"Utuduuliaipannaifommo( Fasting does not prohibit the eating of cassava chips)"
The introduction of the Christian religion early in the twentieth century to the Annang came with shock and awe. The protestant missionaries at Calabar had urged the colonialists to do something about the perceived savagery of those outside of the coast, especially the Aro Cult Brotherhood. The imperialist army marched into IkotEkpene pursuing one of the ring leaders of the cult, a man by name,UkpongInokon. He was captured and hung at Ifuho. Because such violent death and the site of the hanging contaminated the Annang land, the hill side was abandoned and so the Irish Roman Catholic Mission took over the land and built a church from where they sought the conversion of the Annang. Many shunned the religion and its teachings. It was not surprising that many Annang joined a new indigenous movement about ten years later known as the Spirit Movement which introduced elements of syncretism and turned the Christian theology into African religious concepts. The new movement encouraged fasting, the destruction of Idiong shrines. It also taught that the Holy Spirit was actually greater than the father of the Christian trinity and dwelt inside the church sanctuary. From the Spirit Movement, indigenous churches such as African Apostolic Church and Christ Army or what the Annang called “KiasEmem” emerged. Skeptics within the society, apparently confused about both the indigenous movement and the foreign religion joked that fasting, encouraged by the Spiritists, does not prohibit the eating of the cassava chip.
Cynicism and justifications for cutting corners are as old as time itself. The saying about fasting and cassava chips perhaps developed because the people observed an act of hypocrisy. In a world where we have seen corruption, greed and hypocrisy, it may be an act of self-preservation to be cynical. In a world where the end justifies the means and where many have gone to great lengths for wealth, cynicism often becomes a better reaction to good ideas. Individuals become cynical because they place a great faith in the ability of others and when the individual fails, those who attributed superior traits to such individuals lost faith in human capabilities.
Henry Ford, the great American entrepreneur, once told a group of businessmen that those who fear failures limit their opportunities. Cynicism may be limiting and also can be an expression of doubt. It is a manifestation of the belief that nothing in the world matters. Imagine what the world would have been like if others had developed the idea that nothing is worth devoting one’s time on?
What are you passionate about? What is keeping you from joining in the development of yourself and the community? What are those things that you think others would remember you for? Are you allowing the behavior of a few individuals to define how you see and interpret the world? Some people saw the cassava chip as not prohibiting one’s involvement in the fast, but they probably missed the essence of what the fast was all about and in the process forfeited its spiritual benefits. As you go about life and living today, may the breezes of the gentle spirit remove all that was blocking your way.
Adede (Dr.) Ezekiel Ette
For Annang Writers Association (A division of Annang Heritage Preservation Inc.)
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DISCLAIMER: Views expressed here are solely that of the author and do not represent the official position of Annang Heritage Preservation Inc. or any of its affiliate.