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THE STORY OF THE MARTYRS OF UGANDA
» By Prof. Michael Ogunu
The story of the martyrs of Uganda begins with the Protestant missionaries who began arriving in Buganda (now Uganda) in 1877. Mutesathe king, or Kabakawelcomed them and seemed open to Christianity, perhaps because it had points of contact with his people's belief in the afterlife and in a creator god. He even allowed it to be taught at his court.
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When the Catholic White Fathers (now the Missionaries of Africa) arrived in 1879, Mutesa welcomed them as well. However, he also flirted with Islam, which Arab traders had introduced into Buganda decades before, and began favouring now one religious group and then another, mainly for political gain.
The king's shifting favour created an uncertain, often dangerous climate for Christians, but White Father Simeon Lourdel and his companions took advantage of every opportunity Mutesa gave. They founded missions where they could teach people about the faith, and about medicine and agriculture as well.
Unlike some missionaries of the day, the White Fathers took their time preparing people for baptism. They wanted their new converts to understand what it means to enter into new life with Jesus and to follow him.
Many Bugandans were hungry for their teaching and responded eagerly to this approach. “They were offered the living word of God, not just the historical facts of salvation”, says Caroli Lwanga Mpoza, a historian from Uganda. “They grabbed onto it, and it changed them”.
The depth of their faith became obvious during a three-year period when Mutesa's hostility forced the White Fathers out of the country. The priests returned from exile after Mutesa's death in 1884 and were pleased to find that their converts had taken it upon themselves to bring their families and friends to the Lord. Many had renounced polygamy and slavery and were devoting their energies to serving and caring for the needy around them.
One exceptionally active convert was Joseph Mukasa, who served as personal attendant for both Mutesa and the new king, his son Mwanga. He had brought Christ to many of the five hundred young men and boys who worked as court pages, and they relied on his leadership and his clear grasp of the faith.
Mukasa had the king's respect, too, for he had once killed a poisonous snake with his bare hands as it was about to strike his master. But King Mwanga was even more unstable than his father. He was soon affected by the poisonous lies of jealous advisors, who called Mukasa disloyal for his allegiance to another king, the “God of the Christians”.
Their accusations were reinforced when Mukasa reprimanded King Mwanga for trying to have the newly arrived Anglican bishop put to death. Furious that anyone would dare to oppose him, the Kabaka went ahead with the assassination.
Mukasa could have played it safe and chosen not to cross the king again. Instead, he enraged Mwanga even more by repeatedly opposing his attempts to use the younger pages as his sex partners. Mukasa not only taught the boys to resist but made sure they stayed out of Mwanga's reach.
The Kabaka finally decided to make Mukasa an example, ordering him to be burned alive as a conspirator. But here, too, Mukasa proved the stronger and braver. He assured his executioner that “a Christian who gives his life for God has no reason to fear death…” “Tell Mwanga”, he also said, “that he has condemned me unjustly, but I forgive him with all my heart”. The executioner was so impressed with Mukasa that he beheaded him swiftly before tying him to the stake and burning his body.
Now on a rampage, King Mwanga threatened to have all his Christian pages killed unless they renounced their faith. This failed to intimidate them, however, for Mukasa's example had inspired them. Even the catechumens among them followed Mukasa's bravery by asking to be baptized before they died.
Among them was Charles Lwanga, who took over both Mukasa's position as head of the pages and his role of spiritual leader. Like Mukasa, Lwanga professed loyalty to the king but fell into disfavour for protecting the boys and holding onto his faith.
King Mwanga's simmering rage boiled over one evening, when he returned from a hunting trip and learned that a page named Denis Ssebuggwawo had been teaching the catechism to a younger boy, Mwanga's favorite. The king gave Denis a brutal beating and handed him to the executioners, who hacked him to pieces.
The following day, Mwanga gathered all the pages in front of his residence. “Let all those who do not pray stay here by my side”, he shouted. “Those who pray” he commanded to stand before a fence on his left. Charles Lwanga led the way, followed by the other Christian pages, Catholic and Anglican. The youngest, Kizito, was only fourteen.
The king's vengeance was terrible: He sentenced the group to be burnt alive at Namugongo, a village twenty miles away.
The prisoners were strikingly peaceful and joyful in the face of this verdict. Fr. Lourdel, who tried to save them, reported that afterwards, “they were tied so closely that they could scarcely walk, and I saw little Kizito laughing merrily at this, as though it were a game”. Another page asked the priest, “Mapera [Father], why be sad? What I suffer now is little compared with the eternal happiness you have taught me to look forward to!”
The prisoners suffered greatly during the long march to the execution site, but they prayed aloud and recited the catechism all along the way. Three of them were speared to death before reaching the village. The others were led out to a massive funeral pyre. It was Ascension Thursday morning.
Eyewitnesses said that the martyrs were lighthearted, cheering and encouraging one another as the executioners sent up menacing chants. Each of the pages was wrapped in reeds and placed on the giant bonfire, which soon became an inferno.
“Call on your God, and see if he can save you”, called one executioner. “Poor madman”, replied Lwanga. “You are burning me, but it is as if you are pouring water over my body”.
The other prisoners were equally calm. From the raging flames, only their prayers and songs could be heard, growing fainter and fainter. Those who witnessed the fire said they had never seen men die that way.
But the martyrs at Namugongo were not Mwanga's only victims. Dozens more Christians were killed in the surrounding countryside, and some of those who had taught the faith were singled out for special retribution.
Andrew Kaggwa, a friend of the king's, was beheaded. Impatient to meet his fate, he said to his executioner, “Why don't you carry out your orders? I'm afraid delay will get you into serious trouble”. Noe Mawaggali was speared, and then attacked by wild dogs. Matthias Kalemba was dismembered and pieces of his flesh roasted before his eyes. Before he died, he said, “Surely Katonda [God] will deliver me, but you will not see how he does it. He will take my soul and leave you my body”.
The martyrs of Uganda were young, but they were not seduced by the values of the royal court. They took a stand for God's law, even when it meant defying the king himself. Out of allegiance to a higher king and a nobler law, they rejected the earthly security that could have been theirs had they given in to the king's lust.
Their example is extremely important today, Caroli Mpoza points out. It shows how faith can become a “rudder” that sustains us in times of trial and temptation. It also shows how critical it is to instill godliness in our children. If they learn to honour God and put him first, he says, they too will stand firm against the seductive values of our culture.
Like the Parable of the Sower, the story of the Uganda Martyrs invites us to examine our commitment to the Lord. Here are young people whose whole life of faith was marked by simple, luminous, joyful trust in God even in the face of a gruesome death. They were “rich soil” indeed not just for Africa, but for the whole church.
BUILDING A CHRISTIAN HOME: SOME POINTS TO NOTE (2)
» By Rev. Fr. Francis IKHIANOSIME
1. Giving a place to Worship in the family: Contd
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Three words which should be borne in family prayers are: preparation, participation and regularity. There should be a period of preparation before the prayers itself, especially for the leader, then, it should be very participatory and then, it should be regular. This is one aspect of the family that parents must make sacrifice to fulfil if they want their home to stand on a solid rock. Very often, children are found to sleep at prayers, because they are drafted from bed to prayer spots, sometimes, almost forcefully. It is not a bad idea; if to forestall sleep, everyone is made to take his shower if it is an early morning rising time or even to begin with choruses and a posture that would not encourage sleep should be chosen, like standing for this. The family should have in their prayer schedule, particular prayers they say in their homes. I remember in my home, we had the tradition of saying psalm 3 in the morning and Psalm 91 at night. We all used the Good News Bible at that time in the house and we all mastered these psalms by heart. We also said some Catholic Prayers like: prayer to St. Michael the Archangel, Daily Renewal prayer, etc. These just stuck to my memory as I grew up.
Worship in homes should also inculcate other times the individual should pray. Meal times are moments of prayer. The parents should be able to inculcate the thumb rule: “no prayer, no meal”. Thus, all must pray before every meal, if it is taking a fruit. The old custom of grace before meal and grace after meal should be taught to children. Children should be made out of this routine to understand that they owe themselves the duty to make private prayers like the angelus, spontaneous personal prayers, etc. For young families, parents should learn to teach particular prayers to children. This is starting the child in individual worship. This should be done with words that the child can understand, like, “Thank you Jesus”, “Jesus I love you”, “Jesus, Mary and Joseph, save me”. Parents should then gradually introduce them to matters of the spiritual. We had the tradition of going for prayer meeting every Wednesdays and that was a moment I looked up to. I could say, I got the burning desire to becoming a Priest from such prayer sections, thanks to my parents who led me there.
It is important to note too, that family prayer could face some difficulties. There are times; the child would not be willing to pray. What does the parent do in such an instance? The parent must gradually speak to the child and learn what his reaction(s) is or are. If it is resultant from fatigue, then, he could be made to work less so as to give time to God. There are times, the parent is even bored of praying, yet he needs to forge on, not with complete abandonment of God, but with a short prayer, while he returns to deep and detailed worship once he regains momentum.
2. Giving a place to Discipline in the family: Second to worship in the growing of a Christian home is discipline. The task of training a child is the responsibility of Parents. Parents must recognize that it is not sufficient to give a child his nature, but also to nurture the child in the way he should grow, and like Scriptures say, when he is old, he would not depart from it (Prov 22:6). The way of discipline is the way of authority in the home. There are different ways; parents should exercise their authority that would achieve the effect of learning and positive behaviour. Psychology often speaks of four types of parenting with regards to discipline and formation of children: The Authoritative Parenting which is demanding and responsive is a child-centred kind of parenting with high expectations of maturity; there is Authoritarian Parenting, which is demanding but not responsive often leading to totalitarianism in the family; there is Indulgent Parenting, which is responsive but not demanding. This is also known as permissive, non-directive or lenient. Lastly, there is the indulgent kind of parenting which is neither demanding nor responsive. It is also called uninvolved, detached, dismissive or hands-off kind of parenting. To build a Christian home, the parent should adopt a Christian authoritative kind of parenting.
Parents should also enforce corrective discipline from an early stage in life of the child so as it becomes part of the child. It is what the parents make the child to believe that they turn out to. If the parents make them understand that they are empty and good-for-nothing, sooner the child learns to see himself as such. Children learn to become what they believe. If you teach a child to believe in himself, he learns to accept others, if taught hard work, he learns independence. If a child however is continually being upbraided, he may gradually soon lose his self-respect and even not believe there is nothing he can do. A child should be corrected in love and made to see why he is to turn a new leaf. In discipline, parents should also remember the stage in life of the child before making very high demands.
Discipline is a matter of what the Children see. If a parent openly exhibits some ill behaviour and preaches another gospel, he is only pouring water in a basket. The child would learn more by what he sees the parents doing. Discipline should be a matter of consistency also. A parent does not rebuke a child over an ill behaviour and appraises or be impassive over such at another time. Parents should set and clearly communicate healthy boundaries about doing homework and chores, telling the truth, talking to people respectfully and a myriad of other issues and this should follow through with consequences when kinds make poor choices. Parents must be very patient in correcting their children.
3. Giving a place to morals and values in the family: Akin to discipline is the place of morals and values in the family. The role of discipline is to enshrine morals and values and this is the hub of a Christian home. Parents must learn to teach their children basic values that would aid their decisions in life. The decisions children take are what would affect them for the rest of their lives. Parents should learn to produce a culture they want their children to have. Parents should encourage them to commit to a living a lifestyle of purity, honouring God with their lives, bodies, renewing of their minds, turning their eyes from worthless things. Parents should talk openly with their kids about sex, alcohol, drugs and other things that could pose social threats to them as they grow up. Parents in building the moral life of their children should get to know what movies they watch, music they listen to, video games they play, website they visit, etc. It is not about restrictions, it is more about introduction. They should be introduced to edifying contents and materials that can grow their minds, while restricting their access to vulgar media content and language. Part of the value that should be taught and promoted in a Christian home is healthy stewardship. Parents must teach their children that what are most important in life are not things; it is more of the being of a thing, than its having. This also teaches a child to be content with what one has and never be overly jealous of what one has not got. There is also the all-important value of preparation that must be promoted in the family. There must be preparation if anything must be achieved: preparation for life, preparation for marriage, preparation for church, etc. If anyone wishes to be successful or gain meaning out of something, he must first prepare. These and many more are healthy, valuable and practical lessons in building a Christian home.
4. Giving a place to affirmation, warmth and encouragement in the family: A Christian home must not be a rigid place, but one that radiates with love. Parents must be there to affirm their children when they are good and give them warmth and encouragement in goals on life. There are many children who would want to do many things or are potent with many powers, yet, are not encouraged. Give your kids confidence by letting them know, that you believe in them, value them, and enjoy them. Say "I love you" to them often, and give them plenty of physical affection like hugs, kisses, and back rubs. Rather than just jumping into their to-do lists with them, share some relaxed conversations with them after they get home from school and before they go to bed. Let go of unrealistic expectations for them. Encourage them to pursue their areas of interest and become the people God wants them to become
5. Giving a place to communication and play in the family: If a family must grow, there must be communication and togetherness. Poor communication has resulted to kids turning out to be what is not expected from them. Parents must make a habit of listening carefully to their kids whenever they share their thoughts and feelings with them. Communication involves a dialogue, never a monologue. One person must listen when one is talking. It is not too much for parents to apologize to their children when they make a parenting mistake. Communication teaches them how to understand one another and how to resolve conflict. Communication must never be in an atmosphere of authoritarianism, where the child cannot express himself. The parent must learn to play with his children and this spirals togetherness. Parents should make time for vacations together, have fun at home, go on frequent outings, enjoy humour, work on projects together, etc. sharing playful experiences would build family memories that would be highly bonding in a very powerful way and in such a strong healthy bond is the presence of God. This communication and play is another way of defining love: Live on Valuing Each Other.
The home is the first school and a domestic church of a child, if it is less a Christian place, then the Children would turn out to be less godly. It is the measure of success for the child and the bedrock of a good society. If there are many more good homes, there would be a better society. The home is the reflection of every child. The home is what the child turns out to be. Thus, in building a Christian home, it begins with worship and ends in love.
THE PATHWAY TO GOOD HEALTH (3)
» By Pharm. Ngozi Nzewi
Recall that for the wholesomeness of the human body, we must be conscious of three things.
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(a) What it is fed with
(b) How it keeps up the health of the immune system
(c) How it takes care of the temple of God that is within it.
The immune system that is installed in our bodies by the creator for self-healing can be destroyed when we fail to put the right substances into our mouth. The immune system is very important for us to keep good health. Immunity may be described as active or passive. Both types are acquired naturally or artificially. Providing immunity artificially is called immunization. The human immune system is a device to keep the body healthy. It is designed to protect the body from external attacks of diseases causing organisms (pathogens), and other foreign substances. Sir Macfarlane Burnet defined Immunity as the capacity to recognize the intrusion of material foreign to the body and to mobilize cell products to help remove that particular sort of foreign material with greater speed and efficacy. This procedure is called immune response.
The immune system is quite a complex setup. Immune response goes through some intricacies and interconnectedness. Immune response is one of those activities going on in the human body, which is in operation outside the contribution of man. Man can however destroy the immune system and the consequence is ill health which in some cases could be fatal. Man has been put in place and is so contented with self that he has little or no regards for his maker. Appreciation of such mechanisms as the immune system should make man to appreciate the truth that he/she is not the owner oneself. Thus a wise person should cling to his maker and learn and live according to his teachings. This is very important because it will help man to take care of his body which is the temple of his maker. It is a fact beyond debate that millions of people have deserted this life (death) because they swim against the current of GOD's DOs and DONTS. A homosexual has no regards to that temple of God and as we know, the HIV/AIDS is believed to have originated from homosexual interactions:
When the immune system fails, a germ or disease causing organism will successfully invade the body and subject the individual to illness. If the immune system is deficient, many people will tragically die because of infection and organ damage. We should not be ignorant of those things that are jeopardizing our health. It is still a fact that prevention is better than cure. Conventional treatment is like a double edged sword killing germs while weakening the body's system. The object of medicine should be to heal the patient in the most gentle and effective way but in many situations other things such as toxicity effect tend to injure or kill many patients. For this reason, ways of remaining healthy is better than getting sick and going for drugs. Most people feel careless about health education just because they are not ill. A wise person should not have to wait until disease strikes. It is rather better to learn and know how to be well and leave the majority of medicines to the field of trauma.
To keep a sound mind in a sound body, we need a strong immune system. Strong immune system is a barrier to disease, opportunistic infections such as found in the HIV/AIDS situation. A strong immune system helps to maintain good health and prolong life. We are individually responsible for our health and that means we must be ready to learn and practice good health procedures otherwise, how can we take care of this wonderful most complex machine called the human body. Health is at stake if the immune system is compromised as typified in the HIV/AIDS immune compromised syndrome. With strong immune system, the body is safe from chronic diseases such as cardiovascular (heart and blood) diseases, cancer, auto immune disease, fibromyalgia (a disorder characterized by wide spread of pains and associated tiredness), chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV/AIDS, Arthritis, prostate problems, diabetes and many other immune compromised disorders. A healthy body with a strong immune system virtually never gets sick. It is resistant to diseases and is quick to heal itself.
Virtually all diseases stem from a weak immune system says Dr. Cornellius Moerman M. D. In our daily food, water and air, we take in a lot of thousands of pollutants, germs, viruses and carcinogens. This is happening every day. Our immune system as such is correspondingly at work with the sole purpose of ensuring the health of the body.
Embrace healthy living strategies----Food, Rest, Exercise, Bursting stress.
Eat food that is as close as possible to the way nature made it. Foods hat promote good health include fruits, vegetables, fibers, plant oil, whole grains. Eat more of unprocessed foods. Avoid Factory processed food usually laden with fat, salt and sugar. Choosing healthy foods based on good science remains the best known way to reduce your chances of developing heart disease, and diabetes, and help to ward off hypertension, osteoporosis, and some forms of cancer. Always remember that you are what you eat.
The importance of exercise to good health generally cannot be over emphasized. It is good for the heart, good blood circulation, good digestion and assimilation and the general good health of the body. Exercise confers feeling fine, smartness, young and enhances good memory. Exercise secludes you from most chronic diseases such as diabetes.
Maintain a good daily rest and avoid Stress.
Researchers believe response accompanying ageing. This contributes to ill health in this age range. Here the thymus gland which produces immune response T cell atrophies with age. Following this, fewer T cells for immune response are produced. There is also recorded lack of micronutrient (essential vitamins, and trace elements) common in the elder people. It has been documented that a great percentage of Americans routinely take dietary supplement. (Internet sourced).
The following are some good immune boosters, (a) Co-Q 10 (NPN license 80006960). A cardiologist like Dr. Stephen T. Sinatra recommends it, and one health expert writes; if a middle aged person does not want to take supplements, let him/her take at least CO-Q 10. It is an important. It is an important cell antioxidant, improves heart function, respiration, immune system, energy, gum health. It is a safe non-toxic nutrient that is vital for cells to function properly. It is also very effective in retarding ageing which is slowing of cells. It helps to burn fat that most middle age people put on. It also helps to cope with stress. The other research product which in combination with CO-Q1O, maintains a high quality immune system is the SUPREM IMMUNE BOOSTER (NPN LICENSE80042672). These products are very much available.
MEDICINAL VALUE OF WALLNUT.
Walnuts have some medicinal values and like every other natural product that possesses medicinal properties, medicinal values are not meant to replace but to supplement your doctor's healthcare provision. The skin covering walnut is known include phenolic acids, tannins, and flavonoids. Walnut contains gamma-tocopherol in its wall a form of Vitamin E known to protect cardiovascular health. Walnut has anti-inflammatory benefits. It is also protective against metabolic and cardiovascular problems, and Type 2 diabetes.
Other nutrients inherent in walnut include some phytonutrients such as tannin, tellimagrandin, the quinone jugone found virtually in no other commonly eaten food. Also in walnut is the flavonol morin rare in other foods. It is an anti-oxidant and it offers anti- inflammatory property as well. Anti-inflammation and anti-oxidant properties help in decreasing the risk of prostate cancers and breast cancer. You are hereby encouraged to consume walnuts now that it is in season. Studies in the cardiovascular health of men reveals that the gamma-tocopherol form of vitamin E present in walnut provides significant protection from heart attack. The above information is from the internet.
TOMATO; Red tomato is important for the health of the prostate. It prevents prostate cancer. It is also useful in the treatment of prostate cancer. This is by the virtue of the lycopene, a carotenoid pigment, and a powerful anti-oxidant found in red tomato. We will continue to appreciate and worship God because it is obvious that He really loves His creatures. Let us recall that before He created man He had created everything that man would need including those plants man would need to remedy any ill health.
THE EMIRS AND INTER-RELIGIOUS RELATIONS
» By Rev. Fr. (Prof.) Cornelius Afebu Omonokhua
The motivation for this reflection is the Catholic Archbishop of Jos, Ignatius Ayau Kaigama. He is also the current President of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Nigeria. I am inspired with the statement I found in his book “Peace, not War” (Published 2012). He says, “We discovered that we had a mutual passion for peace and inter-religious harmony” (Page 163). The context of this statement is his tribute to the late Emir of Wase, Dr. Haruna Abdullahi. He calls the Emir, “Brother and Friend”. The introduction of the tribute reveals the deep relationship between an Archbishop and an Emir. (Peace, not War, Pages 162-163). Those who sent the text messages to inform Archbishop Kaigama of the sickness and death of the Emir serve as witnesses to religious coexistence between Muslims and Christians. The contents of the book “Peace, not War” go beyond Kaigama's decade of interventions in the Plateau State Crises (2001-2011).
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The book is a blueprint for Inter-religious relations between traditional rulers and religious leaders in Nigeria.
The relationship between the present Sultan of Sokoto and John Cardinal Onaiyekan is still very conspicuous. This relationship was very visible when both of them were Co-Chairmen of the Nigeria Inter-religious Council (NIREC). Very often, the present President of the Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN), Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor refers to the Sultan of Sokoto as “my very good friend.” The Catholic Bishop of Sokoto, Matthew Hassan Kukah who is also the Episcopal Chairman of Inter-religious Dialogue in the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nigeria (CBCN) is a testimony of the peace that can be achieved in a good human and religious relationship. His relationship with the Sultan of Sokoto and the Emirs in Zamfara, Kebbi and Katsina (Sokoto Diocese) could be among the reasons for the peace in these states. The Catholic Bishop of Kano, Most Rev. John Niyiring affirms that the late Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero had a good Inter-religious relationship as a grand patron for the Committee for Peaceful coexistence in Kano.
All these are indicators that the Emirs are potential peace builders. To translate these potentials into actuality, they could give capacity to their subjects to promote peace in their immediate environments. Many Nigerians are puzzled that the Emirs have become targets of terrorists attack whereas they occupy a very sacred position that should be revered by their subjects and every Nigerian. Some of the possible questions are: “Do the terrorists want to kill an Emir because he is promoting peace and denouncing violence and terrorism?” “Is an Emir who has a good relationship with people of other religions a threat to a politician who is over ambitious?” Would the Emirs not be safer if the Federal or State government do not dictate who should be an Emir?” The assassination attempt on the late Emir of Kano, Alhaji Ado Bayero was enough scandal. One should have expected that he should be allowed to join his ancestors without riots over his successor. The killing of the Emir of Gwoza, Alhaji Idrissa Timta is the height of desecration of the royal throne in Nigeria. These are serious indications that a wound has been inflicted on the traditional values of Nigeria. This calls for urgent traditional intervention to save the traditional institutions.
As we pray for the peaceful repose of Alhaji Ado Bayero, we could use Kano as a wake up call for the need for all the Emirs and the Sultan to come together in sincere dialogue to work with other religious leaders to save the nation from anarchy. "Caravans across the Desert: Marketplace". AFRICA: One Continent, Many Worlds. Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County Foundation is an original archive of January 2, 2005 that was retrieved on May 6, 2007. According to this document, the Kingdom of Kano was based on an ancient settlement of Dala Hill while small chiefdoms were previously present in the area. Okehie-Offoha, Marcellina and Matthew N. O. Sadiku (December 1995) citing the Kano Chronicle, says that Bagauda, a grandson of the mythical hero Bayajidda became the first king of Kano in 999, reigning until 1063. According to Ki-Zerbo Joseph (1998) Muhammad Rumfa ascended to the throne in 1463 and reigned until 1499. During his reign he reformed the city, expanded the Sahelian Gidan Rumfa (Emir's Palace), and played a role in the further Islamization of the city as he urged prominent residents to convert. Evangelization is the tool of every religion to persuade and convince people to worship God in all sincerity.
It appears that the Emirs have some historical relationship that could be used today to promote peace and unity. For instance, the Hausa state remained independent until the Fulani conquest of 1805. Lovejoy Paul (1983) is of the opinion that the jihad of Usman dan Fodio led to the emergence of the Sokoto Caliphate while Kano became the largest and most prosperous province of the empire. According to the BBC News of December 21, 2001, from 1893 until 1895, two rival claimants of the throne of Kano fought a civil war. With the help of royal slaves, Yusufu was victorious over Tukur, and claimed the title of emir. It is expected that this episode should not be replayed in this enlightened period. The British made Kano the administrative centre of Northern Nigeria. It was replaced as the centre of government by Kaduna and only regained administrative significance with the creation of Kano State following Nigeria's independence. It is however consoling that although the Emir had limited formal political powers; he continues to exert considerable authority and provides leadership on issues such as the tension between Christians and Muslims in the city (WorldStatesmen.org).
Very often, the disparity in land allocation for religious purposes and other religious discrimination have been blamed on some State governments. Who knows if what is happening today could have been avoided if the Emirs had rebuked the religious intolerance of some religious fanatics and some politicians who used religion to ascend to power. Now that darkness has fallen upon some parts of Nigeria, it is obvious that the terrorists do not discriminate in the killing and kidnapping of Muslims and Christians. They do not care what tribe a victim comes from. They have even gone to the extent of kidnapping Fulani women. Do they care about position and hierarchy? Who knows if they would not one day abduct the Emirs and their wives? Now is the time for the Emirs to redesign a new strategy by taking seriously the need to come together in the form of “intra-Emir dialogue”. Then they should in collaboration with the Christians seek the face of God to save themselves and their subjects not only from the web of the terrorists but from a religious disharmony that does not make way for peaceful coexistence. Long live the Emirs! May God give our Emirs the wisdom and strength to restore what is falling apart through good inter-religious relations!
» By Rev. Fr. Ferdinand Okafor
Every human person has essential qualities that set him or her from other people. These qualities could be good or bad, and they define one's personality. Similarly, Christians have essential qualities that distinguish them from other people in the society. Christianity is a culture. Culture is a way of life of any people. Christian culture entails modeling oneself after the pattern of Christ. Those who live the Christian way of life have a mode of dressing by which they are identified. Just as one can easily identify an Hausa person by his or her way of dressing or eating, so too Christians are recognized by their ways of dressing, eating, talking, behaving etc.
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These qualities which distinguish Christians from other people are known as virtues.
Virtue is the habitual disposition to do good. There are theological virtues and cardinal virtues. Theological virtues relate us directly to God. They are faith, hope and charity; while cardinal virtues are the hinges through which other virtues rotate. They are prudence, justice, temperance and fortitude. The virtues of faith, hope and charity are essential virtues that every Christian must possess. In every human person there are cardinal traits, central traits and secondary traits.
Cardinal traits: These are all pervading traits that dictate or direct the behaviour of an individual. Examples are: greed, ambition or lust. Basically, there are regulatory motives that govern the action of every individual. These motives may be conscious or unconscious.
Central traits: These are basic building blocks that make up the core of personality and they constitute the individual's characteristic ways of dealing with the world. They capture the essence of individual's personality. Examples are honesty, love, and happiness.
Secondary traits: They are less consistent and influential than central traits. They determine individual's preferences such as taste, reaction to situations, and world view. These traits are not easily noticed in one; they only appear occasionally.
Theological virtues are like cardinal traits, without them we have no relationship with God. They are the basic Christian identity. The virtue of faith for instance makes us to believe in God without a doubt of his existence.
Other Christian identity or marks are temperance, humility, wisdom, knowledge, understanding, counsel, and piety, fear of the Lord, fortitude, Patience, Humility, and Honesty. These virtues are present in everyone in different degrees. One cannot possess all the virtues in the same degree. Without these virtues one's Christian identity is lost. Identity comprises a set of characters. It is the distinctive character of an individual. According to S. Perry, a man of characters is an inspiration to others.
Temperance is regarded as a cardinal virtue and every Christian needs to possess this virtue. Without the virtue of temperance one cannot retain Christian identity.
Christian identity is built on one's conviction. Christian attitude reflects one's conviction. One of the easiest ways to lose one's Christian reputation is through lack of self-control. A Christian who is ruled by emotions has no control over his words and actions. Self-control is a central trait in Christian life. Without self-control, a Christian can do anything, exhibit irrational behavior or be swayed by the current of the world. Many Christians have conform themselves to the standard of the world that indecent dressing and materialism have overtaken them.
Habits, characters and traits are either learned or inherited, but one can choose to unlearn or disinherit them. Learned habits are learnt both consciously and unconsciously, but are rooted in the subconscious mind and are performed even unconsciously.
Testing Christian Virtues
Just as the degree of one's faith can be determined with trials or tribulation, so too, other virtues can be tested in different ways. For example, the virtue of humility can be tested when one is made to serve as a subordinate, or made to do some menial work. Also, the virtue of generosity can be tested in moments of scarcity, while patience can tested with disappointment. How one comports oneself or accepts events in moments of disappointment determines the degree of one's patience.
The virtue of fortitude is tested in time of tribulation, temperance in time of plenty. How one is able to moderate oneself in the midst of abundance reveals the extent to which one possesses the virtue of temperance. Self-control is determined or tested with provocation. What one says or does when provoked reveal much of the level of one's self-control.
These virtues determine one's personality. A particular virtue may be highly pronounced in one, while other virtues are present as secondary traits. These secondary traits are revealed when situations in life cause them to. In all, every true Christian through virtue reflects an aspect of Christ.
TAMING A TERROR
» By Rev. Fr. Gregory Onimhawo
In the novel called “Things Fall Apart” written by Chinua Achebe, it is stated that the centre could no longer hold and that is why things were falling apart. But then, it becomes a worse scenario when the centre is not even there to make things hold on to each other. This is so because the centre experienced the terror of destruction, embraced the confines of extinction and in time will no longer be there. This is the situation that the Nigerian state might be facing in the future that is very close and the reason is clearly evident with the emergence of the so called terrorist group, Boko Haram. I wish and pray as a Christian that may it not be so through Christ our Lord, Amen. However, the recent actions by this terrorist group are a cause for concern in Nigeria, throughout Africa and the world because of the importance of this country. The group has been growing in strength, rampant in Borno state, very active in other northern states and striking even further south, in Jos and Abuja, the federal capital.
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The words of Boima J. Rogers affirms the general conception and admiration given to Nigeria that she is truly the giant of Africa, with the largest economy on the continent, accounting for almost a fifth of Africa's population and sharing borders with four countries. The country has significant trade with those countries and many others. Nigeria's traders are active throughout the continent and the country has a large Diaspora in most African countries and throughout the world. It is the largest producer of oil on the continent. The instability that Boko Haram is causing in the country is therefore having reverberations throughout Africa and even beyond.
It is impossible to understand how any religion can sanction the kidnapping of innocent schoolgirls and the destruction and mayhem perpetrated in the name of Allah. In the last publication of this desk, a point was made clear that the litany of attacks by Boko Haram is a horrible step towards destruction of our future, and this could include the destruction of the future for Boko Haram, their children and their aspirations.
Intelligence Via Negativa
One could imagine the time that the said group Boko Haram takes out to plan insurgency on areas and persons. It really demands an intelligent, smart mind and a great thinker to fashion out strategies on how to mount terror on a particular area and people let alone mounting terror on people at different time in different locations. It could have been highly profitable for the said group, for the country and even the world at large to channel this kind of effort positively toward nation building, reducing the human suffering and saving lives. Reports from CNN on Monday 30th June, 2014 show that this said group is highly sponsored by piracy activities, the terrorist group called Al-Qaeda and Al-Shabab. On the other hand, the funds used in sponsoring these horrible activities could have been used in helping projects that would alleviate human suffering and make our nation move forward.
A Point To Note
Nigeria, the African giant plays a pivotal role in the region and beyond. The solution to the problem must be resolved by Nigerians but with active support from its neighbours and world powers. However, some observers had this to say that the efforts of the current administration in Nigeria have tried but then much is still left to be desired. As we continue to rely on the statements of J. Rogers, the Boko Haram problem has been simmering for years and it is only the recent kidnapping of the schoolgirls that has forced President Jonathan and all Nigerians to make it a top priority, no doubt as a result of the campaign by relatives, the Nongovernmental Organizations and the international concern. This is a project that must be carried on continuously.
In another perspective, it has been mentioned specifically that the army has not shown that it is up to the job and even at the time of making up this write up, the President Jonathan has not yet visited Borno State since the girls were kidnapped. He has recently visited Kano, another northern state on party business but could not make a detour to Borno state in the north-east. He has even found time to fly all the way to France to talk about the problems but what about the charity that should begin at home.
Some persons are holding to the fact that the President avoiding a visit to Borno State is not only showing that there are elements of fear to go there, but also he is failing to empathize and build a bond with the people in the state, crucial factors if he is to win the war against Boko Haram. In making the trip to France he is abrogating the country's role as the regional power, instead taking the position of a client state. This could be a contradiction to the personality of the Nigerian State. It was quite an interesting scenario that the international media such CNN, BBC were interested in the crisis than the owners of the crisis. But then it has reached a point where by there is no need stretching accusing fingers at anybody but to make it a fight for all either physically or spiritually.
It will not be an unnecessary repetition to re-emphasize the alertness campaign against terror more than ever before. On this platform, we can follow the slogan that was televised on Africa Independent Television (AIT), on Sunday 29th June, 2014 that SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING. As far as security becoming a basic necessity in Nigeria and the fight against insecurity is concerned, this said slogan is a responsibility to all which will definitely help in a great deal.
HOLINESS AND HEALING EXPERIENCE (2)
» By Rev. Fr. Thomas Anavhe
In our last month publication, we made it clear that it is possible to be holy because of God's grace. So, we must not be afraid of living a holy life and be guided by the Holy Spirit. Holiness units us to God and enables God's healing hands to be at work in our lives. We have been called to be holy as our heavenly father is holy (I Peter 1:6). The devil will not allow us to be holy, so that we can be denied of God's wholeness. He knows when we are holy, we will say, “enough to his operation in our lives and families”.
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It is not the case that the pleasures we derive from our sinful acts are so satisfying themselves. They seem satisfying to us because Satan has created the idea of tentative satisfaction in our lives. “My people are doomed because they do not acknowledge me (Hosea 4:6)”. When there are so many links of sins in our lives, it becomes so difficult for us lb live a holy life. We become empty, unproductive and tied down by the weight of sin. “The thief comes only in order to steal, kill, and to destroy, I have come in order that you might have life in all its fullness (John 10:l0). We must submit to God. Resist the Devil, and he will run away from us (James 4:7). Refusing to shut the links of sins in our lives makes God's glory to depart from his people.
The involvement of God in our lives is what we need for the manifestation of the deliverance we are looking for. When there is full union between us and God. The abundant life of God comes into realization among those who have been captured by the life of God. God has given each of us the choice to enjoy the abundant life that flow from being in union with Him. Christians, who desire to experience God's healing power, can never be denied of it. “I am now giving you the choice between life and death, between God's blessing and God's curse, and I call heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Choose life. (Deuteronomy 30:19).
God is the great healer we need to effect change to every iota of ill health we are facing in our lives. He wants us to come and fully participate in his life, so that we may no longer need to carry the heavy burdens of our challenges. Our God can resolve and solve our situation for us, even when it becomes so complex. The Lord Almighty says, “The day is coming when all proud and evil people will bum like straw. On that day they will burn up and there will be nothing left of them. But for you who obey me, my saving power will rise on you like the sun and bring healing like the sun's rays. You will be as free and happy as calves let out of a staff (Malachi 4:2). We need to start reflecting and set our minds on heavenly things (Colossians 3:2). For God is full of blessing and surprises to those who do not love the world or things that belong to the world (1 John
There is divine garment that covers every Christian that strives for 1holiness. For holy living keeps us for wholeness. It creates a sense of completeness and satisfaction in us. To be denied of the beauty of the garment of Salvation is to be naked and exposed to shame and disgrace like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:7). There is no substitute we can afford in this world to cover up for the beauty of the garment of Salvation in us. Any other garment, different from the garment of Salvation is man-made
‘Clothing; is like the fig leaves that Adam and Eve used which could not cover up their nakedness (Genesis 3:7-1 1).
Be sold out for holiness.
We have been sold holiness for God's healing hands to hold us whole. To be sold out for holiness is to accept to be with God with a complete surrender to' him without any specific reservation. It means that we no longer live to ourselves, and we do not die to ourselves. If we live, we live for the Lord, and if we die, we die in the Lord. So then, whether we live or we die, we are for the Lord (Roman 14:7-8). God will not turn His back on the righteous in moment of tries. He takes full control of the entire life of those who work in a true union with Him. “The Lord keeps close watch over the whole world, to give strength to those whose hearts are loyal to him” (2Chronicles 16:9). For we have been bought (and paid for) to live unto the glory of God (I Corinthians 6:20). God will not fail to care for those who give up themselves wholeheartedly to Him. He said to Joshua, “no one will be able to defeat you as long as you live. I will be with you as I was with Moses. I will always be with you; I will never abandon you (Joshua 1:5).
Those that have been redeemed and sold out (consecrated) for holiness, must not subject themselves into slavery experience again. By wanting to go back to their enslaver who offers tentatively a life seemingly joyful because of challenges in their lives is another way of refusing to appreciate the redeeming grace of God in them. The acceptance of every sinful offer as well as the benefits that is associated with it enslaved us for life. The Israelites wanted to go back to Egypt not necessarily because they were not having food to eat. “The Israelites have livestock while living as slaves in Egypt” (Exodus 9:1-7).
They refused to appreciate the great miracles God had showed to them by delivering them from the hands of the Egyptians. They paid attention to their personal interests. They never wanted to eat from their livestock, their source of income. They saw God as one who delivered them from the hands of the Egyptians, but brought them into the desert or wilderness to suffer or die, the God who was not capable of providing food for them to eat. With this in mind the Israelites desired to go back to Egypt for slavery meal than that of God's grace. The Lord said to Moses, “Now I am going to make food rain down from the sky for all of you. The people must go out every day and gather enough for that day. In this way I can test them to find out if they will follow my instructions. Then Moses said, “It is the Lord who will give you meat to eat in the evening and as much bread as you want in the morning, because he has heard how much you have complained against him. When you complain against us, you are really complaining against the Lord”. (Exodus 16:4-8).
What is wrong with us? Has God not been faithful to us and our family? We cannot afford to go back to the sweet meat and onions of sinful acts that God has already redeemed us from. For St. Paul says, “What shall separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble do it, or hardship or persecution or hunger or poverty or danger or death? (Romans 8:35).This is perilous time (2Timothy 3:1). We must remain united to God. Saint Augustine of Hippo the Early Church Father and Doctor of the Church states, “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it rests in you”. Lord may we find you as we seek you.
CBCN DECLARES SIX-MONTH NATIONAL PRAYER FOR NIGERIA
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In the light of the escalating security challenges facing the nation, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria (CBCN), has outlined a six-month marathon prayer for all faithful in the country for God's intervention for the muti-dimentional security and social-economic plaguing the nation, especially the threat to stability and peace as a result of the activities of Boko Haram, kidnapping and other criminal activities including corruption.
According to the statement titled “A national call to prayer” , signed by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama, President of the CBCN and released recently in Abuja, urged all Bishops, Priests, Religious and lay faithful to oblige the call with total commitment” stressing that “the highpoint of the six month prayer programme is National Rosary prayer pilgrimage to be held at the National Christian (Ecunimical) centre, Abuja from the evening of Thursday, November 14th to morning of Friday November 15th 2014 and to be attended by Bishops and Catholic faithful from all the 55 Archdioceses, Dioceses and Vicarates in the country”.
The statement which revealed that 'the prayer is been organized by CBCN, commences in the month of July with special prayers for the safe release and return of all abducted and kidnapped people in Nigeria, particularly students of Girls Secondary School, Chibok, Borno State”, adding that the six-month programme will end in December with prayer focused on the promotion of human life in Nigeria”.
Continuing, the statement revealed that guidelines for prayer were directed at families, Parishes and the national level which comes up in November,' stressing that families were encouraged to pray the Rosary together at home every Saturday, while Parishes are expected to hold a one hour Rosary and Eucharistic adoration on the last Sunday of the six month with the Bishops' presiding at the Cathedral Church.
Further, the letter hinted that “the prayer points for the six month period are as follows; July for the safe release and return of all abducted and kidnapped people of Nigeria; August for those who have suffered and are suffering violence because of the crisis in Nigeria, September; for all security agents who have cost lives, limbs and property in the service of dear fatherland,” stressing that “the months of October, November and December are for unity, peace and good governance in Nigeria, eradication of corruption and promotion of family of Justice in Nigeria and promotion of family values, of the family institution and protection of human life in Nigeria respectively”.
The statement added that “in anticipation of your fervent participation, we pray that our merciful God show us His mercy and heal our dear country” it concluded.
DIOCESAN CMO MARK 10TH ANNIVERSARY IN AUCHI
It was an epoch making event at Immaculate Conception Cathedral, Auchi, as the Diocesan Catholic Men Organization (CMO), marked their tenth anniversary with thanksgiving.
Delivering the homily at the Mass which was concelebrated by the Vicar general of the Diocese Very Rev. Fr. Isaac Bossey and over ten Priests, Rev Fr. Ferdinard Okafor who congratulated members of the organization on the anniversary, noted that it was good for them to appreciate God for His blessings on the organization for the past ten years of its existence in the Diocese, stressing that the event was also an opportunity for them to re-examine themselves.
Fr. Okafor who reiterated the need for members to remain committed to the growth of the organization, urged them to endeavour to make valuable sacrifice in ensuring the development of the organization not only at the Parish level, but also at the Diocesan level, adding that no organization can succeed without the co-operation of all and sundry and enjoined members to be dedicated to the advancement of the group.
More, the homilist who hinted that prayer is necessary for the survival of any organization, tasked members to be prayerful at all time and wished them a fruitful celebration, while tasking members to always take the activities of the organization seriously.
In his remarks, the President, Diocesan CMO, Mr. Christopher Ighodaro who appreciated the Chief Shepherd of the Diocese Most Rev. (Dr.) Gabriel G. Dunia, the Vicar general of the Diocese and other Priests present for attending the celebration, lauded the efforts of the Diocesan CMO Members for their commitment in ensuring the success of the event and noted that the celebration was timely, as it will enable members re- examine themselves and strategize ways of moving the organization forward.
Continuing, the President who urged members to step up their activities of the group in their Stations, Mass Centres, Parishes and Diocesan level, pledged the organization's determination to continue to participate actively in the activities in the Diocese and solicited the co-operation of members and all present to move the group forward and commanded guests present for attending the ceremony.
Addressing all present, the Diocesan Chaplain of the organization, Rev. Fr. Polycarp Imoagene who commended the Bishop for his developmental stride in the Diocese, noted that the role of CMO in the development of the Diocese cannot be overemphasized and thanked the CMO for making the celebration worthwhile.
More, Fr. Imoagene who hinted that the Diocese is fast developing in all ramifications, charged members of the organization to step up their activities and co-operate effectively with all its members to enable them succeed, appreciated Priests present for coming to celebrate with them and prayed God to grant them the grace to move the organization forward.
Welcoming guests to the reception held at the Cathedral premises, the Host Chairman, Mr. A. Okosun who expressed joy on the occasion, stressed that the anniversary celebration was necessary and commended the Diocesan CMO Chairman for his foresight in revamping the organization, while urging members to endeavour to register with the group at the Parish level to facilitate success of the group.
Highpoints of the celebration were thanksgiving procession led by the chairman accompanied by other members of the organization, fund raising, and presentation of awards to twenty-five deserving individuals among other activities.
FR. OFOEGBU IS LAID TO REST IN BENIN CITY
The remains of Very Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Cyril Ikechukwu Ofoegbu, a Priest of the Archdiocese of Benin City, who died on 5th June, 2014, has been laid to rest at St. Paul's Minor Seminary, Premises, Benin City.
Delivering a homily at the Mass at St. Paul's Catholic Church, Benin city, Rt. Rev. Monsignor Valentine Awoyemi from Ijebu-Ode Diocese, who was a classmate of late Fr. Cyril, described him as a scholar, administrator, disciplinarian, intelligent and a detribalized Priest of God, stressing that the deceased lived a fulfilled Priestly life and left a footprint in the sand of time.
While recalling the humility and the selfless service rendered to the Church by the Priest, the homilist charged all to take solace in the words of the scriptures which assures all that the souls of the virtues are in the hands of the Lord.
Continuing, Msgr. Awoyemi charged the Government to check the proliferation of arms and ammunitions to save the commoners who are always at the receiving end of the insecurity situation in Nigeria where lives and public treasures are robbed on daily basis, and commiserated with the family of the deceased, Priests and the lay faithful of the Archdiocese of Benin City, while tasking all present to emulate the virtues of humility, love, hard work and simplicity of the late Priest, adding the whatever virtues one is endowed with should not be for personal gratification, but for the common good of all.
The final commendation rite was performed by Bishop Hyacinth Egbebo of Bomadi Vicariate, while the vote of thanks was given by the Vicar General of Benin Archdiocese, Very Rev. Fr. Augustine Ehigie.
The funeral Mass was attended by Archbishop Emeritus of Benin, Most Rev. (Dr.) Patrick E. Ekpu, Bishop of Bomadi Vicariate, Most Rev. (Dr.) Hyacinth Egbebo, Administrator of Uromi Diocese, Very Rev. Fr. John Akhidue, over 250 Priests from within and outside Benin Archdiocese as well as Religions and lay faithful across the country.
The late Very Rev. Fr. (Dr.) Cyril Ofoegbu, who was until his death, the principal of Immaculate Conception College, Benin City and the Dean, Benin Deanery, was ordained 14th February, 1982 and has worked in many Parishes including St. Philip's Catholic Church, Jattu before the creation of Auchi Diocese. He died on 5th June, 2014 after he was hit by a stray bullet from bandit on his way to attend a function.