Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Why is there so much suspicion between Kenyans and Nigerians?

 All over the world nations are known to love other nations but also hate others in the same measure. The relationship between India and Pakistan can not be branded as one of brotherly love. Since the violent partition of British India in 1947 these two nations have fought numerous military wars over their shared Kashmir region. Though the two neighbours share economic links, common history and culture and more closely their geography, their relationship is one of open hostility and great suspicion. 

Consequently, India has found more close allies far from it borders. One of them is Israel; The Times of India (2010) reported that the military and strategic ties between the two nations extended to joint military training and space technology. It was also reported that India was Israel’s largest defence market, accounting for almost fifty percent of Israeli sales.  Two nations far apart with no common heritage and history but in fact with different cultures and religions become best of friends because of their shared concerns in fighting extremism.
Other examples of strong ties include United Kingdom and Portugal. Information acquired on British archives and government websites show of a relationship that dates back to the Middle Ages.  In 1373 the Kingdom of England signed the Anglo-Portuguese Alliance, the oldest alliance in the world still in force. 

When the Cubans and the Americans talk of each other fire comes out of their mouths. Russians and the Americans have a long-standing history of strained relationship.  Nations treat each other differently, I once heard of an English friend saying that France would be a better nation without the French. Whether that is true or not I can not tell and I better stay away from their politics.

Kenya has had an equal measure of relationship with her neighbours.  As the largest economy in East Africa and with the strongest regional financial and transportation hub Kenya is seen at least by all her neighbours as a bully. Ask a Ugandan or a Tanzanian about what they think and they will paint a grim picture of Kenya and Kenyans. While that is going on, Kenya asserts herself as the regional policeman and saviour whose destiny and salvation lies solely on her own hands!

 I have read a bit of history about relationships between nations and people but there is none involving Kenya that intrigues more than the one we have with Nigerians. The mention of the word Nigeria or worse still Nigerians to a Kenyan they would raise red flags. We mimic their accents; we make fun of their lifestyles and everything about them.  (I’m coming home ooh, Igwe, uuhm, Ni Mnijo bana)

My hair had grown a disturbing length and I needed it trimmed. Looking around for a barber I could hardly get any one willing to cut it for fear that they were going to mess it and in any case many wondered why I would want to do away with it anyway. Another reason I had stayed away from the barber was the cost issue-one shave would cost an equivalent of what it would cost to feed a family of four for three days back home so why waste it! Anyways I set myself in a mission to look for an African barber and guess who was available to do it- Just Guess.

I walked in, sat down and waited for my turn. Signalling with his hand the next available barber ushered me to the seat. I told him how I wanted to have my hair cut and as usual I started to bargain for a ‘better deal’. The mentioned of ‘lower ‘ pay brought everything to a standstill. 

The man started talking to his other other members of staff about my ‘proposed’ pay. Then I thought I should interject and asked- Are you talking Ghanian? Oooh I’m proudly Nigerian but of course I’m speaking broken English! I thought so-I answered.

For the rest of my time with those lovely Nigerians, we were asking ourselves why we love and hate each other in the same measure but I am afraid to say there was nothing conclusive.
Two countries, over 2000 miles apart which shares very little in common if any be it language, border, heritage or  economic strength but treat each other with great suspicion is hard to understand.

Thursday, 13 June 2013

God as an absolute subject

The notion of God as substance was grounded in a view of the world as cosmos. God is placed at the centre of an ordered universe. With the rise of the scientific method, however, human persons begin to see themselves as at the centre of the world. As they gain more and more knowledge of how it works, they have the means of exerting a higher level of control over it. At this particular point the centre changes from supreme substance to a human subject.[1]
In this situation in which the human experiences herself as subject over against a world of objects, it is natural that those who believe in God would see the divine as an archetype of themselves. God is the infinite, perfect and absolute subject.[2] God is then seen as subject, with perfect reason and free will, and is in actual fact the archetype of the free, reasonable, sovereign person, who has complete disposal over himself.[3]
Seamands argues that if there is any doctrine relevant to our identity and calling as servants of God it is the doctrine of Trinity, because it defines the grammar of the Christian faith. It gives us the audacity to speak of God who is revealed as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Scriptures as well as setting our Christian understanding of God apart from all others and makes it not merely theistic.[4]
Moltmann in his doctrine of Trinity is opposed to the idea of a ‘monotheistic’ or ‘monarchical’ doctrine of God because it reduces the real subjectivity of the three persons. He argues that the doctrine of Trinity should be understood as providing a vision of God view as a union of three divine persons or distinct, but related subjects. Out of this he develops a social doctrine of the Trinity intended to overcome both monotheism in the concept of God and individualism in the doctrine of man into developing a social personalism and personalist socialism.[5] Moltmann follows the Eastern Cappadocian Fathers in developing their concept of Trinity but they both balance the threeness tendency of social Trinity by speaking of perichoresis.

[1] Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom of God,13
[2] Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom of God, 13
[3] Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom of God, 15
[4] Seamands, Ministry in the Image of God, 11
[5] Alister E. McGrath. Christian Theology: An Introduction (Chichester, West Sussex, U.K.: Wiley-Blackwell, 2011), 258

God as a supreme substance

According to Moltmann the understanding of God as a supreme substance finds its roots in Greek religion and in their philosophy.[1]  They understood the universe as an orderly, harmonious whole that was governed on the basis of eternal laws. At the heart of life in the universe are the gods, with whom human beings live harmoniously. The divine supreme substance at the centre of all this is one, necessary, immovable, infinite, unconditional, immortal and impassible.[2] 
Against the enemies of the church, that is, persecutors and heretics, Tertullian developed his formula una substantia, tres personae which means one indivisible, homogeneous divine substance that exist as three individual persons. He developed this theology after the nature of Christ debate was at stake.[3]
At the council of Nicea in 325 it was affirmed that the son is homoousios (one substance) with the father, a doctrine championed by Athanasius, Bishop of Alexandria (295-373). He argued that the re-creation of human nature in the image of God requires a fully divine mediator, and the victory over death requires the death and resurrection of the Lord of life himself. In his support for the theology of salvation was the idea that the one divine ousia (substance), infinite, simple and indivisible, is at once Father, Son and the Holy Spirit. All three are distinct, and yet all three share in one divine essence. [4]
Gunton criticises Augustine view of God's unity as resting on a singular substance. He says that while Augustine rests God's unity on a singularity of substance it is not enough as it has to be singularity beyond substance otherwise God becomes neutral. Substance he argues is not personhood but a thing and therefore lacks the ability to create unity of will and purpose.[5]

[1] Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom of God, 10
[2] Moltmann, The Trinity and the Kingdom of God,, 11
[3] Peter McEnhill  and G. M. Newlands. Fifty Key Christian Thinkers (London: Routledge, 2004),27
[4] McEnhill, Fifty Key Christian Thinker, 36
[5] Colin E. Gunton. The Promise of Trinitarian Theology. (Edinburgh: T&T Clark, 1991),38-42

The concept of the Person among the African people.

In his book African Religions, Benjamin C. Ray indicates that African people will always be thought of first of all as a member of a particular family and will be defined through that lineage.[1] Mbiti agrees with him when he says: “The individual is conscious of himself in terms of ‘I am because we are and since we are, therefore we are.’”[2] I agree with this because when I am at home I will always be called by more than one name. There is an African proverb that says, ‘a beautiful child has more than one name’, a clear indication that those names help to show your lineage and connections within your family.  I would normally be called Irungu wa Mwangi na Waithira kuma mbari ya acera muhiriga wa aciku (Irungu son of Mwangi and Waithira from the clan of Acera in the lineage of aciku). Benjamin compares this view with the Western concept of identity and points out a major difference. He says from a Western view someone’s identity is defined by a private self, which is independent of family bonds and local roots.[3]

[1] Benjamin C. Ray,Africa Religions,2007,92
[2] Mbiti, African Religions and Philosophy,282
[3] Benjamin C. Ray,Africa Religions,2007, 92