A Christian Song for MEND and Boko Haram: Are You Called? By Adeolu Ademoyo

Adeolu Ademoyo
Adeolu Ademoyo

Last Sunday, here in Binghamton, New York, coming out of the cold winter season,  as the spring season continued to spring more warmth into our lives, families and faithful — in this small, serene, peaceful, children, and family-centered city in New York state – -poured out to fellowship with other families in different ways in our different locations where two or three gathered in the name of our Lord. On this Sunday, our closing song in my church – St Thomas Aquinas — nudged me into another reflective mood about my country, Nigeria.

The title of the song is WE ARE CALLED. It is Hymn Number 625 in the Roman Catholic Missal 2013 (http://www.ocp.org/products/missals.  As we sang, the lyrics pricked me to think about some of my fellow countrymen and women who are terrorists and who are members of Boko Haram and Mend. As faithfuls filed out of the church singing heartily, the song paradoxically jerked me back into the terrorism of Boko Haram and Mend. Minutes after, we were out of the church. The midday spring lukewarm sun seemed very lazy, and sleepy for it was still reluctant to rise. It peeped though, as if it was hiding. Spring warm, as we chatted our way back home, I told my family that the lyrics of our closing song resonated with me in a way that connected me back home to our original country, Nigeria.  The song resonated because even when the issue of amnesty for Boko Haram terrorists, and for any group of terrorists at all is legitimately problematic for my countrymen and women, Boko Haram boastfully claimed that they would reject the amnesty! As if to respond to evil with evil, Boko Haram’s  rival terrorist group – MEND — called to the unfaithfuls among them and  “preached”  a bad “sermon” from the creek thus: “By the end of May, we will start burning mosques in defense of Christianity and Christian faith”!

Countrymen and women, I have not come to bury nor praise any of these terrorists. You can see why I have come to share this song with you and with them-Boko Haram and Mend terrorists- for these two groups claim to act in the name of God, terrorize, kill children, kill mothers, fathers, kill pregnant women, kill and anyone else in the name of God. Can this be true? Are they called? Here is my song:

                                   I

Come Live in The light.

Shine with the joy and the love of the Lord! We are

Called to be Light for the kingdom, to

Live in the freedom-of the city-of God!

We are called to act with justice, we are

Called to love tenderly, we are called to

Serve one another, to walk humbly, with

God.

                     II

Come Open Your Heart.

Show your mercy to all those in fear! We are

Called to be hope for the hopeless, so all

Hatred and blindness will be no more!

We are called to act with justice, we are

Called to love tenderly, we are called to

Serve one another, to walk humbly, with God.

                         III

Sing, Sing a new song!

Sing of that great day when all will be one! God will

Reign, and we’ll walk with each other as

Sisters and brothers united in love!

We are called to act with justice, we are

Called to love tenderly, we are called to

Serve one another, to walk humbly, with

God.

(http://www.ocp.org/products/missals) “Break Bread: With daily Mass Propers 2013  Hymn 625.

So when Boko Haram  rejected “amnesty” and rationalized their rejection thus : “Surprisingly, the Nigerian government is talking about granting us amnesty. What wrong(sic) have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you [a] pardon,” Nigerian  children  asked:  but you Boko Haram  killed  us when we were going to school, you killed us when we  were attending churches,  you killed our mothers, you killed our mothers who were carrying our siblings such that you sent our mothers and siblings away to their graves, such that we could not know our un-born siblings whether they are male or female, you killed  foreign doctors who were giving  polio vaccines, yet we want to become doctors ourselves when we grow old. And if we become doctors, you will kill us too like you killed the foreign ones.  The Nigerian children and other world children asked: Boko Haram,  are those you killed Nigerian government?  And the children continued: So Boko Haram, you do not see any wrong in killing doctors and children?  Does killing women, doctors  and children “living in the city of God” as our closing song beckons to the world?  Does  your acts reflect being called as the song enjoins the world?   As if Boko Haram is calling their creek compatriots-MEND- they immediately answered Boko Haram’s call.  MEND preached and said they will start bombing mosques and killing Muslims in “defense” of “Christianity” from due date May 31, 2013.  MEND sermonized:  “The bombings of mosques, hajj camps, Islamic institutions, large congregations in Islamic events and assassinations of clerics that propagate doctrines of hate will form the core mission of this crusade(sic).”

Talk of crusade. On recalling this, my children asked as we chatted our way home from church: “Papa are the Mend terrorists Christians?” I knew I was in trouble again, and I wanted to drift off. Looking away, I asked why even when I knew. Before I finished my question: they said “but you told us you like the closing song today in church… which…” The children  are saying that if I like our closing song today, then anyone who kills cannot be of God! I said “yeah hm yeah, but I am being truthful..” They said “yes we know, but  are Boko Haram terrorists called by God? Does God also CALL the Mend terrorists  according to what we have in the  Christian song?  Is bombing of mosques…large congregations in Islamic events and assassination of Islamic clerics…” which Mend said they will do amount to  being CALLED by God?  Are the Boko Haram and Mend  killings “living in the light of God”  as the lyrics of the song say? My kids  cornered me even when I am supposed to be dad. Innocent, they just wanted to know. But in their innocent search for answers to what puzzled them they flustered me even when I just left the church energized by the Catholic Easter song to show the world God’s love.

While terrorists throw bombs children know and sing love to them. Children know better. They love and they know love triumphs. They know there is no contest for love wins always. They know love will triumph for it has always been for this is Easter period for us Catholics. It is period of  divine and eternal love for God is love. This is why if  MEND and Boko Haram terrorists  stand  then there cannot be God for their existence is a negation of God’s love but there is God.  My evidence? Please check the song again. And sing it to yourselves. God’s love is the foundation of creation, the Easter love is its divine continuity in human form and that divine love will triumph over all evil and over Boko Haram and Mend terrorism. Are you called? Are they called? Sing a new song  for we are called only to love tenderly and to serve one another-all humans of diverse beliefs, race and ethnicity.

Even when cornered by my children through the contradictions Boko Haram and Mend terrorism had heaped on religious peoples of faith, I am still dad and a faithful one, one with faith in God!  Though, it may be difficult in the face of these contradictions from Boko Haram and Mend, I will still chirp and sing this song   to evil, to Boko Haram, to Mend, for love will triumph over all evil, for God is love, and love triumphs. Ultimately, there is no contest. Divine love triumphs.

Adeolu Ademoyo (aaa54@cornell.edu) is Africana Studies and Research Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY.

About Adeolu Ademoyo

Adeolu Ademoyo, a moral philosopher and African Studies scholar at Cornell University. He is a senior lecturer of Yoruba language and culture.