By Denrele Animashaun
“We shouldn’t be looking for heroes; we should be looking for good ideas.” — Noam Chomsky
The world was reeling from the announcement that Pope Benedict XVI had announced that he would step down at the end of the month. It was a seismic announcement where I was and there all manners of conspiratory theory abound among which is; he is going to make a confession or was there an inside job in the Vatican?
My Italian friend, tells me that the Italian people had seen this coming. Meaning his frailty in the last couple of mass leading to Christmas has deteriorated markedly but they did not think he would step down. I mean, no Pope had stepped down in the last 600 years.
So now the speculations are mounting ; who is to replace the pope? In living memory, the Pope could be an African, a Nigerian and a Ghanaian- two cardinals of African descent- Cardinal Peter Turkson and Cardinal Francis Arinze are rumoured to be on the short list.
So if Cardinal Arinze were to succeed the Pope, it won’t be a first, according to Catholic encyclopedia. There have been three African popes : Victor (around AD 183-203), Mechiades or Militiades (possibly AD 311-314), and Gelasius (AD 492-496).
The Cardinal’s background is impressive: he was ordained 1958; consecrated bishop (Africa’s youngest) 1965; first black archbishop of Onitsha 1967; called by John Paul II to Vatican in 1984; elevated cardinal 1985; president of Pontifical Council for Inter-religious Dialogue 1984-2002; prefect of divine worship and discipline of sacraments, 2002 to date. He wrote several books: Sacrifice in Ibo Religion, 1970; Answering God’s Call, 1983; Alone with God, 1986; Church in Dialogue, 1990; Meeting Other Believers, 1997; Holy Eucharist, 2001; Religions for Peace, 2002.
Arinze said on family: “In many parts of the world, the family is under siege, opposed by an anti-life mentality as is seen in contraception, abortion, infanticide and euthanasia”. The Nigerian papal candidate is a favourite and on the shortlist was described by Gerard O’Connell, a Vatican analyst as “very bright and astute, able to communicate in simple language. And that he has a great sense of joy”"It has been a meteoric rise, who this week published a book of interviews with the cardinal, called God’s Invisible Hand.
Moreover, Cardinal Francis Arinze shows his character in his own words:” I will not manoeuvre, I will not do politicking, I will not try to arrange my future.”
And the pope, in the past had welcome the ideas that “electing an African pope “would be a positive sign for the whole of Christendom”. After all, the majority of Catholics are in the developing world and in thriving congregations. Cardinal Francis should be elected the new Pope, the papacy will be in safe hands and Nigerians will be jubilant to have one of our own in as the head of the Vatican.
The leaders of Nigerians should please note: if the holy father, the pope could step down, on the grounds of ill health and the inability to carry out such huge responsibility of over one billion Catholics then it is about time mere mortals like our politicians step down or loosen grip on power with grace and dignity!
What have we achieved?
“Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it.” — Leo Tolstoy
1960 was when Nigeria gained independence from Britain, but prior to that there was no country called “Nigeria”. So pre -1914 it was a collection of empires mostly part of modern day Ghana and Cameroon. Within geographical area there were the people, Ijaws, Igbos, Urhobos, Itsekiris, Yorubas, Hausas, Fulanis, Nupes, Kanuris, Ogonis, Gwaris, Katafs, Jukars, Edos, Ibibios, Efiks, Idomas, Tivs, Junkuns, Biroms, Agnas, Ogojas and many more. There were kingdoms like, Oyo, Lagos, Calabar, Brass, Itsekiri, Benin, Tiv, Borno, Sokoto Caliphate, Kano,Ilorin, Zaria and so on. These empires were independent states that traded with one another and co- existed.
It all changed in 1914, with the amalgamation of the Colony and Protectorate of Southern Nigeria, and the Protectorate of Northern Nigeria ruled by Governor-General, Lord Lugard. Okay, the history lessons over. What have we achieved as a country since 1914? Why should we celebrate failure, mediocrity and abandoned generations. For those who are old enough will remember the good and the bad. But there was more good than bad.
My hearty congratulations to Super Eagles for a fantastic win at the African cup of Nations, it was well deserved. The players were committed and disciplined. The boys deserve our respect and admiration. I hope it has inspired a lot of young people and it really did inspire Nigerians in and outside the country
I want to mention the efficient service at the Nigerian High Commission in London. I have been told by quite a number of people using the visa office they have been happy with the result. They say that it has improved so much that there is no need to wait ages for their visa.