communalLast week we discussed some of the negative influence of capitalism on African Religion. We were able to establish that modern African religions are deeply rooted and influenced by the value of money. This is far much different from the Religion we find in the gospel, the Koran and even the African Traditional Religion. That is why the modern African religions are highly secularized, competitive and capitalized. The only way forward is to establish a religious system that is more identical with the African value system and that are in line with the Gospel and Koran value. What other religious system can satisfy the inner longing of Africans if not the African Communal system of religion?
Communal life is among the cardinal values in Africa. Africans do not practice individualism like most Western nations. They live a life of community and solidarity. The Late Pope John Paul II observed, “African cultures have an acute sense of solidarity and community life. In Africa it is unthinkable to celebrate a feast without the participation of the whole village.”  The Holy Father further appeal to the Africans to uphold this unique cultural heritage: “It is my ardent hope and prayer that Africa will always preserve this priceless cultural heritage and never succumb to the temptation to individualism, which is so alien to its best traditions.” For the Holy Father, therefore, the African Communal life is the best system of living.
Unfortunately, most African nations do not even know what they have. They do not know that they possess a more humane value than most ‘developed nations.’ They kept comparing themselves with other selfish and individualistic nations. Money is not the only value in life. The Christian bible even declared that “the love of money is the root of all evils” (1 Timothy 6:10). Capitalists are lovers of money. They love money more than their fellow human beings. The only language they understand is profit. They are even ready to use their fellow human beings to make as many profits as possible.
Both the Christian bible and the Muslim koran strongly condemn all forms of selfishness and stinginess. Surah 4:37-38 of the Koran declares that those “Who are stingy and enjoin upon other people stinginess and conceal what Allah has given them of His bounty – and we have prepared for the disbelievers a humiliating punishment.” The koran does not just condemn stinginess, it went as far as declaring punishment on those who are stingy. In Acts of the Apostles chapter 5, the Christian bible used the story of Ananias and his wife Sapphira to demonstrate the fate of those who are stingy with what God has given them. Stinginess is the surest way to death. It is inhuman and it does not bring the expected development.
Unfortunately, most of the modern religious bodies in Africa are stingy as a result of capitalism. They are rather living an individualistic and self-centered life. There is high level of competition among the various religions in Africa. Most religious bodies are even trying to outshine others through structures, wealth and sound system. Some have even gone as far as purchasing private jets. Yet, in these churches one can still find those who could not even afford their daily bread. Religious institutions, such as schools, hospitals have become the most expensive institutions. These institutions are only serving the interest of the rich.
Most Churches are getting poorer while others are getting richer. The rich churches are building and rebuilding. They do not even consider those poor Churches as part of the Body of Christ. Churches in big cities are making a lot of money. Some Churches are getting as much as fifty million Naira (N50,000,000.00) from their harvest offering while others are not able to get up to fifty thousand Naira (N50,000) annually. Yet, those wealthy churches are not ready to share their excess income with the poor churches around them.  This is capitalism! Professor John S. Mbiti condemned the African capitalism: “Capitalism is anti-religious when it exploits man to such a degree that he becomes simply a tool or a robot and loses his humanity” (Mbiti, African Religions and Philosophy, 1969, p.265). Capitalism has reduced the modern African religion to a mere secular institution, with little or no spirituality.
Most of the Churches and Mosque in the northern part of Nigeria are facing hardships. Some churches have even closed down due to the Boko Harram war, especially in the North Eastern Nigeria. Since most African nations are now practicing the capitalist system of religion those in the Southern part of Nigeria do not even care. So, what we are experiencing here in Africa as long as religion is concerned is survival of the fittest. The only Churches that are recognized, especially by the politicians are wealthy Churches with populated members.    Nobody wants to donate to poor Churches. The rich prefers to give their donations where they will be recognized.
Moreover, during elections the Churches, especially the big Churches are now used by politicians as a platform for political rallies and campaigns. As 2015 is fast approaching you will see most politicians, even those who have not been going to Church, moving from one big Church to another making all kinds of donations and pledges.  The most unfortunate part of it is that when these politicians visit any of these Churches they would become the object of attraction and distraction. After hosting these politicians and receiving their own share of the national cake, the religious leaders who are supposed to be the voice of the voiceless cannot voice out in the face of injustice and corruption.
In Communal   system of religion, which is peculiar to the Africans, the human beings are more valuable than money. Instead, money is there to serve the interest of the people. People are not sacrificed because of money. People were not even kidnapped because of money. The Africans were living a more dignified life before the introduction of money. During the period when the Africans were practicing trade by barter, people were able to share what they have in order to get what they do not have. Then there was no food for a lazy man. With the introduction of money you will find so many lazy men and women who spend most of their time under AC watching television in the name of office work, at the end of the month they are paid huge amount of money for their laziness whereas some farmers, and other artisans who spend the whole day under the sun and at the end no one pays them. Some of them could not even afford their daily bread. It is unfair!
The reason why the present political systems are not working is because they are not people oriented. Political leaders are imposed on the people. Yet, some ignorant ones claim that they are practicing democracy, which according to them is the government of the people by the people and for the people. If the government is actually of the people, then the people must be allowed to nominate their leaders. The so-called primary election where the same set of people are appointed and imposed on the people by the so-called king-makers, the godfathers and the bougies does not in any way represent the interest of the people.   Most leaders in Africa are not nominated by the people.
Since most African nations have embraced capitalism, the political leaders are chosen ‘by the amount of money’ they are able to pay to INEC for registration, or the percentage of money they agree to be paying to their so-called godfathers. One’s moral or ethical standard is not even taken into consideration. That is why most of those we have in power are either corrupt, cultist or ritualists. As long as you have money no one cares how you make your money. Money even speaks louder than the people. In the present day Africa one with money is considered to be a majority.
Sharing is the essence of communal system. In a communal system things are shared in common. Every citizen has a role to play in the development of the society and everyone has an equal right and equal opportunity. In such system it is very hard to see anyone who is in need. According to the Acts of the Apostles, “The Company of those who believed were of one heart and soul… there was not a needy person among them” (Acts 4:32-35). This situation was made possible because the early apostles held everything in common. They practiced communal sharing.
The community is a strong entity. There is a popular adage that says, “The voice of the people is the voice of God.” The Igbo people would say, “Igwe bu ike.” meaning, “power lies with the crowd/people. A tree can never make a forest. According to the popular adage, “I am because we are and because we are therefore I am.” No one is an island. We need one another. Together we can change the world. Together we can liberate our states, our nations and indeed our continent. United we stand but divided we fall. Long live Africa and long live the federal republic of Nigeria!