Have you ever asked yourself why our children do very badly in Maths? Please just talk to the average young man or woman going to school in these parts. Ask him which subject gives him or her the biggest challenge. Before the question is out of your mouth, the answer is thrown at you – ‘Mathematics!’ Most of them are scared stiff of the stuff. Some believe that Maths is magic and only the likes of Professor Peller, the master magician, can understand how ‘a plus b’ can be equal to c.
You might want to blame the kids. Don’t blame them. Their parents before them and maybe their grandparents grew up in an environment where everything is conjecture and the only thing that is true is what the juju man or witch doctor says. Regardless of how educated, travelled or exposed we are, we are still deep inside, villagers trapped in the fables of juju men and witch doctors – the babalawos who intercede to the Gods on our behalf. We might be very religious or even call ourselves ‘men of God’ but the prism through which we see God is still that of the juju man, witch doctor or ‘jazz’.
Why are we so backward? In the world of mathematics, quantum physics and empiricism, we still consult cranky old men with chalk marks on their faces to toss around cowries in the air and tell us what the future holds for us. We fear to face the fact that much of our future is not dangling in the air like cowries but is dependent on what we do or fail to do. We do not want to deal with facts because that means taking responsibility so we embrace conjecture and blame the devil or even God for our endless disasters.
Our mathematics problem is at the core of our many difficulties. Mathematics means facts. It means transparency, accountability, order, planning and the taking of responsibilities. In mathematics, two plus two will always be four. It can never be five or three and half. If we were to take mathematics seriously, how do we explain much of our contradictions? For instance, how does a Nigerian in the employ of the government explain to his son how he owns an estate which his salary and all his allowances put together cannot contemplate even if he worked for one thousand years?
Have you thought of our governors who regularly get together with their friends and quench their thirst with bottles and bottles of Chrystal Champagne, a bottle of which can cost up to fifty thousand naira? How do these guys who are in competition to buy up every choice property in Dubai go to bed and sleep well knowing that many men in their employ with wives and children have for months not been paid their miserly salary of seventeen thousand naira? How do their minds work that they expect these citizens like them to come to work, feed their family, pay for housing, transportation, NEPA, clothes, school fees, medicine and more with no income whatsoever? If you ignore mathematics, you will say like they do, “they will manage”
If the son of the government official with the big estate were to ask his father: ‘Daddy, how did you make this much money and own so many houses?’ Do you think that the father would answer: ‘as a minister in the government service, I stole the money placed under my care to provide health services to the country’? Ninety nine times out of a hundred, the answer would be something like: ‘It is God’s blessings’. Which God? The answer avoids the simple additions and multiplication that mathematics demands. By what do you multiply his legitimate salary to obtain the dizzying billions of naira he claims to be his own?
Let’s face it: we hide behind the name of God to do so much that is evil. Our politician who in four short years becomes richer than the state he promised to develop, at the end of the day goes to church for thanks giving. What is he thanking God for? In his mind, by doing thanksgiving, he is bribing God to look the other way as he wallows in his thievery.
We have created a god in our image who is illiterate and does not understand mathematics. This creation of ours is based on our babalawo mentality, the belief that God is a wizard, everything is abracadabra and facts and mathematics do not matter. It is the babalawo mentality that pushes some of us to take the life of a fellow human being, lock up his corpse in a cupboard and expect that if we chant some magic words, the corpse will be printing money every day for us in every currency.
It is the babalawo mentality that makes us believe that once a ‘man of God’ has prayed for us, we do not need to plan or work hard any more, we simply go home and there will be money everywhere. The ‘man of God’ is our new version of the babalawo, the middle man between us and the gods. The major difference is that our new babalawos are not cranky old men with chalk marks on their faces. They do not toss around cowries in the air either. They are dashing young men who speak Queens English, drive sleek cars, own private jets, quote the Bible mostly off context and live like movie stars. When they pray for you, your ‘amen’ had better come with a ‘Ghana must go’ bag or the gods will not be impressed.
In my travels around the continent, I have been asked endless questions about our wonder pastors. It is common knowledge that nobody wants Nigerian oil anymore. The world is awash with oil. Nigeria is still exporting music and movies much of which is pirated. Do not get despondent… Our country has become a major exporter of our special brand of Christianity.
I was in Ghana not too long ago and everywhere I looked, there was a Winners Chapel branch, a branch of Christ Embassy, KICC, Redeemed, Christ Chapel, etc. Our pastors with their posh cars, private jets and movie star life style are truly representing. In Eastern and Southern Africa, TB Joshua is a super duper rock star and Oyakhilome is hot cake. If these guys would just give Buhari some of the zillions they make, maybe our dear President would not have to travel around the world so often begging everyone to return the loot stashed by Nigerians everywhere.
In the name of the father, the son and Ghana must go, the armed robber goes before the pastor and asks God to protect him from police bullets as he sets out to shoot and kill innocent people who have done nothing to him.
In the name of the father, the son and Ghana must go, the politician goes to church, in his flowing agbada, kneels down in the front row and gives a small part of his loot to the pastor and goes home satisfied that all is well, after all God is now a beneficiary of his fast fingers.
…Until a no nonsense pharaoh comes to town and EFCC comes calling and the sparkling diamond plated wrist watch is replaced with solid iron handcuffs and instead of the usual wonder on wheels, you now ride in the back of the Black Maria and in place of your choice bedrooms, you now have an unending conversation every night with mosquitoes at Kudje prison. When you stop thinking of Chrystal Champagne and have to beg for pure water, it might then hit you that God after all created mathematics and that no matter how smart you think you are, two plus two will always be four.