Corruption, the Devaluation of the Human Spirit and the Futures of Black Humanity (2)

Ademola Araoye


By Ademola Araoye

The drivers of the consecration of corruption in human systems, including in Africa and more specifically Nigeria, have been preeminently from Western civilization. The two major elements of the drivers of corruption in Africa, and specifically in Nigeria, are the dehumanization of the human spirit and the politics of subjugation and colonialism. Though interrelated, the first of the drivers have been diffused through hegemonic intrusions into other worlds. Colonization that followed the first secured a platform in the long term to consolidate and legitimize institutional massive robbery of colonized communities. Western civilization has been influenced by interpretations of ancient philosophies, including biblical texts, which would seem to, conveniently, have fallaciously accentuated a bestial character of the human being over his sacred humanity. Western systems have thrived in the ruthless articulation of hegemonic lies and fallacies in their engagements with the world. In the process the entire humanity has been corrupted through the validation and entrenchment of a logic of global and communal organizing principles that are based on hegemonic falsehoods. These falsehoods, subjugating the moral in preference for the ascent of the fiscal, have equated wealth acquisition with the ultimate mission of life. The concept of God’s salvation of the individual and of the state as well as communities was measured in terms of the size of wealth acquired. The more massive the gold and silver, the weightier is the salvation of God. Piety and the old moral guardrails have increasingly been jettisoned by all. States, churches, communities and individuals imbibed this virus that has been passed on in seemingly interminable cycles of global pandemic of corruption.  Each cycle is more vicious than the last. The contexts and motives of each person, community, state, and all human systems may vary in the practice of corruption. This variance may explain the extent, depth and peculiar modalities in their adaptations to the centrality of the logic of wealth acquisition. These peculiarities inform the dynamic of survival or thriving in the specificities of the context of each situation: national down the ladder to the individual.

The fallacies in the principal understandings of the universe and the place of mankind in that universe have been propagated in Western civilization and imposed on the world. Meanwhile, the repudiated logic of the sanctity of the entirety of undifferentiated humanity may be simply understood as:

God is the ultimate expression of ultimate sacredness and purity;

God made Man in his image;

Man is an expression of the ultimate purity of God;

Humanity is a sacred creation.

In this scenario, all humanity could sing: what a wonderful world, beautiful people. But, not as yet.

In the complexity of relations with God, some have sought signs of salvation of God’s special calling. As noted earlier, these have been measured in God’s earthly favors bestowed on the called. For, not all are called and predestined to thrive in life on earth. Experts note that the religious ideas of groups such as the Calvinists were central to the development of capitalistic spirit. Max Weber advanced that the modern spirit of capitalism sees profit as an end in itself. Protestantism offered a concept of the worldly calling and cloaked worldly activity in a religious character.  The Calvinist theological strain believed in predestination. Predestination meant that God has already determined who is saved and who is damned. As Calvinists sought earthly signs of who is favored or damned, they came to regard profit and earthly material wealth as evidence of God’s favor. To different degrees, other Christian denominations such as the Methodists, and the Baptists subscribed to these fallacies. Modern states and societies are now locked into this logic of amoral run away capitalism. The logic, following the repudiated sacredness of all humanity as earlier described and the triumph of wealth acquisition above all else is that:

Salvation is assured by success in wealth acquisition; because

Development is defined in wealth;

Social status is measured in wealth;

Personal worth is enhanced by wealth; and

Character is ascribed by successful wealth acquisition; and

Power flows from the currency of money.

The above have been teased from the scriptures in Deuteronomy 8: 18, Jeremiah 4:19. Malachi 3:10 emphasizes bringing the full tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my House. In Malachi, the gospel man is fully protected.

In practical terms, these sum up to the dominant maxim of “Life is Wealth” or “Wealth is Life” as interpreted and propagated in the prosperity gallery, a modern day variant of the Calvinist doctrine. Theirs, as infamously espoused by one of its leading voices, is not a god of naira, or cedi or the rand. It is a dollar dominated tithe receiving powerful god. Anointing in the lexicon of the prosperity gospel is central. It has come to equate human, in proxy expressions of God’s will on Earth, validation of any money or profit yielding enterprise. This may entail even orientations in pleasures of the flesh. The orientations are conducted by the pastor on potential wives in sessions with godly young women. In Prosperity gospel, in the insane environment of the deprived, society has been offered a freeway to salvation as long as it yields money. Spiritual piety is expressed in the glitz and blitz of flashy luxury of the few chosen. The state, its helmsmen and corporate institutions, Politicians and Bureaucrat, Entertainers and Entrepreneurs, Managing and Damaging Directors, Wives and Husbands, Teachers and Students, Kidnappers, Prostitutes, Priests all compete for anointing. They shout, moan, groan and gasp while breathing a sigh of relief at this wondrous indulgent new God. All had taken good note of the dilapidation of national and society’s spiritual and moral guiderails. The infestations are assured largely by the original transgression in the unprovoked contact with external “civilizing” forces.

The search for profit had long been at the center of the falsely validated devaluation of the human spirit. The Catholic Church was in the fore front of funding the trans-Atlantic slavery trade. Historians record that the Catholic Church played a vital role in the devaluation of the human spirit through its pivotal role in slavery. In fact, it is argued that the Church was the backbone of the slave trade. It is instructive that John Hawkins, the captain of the first slave ship to bring African slaves to the Americas, insisted that his crew served God daily. That infamous slave pioneering ship was ironically christened “The Good Ship Jesus.”  “The Good Ship Jesus” left the shores of England for Africa in October 1562. Stacy M. Brown further highlights that the five major countries that dominated the Slave trade in the New World were either Catholic, or still retained strong Catholic influence. They include Spain, Portugal, France, England and the Netherlands. Brown affirms that some historians argue that if Churches had used their power, the Atlantic slave trade might have never occurred. The slave trade was precursor of the colonial enterprise.

At the root of both the slave trade and colonialism was corruption, both spiritual and material, of the Church and all the human systems of the Christian state and societies. That corruption was head, torso and bottom was very manifest in the colonial enterprise. Colonialism was a product of the corruption of the holy intents of the white God as enunciated in his scriptures. Slavery and Colonialism rendered nude the hollow integrity of the hypocritical purveyors of scriptures that infected all it came in contact with all manner of corruption. What Nigeria confronts today is the half a century of multiplier effects of the original infestation of social, economic, political and spiritual corruption implicit in slavery and the falsehoods underpinning the very creation of contemporary political entities in Africa. As a corrupt enterprise the rationale for colonial projects, as also in the slave trade, was premised on historic hegemonic falsehoods. Colonialism and neo-colonialism thrive through the continuous applications of falsehoods, lies, immorality, avarice, greed required as instruments to the ultimate mission to rob wealth in the subdued territories. It is natural that, in the context of the grave holistic uncertainties associated with underdevelopment, the ordained merchants of a twisted prosperity gospel, akin to the old Calvanists, are in the fore front of spiritual as well as significant dimensions of fiscal corruption in post/neo colonial entities in Africa. Nigeria is the poster child of this debilitating paralysis of state and society by corruption.

To rationalize the ungodly projects of colonial subjugation and exploitation of all dimensions of material value, interpretations of the Biblical texts were falsified to validate the status of blacks as mere subhuman entities. Blacks, in blasphemous orchestrations of even scientific fallacy, were categorized as sub-human. This corruption of the gospel and fake science were necessary to commodify black humanity in the service of profit. Everything, the scriptures, morality and science, was compromised to satisfy the insatiable appetite for booty by the leading powers. Global corruption was at its pinnacle and ended up into the two devastating global Wars of the West.

The hegemonic lies were at play even in domestic colonialism represented by Apartheid. In the formal segregation of blacks from whites, recourse was again to the Cavinist doctrines adapted by Abraham Kupyer. Experts note that Christian Nationalism in South Africa, drawing on Abraham Kuyper, rejected the 1789’s anti-God, anti-clerical, anti-Church challenge to political power. It repudiated rationalism of what we here describe as the conservative Enlightenment. The self imposed obligation of the Christian Nationalists was to attack other gods and doctrines of liberalism, communism, rationalism, materialism, and internationalism. One could also add to the litany the complete lack of comprehension of the notion of human dignity by the Christian nationalists. The Dutch Reformed churches propagate similar Calvinist beliefs and convenient doctrines that paradoxically assert that their very parochial God is indeed eternal, infinite, wise, and just, and, in their fact book, is the Creator of the universe. What a god!!

Analysts observe that the tentacles of this peculiar god were believed to have an ominously long reach: He is the architect of the life and the fate of each individual on earth. He saved his arbitrary “chosen” ones, on condition that they adhere to the teachings of their amorality spewed out on Sundays in their spiritually dilapidated cathedrals. Their warped interpretation of the Bible–both the Old Testament and the New Testament–is the final authority on religious matters. The implication was that the Afrikaner had been ordained by this evil God as a superior being to black humanity. Beyond the moral dead weight of its spiritual deficiency, Apartheid’s designers were top level Broederbonders with  a single pervasive intellectual font that was based on the Dutch theorist, sometimes known as the ‘Calvinist pope’, Dr Abraham Kuyper.

Susan Reinner Ritner advances that religion had always been the most powerful formative influence in shaping the values, norms and institutions of Afrikaner community. Among the many sad ironies of life in South Africa, Susan Ritner affirms that perhaps none is more poignant than the role of the dominant Church of the Afrikaner people (the Nederduitse Gereformeeder Kerk). Afrikaners were one of a few in western societies whose values and customs were established by, and expressed through their church. She further highlights that it was the Church that insisted on the progressive sterner definition of separateness. It is then surmised that the local expressions of the global age of hatred in South Africa revolved around racial bigotry, the devaluation of God, the de-legitimation of the humanity of the Black being and the repudiation of fundamentals of the Enlightenment and its spirit. In this Christian Nationalism was predicated on predestination, exclaiming that God broke a threatening uniformity of humankind, provided the ideology of hatred, while the Broederbond ensured its organizational traction.

Corruption, in all its forms and manifestations, as known contemporaneously, is thus a direct outcome of the devaluation of the human spirit in convenient interpretive assaults on sacred nature of humans and the human spirit. The repudiation of human sanctity as an end itself and instrumental distortions in manifest earthly parameters of ultimate salvation alienated humanity from godliness and goodness as axiomatic end of human life. This created a historic lacuna in the utilitarian ends of the good and the puritanical moral as a desirable objective for societies and the individual. In this morally decadent setting, the individual was thrown and strapped in the vortex of the corruption of all for gold and silver. Thus, the devaluation of the human spirit was in the service of a false salvation that was predicated on the earthly acquisition of silver and gold through unconscionable amoral means. The validated amorality was also instrumental in the elimination of the weak in the campaigns for territorial acquisition. The near elimination of indigenous Indian tribes in the New World by rampaging Calvinists on the Mayflower comes to mind. There is also the Nazi holocaust of Jews in the mad search for a pure Aryan race. The focus on Jews was also motivated by envy at the successes of the Jews and greed to appropriate their hard earned wealth and worthiness. Under German General Adrain Dietrich Lothar von Trotha, the horrendous human extermination project unleashed against Jews had first been experimented with the Hereros in present day Namibia in 1904.  The first step in a warped salvation was in the devaluation of the collective spirit of human being.

The variance in the futures of Humanity has been a function of the up and downs of the intensity of the entrenched corruption of the natural order of things across western civilization. The ensuing corruption of everything, from the spiritual to even the most mundane of human endeavors, was exported wherever the West set foot. The infestation is arrogantly dubbed “mission civilatrice.” Discrepancies in the concrete expressions of a transcendental moral order have been the foundations of corruption across the globe. Its impact in Africa has been devastating. The decadent morality of Western civilization with no axiomatic or sanctified principles driving the behavioral patterns of state institutions, its societies, the churches as compromised gate keepers of a false morality and the fundamental tenets of its conscienceless commerce meant a horrendous existence for all other humanity infected by the virus of western civilization.

In Africa contradictions inherited from the hegemony infused moral disorder has impacted the scale of corruption. This has ranged from the grand institutional corruption involving the state and its helmsmen, the corporate culture of corruption, through the power driven or power consolidating individual/family corruption to the mere opportunistic/ survivalist corruption of small bureaucrats and lesser mortals that are prevalent in less materially evolved societies.  These are all incidentally premised on the destruction of traditional sterling values. Hegemonic instruments in spiritual falsehoods have spread across Africa by de-validating the sacredness of traditional institutions that had provided avenues to deal with existential conundrums of the individual and communities. The values and ethics emanating from the traditional institutions drove relationships between the individual and the community. Accordingly, there were clear parameters for judging the good character from the deviant. The latter was effectively sanctioned by a clear eyed community that was confident of its morality. The intrusion of hegemonic forces shattered the basis of social cohesion in more than one way. It imposed a new iniquitous order based on a hierarchy of human order that was a convenient instrument for the subjugation of all other races that was not white.

A first step of the colonial project was to destroy the superior moral fundamentals of victim societies in the attempt to construct new social realities and a new identity consciousness. The major instrument was falsehood about its motives. It also lied about itself and then more lies about the imparted societies. The critical foundation in the construction of the colonial state was falsehood. The natural failure of these human insensitive experimentations underpins the corruption that has plagued the state and its system. The individual has taken a cue from the anomie in the social order and drawn conclusions necessary for survival in the degenerate Hobessian state of affairs.

To be Continued

• Ademola Araoye is a former Nigerian diplomat and a retired official of the United Nations. Currently a Visiting Professor associated with the SARCHi chair on African Diplomacy and International Relations at the University of Johannesburg, Araoye is author of critically acclaimed books including Cote d’Ivoire: The Conundrum of a Still Wretched of the Earth and Sources of Conflict in the Post-Colonial African State. He is a regular contributor to TheNEWS magazine

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