I have no religion. I am a Nigerian – Ogbu Godwin Ikechukwu

I have no religion. I am a Nigerian – Ogbu Godwin Ikechukwu

I stopped being a Christian a little over a year ago and I do not regret it.

Now, don’t misunderstand me. Religion is not a bad thing, but it is not altogether a good thing. Each new listen of MI’s ‘Wild Wild West’ reinforces this. The first verse of the song begins with the line, I just wanna cry. Every time I think of religion, I just wanna cry. I think of all the damning realities religion has offered us and my eyes fill up.

Last week, I was showing my aunt a photo of a girl I met during NYSC, a girl I think is the best cook I’ve ever met, and this is coming from a guy like me who can really cook. My aunt was impressed, that a girl who can elicit such praise from Ogbu must be really good, until I told her that she’s from Kaduna state. She hissed and said ‘ndi ugwu’. Now, ndi ugwu is a dismissive Igbo expression for northerners. I tried to explain to her that the said lady is neither Hausa nor a Muslim, but she would hear none of it. Being from Kaduna state had already placed a stamp on her and certified her bad. I had to leave my aunt to her sentiment.

Ever since I returned from Niger state my aunt accuses me of behaving like a ‘northerner’. That I no longer go to church. That I say ‘Alhamdulillah’ too often. That I wear ‘stupid’ Hausa caps. That she will sever all ties with me the moment she discovers I’m a Muslim. Like that, like that. This is someone who claims to be a Christian through and through.

I will not bother you with why I stopped going to church over a year ago. I will not bother you with what I call the arrogance of Christians. I will not bother you with what I call the obstinacy of Muslims. But allow me bother you a little with my predicament.

I come from a Christian background. I have lots of Muslim friends. And I am in love with a Northern-Muslim girl. How do I reconcile these? My aunt has seen pictures of her in my phone but I have refused to tell her what she wants to hear. My dad thinks she must have been a girl I ‘played with’ during my service year; you know, how corpers play with local girls. Now, how do I tell these people that it goes beyond that?

I once said that religion should be scrubbed off the face of the Earth, but of course I had said that out of anger. All I ask now is tolerance. A little more tolerance. Subscribing to a different mode of worship does not make me different from you, it does not make me evil, and it does not make me a cocked gun waiting to go off. It only makes me human, with a capacity to think differently and therefore capable of different lines of action.

religion

Think of all the human disasters we’ve let ourselves into because we profess love for different gods. Think of the Jos crises. Think Boko Haram. And see why we have to put hands together, stuff our religious differences inside our wallets and forge ahead, together, in building this nation. Let us play these different ideologies to our advantage. Nagode.

 

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