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Talking Drum

Boko Haram Crisis: Religious Extremism in Meritah

Boko Haram - Nigerian Family Fleeing Baga-Lake-Chad

A family flees across Lake Chad after the Boko Haram attack on the Nigerian Town Baga in January 2015.

It’s been a year now since the “People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet’s Teachings and Jihad” or the group popularly known as Boko Haram has been accused of killing an estimated 2,000 people in the town of Baga in northern Nigeria. Months earlier, in April 2014, Boko Haram came to international prominence after kidnapping over 200 schoolgirls from the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok, Borno State, Nigeria. Most of the girls are still in captivity and some even fear Boko Haram might be using them as suicide bombers. Boko Haram is also still on the rampage, with an attack in late December 2015 on the north-eastern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, killing at least 50 people using suicide bombers and rocket propelled grenades.

Boko Haram, an Islamic Jihadist organization based in North-East Nigeria, is opposed to western education and the westernization of Nigerian society. In Hausa, the language spoken by most members of Boko Haram, western education is known as ‘karatun boko’, boko meaning a sham or fraud. Haram means forbidden but the name of the group is commonly translated as “western education is a sin”. The group’s founder Mohammed Yusuf was not against education per se and in fact his evangelism began in the form of a Muslim social movement: catering for orphans, widows, and the vulnerable. He was opposed to western education due to its colonial origins and he thought it was destructive because ‘in the process of becoming educated, you become a mushrik [idolater]’. Education for him had to be based on Islamic teachings and so subjects such as geography, geology, and sociology he thought were haram (forbidden). We recognize that Boko Haram as a group has a history but the main focus of this article will be to use them and their activities as examples to highlight some of the negative impacts foreign religions such as Christianity and Islam have had on the continent of Meritah.

Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau.

Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau.

Modern religions such as Christianity and Islam have been imposed on the people of the continent of Meritah (Africa) at different stages of their history by various foreign powers. It is important to note however that the values and ideologies of these new religions were many times contrary to the traditional spiritual systems and traditional value systems already existing on the continent. Modern religions have tried to hide the truth about the Kemetic (African) origins of spirituality and civilization and as a result have targeted traditional people in Meritah in a quest to break generational links to the past, to their Ancestors’ way of living. One of the chief ways these modern religions do this is by using schools and other educational institutions that they subsidize to recruit new converts. If you will notice, throughout the colonial world, most schools are historically linked to some religious organization.

The Schools of M’TAM (the original knowledge system of humanity), teaches that a person knows only what they have been exposed to. The human brain does not have the capability to invent. What this means is that the human brain is not capable of coming up with a thought or idea that is not somehow related to what it was previously exposed to. As human beings we mimic and copy, and one only has to think of a small child and how they try to mimic and copy what others do to observe this phenomenon. Now, what if a child was not exposed to anything? What will they do? The answer to this question exposes a fundamental human dilemma; we are what we have been exposed to. The leaders of modern religions are acutely aware of this fact and have historically sought to use their educational institutions to indoctrinate vulnerable, young native students and to constantly demonize native traditional spirituality as “primitive” and or “witchcraft/black magic”. These power hungry leaders know that once they have disrupted the traditional transmission of knowledge from one generation to the next they can easily influence  the youth to betray their own values and culture.

Positions of power, prominence and privilege within the colonial society are then granted to graduates of these educational institutions and this serves to lure more people into the system of indoctrination. Having a colonial education allows one to climb the social and economic ladder over and above one’s peers who have a traditional education. This creates a new group of people who owe their positions of power and privilege to the colonizer and thus will only work to further perpetuate the colonial system.  These are the people who became the leadership class in most colonial societies post “independence”. That is why we have the situation today in so called “post colonial” Meritah, where neo-colonialism has been the result of this new leadership betraying its own people and supporting this foreign system imposed on their native lands. After years of indoctrination in colonial educational institutions, these so called leaders have been convinced by their colonizers that they are the ones “prepared” to take leadership positions instead of returning power to the traditional systems of governance that have existed on the continent for millennia.

Christianity and Islam have long been and remain essential tools used by those who have enslaved the people of Meritah. In the case of Christianity, European Christian missionary Edwin Smith, who wrote the book “The Golden Stool” (concerning the Christianizing of the African and the colonizing of the African continent), described the process:

To win a people to Christ, it is necessary to Europeanize them. Behind all systems of administration, lies the fundamental question of what we intend to make of the African. This question has, whether in explicit terms or not, been answered in several ways…one possible and largely practiced policy is that of repression, which means keeping the Native African in a subjected and inferior position (keeping him in his own place) as a mere serf [slave] of the dominant race.

The first method begins by destroying the institutions, traditions, religion and habits of the people, and then superimpose upon the ruins whatever the governing power considers to be a better administration system. The other method (while checking the worst abuses) tries to graft our higher civilization on the soundly-rooted native stock, bringing out the best of what is in the native tradition and molding it into a form consonant with our modern ideas and higher standards.

After years of colonization throughout the continent of Meritah, the native population now finds itself in the precarious position outlined by the Prophet of the Traditions, Neb Naba Lamoussa Morodenibig, in his book “The Philosophy Podium: A Dogon Perspective”

When you have been educated by the same person who made you a slave; when you find yourself worshipping the God of those who have tried and are still trying to destroy you; when you place your health in the hands of the same people who do not believe you have a right to exist as yourself;… it is clear that, as a cultural or civilizational group, you are simply advancing towards your final destruction. All this happens to us only because the colonizer has become the definer of our values. The colonizer has become trainer and initiator of those we are supposed to regard as our leaders and heroes.

In post “independence” Nigeria, which was colonized by the English, we can easily see why Boko Haram would be opposed to western education. As Kemmioo (Kemetic people), we are also opposed to western education because we know it is just the “colonization of the mind”. Boko Haram on the one hand would seek to replace this colonial education with Quranic education which is effectively just a change from one imperial master, the English, to another, the Arab. Kemmioo are returning to the traditional knowledge of our Ancestors. This traditional knowledge has been passed down from generation to generation since the time of the Pharaohs and is still preserved in the humble villages of traditional Meritah.

 Areas of Boko Haram activity

Map showing approximate areas of Boko Haram activity in
Northeastern Nigeria.

The violent acts of Boko Haram and other extremist religious organizations speak to the very nature of evil. Groups like Boko Haram think it is justified to use violence against other human beings because they think those people are spiritually and morally corrupt. They have become the very evil or corruption they say they are fighting, blinded by their own emotions. It is well known that the reasoning part of the brain and the emotional part of the brain cannot both operate at the same time and so when reasoning shuts down one has been blinded by emotions. In the traditions we say; “if you kill the devil, what does that make you?”. If we are honest, we will see that it only makes you worse than the devil you killed! Acts such as killing, torturing or terrorizing other humans are strictly prohibited by the 77 Divine Ordinances that define the value systems of the traditional people of Meritah. Besides, traditional spirituality in Meritah is polytheistic, and there are no records of polytheistic societies conducting any so called “Holy Wars”. On the other hand, the followers of modern religions have been responsible for mass killings, torture and terrorism all throughout their history, in the name of their Gods.

Modern religions have also altered gender relations on the continent in differing ways. Groups such as Boko Haram, whose founder Mohammed Yusuf, studied in Saudi Arabia, are heavily influenced by Wahhabi teachings which seek to limit the role of women in society. This might partly explain their targeting of an all female secondary school. In the traditional societies of Meritah, there are well defined gender roles but there was no effort made to limit a woman’s role in society. In fact, throughout the history of Meritah, it is common for traditional women to be in positions of power and leadership.

Militant, extremist, religious groups such as Boko Haram, being agents of a foreign religion, are easily influenced by external powers in exchange for covert or overt support and can be used as proxies to destabilize certain areas in Meritah. Muslim groups get support from the centers of Islam in the Middle East and Christian groups get support from the centers of Christianity in Europe and America. These two groups, Christians and Muslims in Meritah, sometimes fight each other but both groups are consistent and unrelenting in their attacks on traditional spirituality. The children of our Ancestors are fighting each other, killing each other: some under the flag of Islam and some under the flag of Christianity, all the while ignoring their obligations to their Ancestors and culture, while serving as agents of foreign powers by working to undermine traditional spirituality .

Invading foreign religions such as Islam and Christianity have been imposed on the people of Meritah (and the whole world) for some time now and we can see the damage done to traditional values and culture and the crimes that are being committed on all of humanity. It is quite clear in order to undo what has been done by these outside invading forces we have to return to our traditional Kemetic values and culture. Due to a mental disease, called selective amnesia, we have allowed ourselves to see the enemy of our Ancestors as our friend. We can no longer allow ourselves to be cut off from our Ancestors and the Kemetic values and culture they gave to us and all of humanity.

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