By Fr. Dr. Luke Emehiele Ijezie, CIWA, PH
The Nigerian society is currently awash with increasing cases of ritual killings and maimings of people through one form of occultic violence or the other. It is still a mystery how these things work, but one needs not underrate the reality and power of demonic forces. The troubling thing is that the phenomenon appears to be fuelled by our movie industry, Nollywood, and our Pentecostal type religiosity together with the ever increasing healing and adoration centres.
The movie industry dramatizes and celebrates ritually acquired wealth. People are given the false impression that they can achieve breakthrough in life instantly by simply passing through a ritual process, which most of the time involves the killing or maiming of somebody. The situation is that someone is some where celebrating the arrival of new wealth and fame while some other is heartbroken somewhere because of the killing of a loved one perpetrated by the celebrant of the new wealth.
As a matter of fact, Nollywood started life with an occult-type movie and largely has continued to thrive on this genre of movies. Even though these movies are largely directed to the critique of the occultic practices in the society, the attraction of most viewers to the pleasurable things they offer seems to be greater than the messages they try to impart. We have a type of society where one is attracted to quick wealth and success without much toil. Any source or power that provides such is very much embraced.
But the messages some of these movies try to impart are often naive. Most of such movies that dwell on ritual murders end up exalting one form of faith healing or the other, based on the flinging of the Bible and pronunciation of magical words or incantations. Within the twinkle of an eye the spiritual forces are released and enter into physical combat with one another. The tendentious message often is that the Pentecostal type of magical healing is the antidote to ritualistic crimes.
However, one must acknowledge the fact that Nollywood is a success story and has many positive sides. But at the same time the over-emphasis on the occult and magic-type religious casting and binding has done more harm to the psyche of our people and the image that outsiders have of our African society. Everything is now seen with the binoculars of the occultic and magical deliverance.
The young people have gone berserk because of the images and brainwashing cum brain-damage they have been progressively subjected to. Rational and sociological analyses of issues are no longer fashionable. What reigns is the magical-ritualistic transformation.
We need a cultural reingeneering. This involves value reorientation. Our forefathers valued wealth and celebrated it, but this was wealth achieved through toil and hard work. What we call religiosity today needs to be subjected to greater critique. This is another area where a cultural reingeneering must be undertaken. We pride on being culturally very religious, in fact, notoriously religious, but what we have in most places is not real religion but the manipulation of God in the search for material success. About such-like situation, the Apostle Paul admonishes Timothy to be watchful: “You must understand this, that in the last days distressing times will come. For people will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, inhuman, implacable, slanderers, profligates, brutes, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to the outward form of godliness but denying its power. Avoid them” (2 Tim 3:1-5). What the Apostle said two thousand years ago is still very acute in our context today. We pretend to be religious but our approach to life remains very superficial. Unfortunately, this facile approach to issues and the effervescence of sentimentalist religiosity have created a more ungodly environment than we have ever witnessed in our history. Most of our younger generation are literally worshipping Satan and Mammon. May God save us!