Haven’t you heard? Nobody ever dies of natural causes in Nigeria. In fact the most common form of death is as a result of a spiritual curse sent by a spiteful relative in a village.
Nigerians are without a doubt amongst the most superstitious of all cultures. Regardless of their diversity, education or orientation, almost every significant occurrence is attributed to a spiritual entity.
When a Nigerian’s business is going well, “God is in control”. When they are sick, “the devil is a liar”. When they are angry with someone, “God will punish them!”. I can almost confidently say that there are no Nigerians that do not profess some belief, religion or the other – whether or not they put their beliefs into practice, is a completely different story.
England on paper is supposedly a Christian country. The reality though is that most in practice are atheists or agnostics. A Nigerian would consider this mind set to be an abomination, and as a result they can be very prejudical towards anyone who does not believe that there is a God.
The English belief system is based on principles that are rigid and practical, so in essence i would say that in England, they believe in the law and science. Everything requires a logical explanation. If it cannot be proven or rationally explained then it isn’t really worth considering. Life within the context of belief is about working hard, avoiding the wrong side of the law, and hanging on to the faith that Apple will release its newest product sooner rather than later.
Despite the fact that most of England has a somewhat blatant disregard for the concept of a God, they are very open, respectful and accomodating of other peoples beliefs, and as a society they accept the fact that everyone has the right to choose their faith. Interestingly this approach should surely belong to the culture that recognizes God, but this really isn’t the case when it comes to Nigeria.
A defining difference between the beliefs of Nigerians and the beliefs in England is that the English actually put what they believe in to practice.
On a Sunday morning in Nigeria you are likely to find everyone nicely dressed up heading off to a church somewhere. On that morning faith is at its highest, accompanied with prayers, songs and an inspirational message about monetary blessings. On the way home and during the rest of the week this religious perspective is completely forgotten, and is instead replaced with a new belief system; one where you have faith that “everybody is about to cheat you, so you need to do the cheating first”.
By contrast the English may not go religously to church, but on a general level they place a higher regard for integrity, honesty and commitment to humanitarian causes. Most Sunday mornings are spent at home with their famlies, slowly recovering from the binge that took place the night before. Their values don’t spontaneously change based on the fear of a cruel world, though with cameras on every other road it probably helps to be a bit more trusting.
As far as the beliefs from both countries go, what can be learnt?
Nigerians are in danger of never truly understanding why they believe what they believe. The level of hypocrisy in the society is directly linked to the fact that its people are “born into” religion; as opposed to making a deliberate choice for themselves. Their unquestioned faith blinds them from seeing that good and bad things can happen without the involvement of God or the devil. Losing a job does not necessarily mean that God is angry, neither does getting an “A” in an exam mean that God is on their side. The English recognise that losing a job is usually as a result of indolence; and getting an A in school is as a result of hard work.
On the flip side England is in danger of never finding God in the situations where he is actually present. Their skepticism of all things spiritual keeps them from recognising that life is sometimes more than what meets the eye. Not everything can be conclusively explained through a man with a white lab coat and a medical degree.
Combining the psychology of both worlds would certainly be evidence of growth. Nigerians need a belief system that is not blasphemous to question, and they should respect the fact that spirituality is a lifestyle rather than an identity used to complete the religious section on a job application. The English for all their openess need to recognise that science too is in fact a religion; and though it boasts of a logical approach, its focus pays very little attention to understanding the spiritual dimensions of life.
If logic was applied to spirituality, we may be surprised to discover that one does not need to be chosen in the place of the other.
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