Tag Archives: Nigeria

22 July: The role of dance in African culture

A cultural dance troupe, comprising female students from Annunciation Secondary School, Nkwo, Nike, in Enugu State, Nigeria, dances to traditional Igbo music Feb. 26, 2019. (Wikimedia Commons/Arch-Angel Raphael the Artist)An all-female cultural dance troupe, comprising female students from Annunciation Secondary School, Nkwo, Nike, in Enugu State, Nigeria, dances to traditional Igbo music during the interhouse sporting competition held Feb. 26, 2019. (Wikimedia Commons/Arch-Angel Raphael the Artist, CC-BY-SA 4.0)

Sister Mary Morajeyo Okewola writes about dance from Nigeria for the National Catholic Reporter. An interesting reflection with a sting in the last paragraph for well-meaning missionaries.

As an African, dance is as much a part of my life as eating, drinking and working, but it is also an important part of our worship, following the guidance of the Bible where it is frequently referenced, particularly in the Old Testament. There dance is a form of worship — as a recognition of love and praise of God. It, along with other spiritual exercises, were believed to be accepted by God as satisfactory veneration.

Read the whole article here.

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12 October, Going Viral XLVI: in Tafa, Nigeria.

Fr Virgilius Kawama


Here in Tafa in Northern Nigeria people are farmers and many took time to even accept that the pandemic exists, never mind how dangerous it is for humanity. This is because very few of them have access to TV, they cannot read, write or speak English.

Eventually more awareness campaigns were made through radio and in
collaboration with the local religious and community leaders. Even so, it
was very difficult for people to understand the reason for the closure of
interstate borders, shopping malls, cinemas, restaurants, airports, schools
and offices, cancelling games and vacations, no big gatherings, and closing of the places of worship, and even where people were allowed to go, there were temperature checks and obligatory use of hand sanitizers.
Covid-19 changed the whole atmosphere in our social, economical and religious daily life, provoking anxiety and panic. People were worried as to how they would cope with a disease with no cure. Being a new virus, no one is sure of his or her immunity. Nobody anticipated such an infectious disease nor the deaths which seemed to go on and on. The situation in our markets, parks, institutions and social gatherings caused fear and anxiety. However, people were made to understand how we are to behave even though many things about the pandemic are beyond our control, how long it will last is uncertain, and how other peoples’ behaviour cannot be predicted. God alone knows our communities’ future.
Thank God some people are washing hands, covering their mouths etc.
Both Church and Government are caring for Covid-19 affected families
in different ways. They have shown true love and respect for the poor,
the vulnerable and the sick by distributing food items to cushion their
hardships following lockdown. The foodstuffs such as rice, grains, yam,
vegetable oil, beans, semolina are being distributed. Our own parish is
providing facemasks, buckets for hand washing water, sanitizers, temperature checking machines, and first aid boxes. These efforts are going
a long way to helping people to cope with the Covid-19 situation. We are
doing what we can and for the rest we are in the hands of God.

Fr. Virgilius Kawama MAfr is originally from Zambia. He has published a book ‘A Pastoral Approach to Our Modern Pandemics: HIV Aids and Covid 19.

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13 August. St Thomas’, Canterbury: FR SYLVESTER’S FARM.


Fr Sylvester is leaving Saint Thomas’ Canterbury at the end of August. To show our appreciation of the 2 years he has spent with us, we are organising a collection which Fr Sylvester would like to go towards his Farm project in Nigeria. If you wish to donate and write a cheque please make it payable to Fr Ibitoye Sylvester Adeniyi. Any donations made directly to our parish bank account should clearly be marked “Fr Sylvester’s Farm” please. There will be a special red bucket collection for Fr Sylvester after all Masses this weekend for cash collections.

A bit about the farm…
In 2015, a sizeable portion of land was given to Father Sylvester by the community of the Irawo people, in appreciation of the successful completion of other projects, most notable of which was the building of a bridge across a large river to ensure accessibility, even during the long
months of monsoon rains, thus removing the many difficult and sometimes dangerous complications caused by living in a very isolated area. The Spiritans Springs site is rich agricultural and forested land, boasting not only a river but also beautiful lakes that are well-stocked with fish. Such diverse habitats require careful stewardship: this is both a responsibility and a joy. Spiritans Springs is a community whose mission it is to provide for the welfare of every person we can reach. They do this through the creation of an enabling environment to support the spiritual, physical
and practical needs of all. They know we have received the Divine Mercy as a gift. Jesus is that gift: the son of God who died on the cross that we might have everlasting life. In His name, we welcome all to share the gift of Divine Mercy by caring for His children and creation.

To find out more, Fr Sylvester has a website on the project which can be seen here: www.spiritans-springs.com

Thank you. Fr Anthony

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27 March: Before the Cross XIII: Peace or Power?


osagie.osifo.x.rupertCrucified Jesus between two standing figures by Osagie Osifo

A wooden panel displayed in the Catholic Chapel of the University of Ibadan, carved by Osagie Osifo in 1961. (Willett, F. 2002 African Art London, Thames & Hudson Ltd.)

Here, Jesus is flanked by Mary, his mother, and John the “beloved disciple”, in a moment that could not be more serene. Mary and John both have their eyes closed, and their hands positioned as if in prayer. The object of their devotion is obviously the crucified Jesus, who, raised above and between them, forms the focus of the carving. Adding to the peace and calm of the image are the leaves: trefoil forms (possibly alluding to the trinity of the Christian God), while the simple interlace designs at top and bottom call to mind those of Celtic art. I think the whole composition has something of a Celtic “feel” to it.

Except, of course, that this is clearly an African work, and specifically one informed by the art and history of the kingdom of Benin, now a part of Nigeria. Osagie Osifo, himself from Benin, has fashioned this image deliberately to echo the famous bronzes, “rescued” by a British punitive expedition in 1897 mounted against the Oba (King of Benin) and his chiefs.

The Oba ruled over a highly organised society which, though famed now for its art and advanced understanding of casting bronze, was also extremely warlike. It was a culture where much of the religion and ritual was focused upon the King himself and on his ancestors. Some of these customs have been restored and are practised today in modern Benin. Osifo’s carving of Jesus challenges this in the most radical way.

oba.benin..png

https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1990.332/

The Oba stands between two of his officials in this bronze plaque. He holds a huge sword in one hand, and a staff of office on the other. The three figures are helmeted, the Oba appearing the most fearsome of all with his distinctive collar and his domineering stance. His helmet is spiked. Nothing in this image would signify peace or tranquillity; it has only to do with naked power and aggression. By substituting the Oba for Jesus, and the two warriors for Mary and John, Osifo has consciously declared his position: Christ is Lord. He alone is worthy of worship.

Stylistically, Jesus and the Oba might share some characteristics: short legs and long arms, and both sport a similar wrapped garment with its hem rising to the waist at the front. (And there are leaf shapes on the Oba’s bronze background, too). But there the similarity ends. Much as with the confrontation between Jesus and Pilate, here two entirely opposite world-views collide. The one exercises power by bullying and coercion, military might and political clout. The other, relying on the power and authority of a loving Father, chooses to suffer, and dies on a cross.

Osifo’s carving is beautiful in its own right, but for me it becomes all the more so as I consider how it, and how the gospel, subverts the traditional order of things. Paul writes to the church at Colossae:

And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Col.2:15.

The work is a beautifully contextualised statement on how Jesus challenges that which diminishes our humanity, oppresses us, or distracts us from our true vocation. It is in recognising the truth of Israel’s God and of the one he sent, that we can then see a hope for the world. Without him, insecurity and violence are sure to reign. The carving redeems something of Benin’s art, but in doing so must drastically alter it. Rightly, Jesus is at the centre, and the true power lies – as it should in our lives – in the crucifixion itself.

Rupert Greville

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1 October: Fr Tansi’s music.

atonement friars

 

We thank our good friend Ignatius for leading us to Franciscan Friar Fr Tansi’s music. We share Ignatius’s enthusiasm and are happy to pass on the news of his new album, Garden, which is being sold in favour of Mary’s Meals.

You can find the story of Liverpool-born Nigerian Fr Tansi here.

And samples of his music here.

We are sure you will enjoy his songs and start to sing along.

This is where Ignatius told us about Fr Tansi. Why not pay him a visit?

Will.

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