When I newly came to the UK  for my studies, away from home, an escape from the Catholic Seminary where I had spent most of my early teenage and my early adulthood life, I thought I had found my freedom to be an atheist or, at least, its milder form, an agnostic. But it wasn’t to be so. Anyway, I succeeded being an agnostics for at least 6 months before loneliness made me retrace my steps back to the church.

But this is not just my story. I have within the two years in the UK moved to three different black churches. One striking thing to me often is that when a member of the church is celebrating a social function, the dominating guests, if not the only guests invited for the occasion, come from the church. Although this may be pronounced in the diaspora but back at home, the situation is almost the same. I have met a couple of people who told me that the reason why they go to church is because it will avail them the opportunity of having the people who will grace their celebration if they are organizing one, prominent among such an occasion is a burial.

Loneliness is not the only reason for the incurable religiosity of an African man, the sudden rise of Pentecostalism in Africa holds an answer to another why. One of the posts that go quickly viral on the Facebook among the Africans now is when a church leader says a prayer with the intention being for the immediate death of one’s enemy and one’s miraculous triumph. Such post gets an endless Amen as comments and has loads of shares. This raises the question of how many people will still be religious in Africa if poverty, suffering and struggles are to be eliminated. The rich ask for the divine protection of their wealth, the poor, for God to kill their enemies pulling them back from their prosperity.

Poverty leads to desperation, beclouds thinking. With the level of unemployment, hunger and the lack of the basic amenities in most of the African states, God becomes the only succor, the messiah that will do the magic of turning someone from the state of a zero to a hero.

One can argue and rightly too that the traditional African states are religious oriented but the same could be said of the traditional western and European worlds where attendance to churches are in a decline at the present. The place of God in the life of humans are mostly functionalist. When the role of God as a provider could be easily met by the availability of jobs, as a protector by the presence of an adequate security provided by the state, as a healer by the presence of an accessible and a well-equipped health care system, and so forth, God’s relevance will wane out   and lesser number of people will clamor for him. It is only then can one possibly tell who really believes in God. 

Published by Ezeiyoke Peter