Just at the middle of my journey to the office this morning, a commercial bus almost hit our car from behind and in annoyance, our driver (a learned man from his speech and appearance) yelled: “Thunder fire you, you nor go die better!” For a moment, we were all quiet until i decided to break the silence.
I asked the driver, “Don’t you think you shouldn’t have reacted to that driver in such manner, cursing him and wishing him dead?” Unsurprisingly, he didn’t agree with me, justifying his statements with the explanation that the other driver was going to perhaps destroy a part of his car and make him spend non-budgeted funds while he questioned me “If na you, you nor go curse am?” He must have been surprised when i not only told him that I wouldn’t have done same, as i have been driving for some years now and have had my car bashed in the past but the love of God in me will not allow me wish a fellow human an unfortunate end, not to talk of using the name of Sango who i don’t believe in. More so, I could be the one hitting someone’s car tomorrow.
“Are you not a Christian?” I asked him. He replied in the affirmative but asked me and another woman who had now joined me in correcting him if we have never heard of the very popular Pentecostal Church where they rain fire on enemies everyday. I told him to leave the issue of Church aside and stay with the core issue, while encouraging him to think about all i said when he got to the office as it was normal for ‘truth’ to be resisted at first.
On my own part, I reflected on all that happened and it dawned on me, “The very statement by the driver which triggered the conversation is similar to Monday’s backlash by some social media users against Sam Adeyemi,” Senior Pastor of Daystar Christian Centre, Lagos who said during a sermon on Sunday as seen in the video below:
“You were only raised on a culture of fear. There’s nothing…Absolutely nothing! You are afraid of Sango? If Sango was that powerful, why did he not supply electricity to our cities, Nonsense!” he said.
To buttress his point Reverend Adeyemi referring to a discussion he had with someone recently said:“We believe in Sango, Sopona that they are powerful and as powerful as they are, they couldn’t give us electricity?” The whiteman came and colonised Sango, Sopona and all of them and they could not stop the whiteman. Foolish idols, you better throw them away. Witchcraft nonsense,” he added.
While we may not have been opportune to watch the full length of the sermon to gain context nor has Pastor Adeyemi and his Ministry reacted to the criticisms, i took time to read most of these backlashes in the comment section of the blog and it is evident that some of the comments against this assertion brings to the fore critical issues with acclaimed ‘Woke Christians’ in Africa and it indeed throws up some questions about what they really believe as Christians.
One of them even went on to say [as I have paraphrased], ‘That we believe in God and his son, Jesus doesn’t mean we should relegate our African gods” while some took their arguments from the angle of preserving our cultural heritage amidst acceptance of a white man’s God and so many funny comments in unprintable words.
As a student of history, it is common knowledge that ‘Sango’ was a royal ancestor of the Yoruba nation and third king of Oyo Empire who succeeded Ajaka, son of Oranmiyan. He was reputed to be a great man while he was ‘alive’ because of his alleged ability to invoke thunder on his enemy using a symbolic double-headed axe said to represent swift and balanced justice.
As the myth goes however, following a disagreement he had with a certain ‘Gbonka’ (whom he wanted dead) that gave him (Sango) an ultimatum to vacate the throne, in what was to lead to his final demise, Sango was said to have “left the palace to a high rock facing the palace in anger, to re-affirm the potency of his thunderbolt and the thunder he created that day was said to have struck the palace and burnt it down to ashes.” Indeed, till date it is a subject of argument if Sango hung himself after that incident or not, giving rise to the famous ‘Obakoso and Olukoso.’ And true to the saying “What we don’t understand, we mystify,” a good number of persons deified this man ascribing unlimited power to punish and wrought vengeance to him.
Looking at it critically, the fact that we rarely see thunder coming to do the bid of people who issue threats in the name of its supposed ‘custodian,’ indeed proves Pastor Adeyemi’s point that such threats to people (at least those who may tremble at such) can only rattle them because they were raised in a culture of fear.
Sadly however, it is now common to find some acclaimed Christians today as a way of venting anger on others for wronging them, or as in the case of our driver (those attempting to do them wrong), resort to calling on the supposedly powerful ‘Sango’ to kill or punish their enemy (offender) and as some form of joke, you hear youthful Christians make statements like “The thunder that will fire this person is doing press up;” Thunder where are you, come and fire this person.” While it may also be easy to dismiss such statements as not necessarily giving credence to their belief in ‘Sango,’ here’s what the scripture says about it:
“…For whatever is in your heart determines what you say.” (Matthew 12:34, New Living Translation)
Why should a Christian under any circumstance rely on the acclaimed power of a deity to punish an offender? Again, what is the position of scriptures on offenders?
“You’re familiar with the old written law, ‘Love your friend,’ and its unwritten companion, ‘Hate your enemy.’ I’m challenging that. I’m telling you to love your enemies. Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.
When someone gives you a hard time, respond with the energies of prayer, for then you are working out of your true selves, your God-created selves. This is what God does. He gives his best—the sun to warm and the rain to nourish—to everyone, regardless: the good and bad, the nice and nasty. If all you do is love the lovable, do you expect a bonus? Anybody can do that. If you simply say hello to those who greet you, do you expect a medal? Any run-of-the-mill sinner does that.” (Matthew 5:43 -47, The Message Translation)
Furthermore, in logically analysing the assertion by Pastor Adeyemi about Sango and his connection to lightning which science has described as giant sparks of static electricity caused by the triboelectric effect between water, ice particles and air, it does make sense that such deity with the capacity to invoke thunder (sound caused by lightning) could have either harnessed his acclaimed powers towards providing solutions (electricity) for his adherents or influence them to do same.
Michael Faraday, the great scientist whose discoveries in electricity continues to have a great influence on our daily lives was a well-known elder for decades in his church and on retirement from the Royal Institution after almost 50 years, he thanked those who had worked with him during those years but was careful to ‘Thank God, first, for all his gifts.’ That indeed is the influence of a true deity.
As Pastor Adeyemi queried, if its ‘job description’ was only justice and vengeance-related, shouldn’t the colonialists have been victims of his anger for subjecting its adherents to about 60 years of colonial rule? Let’s not even mention their switch of allegiance to a rival God. But in staying with Scriptures the ultimate standard for Christians in arguing matters as these, it is ridiculous for any believer who has submitted to the Lordship of Christ to call out a Christian leader over his assertion that man-made gods have no form of power.
To our ‘woke brothers and sisters of the church,’ the principles of Christianity are clear, you cannot profess Christ and hold on at the same time to the belief that some man-made deity is relevant, powerful and significant or these recent extreme thoughts leading Christians to jump on every opportunity to drag spiritual leaders and ‘The Church’ in the mud. Accountability is important and should necessarily be demanded, but wisdom is profitable to direct.
Be fully persuaded in your own mind and choose your faith; you are either a Christian or not!
“For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.” (I Corinthians 13:9-10).
Temidayo Taiwo-Sidiq is a Political Journalist, Analyst and Social Change Advocate with major interest in Nigerian Politics, Governance and Sports.