Connect with us


Tunji Olaopa’s Search For Religious Coherence




By Isaac Megbolugbe

Professor Tunji Olaopa’s memoir, The Unending Quest for Reform, contains a candid and explicit discussion of his religious formation and maturation. The book also reveals a few gaps that remain in his worldview about spirituality. He desires religious coherence, both personally and culturally. He believes the instrumental force that religion can play in fostering elite nationalism which is crucial to the transformation of Nigeria into both a capable developmental state and, ultimately, into a nation-state

 Olaopa’s search for religious coherence is both wise and strategic. The purpose of the search is to locate a safe place within the civil space to corral political elites for socialisation and cultivation of national consciousness in building a capable developmental state. Elite nationalism is cumulatively constitutive of ethics-based, culturally based and civic-based solidarities, loyalties, and allegiances. The best way to approach this exercise is through religion because of the basic sociological functions that religions already perform across societies. This is what Olaopa seems to be talking about in his excellent memoir. 

Prof. Tunji Olaopa

Religion serves several functions for society. These include (a) giving meaning and purpose to life, (b) reinforcing social unity and stability, (c) serving as an agent of social control of behaviour, (d) promoting physical and psychological well-being, and (e) motivating people to work for positive social change. The issue of coherence here does not pertain to ecumenism or syncretism but epistemic justification. It implies that, for a belief to be justified, it must belong to a coherent system of beliefs. For a system of beliefs to be coherent, the beliefs that make up that system must relate to one another. Coherence, in this instance, is essentially a syntactic relation that exists between various propositions but not between propositions and reality. This relation is typically defined as an absence of contradictions among various propositions. In other words, coherence does not have to correspond to reality. Navigating portfolios and systems of beliefs that members of different religious backgrounds can subscribe to must meet the test of coherence for sufficiency. Figuring out what set of beliefs must be articulated to enable the effective socialisation of elites into a shared and deep sense of nationalism is not a trivial matter. 

Olaopa believes that political elites constitute the fulcrum of the decision-making process on behalf of the people. However, the character of the political class across the world has undergone some transformations since the end of colonialism. Nevertheless, no matter how compromised they are, Olaopa sees the need to build their capacity to birth genuine nation-building and national development. Across the world, elite nationalism has a fundamental role to play, he claims, in not only the birthing of a nation but also in keeping that nation together, stable and progressive. As noted by Olaopa, It was a national duty on the African continent where the national political class played a significant role in the anticolonial campaigns that led to the official shutdown of colonisation. Olaopa proposes that a similar campaign remobilise the elites of different categories to cultivate elite nationalism, not so much as an ideological commitment but a meeting of the mind about the necessity to establish a capable developmental state including basic literacy in different aspects of modern life required for effective civic engagement, within the republic, in the economic, financial, political and religious spheres. They are the set of representatives that stand in the place of the modern-day ‘demos’, and are meant to make informed and enlightened decisions that are conducive to human well-being and flourishing. 

Before we discuss literacy education about religion and spirituality, let us review what Olaopa writes in his memoir about his spiritual journey. Olaopa was born into a Yoruba Baptist home. But, like most of us who are second-generation Christians, he never became a disciple.  He never had an opportunity to exercise his faith by choosing to accept Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour. He was not taught what it meant to be ‘born-again’. He never heard the Gospel of Christ preached.  Many of us joined the Fellowship of Christian Students or Scripture Union in college to learn how to be ‘born-again’ Christians. Olaopa struggled over his entire life to reconcile his Christian spirituality with his identity as a Yoruba man partly because of his lack of biblical grounding in what it means to be a Christian.  He experienced his Christian spirituality culturally in terms of his family practice of Christian worship which was guided by the Baptist devotional manual.  His family values and ethics revolve around being a good person. It is this indigenous ethical living he refers to as the doctrine of ‘omoluwabi’ which is the portrait of a valued personality worthy of being embodied. He found storytelling about characters of the Bible delightful. He was never taught about how every story in the Bible revolves around Jesus Christ as the second person of the Triune God of the Bible.  Some members of Olaopa’s family were involved in both Yoruba and Islamic religions. He felt like everybody was equally well-socialised into the same community and traditions of the Yoruba people. His family drew a distinction between aspects of the Yoruba culture that entertain and fetish practices that are involved in the worship of inanimate objects for their magical powers or their inhabitation by demonic spirit beings. Olaopa’s parents were wise to have circumscribed his engagement with fetish practices and instilled in him reverence for God.

Demons are the sources of these fetish practices everywhere. Demons, in the spirit world, canvass for worship by human beings in exchange for sharing some of their powers with human beings. Demons are spiritual beings who used to belong to the community of angelic beings or hosts created to worship the Almighty God. Demons are the fallen angels who followed Satan when he rebelled against God and still retain the power that God created in them.  Lucifer was the Angel who led the worship of God in heaven until he desired to be the object of worship himself. He wanted to be like God to receive worship from the other angels. He was cast out of heaven and a third of the angels followed him. These fallen angels parade the world to seek other beings who will give them worship. Remember Satan even asked Jesus to worship him in exchange for the riches and glory of the world.

The colonialists from Europe that brought Christianity to Africa were not necessarily genuinely interested in spreading the Gospel of Christ alone. Christianity was just used like other religions for sociological reasons to soften and pacify the people they wanted to rule. They left their own fetish practices back in Europe and condemned the ones in Africa. Both sets of fetish practices were and remain demonically orchestrated. Olaopa narrates the gamut of sociocultural dynamics he went through that informed his values and sense of ethics. He also says that Christianity was sufficient for his parents’ faith practices but the Yoruba culture offered them a relational framework. This observation or experience is not unique to the Yoruba culture. It is a universal feature of humanity. Apostle Paul says that much about the Gentiles, which include all Africans, in Romans 2:14-15:

14 Indeed, when Gentiles, who do not have the law, do by nature things required by the law, they are a law for themselves, even though they do not have the law. 15 They show that the requirements of the law are written on their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, and their thoughts sometimes accusing them and at other times even defending them.

Olaopa was fascinated with his encounters with a few manifestations of mysticism and occultism in college. His curiosity got the best of him. He went on a wide goose chase for a taste of the other practices of spirituality that he might, perhaps, add as additional menus to the practice of his Christian spirituality. He got close but decided not to jump into the river. Thank God, his personal experience of the providence of God a few times might have put fear and reverence for God in his heart.  Nevertheless, his lamentations about how all these spiritualities fit together remain and are expressed honestly and directly in his memoir. He wants to understand African religions, African Christianity, Abrahamic religions, Jesus Christ and his ministry and how they all fit or not fit together. In addition, he interrogates whether any of these have much bearing on the ministry of the Nigerian Church and the appropriateness of her roles and responsibilities in the struggle for the emergence of Nigerian as a nation. Moreover, Olaopa is fully aware of his stature as a public intellectual and the range of intellectual and epistemic burdens that come with the status. Consequently, he wants to gain a broader understanding of the interdependent relationship among people of different persuasions and religious backgrounds. 

In his memoir, Olaopa states, specifically, the areas he wants input from his readers. He states his desire to achieve personal religious coherence. He also wants to know how to experience God and Jesus Christ. In other words, he wants an introduction to his Lord and Saviour, according to his worldview. A basic review of the philosophy of religion is helpful to frame the discussion that follows. A basic understanding of what and who we are, and what and who God is is helpful to a discussion of the philosophy and anthropology of religion that Olaopa seeks. This basic knowledge is foundational to the socialisation of the elites into a community of human beings who happen to be citizens of Nigeria. Accepting everyone as belonging to the same species is huge for cultivating solidarity. The Bible is the most complete and accurate source of both human beings and God.  We are human beings. The definition of the ‘beingness’ of God is his essence and, in the case of God, it is also his existence.  We also know, by implication, that God is love by virtue of the love that eternally exists within the Godhead. God is a Supreme Being. What we are is our essence or purpose and who we are is our personhood.  God created us for fellowship, that is, to love him. God’s personhood comprises three persons. Every human is a singular being and person in the normative. God is one being but three persons. Jesus Christ is the only person of the three that is fully God in his being and fully human too.

God has no parts. Human beings embody two parts. One is the material part. The Bible calls that flesh. This is also called the body and it is mortal. The body consists of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon and nitrogen. These account for more than 99 per cent of the atoms inside the body. The other is the immaterial part which is immortal. This part comes from the breath of God which is the source of human life. This inner life is like an intelligent platform with an operating system and the energy that powers is enabled by God.   One spiritual disc stores the relationship of the inner self with his own experience. This is called the soul. The other spiritual disc stores the experience of the relationship between the inner self and God. 

Our life has both outer and inner parts. The outer part is how we live, that is, our behaviour, including the fruits. Our inner life engages with two relationships. First is the Soul which is the embodiment of our life in relation to our own experience: mind, heart, will and imagination. It also embodies our thoughts, desires, passions and dreams. Second is the Spirit which is a part of God that is in human beings; The Bible refers to it as the breath of God. The presence of God’s spirit in humans enables the conduct of inner life in relation to God. God initiates and powers human life. Our intellect, emotions, fears, passions, creativity and mental functions enabling awareness, insight, understanding, judgment and reasoning powers are the embodiments of our inner life in relation to God. At death, there is a separation of the parts of a human being. The body that is material returns to the earth as dirt. Our spirit returns to God. The souls of those who die in Christ go to Heaven where Abraham’s bosom is. The souls of those who do not die in Christ go to Hades. Hopefully, this brief discussion answers all of Olaopa’s questions and that of his readers.

 Back to the necessary literacy education in religion and spiritual life for the purpose of achieving and sustaining religious coherence, it will be essential to learn the dominant worldviews that citizens have. It will be a useful acknowledgement of the multiplicity of backgrounds and cultures we come from and the fact that the realities that each of us has experienced and perceived are indeed fragmented and confused by the different windows of popular media. With so many different windows to look through, how do we discern the key ingredients of a worldview? Most of us will agree that an external world outside our own awareness does exist. We all have the use of our five senses to make sure of that. But we might be apt to believe that our window gives the clearest reflection of ourselves and the best views of our world. A worldview, therefore, consists of our assumptions about what makes our world.

There are six major religious worldviews: monotheism, deism, naturalism, nihilism, existentialism and pantheism.  Monotheism is the belief that God exists and he is separate from but involved with the universe. The three great monotheistic world religions are Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Together, they believe that God is an eternal Spirit who brought our material world into existence and enables it to operate according to natural laws. Deism is the belief that God created an orderly world to operate on its own. Great champions of this philosophy were John Locke and Voltaire. Reason became more important than revelation that monotheists rely on.  Naturalism is the belief that matter is all that exists and is best understood through science. During the 18th century, most scientists believed in a creator who is the first cause of our universe. But with the publication of Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species, a naturalist explanation for origin was proposed and embraced. Nihilism is the belief that objective truth and positive values are to be questioned and dismissed. Nihilism is more of an attitude than a formal philosophy. It questions the validity of knowing the truth and moral values. It favours the destruction of existing traditional social institutions as a means of making ways for improvements. Existentialism is the belief that life has no objective meaning; so, significance must be subjectively created within entities. Its main tenets include the meaninglessness of life and the isolation of the individual. Pantheism is the belief that everything that exists is God (Spirit). The matter is regarded as an illusion. Hinduism and Buddhism are the proponents of this worldview. The way to become one with the universe and escape the external world is through meditation. These themes have been popularised in the West by the New Age Movement.

Worldviews are very important because every religion can be understood by its underlying worldview. Similarly, every secular ideology reflects a worldview. Some examples are Darwinism, postmodernism etc. Worldviews help us understand why people believe what they do. This is why we can understand where everyone is coming from and how we can tailor what we want to communicate in a way that others may understand us better. What is in a Worldview? First, there is theology which addresses questions like what is God like? How does He relate to us? Second is anthropology which examines where humans come from and What their purposes are. Third is knowledge which covers what we can know about God and the world. Fourth is ethics which inquire about what is right and wrong and the defining principles for determining that.  Finally, there is what people believe about the afterlife or the stories that are told about salvation or redemption. The matters of the afterlife, salvation and redemption have been considered humanity’s biggest problem and solutions have been sought and canvassed. 

Two issues are important to understand about worldviews. First, almost everyone combines elements of these worldviews in the conduct of their lives. For example, may believe in the scientific method as the ultimate guide to truth while using transcendental meditation to relieve stress. Others think like existentialists by believing that all objective values are meaningless while joining social activism to fight for social justice. Second, there are several methods to determining the ‘truthfuness’ of these worldviews. My favourite method was promoted by the late Dr Ravi Zacharias who suggested a simplistic test. Worldviews make four truth statements on four subjects: origin, morality, meaning and destiny. He suggests that all the four answers must be put under two tests; they must be logically consistent and all the four answers must cohere with one another. Additionally, all the answers must correspond to reality.  According to Zacharias, Christianity is the only worldview or religion that passes this test.

In conclusion, I want to note that Olaopa’s memoir is extraordinary in the juxtaposition of his biography, intellectualism, professionalism and spirituality. This memoir is, indeed, one of a kind. It is brilliant and creative. It is really an autobiography written as a memoir about exploring his cultivated identity as an intellectual. He employs the construct of a scholar-bureaucrat to examine the trajectory of his career, including the evolutionary path of the growth and character of his professionalism that has transformed him into becoming the scholar-reformer that he is today.  He utilises a 19th-century approach to the study of history, the great man theory of history, to explain the impact of great men on his life and his country. He detailed how his love of books led him to study a long list of great men or heroes that are highly influential and unique individuals who, due to their natural attributes, such as superior intellect, heroic courage, extraordinary leadership abilities or divine inspiration, have a decisive historical effect. The long list of men that he studied includes Plato, Wole Soyinka, Obafemi Awolowo, Thomas Paine, Thomas More, Niccolò Machiavelli, Karl Popper, Bertrand Russell, Albert Einstein, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela, Che Guevara, Max Weber, Napoleon Bonaparte and D.O.Fagunwa. He also discusses a pantheon of mentors that have inspired his professional life and legacy in public service: Professor Ojetunji Aboyade, Simeon Adebo, Jerome Udoji, Allison Ayida and Prof. Akinlawon Mabogunje. Yet, he paid equally clinical attention to reporting intimate accounts about his spirituality and devotion to public service and professionalism. This is simply breathtaking! 

. Megbolugbe is a former Christian Apologist, Church of the Redeemer, Maryland, USA. He is also a retired Professor, Carey Business School, Johns Hopkins University, and Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors.


Continue Reading
Click to comment


Toyin Falola: Foremost African Historian Wins Lifetime Achievement Award



Olusola Ogunnubi 

By Olusola Ogunnubi

On Wednesday, May 31st, 2023, US-based Nigerian renowned historian, Professor Toyin Falola, was awarded the distinguished Lifetime Achievement Award by the Canadian Association of African Studies (CAAS) for his contributions to African Studies. The entire hall was full of elevation, and the side talk was that this was one of the best decisions ever made by CAAS.

CAAS is the umbrella body for scholars and practitioners dedicated to promoting the study of Africa in Canada, and according to its website, the Lifetime Achievement Award is indeed the highest honour of the Association awarded to senior scholars who have been actively involved in CAAS and have retired or about to retire. In the words of Prof Nduka Otiono, President of the Association, “this esteemed accolade recognizes your exceptional contributions, unwavering dedication, and profound impact on the field of African Studies in Canada and beyond”. According to the CAAS website, the selection of Falola for this prestigious award was on the merit of three criteria: (1) a lifetime of sound scholarship, (2) accomplishments (research, teaching and mentoring awards, etc.) and (3) involvement in the activities of CAAS. The award was formally presented to him during the CAAS Annual General Meeting and Conference hosted at York University, where coincidentally, Toyin Falola had been a professor between 1990 and 1991. Prof Falola stands in the illustrious company of previous awardees, including Prof Paul Lovejoy. The CAAS Distinguished Lifetime Award was the first awarded to a scholar in over five years.  

Toyin Falola is a professor of History at the University of Texas at Austin, where he holds the Jacob and Frances Sanger Mossiker Chair in the Humanities. He was also previously The Frances Higginbotham Nalle Centennial Professor in History, a position he held from 1995 to 2012. His research is focused on African History since the nineteenth century, African Diaspora, Epistemologies, Theories and Methodologies. Professor Toyin Falola’s contributions to the field of African Studies and African History have continued to place Africa on the map of global recognition. Not only is Falola’s scholarship recognized globally, but he is also dedicated to mentoring a new generation of young and emerging scholars in the social sciences, arts and humanities. He also convenes the Annual Africa Conference, a platform for knowledge exchange between scholars from Africa and the diaspora. I had the honour of attending the Africa Conference in 2012, where Falola generously accommodated me in his house after the conference along with other guests from Africa. As a postgraduate student attending the conference from South Africa, this short period of interaction would eventually shape my resolve to aspire to greater heights within the academic space. 

In 1981, Prof Falola finished his doctorate in History from the University of Ife (now Obafemi Awolowo University), where he completed his thesis on “The Political Economy of Ibadan, c.1830-1900.” Remarkably, more than 40 years after his first PhD, professor Falola earned a D.Litt in African Studies from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, in 2020. Professor Falola receives 16 honorary doctorates and over 40-lifetime awards from several universities and countries. A brief list includes Monmouth University (2007), City University of New York (2013), Lincoln University (2015), University of Jos (2015), Federal University of Agriculture, Abeokuta (2018), Redeemer’s University, Nigeria (2017) Federal University, Lokoja (2021) among others. Falola has also previously been appointed to several distinguished honours, honorary professorships and visiting fellowships at various universities, including the University of Cape Town, South Africa, Centre for African Studies (2018-2022), Olusegun Obasanjo Centre for African Studies, National Open University, Abuja (2019-2021), Kluge Chair in Countries and Cultures of the South, Library of Congress (2016), Pontifícia Universidade Católica De São Paulo, Brazil (2007); Humanities Research Council, Australian National University in 1995. 

Interestingly, Falola helped organize the CAAS conference at York University in 1991, where he started his career in North America. He had also previously delivered a keynote address at the CAAS Conference 1991 and again at the just concluded 2023 CAAS conference. In over 40 years since he left Canada for the US, Falola has continued to make an impact on the Canadian and the North American academic landscape in general through his invaluable contribution to CAAS, serving as external examiner to major Canadian universities, including Queen’s University, York University, Trent University, Dalhousie University and the University of Toronto, helping to shape the academic depth of the African Studies programs in Canada and being a mentor to Canada-based Africanist scholars. Notably, Falola has supervised over 100 Master’s thesis and Doctoral dissertations in History and African Studies and examined countless theses and dissertations. CAAS also acknowledges and recognizes Falola’s invaluable contribution as a reviewer for the Canadian Journal of African Studies and his longstanding role as a member of the editorial board of the Harriet Tubman Series on the African Diaspora at York University. 

Given his excellent and distinguished scholarship and its impact across disciplines, it is not surprising that this is not the first such prestigious lifetime award that Prof Falola has received. Some of his previous awards include the Distinguished Africanist Award in 2011 by the African Studies Association (ASA), which is the largest global Association by scholars of Africa, Nigeria’s highest National Merit Award – Member of Order of the Niger (MON) awarded by former President Muhammadu Buhari in 2022, Award of Excellence in recognition of support of tertiary education by Lagos State University in August 2022, Distinguished Award for Intellectual Contributions to Knowledge and Scholarship, University of Abuja, Nigeria (July 2021), Distinguished Award for Scholarship and Mentorship, Babcock University, (June 2021), Distinguished Africana Award, University of North Carolina, Charlotte (April 2011) among many others.

Several celebratory legacies and honours have also been named in recognition of Falola’s exemplary contribution and scholarship to African Studies. One such honour is the Toyin Falola Annual Conference on Africa and the African Diaspora (TOFAC), inaugurated in 2011 by the University of Ibadan Cultural Group (ICSG). TOFAC is a huge annual conference convened in an African university on different themes. Also, the Toyin Falola Book Award is administered by the Association of Global South Studies for the best book on Africa. Lunaris Review also awards the Toyin Falola Literary Prize, named after him for his contributions to advancing African cultures, people, and histories. Falola is also Series Editor for at least a dozen monographs and Encyclopaedias and has served on several Book Prize Committees.

Professor Falola has also led major academic associations, including as President of the African Studies Association (2014-2015) and the Nigerian Studies Association (2005-2007). He has also received several traditional titles, including the Bobagbimo of Ugboland in 2014, the Agbakin of Kusela-Ibadan in 2022 and Nii Kpani Ashaabla 1 of Adabraka Otukpai Palace, Accra, Ghana, among others. 

Receiving the Award at the ceremony held to round off the CAAS conference, Falola expressed his gratitude to the Board and Members of the Association, seeing the recognition as a responsibility to continue to do more to extend the frontiers of African epistemic traditions. Falola lauds the Association for leading the intellectual path for the advancement of African Studies globally through the creation of opportunities for critical debates, research engagements, knowledge exchange and interactive space between academia, government and other non-state actors to drive policies and a commitment to ensuring that the systemic issues that Africa and Africans face are confronted through meaningful scholarship. 

Professor Falola is today honoured because he’s been a solid and unforgettable part of CAAS’s contribution to African Studies. Prof Falola is humble to the core, and there’s a lot that old and new scholars in the field can learn from his humanity, simplicity and sincere concern for the academic well-being of everyone.   

Ogunnubi  writes from the Department of Political Studies, Queen’s University, Canada.


Continue Reading


Ama Ata Aidoo: A Gallant Intellectual



By Toyin Falola

Our encounters were not limited to knowledge sharing. Yes, this is important, as Ama Ata Aidoo and Ngugi wa Thiong’o were among those who read the draft of my first memoir, A Mouth Sweeter Than Salt. It was mutual, as she also gave me a few drafts to read. Then we met in Ghana, Kenya, South Africa, and the United States. The most memorable was at Smith College, where we spent a semester together, seeing twice a week. A great cook, I took delight in consuming her egusi soup. I felt emotionally sad to be one of the earliest to know of her death and had to announce it on several platforms. It was a privilege to do a short tribute on May 31, 2023, at the recently concluded Canadian Association of African Studies held at York University, Toronto.

Ama and I were on first-person name salutations. She musically pronounced my name, Toyyin, adding “y” and refusing to let go. I reciprocated and called her “Amami, Mamami” to return the musical song. She knew when to provoke me. I was also a master at teasing her by making a patriarchal statement, to which she would immediately respond. I knew the Ghanaian presidents she could not stand, the ministers she detested, and I would say, “Amami, Mamami, you know I miss President Dash!” 

Mamami reminds me that at several points in life, especially during childhood, most humans have lofty dreams and ambitions. For many, those dreams and ambitions will only come to represent “the good old days when life was simple,” never seeing the light of reality — especially if the dreamer is limited by one or several factors like poverty, country of birth, a lack of education, poor nutrition, and a limit in both exposure and cross-cultural experiences. For others, opportunity and preparation help them realize their dreams. This day, you’re stuck with your convictions, committed to your beliefs, and working to support the causes that align with your values. The next day, you have transcended into a realm larger than life — larger than a single lifetime that any human could have.

Since Aidoo shed her robe of the human hood and took on the next adventure in existence, the news headlines that made the rounds about her death seemed to have some common words: Ghana, Ghanaian, literary icon, author, and feminist. However, Aidoo can be qualified by more than those words that made up the news headlines of her death. For one, I chose to describe her as Africa’s gallant intellectual and literary general because although she is proudly Ghanaian, her life, works, and impacts transcend one country — they have been for Africa, from within Africa’s Golden State. It’s understandable that the reporters, especially those of foreign media houses, might have chosen to be specific about her country to avoid backlash on the Western world not doing enough research to report African news contextually. But in the case of this eminent scholar and what she has lived for, she is our collective heroine.

Professor Aidoo knew what it meant to have a purpose, define existence, and stay true to one’s causes, so much so that a legacy is built, intentionally or not. She lived for Africa; she lived for the rights of African women; she dedicated her life to documenting African realities and deconstructing erroneous notions of what Africa is, who Africans are, and what the realities of Africans and their continent are. She lived a wholesome and fulfilled life — an 81-year-old is old enough to join the sacred ancestors in many African cultures and societies. Nevertheless, no matter how old our loved ones are at the time of death, our insatiable human nature and the prospect of their absence, our loss, and our longing will always douse our mood at the reception of the news. 

Nature and nurture come to play in forming the formidable intellectual and literary general that Aidoo was. Grounded in the history and exploits of her people from early on, Aidoo envisioned the life of an author for herself— seeing it as the best way to document histories and put the stories she had heard and was living into the hands of many others to make impacts. She was one of Africa’s generals, not on the battlefield during the world wars but on the intellectual battlegrounds of academic and literary imperialism. While staying vocal through her writings and words, Aidoo fought for Africa and did so proudly. She was instrumental in spotlighting some of the biggest issues African women have faced in decades. In so doing, she drew the admiration of Africans, especially African women, who came to see her as a mother, mentor, and idol. 

Aidoo made great impacts, and they reverberate so much so that death is not finality for her. From her poems to her novels and plays, the literary world will continue to make reference to, discuss, critique, and base other works on the foundation of what Aidoo did during her lifetime. That is her legacy, which has inherently conferred on her the goddess status. She might have left her mortal body, but she lives on and among us through her works.

Although she was better known for her writings, activism, advocacies, and feminism, Aidoo’s life was an excellent demonstration of walking the talk and living one’s words. She will be remembered back home in Ghana as a literary heroine and a patriotic countrywoman with a deep desire to help catalyze her country’s development. Convinced that the Minister of Education role would afford her that opportunity, she accepted her appointment by the government in 1982. However, like several of the recently independent African states then, she soon discovered that the people in power mostly wanted the best hands without wanting those hands to go to work in a way that would benefit the country. Seeing as her lofty visions for the Ghanaian education system would never materialize because of the Council, Aidoo resigned from the position and dedicated herself to excellence in teaching in the Ghanaian tertiary education system, which she served assiduously for decades. 

Aidoo never minced words about her criticism of the Western world and its role in the colonization of Africa, which has metamorphosed into colonialism and is being continuously modified to withstand and survive the agitations of intellectual and well-meaning, patriotic Africans. She is famously known for commenting on how Europe has been tirelessly milking Africa of its human, mineral, natural, artificial, and artistic resources for over 500 years. Aidoo’s vocal nature in decrying the covert and subtle neocolonialist efforts from the West earned her transgenerational reverence among her peers and even the younger generation.

One of the distinguishing traits of her feminism is adapting the African communal and tight-knit nature of pre-colonial communities into the formation and interactions of the women communities on the continent. This manifests in how renowned feminists like Aidoo and Professor Bolanle Awe take several other women under their wings and groom them. As the mother hen readily spreads her feathers to protect her children, Aidoo supported the feminist communities and female writers and authors. This is evident in her many engagements with these communities, as recently as 2021, at the Kwame Nkrumah Festival in Ghana. Aidoo’s life has inspired many of these young women in academia and the literary world. It has helped them understand that they can also dream and aim for their dreams. 

Many of those she assisted, whether they had only met her through her work or had the opportunity to meet her physically, shared a special bond with her, so much so that until her death, she was popularly known as (m)Ama Ata Aidoo — the bracketed “m” signaling a prefix to form “Mama,” the African name for mother. Aidoo lives on through the many people she’s inspired with her work. Many found meaning through her work; they found reasons to be conscious as Africans, appreciate their African identity, deconstruct erroneous notions of colonialism, and recognize the ills of the colonial system and its impacts on Africa. She was a fierce and vocal general in her advocacy against the misrepresentations of African women and African stories, but she was a soft and accommodating mother to many.

Mamami, you earned your position among Africa’s most revered and respected literary icons, and now, you have donned the cloak of immortality through the body of your work. Beyond your existence, you live on. In that instance, death as the finality we have come to know ceases to be the end. A literary icon would then have attained the status of a god. You will be sorely missed. Africa’s academia will feel the void of the inputs you could still have made if you were here. However, our solace lies in the fact that no one can ever do enough and that, taking your exploits and achievements in the context of the impacts they have had and continue to have, you did your best. For that, we are grateful. 

Farewell, Amami Mamami! May your journey in the next phase of life be easier!

Continue Reading


TB Joshua: Remembering Exit Of A World Changer



Pastor TB Joshua

By Dare Adejumo

The month of June is a significant month in the annals of Synagogue Church Of All Nations (SCOAN). It is the month of the birth and passing of its founder, Prophet TB Joshua, that great world changer.

Its fifth day makes the second year of his glorious exit from earth and on the twelfth, the great man of God who cherished marking his birthdays would have been 60 years old.

Nations across the world would have been agog for an extraordinary prophet of God whose footprints of wonderful deeds touching the lives of millions across the globe remain in the sand of time. TB Joshua came to revitalize the face of Christianity and made the physiognomy of practical Christian living as given by Jesus Christ already in abeyance real to mankind once again.

There’s no hide and seek in his life. He was love personified. The humbliest human being I have ever come across. Firm and stern, even in his moment of severity, you would still find love encapsulated. You could not offend him. He’s extra sensitive with propulsively radiating wisdom, unfathomable knowledge of life, charming and a paragon of magnetically illuminating character. He was completely acidic to vanity, envy, jealousy, human comparison, imitation, vulgarity and wonton desires. He described them as some of those “foolish things” not to be entertained for a moment in one’s life.

Pastor TB Joshua

TB Joshua was a divinely self-made man. Here was a man with little elementary education. Yet with your degrees, erudition and western exposure, you would be humbled by the self-discovery of your personal hollowness or quasi- emptiness when you sat to discuss or share a view with TB Joshua, a shy village man. TB Joshua was an attestation to God’s omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence and greatness that lay in simplicity.

I personally witnessed several cases of some other so-called men of God who out of ignorance and envy were once persecuting him but after receiving the touch of God in different dimensions including mere touching of EMMANUEL TV while praying came to weep before God for forgiveness. Joshua would only say to them: ” I didn’t fire one single arrow back from all your arrows against me; otherwise you won’t be here today to talk. One thing we should always know is this: I did not choose myself to do God’s work. He in His wisdom just chose me and I know He is with me. God would never give anybody this kind of power He gave me if the person would use it for selfish purposes or against his perceived enemies. No!”

TB Joshua was a puzzle, an enigma. He was the light shining in darkness that many couldn’t comprehend. He looked too simple and ordinary having not been commissioned by the earthly papacy or religious authorities of the day and for him to be performing miracles of diverse kinds like breathing. This was clearly indescribable, incomprehensible, a mystery and shocker to the spiritual ignoramuses and empty flamboyant oratorical, motivational preachers with big congregations.

That great English thinker and philosopher John Locke once said: “New opinions are always suspected and usually opposed without any other reason but because they are not already common”. In God’s adamantine and inscrutable will, TB Joshua came to the scene when the acts of Christianity seen in Jesus Christ and His early desciples and apostles as captured in the Bible were gradually becoming moonlight tales to this generation. Religious leaders had already metamorphosed to careerism and polarised with pervasive unhealthy cacophonous standards. It was obvious that these religious leaders no longer knew what they were doing then even till today in several quarters without any tangible impacts in the lives of atrophied worshippers!

That was the turning point.There was no way TB Joshua could have had it easier. He faced satanic conspiracies and persecution galore, but the man remained focused with unmitigated perseverance, vision and mission of his divine assignments which he tenaciously upheld victoriously till the last.
He took his persecution joyfully and that conspiracy against him at home launched him to the outside world in God’s agenda and design for his mission on earth.

Hear him: “I began discovering the good life when I was only 15 years. My objectives and motives were determined at once. I wanted what God wanted and I wanted it for the reason God wanted it”. That’s prophet TB Joshua for you. Till the end he carried his childhood with him, with malice to no one but love, charity and firmness to all in God’s righteousness. To him love is pure. Take good care of your heart because that is your communicating point with God and must ever remain pure to know and flow with Him. You can never love God if you don’t love your neighbours and your neighbours include your percieved enemies, those not in the same faith with you, the poor and those in need who you must give love unconditionally.

This Godly character often made TB Joshua to be misrepresented by low spiritual human beings whenever they saw him attend to other people who were not Christians just as his Master, Jesus was accused of dining with republicans and sinners which made the religious authorities persecute Him.

The truth of humanity as once put by that foremost existentialist Italian philosopher Soren Kierkegaard is that history would always repeat itself because man would never learn from history. Many never discovered Joshua not until he had departed! What a painful loss.

You could never find TB Joshua criticizing or talking about other men of God. He moved on quietly on his own even though he lamented the pervasive discrimination and disunity in Christendom.

Several people from other churches who received healings and miracles in his church, Synagogue Church Of All Nations SCOAN wanted to come and do thanksgiving in his church but Joshua would not allow them. “Go back to you church and do your thanksgiving and give your offering there. We are the same. God had already answered your prayers there before you came here” for you to see how selfless he was in all his dealings.

TB Joshua was more interested in the quality of your Christian life and character. He would ask you: “Do you hear from God? Do you listen to Him? Does He speak with you? Do you know how much you need Him? Do you have a relationship with Him?” The God’s general believed that your highest achievement on earth was to hear from God.

To TB Joshua, Christianity is not a religion but a relationship with God. If you don’t have that relationship with Him you have missed it and you are worshipping in vain. “How can you be worshipping God you don’t know?” He would jerk up his congregants to move away from spiritual docility, complacency and indolence.

TB Joshua was never an academic preacher. He spoke words of life that transformed lives of ardent and fervent seekers of God and salvation.

I remember a female nurse I once encountered when she came to treat a patient as she stood looking at EMMANUEL TV. On enquiries whether she knew of the television station, she said that she used to attend SCOAN. “I was a nurse and member of the church’s medical team. Then the church was not rich, just managing to survive. It was what happened during the man of God’s birthday that made me stop going and besides I had relocated to a farther distance. We all on our own contributed money to give TB Joshua as a present. When we got there to present it, the man just asked us to put all the money in one sack. He asked us to choose some people among us to take the whole money to the disabled people’s home at Oko Baba. He instructed that one of us should just dip his or her hand in the sack and be distributing the money to them one by one with whatever the hand could gather at once like that to the less privileged living there and nothing should be left in the sack. I couldn’t believe it. I was shocked that the man could take everything there like that not minding that the church itself was very poor”. This woman completely missed the beauty of life and essence of humanity the prophet symbolized. TB Joshua believed your giving is only meaningful when you give what you cherish most. He would never give in half measures. He was extraordinarily generous and at home in humility with all categories of people as a friend however commonised other people may look at them. Every human being is unique and important to TB Joshua and must be treated with dignity.

TB Joshua was never a burden to anyone but carried all human burdens that crossed his paths. He was the only man of God holding crusade abroad without asking for any donations or collecting offering from worshippers. He would rather go there with loads of charity works for people and the country. There was a time in Cameroon when the airwave was jammed with announcements that TB Joshua would be coming to hold a crusade in Yaounde, asking for people to donate money. This was a scam because the scammers were capitalizing on Joshua’s popularity and the perceived pressure of the country’s request for his crusade program in Cameroon. TB Joshua in holy anger countered the announcements saying: ” That cannot be my TB Joshua of Synagogue Church Of All Nations SCOAN. I have no plan to go to Cameroon. God has not directed me to go there. Have you ever seen my pictures or envelopes asking for donation of money from anyone or anywhere? Please disregard this announcement. When God gives you an assignment He would also send to you what you would need through His chosen vessels”. This is a symbolic message for you to differentiate the chalk from the cheese in the religiously distorted world. He never allowed himself for a moment to be carried away by anything.

The lofty principles and legacies of TB Joshua remain enduring and a high watershed in Christendom. The joy today is that SCOAN is in the capable hand of a down-to-earth and visionary successor, Pastor Evelyn Joshua, a woman who had gone through the spiritual mills and rigorous discipline of TB Joshua the spiritual mentor extraordinaire who strongly believed that life’s biggest decision is what you do with Jesus.

Continue Reading

Top Stories