When Chimamanda stirred the hornet’s nest with an NBA address

By Obinna Odogwu And Aloysius Atah

Rev. Dad Christopher Eze of St. Paul’s Catholic Church, Abba, Anambra has called on Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, the Nigerian-born international writer, to stop complaining about her criticism of him at his mother’s funeral and to learn to live with.

He was responding to mention of the incident in a keynote address delivered by Adichie last Monday at the 62nd Annual General Conference of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA-AGC). Held at the Eko Atlantic City, Victoria Island, Lagos, Adichie had, in the 33-minute keynote address she delivered as a guest speaker, reference the case while trying to call for peace rooted in justice.

Noting that she had been seen as “awkward” in some quarters for having strong opinions on certain issues, a point of view which she says does not sit well with her, she cited the incident in which she was unfairly criticized by her local Catholic priest, during a thanksgiving outing for her mother’s funeral. A few months earlier before her mother’s death and burial, she had given an interview in which she criticized Catholic and other churches in Nigeria for focusing on money, through fundraising and other activities.

But she said that during the service of thanksgiving intended to honor her mother, the Reverend Father. Eze saw it as an opportunity to call her out during the interview and publicly castigate her for having such a view. She noted that while she was not against the priest for holding an opinion contrary to her own, she was nevertheless disappointed that he chose her mother’s funeral not only to criticize her but also to misrepresent her point of view. seen. She added that while she is not against anyone wanting to help the church financially, she is totally against the church extorting the poor in any form.

She said that even though she took her time that day to explain all this to members of the Abba community church where she is from, the local priest continued to slander and misrepresent her. She regretted that the Catholic Church did not see fit to punish him for desecrating his mother’s funeral or to ask him to apologize to the family for what he did.

She said, “I wasn’t asking for peace. I was asking for justice. I wanted the bishop (responsible for the area) to do the right thing, take responsibility, reprimand the priest in the same public way the priest desecrated my mother’s funeral, set a precedent for the consequences and s I assure you, therefore, that no other priest could turn what was one of the saddest days of his life into a place of reckoning. Anyway, that didn’t happen. I can tell you, as I stand here, I am still filled with endless shimmering, flowery rage.

Saturday Sun’s attempt to get the Catholic Director of Communications for the Diocese of Awka, Reverend Fr. Martin Anusi to explain why this had not been done proved unsuccessful as he was reportedly absent in Rome for the inauguration of Bishop Peter Okpaleke of the Diocese of Ekwulobia in Anambra State as Cardinal, a ceremony taking place today in Vatican City.

But Reverend Father Eze, the priest at the center of the storm, was not happy that Adichie was still dealing with the incident. He replied as follows when the newspaper asked him the same question: “The whole world has heard his misfortune. So what about? I preached the good news. She didn’t accept it. Good for her. She’s free.

But in her explanation during the keynote about why she brought the story, Adichie noted that the incident and its aftermath almost everyone who heard of it asked her to drop the matter. made him “realize how often in this country we brush aside injustice in the name of peace. It is still a fragile and hollow peace because as long as we refuse to entangle the knot of justice, true peace cannot flourish.

She noted that “in the name of peace, we say things like ‘ok, let it go’; ‘ok, that’s enough now’, ‘ok, that was very bad, but you should stop talking about it’, ‘ok, deal with it now, I don’t.’ But she noted that in calling for peace without justice, “we continue to make mediocrity our norm. We fail to hold our leaders accountable and we turn what should be transparent systems into ugly, opaque cults. »

She added: “My experience also made me think that there is something dead in us, something dead in our society. A death of self-awareness, a death of self-reflection, a death of compassion, a death of intellectual curiosity, a death of the capacity for self-criticism. And I think it’s time for a collective resurrection, so to speak. One cannot refuse to practice self-criticism and yet criticize the government. We cannot ignore the abuses of our religious, traditional, community leaders and focus only on the abuses of political leaders. We cannot want to hide our own institutional failings while demanding transparency from government institutions. The first question we need to ask ourselves is: what is the right thing to do? Not what is the materially beneficial thing to do or what is the institutionally beneficial thing to do. If we continue to sweep away injustice in the name of hollow peace, we will leave behind our children and their children an utterly dark legacy.

But some Catholic worshipers who weighed in on the issue felt the accusation that the church was extorting money from the poor might not be entirely correct. While one asserted that all the money and fundraising was not limited to the Catholic Church, another wrote: “That’s his business. We do not care? Leave some of us who like to give.

An Athonia Eghrudjge said: “When you see what you don’t like, ask questions and don’t conclude. This past Christmas, my parish in Asaba fed about 1,000 families and they are not Catholic. From this money, the workers are paid; priests are supported; families in need are taken care of. I don’t know about other denominations, but in Catholic, every money given and spent is accounted for, at least in my parish. They help pay people’s bills, for example hospitals, prisons, schools, etc. for those who cannot afford it.

Uche Ogbodo said, “Please just say your church in the village is doing it. Not the Catholic Church because they hardly ask people for money.

Another respondent added a ridiculous angle to the argument when he wrote, “Accept Jesus as your personal savior before it’s too late.” Hurry up. I come in peace.”

At the NBA conference, Adichie hinted that reactions such as the above give him goosebumps. She said: ‘I was pleased to be called a troublesome one. Because sarcasm can often be lost in speeches like this, I think I should clarify that I used the word “pleasure” sarcastically. Of course, it’s never nice to be called troublesome, controversial or provocative. At least it’s not pleasant for me. I never tried to provoke just to provoke. Not only do I think that’s a pretty juvenile way to be in the world, but it’s just not in my nature. However, I refused to keep quiet for fear of inadvertently provoking. What guides me, in general, is never the question: will it attract criticism? But rather the question: is it true? Do I really believe this? And will it potentially result in a greater good?

“It has always been important to me to speak what I believe, to stand up for causes that are close to my heart, to speak out against injustice…Throughout history, those who have maintained positions of principle and fought for justice have often been seen as troublesome. Even major figures in Christianity and Islam were considered troublesome in their time. But a potential problem with the word “troublesome” is the assumption that the action embarrassing is itself the point. The problem is not the point. What matters is not that we are awkward. What matters is: why are we awkward? The Civil Rights Leader remarkably humane and resilient African American, John Lewis, has often spoken of the need to get into “good trouble”, which I understand to mean, not trouble for the sake of getting into trouble, but trouble to get more great good and in this matter, justice.

Comments are closed.