By Fr. John Damian Adizie
FOOD is not just a basic need; it is also an indispensable need in the life of every human being. We cannot do without food. We need food for growth, sustenance and nourishment. Without food we cannot reason or even function actively.
Considering the importance of food, the UN has declared October 16 as World Food Day. It is a day set aside to reflect on the importance of Food and possible ways of securing food for human consumption and preservation. The second SDG goal is to “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.” Food is the only thing that can bring hunger to an end.
Incidentally, the theme of 2017 World Food Day is: “Climate is changing, food and agriculture must too.” This theme tries to highlight the effects and some of the challenges the world is facing due to climate change, especially in the area of food production.
The major cause of food shortage is not just climate change. Food shortage, according to Pope Francis, “is not something natural or self-evident. The fact that today, so many people suffer from this scourge is due to a selfish and wrong distribution of resources, to the “merchandizing” of food.”
God has blessed the world with enough food. But unfortunately, the bulk of the food is in the hands of few greedy and selfish individuals who do not believe in sharing and equal distribution of food and other resources.
One man’s meat is another man’s poison. Here in Nigeria, for instance, as many people are suffering, dying of hunger, there are few individuals who are making billions of money through the present agricultural and economic policies. The ban on the importation of rice, for instance, favours a few farmers and importers, especially those with government licenses.
Food scarcity is a major cause of hunger whereas hunger is the major cause of anger and even political agitations. His Eminence, Anthony Cardinal Okogie, identified hunger as the major cause of hate speech and agitations in Nigeria. According to him, “Deprivation has turned into agitation… Nigerians are hungry and angry. In their anger, they turn against each other on the social media, using unprintable language, threats and violence to sort out their differences.” A hungry man is indeed an angry man!
Our young people, according to His Eminence, are the worst hit. They are unemployed, hungry and angry. They are venting their anger on one another, while we, their elders, are silent. Our political leaders are not just keeping quiet.
They are even looking for a way to wipe out our hungry and angry youths. They have even labeled some of our youths as terrorists. How many hungry and angry youths are we going to kill so as to solve the problem facing Nigeria? By the way, will the death of these angry youths solve the problem of Nigeria?
The only language a hungry and angry man understands is the language of food. If we feed our angry youths with food by providing them with job and making food available and affordable, I assure you all the agitations in Nigeria and in the whole world will surely come to an end.
Ever before UN declared October 16 as World Food Day, our Lord Jesus Christ has already inaugurated the oppression feed the world. When his disciples wanted to send the hungry crowd away, Jesus told them, “You yourself, give them something to eat!” (Matthew 14:15-16).
After his resurrection, Jesus called Peter, the head of the Apostles, three times, saying, “Peter do you love me?” Peter responded, “Yes, Lord!” Jesus said to him, “Feed my Sheep!” This is the major task of a true disciple: namely, to feed the hungry children of God not only with the word of God but also with material food as Jesus did.
Unfortunately, instead of feeding the people, as Jesus did, most of us are now feeding on the people. The wrong distribution of resources which the Pope identified as the major cause of hunger is even worst in the Nigerian churches. Men of God in urban centres are getting more money than those in the rural areas. The rich men of God are getting richer while the poor ones are getting poorer; as though some were ordained with superior anointing oil.
How do you expect the hungry men of God from the rural areas to be happy when their counterparts in the cities who are living flamboyant lives? The government and the Church has enough food. What we lack is the spirit of sharing. With sharing and equitable distribution of resources — hunger, anger and political agitations will all come to end.