocking the earth. The people who will inhabit the earth then will look at our days and call it the Dark Ages. They will ask, “What was the fuss all about?
All you defenders of the Gods who are willing to murder other human beings, I say, shame on you! Is God your child? Is God your wife? Why must you keep a gun to defend your God?
I bet you that the Gods are ashamed of anyone who is out there killing other humans in Gods’ name. If the Gods want to kill all nonbelievers, they do not need your guns or your machetes. The Gods can use Ebola, fire, earthquake, water, and cancer. The Gods have so many weapons they can use.
Remember the plagues- smallpox, Spanish flu, typhus, Black Death etc. All together, they killed hundreds of millions of people. Did the Gods need you to wipe off millions of people?
When I die and get to heaven, if I see any of these men who are killing people in the name of defending their Gods, I will turn back.
The Gods must be crazy if they let men like Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri into heaven. Please correct me if I’m right.
(A version of this piece was first published in African Abroad USA newspaper.)