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A Quiet Revolution

Some Social and Religious Perspectives on the Nigerian Crisis


Joseph F. Mali

In A Quiet Revolution: Some Social and Religious Perspectives on the Nigerian Crisis, Joseph F. Mali argues that contrary to popular belief, corruption and failed leadership are not at the heart of the Nigerian crisis. Corruption and misrule, though they have done a terrible harm to the Nigerian society, are in fact byproducts of something much more sinister in the same way that smoke is the byproduct of fire. The real trouble with Nigeria, Mali puts it bluntly, is a lifestyle of profound selfishness, which the people and their leaders have in common. The nation is still bleeding because of this evil. Unless Nigerians cure this «disease», Mali maintains, no system of government is likely to succeed in Nigeria. In vain do Nigerians seek political solutions as long as selfishness remains their credo! Since Nigeria’s problem is moral in nature, Mali insists, the remedy must also be ethical in character. Accordingly, he proposes «A Quiet Revolution» as a cure for Nigeria’s ailment. This revolution is not a silent coup to overthrow the Nigerian government. It is not «a French-styled rebellion in which the masses on the streets, and peasants in the country put an end to centuries of absolute monarchy». Rather, the «Quiet Revolution» is an interior change; an individual transformation. As long as this change has not taken place, Mali declares, it will be difficult to repair and restore Nigeria.
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Chapter 4. The Paradox of Religion


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Disillusioned with their political institutions, some Nigerians have turned to religion, believing it is the panacea for both individual and collective problems. The demand for spiritual healing is unprecedented, and many preachers are now claiming miraculous powers. Both deliverance ministries and prayer houses are springing up across the nation. Unlike the Western concept of the separation of the sacred and the profane, religion is woven into the fabric of Nigerian society. Public events often begin and end with prayers. The government sponsors pilgrimages to Mecca and Jerusalem. In the nation’s capital, there is a national mosque for Muslims and an ecumenical center for Christians. These imposing buildings are reminders to citizens and foreigners alike that Nigeria is a religious country.1

Despite this popular religiosity, organized religion has been of little help in resolving the Nigerian crisis. In fact, it has sometimes tended to make matters worse. Just as politics has failed to create an honorable society, so has religion failed to inspire a moral culture in Nigeria. One reason for this dismal failure is organized religion’s paradoxical nature. On the one hand, the religious institutions in the country are critics and victims of greed. On the other hand, they are citadels of corruption. The reality of poverty, misery, and corruption in the life of the vast majority of Nigerians is doubtless the most radical ← 53 | 54 → challenge to the proclamation of the Christian gospel as well as...

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