FOR a lot of people, religious faith is a stabilizer. In a world full of intrigues and trials that test and shake the strongest of wills, faith is often an anchor from which so many derive stability, knowledge, strength, discipline, perseverance, morals and all.
But just as you find that religious faith does such and more for many, it can also be stultifying for others whose embrace of their choice of faith is of a warped form. For such people, the words of the 18th century poet, Alexander Pope, seem most apt: “a little learning is a dangerous thing; drink deep or taste not of the Pierian Spring.”
In the piece that he recently penned on United States President Barack Obama [whose first name he repeatedly misspelled as “Barrack” with a double letter “r,” possibly out of ignorance on the correct spelling], Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode left little doubt, from the opening lines of his expressed opinion, right through the very last sentences, that he took just a taste of the spring that is the faith to which he professes.
The premise of Mr. Fani-Kayode’s rambling 2,087-word opinion piece was President Obama’s trustworthiness, on the cusp of the latter’s quest to win the mandate of his fellow Americans for a second term of office. If there is anything that observers in the lead up to the presidential elections are uniquely entitled to, it is a right to a vigorous understudy of the candidates jostling for a post widely accepted as the world’s most powerful. For that reason alone Mr. Fani-Kayode’s question on Obama’s trustworthiness is welcome alongside everyone else’s, including of Obama’s Republican rival Mitt Romney.
Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode’s thoughts on Mr. Obama’s trustworthiness, or lack of same, however leaves much to be desired, coming from a man of his educational pedigree and exposure. Let it not be lost in this narrative that Fani-Kayode is a scion of brilliant forebears that included his father, Chief Remi Fani-Kayode, a prominent lawyer and product of Cambridge University Law, called to the British bar in 1945, and who was one of the pioneers who moved the motion for Nigeria’s independence in 1958. And then there is his grandfather, Victor Adedapo Kayode, another product of the same Cambridge University Law who was called to the British bar, far back in 1922. His great-grandfather, Emmanuel Adedapo Kayode, too, was one of Nigeria’s first educated people. Femi Fani-Kayode also followed the lead of the men who preceded him, by attaining the highest levels of education, which included attending Cambridge, like them, to study law.
A man of such background should effuse knowledge on a plane different from the one to which many are accustomed in his native Nigeria, where a weird phenomenon of ‘obsessive compulsive religiosity’ is currently sweeping the land and stunting the few chances the country has of progressing alongside others in a rapidly developing world.
But Fani-Kayode makes no pretences about drinking from the same backwood swamp of superstition from which a growing number of Nigerians drink. President Obama’s ill-advised bow to Saudi King Abdullah [which really took nothing away from the influence and power that Obama wields as America’s commander-in-chief, nor from where his loyalties lie, given his actions so far as president] during a 2009 edition of the G-20 summit of world leaders in London was the burning issue on Fani-Kayode’s plate. This, he felt, should have been the very first question that Governor Mitt Romney asked his Democrat opponent at their last debate on foreign policy, held earlier this month in Boca Raton, Florida. And, ooomo, I bet you Governor Romney’s handlers are kicking themselves in the gut as I speak for not thinking of such stupendously genius idea, which would have shot Romney’s approval rating straight to the moon and beyond!
It probably doesn’t matter to Fani-Kayode that a culturally sensitive Barack Obama also bowed in greeting the Japanese Emperor Akihito, not too long after the earlier bow to the Saudi King which bothered him so much that he thought it “strange that Obama, on his first trip to the Middle East as President of the most powerful country on the planet, should literally [lie] prostrate before an Arab King whose country has an abominable record on human rights, civil liberties, the rights of women and religious minorities and where the system of government is a totalitarian and absolute monarchy.” Who knows, perhaps, in Mr. Fani-Kayode’s view, an unwelcome, gooey, shoulder-rub of the type that former President George W. Bush gave German Chancellor Angela Merkel would have sufficed in place of Obama “touching his toe with his head.”[!]
The man whose Christian sensibilities were so bothered by an American president’s “bow to an [inferior Muslim?] Arab King” would later go on to knock the same president Obama, allegedly for the latter’s poor treatment of Muslims in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Alongside “the unprecedented number of drone attacks in Pakistan and Afghanistan,” he cited “the alienation of Pakistan and Afghanistan as key allies in the war against terror” as instances of the “failed” policies of the Obama Administration. Of course ‘foreign policy expert’ that he is, Femi Fani-Kayode forgot to mention that between those two “key allies” he mentioned, one harbored in one of its most garrisonized cities, the man who murdered 2,996 innocent men and women in the United States on a single day, on September 11, 2001, and the other ‘key ally’ remains an unreliable partner whose commitment to partnering the USA on the so-called ‘war on terror’ is like the ebb and flow of the sea tide.
Reading Fani-Kayode’s case against Obama on the Muslims’ behalf [that is, the same Muslims with whom he suspects Obama is on a treacherous agenda, for daring to bow to one of them] makes one heart melt with pseudo-emotion, as he went on from lamenting the fate of innocent Pakistanis and Afghans at the receiving end of Obama’s “attacks,” to lamenting Obama’s destabilization of North Africa – the same region where vast areas exist with little or no government administration, and where, to popular acclaim, Obama scored his first victory against armed pirates who held the cargo ship Maersk Alabama hostage until he sent in a crack team of US navy SEAL operatives who carried out a surgical military operation that freed the crew of the ship from the grips of Somali pirates, the last surviving of which was shipped to America for trial and convicted.
And so Fani-Kayode hop-scotched through the middle-east ‘failures’ of President Obama’s government, from North Africa, to Syria and Bahrain, before arriving at what he called “the insincerity of purpose and sheer coldness being displayed towards Israel and the indifference to her dangerous and existential plight.” Of course, again, Fani-Kayode forgot to remember that Deputy Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, who is also the defense minister of Israel acknowledged that, more than at any other time, America under President Barack Obama had shown the strongest commitment ever to Israel’s security and aid. He literally said Israel had never had it so good with America. But then again, who knows? Fani-Kayode probably knows more about Israel than Ehud Barak.
The most crazy of Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode’s charges are the ones where he not only accused Obama of being on an “anti-Christian agenda,” but also ones that insinuated the possession of supernatural powers on the president’s part, and questioned the kind of “relationship” that he had with the “elemental forces.” In doing this, Fani-Kayode pointed out that “each time Barrack (sic) Obama is about to submit himself for a Presidential election and seek a mandate from his people there is a raging, monuemental(sic), earth-shattering and record-breaking freak of a storm which kills numerous people,” asking, also, to know “what is [Obama’s] source of power and what is his spiritual foundation?” He identified and pooh-poohed Obama’s oratorical and charismatic gifts as reminiscent of late German dictator Adolf Hitler’s, and that “[Obama’s] violation and literal denunciation of these religious core values, in my view, betrays the unfolding of an illicit, dark, sinister and subterranean anti-Christ agenda which must be rejected by all true men and women of faith.” Including Fani-Kayode’s ‘favorite’ Muslims?
One is tempted to ask what Femi Fani-Kayode is doing away from a corrupt pulpit somewhere near Abeokuta, or anywhere else in Nigeria, where he can indulge in scaring poor people to donate the last of their paltry earnings to him, and conning rich people to invest large chunks of their wealth in his moneystry, which in turn, per the operating manual of some prosperity pastors, will guarantee the donators a life secure from the ‘arrows of the enemy’? After all, that is what many who talk like him, and who purport to see the devil’s handprint in everything that affects the life of their audiences, are doing across Nigeria, fleecing the gullible – both of their intellect and of their money.
Forget the loose talk about alleged ‘domestic and foreign failures’ of the Obama Administration; it is only a diversion from the real issue on Fani-Kayode’s mind. The fulcrum of his distrust, all the way from Nigeria, for the American president Barack Obama in Washington, is simply religious fear. No more, no less. And the fear is real – but baseless in the sense that it derives from foolish superstition that offends one’s enlightened sensibilities.
How nice would it have been if Mr. Fani-Kayode elevated the level of discourse among his fellow Nigerians with an argument centered on issues like President Obama's priorities and performance in governance? Would it not have been more appealing to an enlightened mind free of obsessive compulsive religiosity if Fani-Kayode had questioned Obama's trustworthiness chiefly on the practical terms of his achievements, or lack of same, as the world's most influential leader – like, ask if Obama has influenced African leaders, for example, to entrench a culture of strong institutions than strongmen [which Obama did anyways]. Or, question Obama's successes or failures in bridging the gap between the poor and the rich – the haves and the have nots of the world?
But Fani-Kayode cared for no such practical reasoning. Rather, he was more interested in things as “elemental powers” and Obama’s superhuman abilities to make oceans rise and wipe people and their properties off the face of the earth. He cares more for making foolish insinuations, or inquiries, about how, in this age of enlightenment, Barack Obama might be making blood sacrifice to pave his path to power. In 2012 A.D., when other societies have shed the toga of such superstitions for an era of innovations and advanced thought to fast-track their progress like never before, those are the kind of things that Femi Fani-Kayode prefers to wallow in.
It bears mentioning that, as Nigeria’s minister for aviation during the Obasanjo Administration, Mr. Fani-Kayode drew similar conclusions as the ones we have here. Imagine a federal minister of a department as technical as the aviation ministry, attributing to witches and wizards the avalanche of air disasters that befell the nation's corruption-infested aviation industry back then. One of his former aides recently admitted to convening a party of prayer warriors with Fani-Kayode and other similarly minded government officials to confront the situation of air disasters in Nigeria.
The mindset of denial adopted by people like Mr. Fani-Kayode pervades Nigeria, and it rarely encourages people to take responsibility for their individual and collective realities. Instead, those who think like this tend to blame "devil" or "evil witches and wizards" for their problems. The truth is that corruption is the father of dysfunction, and no amount of prayer in this world can keep rickety, unmaintained, 3rd-hand aircraft from dropping out of the skies like bird shit. It is mindsets like Fani-Kayode’s that is responsible for the emergence of crafty opportunists who claim to be pastors and imams across Nigeria, and who get super-rich off of people's ignorance and desperation.
The curious case of Femi Fani-Kayode is proof that it is not enough to be educated or well-spoken. Neither is it enough that one attended one of the best institutions of learning in the world. One’s education is a waste if the best that one can offer is the type of opinion put forth by Mr. Fani-Kayode. His one-time attack of the respected statesman and Nobel laureate Wole Soyinka easily comes to mind at this point. For finding the ‘effrontery’ to criticize his then-boss Olusegun Obasanjo, Fani-Kayode snarled and barked at a septuagenarian Soyinka, making time to point out that Soyinka did not believe in a Christian God anyways – as if such were a prerequisite whose absence should deny the latter of his right to address what he saw as the garrulous leadership style of the man for whom Fani-Kayode spoke: Mr. Obasanjo. Dare I say, incredulous?
No enlightened freeborn will read the piece by Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode and come away feeling better enlightened on the subject of the person of the American president, of whom Fani-Kayode wrote. In fact, his views are more confusing than enlightening. It is not based in reality, but reads like a view conceived in the warped recesses of the mind of a deranged Christian fanatic. Perhaps Femi Fani-Kayode is on an unsolicited audition for America’s Fox News Network, or he is on a mission to best the efforts of discredited attention-hugger Glen Beck, whose brand of conspiracy theories is of a deranged variety.
The likes of Femi Fani-Kayode are the ones that so-called conservative evangelicals from the West who, upon facing strong resistance to their agenda in their much more developed homelands, travel to Africa to recruit, equip and empower religious freaks to spread and perfect their gospel of intolerance in the name of a Christian God. For these people, anybody who does not see things their way is of the devil. Where poverty and want is the real issue, they gin-up social issues as abortion and homosexuality to detract from immediate pressing issues, offending and harassing people of other faith or social orientation while at the same time claiming persecution and oppression – or, claiming that their way of life is being threatened by others’ private choices. They cannot opine on anything without patronizing God in that silly manner that many Nigerian leaders are known to do, evoking God’s name even as they indulge in despicable deeds.
Barack Hussein Obama, may have bowed before an Arab King, but no enemy of the United States out there has ever felt any more heat from the country over which Obama presides than now. The world’s number one terrorist’s body has been fed to the oceans. Iran is capitulating under the pains of crushing sanctions initiated by the United States under Barack Obama’s leadership, in conjunction with the international community.
Israel is acknowledging America as a strong ally, more than ever before, under Barack Obama’s leadership. The entire world views the United States more favorably than it did in recent annals. The economy is on a rebound and successes are being recorded in a manner that hints strongly at better days ahead. America’s iconic auto industry has roared back to life as the world’s number one auto maker. A healthcare reform attempted by no less than 5 of Obama’s predecessors was eventually done, which will ultimately assure that one of the world’s richest nation’s would not have to live with the inexcusable stigma of unaffordable healthcare. One could go on and on and on..
All the aforementioned and more are happening, but Mr. Femi Fani-Kayode finds nothing but superstitious claims to address? Somebody should find out if he’s still into drugs, and therefore, still hallucinating.