In a long contribution, titled "The Blazing Blade of Terror and Interspatial Experiences: An African Reflexive Trail ," Rev. Agbali reflects on terrorism as it affects Africa,Africans, and African immigrants.
The recent spates of globalizing terror and its ideology of hatred of others lead toward different mode of reflexive engagements with the present realities of our world, especially when looking at the divergent elements of the trajectories involved. Thus, it has invoked within me, as an African, and a current immigrant in the West a sensitized imagination regarding certain vignettes within the interspatial contours of global manifestations of religious extremism. I have wondered a lot about the recurrent blaze of terror's blade within the contexts of its globalizing dimension, and significantly watered by an idiosyncratic ideology prefabricating crass hatred while viciously hinged upon anomalous tenets whose grounding privileges malevolent norms.
Since the London attacks, I have wondered about a lot things regarding our shared experiences as humans spanning divergent interspatial domains. I have equally thought about whether distancing and dichotomizations, based upon otherness, are not also factors in engendering resentment that necessitates a violent detour in unfortunately committing nefarious and criminal acts against humanity. In spite of the multicultural array of terrorism's victims, can we say that the feeling of social alienation was at work within these events? Why, should be this? Given, what we known, it is surprising that most of the actors are British citizens, socialized and acculturated in British values, essentially marinated within Western civilizing idioms. Even, the news footage and the description of some of the suspected actors indicate that they were quiet, unassuming, and even hardworking folks with their community. What happened remains a mystery. Now, we are not faced with the grandfather question of theodicy of why do bad things happen to good people, but rather with the inquest, why do presumably good people do bad things? Can good people, as some of the actors are portrayed, capable of bad things? In fact, this whole depicture sounds hollow compared to the noble notion of the civilized ethics and psychology of the west, that good people would often remain good, less incapable of hurting others. Therefore, how do we make sense of those whose nature 'vulturizes' culture by the vulgarity of their actions? What science can tell us about such moral and behavioral
volte-face of these senseless and heartless murderous extremists?
All too often, unfortunate, there are many who live in the West but are ironically angry at its civilization, culture, social structures, and systems. I often found this state of affairs very intriguing. I experienced such anger once directed at me, by a Vietnam veteran, whose wife was dying of Cancer in a Texas hospital. His unleashed anger was directed at me but more so at the failure of the government to stop immigrants like me whom he presumed was reaping (and maybe ripping) the fruits of his redemptive sacrifices in salvaging America. Having made the bed of Freedom, I was deemed not fit to lie on the bed had so laboriously worked for. I can understand that feeling and anger, but the intensity of the anger directed at one's own institutions and systems, seems out of place and even in my naivety un-American (that was the time it was un-American to speak against the happenings because the nation was at war against terror). Maybe, I am wrong, but at the time I shared that feeling. In any case, I left that room praying not for the sick person, as I ought but only imagined the fulfillment of this as a truism so that I can not long from then totally and vicariously enjoy myself without pains, without working as hard as I often do, lying on such bed of American pleasure and freedom.
Such imaginations are aroused when I meet some disenchanted people, especially in the libraries of some of our cities, especially among the homeless and socially dejected, who nurture crass ill feelings against their own societies and vocalize such deep distrusts of western institutions and systems. Thus, while raising the Western civilization to a pedestal, some are absolutely ill at ease with its achievements, especially as defined by the outbursts of racial minorities and the marginal in many inner cities. Interestingly, in many places the libraries most of these folks utilize is a result of the efforts of various city and municipal governments; a sign of the functionality of at least an institution they sometime criticize. Therefore, the polarizing distancing between people and institutions and systems within their own societies can pave different ideals about reality, and such differential ordering can become a source of an overt preoccupation with novel and nefarious religious ideals.
Wondering about certain existential ethos, I am incensed against totality of the salvific idealism and appeal that injects sadness into the social polity. Yet, it is enormously intriguing that the capitalist glamour, underlined by a consumerist infatuation and its related materialized ethos of the here-and-now realizable promise of redemption opened up by the virtue of hard work and dedicated work ethics becomes irrelevant to these extremists. Thus, why consumerism is treasured, it is yet to find total apostles in folks like this preoccupied with the ideal that are otherworldly in orientation.
I am also bothered about the state of social welfare in many countries of the western hemispheres and the modality of their applications relative to the socially marginal and immigrants. My hope would be to see that such intelligent but socially disgruntled elements be turned into beneficial productive crop of citizens. But that is not always easy, I tell myself. Yet, there is a solace that I found, though again generating annoyance in me; namely that those who have been profiled to act violently against society, are not the dejected of our western societies. Terry McVeigh, the Unabomber, and even Eric Rudolph depict a profile of highly intelligent people, who unfortunately adopted borderline personalities. Yet, the storied imageries painted of the suspected London Bombers represent them as highly unlike candidates, described by adjectives that would ascribe moral goodness to most of them. Beyond their social refracted appearances laid other personalities that were anti-social, virulently volatile, and obnoxiously fanatical. But this is not the case in other places like Iraq or Nigeria. The social miscreants are often the elongated hands manipulated by inducers of religious radicalism and fanatical lovers of terror.
The negation of opportunities, especially as it affects the perceived and targeted "others," within different Metropolitan and Cosmopolitan domains can become fine-tuned into channels for nurturing animosity toward society, and further ill-evolving into a religiosity affirming rather the meaningfulness of the other-worldly (the hereafter) while neglecting the order of the here-within. Thus, such "others," with limited opportunities often do not sense the worth of their own lives, or those of others, given their elongated schooling in social neglect, marginalization, and denigration. Such situations only help to reinforce their infatuation with the other-worldly. Thus, the politics of neglect that defines the extremity of otherness ushering the politics of indifference remain a substantial threat to the existential orders of western societies and its civilization. Reacting to such political schemes coupled with the effects of their alienation, acts of social violence are validated and tested with an impersonal precision that exclude concerns for human lives.
Personal Narratives and Experience of Nigerian Religious Extremism
However, not to go overboard, I reference my own personal narratives as it relates to religious fanaticism in my native Nigeria. I am a grandson of a Sunni Muslim, whose uncles and aunties still remain adherents. My father had veneered into Catholic Christianity, as a child, with the blessings of his Muslim father, an ex- Native Authority Policeman and later Liquor merchant and retailer. My father's detour into Catholicism was a result of cultural interactions between the Igala and the Catholic Missionaries. The German Catholic missionaries, headed by Fr. Anthony Konrath, first came into my town in 1934, erecting the foundation of the Church in my hometown, but as an elongation of the earlier ill-fated 1902 Catholic excursion into the area in Dekina. Thereafter, followed World War II. Nigeria being a British colony, the Germans were forcefully mandated to hurriedly depart, initially bundled to Eastern Nigeria and interred in the Caribbean during the war, at the end of the war they never returned as they were left for Germany, leaving for others their garden of faith work to water. In this venture, they were followed by the English and Irish Missionaries, but for only a limited time before paving way for the French Canadian priests, the eventual consolidators of these earlier efforts.
Within this ranging context my father, a son of a Muslim boy, from a traditional priestly clan, the Okete Atebo (Priest of the Igala national and Royal Ancestral Shrine), adopted the identity of Roman Catholicism, becoming an adherent until his death. This Muslim boy would continue to weave the religious mat even further, when he equally married a protestant as wife from the Qua Iboe Church (now United Evangelical Missions). This Church that began around Ibeno, around the Qua Iboe River, in present day Akwa Ibom state (another referent of the river's name), by Irish and later Scottish Presbyterian sources, later expanded to significant involve the Igala in its spatial elaborations.
Thus, the happiest day of my life was during my ordination to the Catholic priesthood, when I saw all the different segments of my extended family, of all different religious trajectories- Christians (Catholic, Protestants, Evangelicals, Pentecostals); Muslims, and African Traditional Religious practitioners all seated in Church and gathered as a family during my post-ordination reception and First Mass as a priest. What a colorful mosaic, it was! I remember my late maternal grandmother joyously sharing her emotions she said to me how thankful it was that God had spared her to witness my ordination and above enabling her to gain a better and appreciative perspective of the Catholic Church and her liturgy. She stated that more than any of her experience the Catholic ordination rites, transferred her to the images of the New Testaments apostolic rites of Laying on of hands, especially its structural organization! Her sharing was truly amazing, and I realized Grandma's powerful sense of observation and sentiments of appreciation.
Another, a Muslim, came forward offering me his blessings noting that his aspirations for me was to rise from being a priest, race through being a bishop, archbishop, cardinal, and a Pope. A fact that made me laughed hilariously, knowing that I had no such ambition, and even was a long shot from any such aspirations. Thus, within this sedimentation I have often considered myself has multi-religious, and I have often held a high regard for religious adherents of all faiths.
However, my first real imagination of religious antagonism came, when I was first year seminarian, in beginning to study for the Catholic priesthood. We were then in Makurdi, when news came of the 1987 Kafanchan religious riots, inflamed by the preaching of an interdenominational erstwhile Islamic religious leader. I remember seeing the tears of some of my classmates from the Archdiocese of Kaduna following the 1987 torching of their alma mater, the St. Joseph's Minor (High School) Seminary, Zaria. Lack of detailed information made them so frantic, fearing for the safety of the students, many of whom they had just left behind to begin their onward formation in the Major Seminary.
Later, after moving up to the Plateaued city of Jos, Nigeria in continuation of my Philosophical and Theological studies at the St. Augustine's Major Seminary (Laranto or Katako), Jos, I came in direct contact with the extreme threat of religious violence, and its induced fear, especially about the possibility of dying for one's faith simply because it differs from another. Up till that time, my faith was considered a personal affair and had hitherto taken for granted. However, my private practice of faith was a public matter for another, simply because we differed. It was crazy, I'd thought the, and even more so now. I remember, our Hausa speaking peers communicating to us, about the threats made against us over the public address systems of an adjoining mosque by its radical Islamic preacher calling for our annihilation on the slaughter slab of religious animosity, as a prize of paradise for the perpetuators, simply because he perceived the seminary to be the "factory" that "manufactures" Christian ministers. I remember my being very fearful for our personal security. I knew then, as I still do, I acknowledge not being afraid of dying, for it will eventually come, but facing ignominious and crude death was detestable to me. I knew, neither the others nor I deserves such cheap death under such circumstances.
This fear became particularly aggravated during the last four of the eight years I spent in that city.
I remembered memorably one night in April/ May 1991 when we thought the inevitable was going to happen. Rife rumors (grapevine Intel), which then we considered as veritable made the rounds an attack upon us was certain. I imaged the scenario in my eyes' mind, as to how we would be killed, throat slashed slaughtering carried out within the crazy wild orgy of cold-blooded maneuver, sanctioned presumably by a divine sanction, a Fatwa. I visualized the sharp double-edged "suya" knives (this is a kind of acutely sharp knife shaped like a sickle used for "suya," a kind of roasted Kebab) that would ensure our entrance into the eon world, while vultures, flies, bugs, and bacteria feast on our corpses. That night I slept in jeans pants (trousers) and had my gym shoes fearing a nocturnal attack on our seminary in the aftermath of the Bauchi religious riots (Bauchi town is somewhat close to Jos).
Before, going to sleep that night, my room mate and I, had bid ourselves farewell, hoping to see in heaven, should that night be definitive for both of us. We joked, though terrified, that as room mates, about being roommates again, should St. Peter decide to use our class listing and following the alphabetical order, as it was done in allocating rooms and roommates in the seminary. We joked that the possibility was high if none of us was detoured by St. Peter's ending up in Purgatory (the stop-gap to Paradise in Catholic teaching) or even hell. In spite of our jokes we were girded in fears. That night my room mate, (now a priest too for Maiduguri diocese), Marcel Afariyu, told me about their experiences in Yola, during the Maitatsine riots in 1984, while in the St. Peter's Minor Seminary. Well, luckily for us we were spared the agonizing trauma, with the effluent threats' my imagination evolved into utopia.
Given that among the Igala and most other ethnic groups, members of different faiths and belief systems- Moslems, Christians, and African Traditional Religious adherents lived amicably together, and interacted cordially, a fact Professor Falola affirms of his native Ibadan, and of course Yoruba land (cf. A Mouth Sweeter than Salt, Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press, 2004, Pp. 230, 238-9), I wondered aloud why all these. On this night, I thought about our family's good friend, Alhaji Isah, whom in typical Nigeria style we customarily shared our delicious Christmas meals, loaded with tasty stewed goat meats. I remembered this was the norm on all Christmas days since I was a kid, until we moved to another town. He often reciprocated the gesture during the time of his own Islamic festivals, like Eid al- Fitr, Eid al-Maulud, and Eid El Kabir (also Eid al-Adha) with tempting meals of tasty ram meats that incenses salivation. Alhaji Isah, was one of my father's best, he interacted well with us, and truly loved us as children. He cared because he often visited, and we loved seeing him around talking with his friend, our father.
This night I thought about his emotional reaction hearing that I was slaughtered like his Sallah rams, just for being different. Would he be happy that this happened given that by faith I was a Kafir or an 'Arine, as we Christians and non-believers are tagged? Would he curse the killers and seek revenge on my behalf? Yet, I felt this was outrageous given that I was a person of the book, "Al Kitab," isn't these murderous radicals not acting in deviance of the teachings of the Prophet Mohammed (PbuH)? Thoughts like this raced on my head like lice modeled on NASCAR cars on this gloomy night, until sleep finally seized my rattled mind for good.
On many other occasions, we slept with eyes wide open, ready to run should we be invaded. But even then contemplating later about this option, I concluded it amount to a futility of efforts, given that the Seminary was surrounded predominantly by the Moslems. At least the area where the motor park (garage) was in Jos, was in the Angwa Rogo area, near the University of Jos, a predominantly Moslem enclave. I know the force of the hate that threatened us, because one day, I had a female guest whom I was escorting off to enter a cab. Given that she was wearing a skirt up to her kneels even the 5-10 year olds were stoning her legs and calling her names. It was one that could be felt, and I thanked God such primitive action never unfolded.
I remember at one point our then Rector of the seminary, the late Bishop Joseph Sunday Ajomo (later Bishop of Lokoja) told us that he had informed the police about the imminent threats (or rumors) but the police told him that they would only come to our rescue only when we were invaded! Anyone, who knows the Nigeria Police Force, knows that if they do not join the killers to cut our throats and maim us themselves, they would be running far away from the scene of crisis. Thus, the Rector requested that given the situation we should mount our own surveillance and try to safeguard ourselves as best as we could. Thus, all of a sudden the men being trained as priests were now to think of themselves as inducted into a kind of Catholic army! A ragtag army merely mobilized as an army at its best with an armory of stick and stones! Some actually did attempt, given that they were members of the Eagle Scout and Man O' War, but in reality, we knew that in the event of any attack we were as vulnerable regardless of their efforts.
Thus, it was better they had gain some good sleep, and if death had come at least they were rested to meet St. Peter at the gate to answer his deep questions. Yet, it was a traumatic experience for some of us. Among us were survivors of another religious violence in 1987, when the Muslims invaded the St. Joseph's Minor Seminary, Zaria and razed it to the ground. Thus, from their accounts we knew that these "sickle-knifed" folks often meant business and would not be in for some kids' play with us. We just knew that should the divine providence that we so much trust had eluded us we were meant to have become minced meat for the vultures and rats!
Thus, many years after I left Jos, it was not surprising that Jos became a hotbed of religious riots precipitated by religious fanatics. It did not also surprise me, though it hurt me that two Nigerian priests, Frs. Clement Ozi Bello, himself a Moslem convert to Christianity, and James Iyere, a retired Military Chaplain and army General and Parish Pastor, were killed respectively during two different riots within the vicinity of Kaduna. Fr. Bello was pulled off his car and slaughtered, and his eyes plugged off. The aged Fr. Iyere, given his belief that due to his commitment to his community including the Muslims in the area, he would not be armed, his faith in human reason and goodness did not save him. He was beaten, petrol poured upon him and he was left to burn and roast in his own fats and blood. But, even as disgusting this is, the following example may even sound terrifying in fathoming the irrationality of terror baptized in religious idioms. Yahaya Halidu, an Igala Muslim and business man, on a trip to Tudun Wada, Kaduna, was heinously killed on the grounds of Amana hotel he lodged by riotous adherents of his own Islamic faith, even while he was pleading for his life invoking his Muslim identity (Newswatch [Nigerian News Magazine], March 06, 2000, Pp. 8-9). These tragedies have been the feature of some national polities like Nigeria, since the 1980s.
Thus, I found myself again, as a newly ordained young priest, when I took my faulty car to an auto-electrical repair shop for fixing, feeling horrible about some ill-manifestations associated with religion. The most agonizing thing for me was that, I'd thought I left the bubbling volatile Jos, only to discover that my home area was not a sanctuary either. My electrician was considered an expert in auto-electrical repairs and was rated highly in my hometown. However, the discussions that had that day sent chills down my spine. Though, pleased to have someone fixed my car, I left his shop bewildered. During my visit, somehow we started chatting about political issues, then veneered into religious talk, little knowing that we were exploring highly tensile raw nerves. Being dressed as a priest in my long white cassock seems to have opened the door for this electrician to explore his religious thoughts with me. Wearing a long toga with a white "skull" cap, with a long spectacular black bead, as were some of his apprentices, I knew he was Muslim. As we chatted he informed me that he fought in Afghanistan war during the Soviets invasion in the 1980s, as a Mujhadeen and effusively spoke in glowingly adjectives of his experiences there. Then noting that his true preoccupation (a life's task) would be to give his life in safeguarding the Islamic Umma any way it is threatened around the world, averring that he would give up any worldly pursuit at light's speed in the defense of the Islamic Umma.
As this discursive scenario unfolded, I began to gain a little understanding of this electrician. Pointedly, he told me that for the cause of Islam he would kill me without hesitation and remorse, should the need arise. He also told me that for the cause of Islam in Nigeria, there are different camp locations, including within Igalaland with paramilitary training camps. I was shocked to hear this, especially about the existence of such religious financed military (or paramilitary) establishment within my area. Jokingly, telling him that that if he kills me, he would loss a client without the opportunity of making money off me, and he retorted. "I do not care about you and your money. Kafir (unbelievers) money are smelly anyway. Actually, to tell you the truth, what I am doing right now makes it gratifying for me; to be able to take the money of Kafirs like you in fighting the cause of Allah. For too long because of you people we have been denied of having our own Islamic republic and ways in this Nigeria. Insha Allahu, we shall marshal our energies to fight on behalf of Allah, someday, May His name be praised."
I was totally shocked beyond imagination for I knew it was not a joke, I could feel its intensity. Due to religion I do not matter, even my ethnic kin, references religion more than the blood of kinship. It is a new order, in deed! An Igala person, not caring for the flow of another Igala person, constitutes an abomination, because the Igala states "Ma d'oma ane r'ane," meaning that it is an abomination to use the aboriginal for land sacrifices (or any sacrifices demanding human blood for that matter). It was also painful to imagine that I could just be killed like that, slaughtered like an animal, and not better than the punishment of a vulture, in my own homeland.
This realization sent chills down my spine, knowing I am the grandson of Muslim grandfather, who did not have problems with his children following whichever faith they decided between Islam and Christianity. My father, through the school system became Catholic, as he was unto his grave. But today as I recall this conversation, I am sickened by religious hostilities. However, that unexpected disclosure gave me some perspectives into the operations of the current battle between Islamic radicals and modernity, considered as a fight between two opposing viewpoints, two civilizations, that though both ancient have been in continuous historical counter-opposition
But not so any more! I could simply be butchered for belonging to a faith that my grandfather sanctioned for his son (my father) without much ado. Even, ironic is the fact that even most of my patrilineal kin- uncle, aunt, cousins- are still Moslems, and most were at the Church the day I was ordained a priest, and one even prayed at my reception that he longed to see the day I would become even a Pope- a utopia dream, I imagined. But significantly, the fact of religion mattered more than the fact of ethnicity, in spite of its salience in Nigerian politics and affairs. Thus, my friend does not confuse the two spheres. His religion was preferred to his ethnicity, as he sees himself as a global citizen, a member of the Islamic Umma. Thus, amazingly portraying a fact that few scholarly of globalization rarely examine, namely regarding how religious constructs such as the Umma, Pentecostalism, Anglicanism, and Catholicism constitutes idioms of globalization and actually drive and shape globalizing consciousness.
Yet, I know very good and loving Muslims, whose religious ideologies exclude such violence. I know many good Muslims (using Mahmod Madani's distinctive dualism of Bad and Good Muslims) who helped me settled in my former Parish in Nigeria and offered their support in ensuring the successes of our different community development projects. One I fondly remember. He was the Chairperson of the local (Ejule) Road Workers' Union (Taxi, Bus, and Truck drivers' union). When he went to the Local Government's Headquarters for his fertilizer allocation, he confronted the Local Government Chairman for not allocating some fertilizers to his parish priest [me], thus in the process managing to secure some bags for me. He even paid the allocation fees out of his pocket and transported the fertilizers, refusing my offer to repay his efforts, all in ensuring that I did not miss out. He, a Muslim, claimed me as his Parish Priest! Such good partnership and gestures defined our relationships and we all perceived ourselves as a family, caring for the needs of our community.
I also recall when the former Vatican Pro Nuncio (Ambassador) to Nigeria, Archbishop Carlo Maria visited my diocese, and parish, though not informed the "Okada people" (Motorbike cabbies or Commercial Motorcyclists) surprised me when, as a group they formed a convoy of honor with their motorbikes in front of the Pro-Nuncio's convoy welcoming him into our parish territory. Most of these forks were Muslims, and were angry that they were not informed on time else they would have put on a better display.
Intertwined Realities: Matrixes of Global Religious and Spatial Interactions
Therefore, while, politicians make the excuse as if the battle between the West and Islamic forces began on September 11th, we know better, that it underlined the medieval crusades. For one thing, the western resistance to the middle-man position and domination of Sub-Saharan and Asian trade routes by Middle Eastern (including North African nations, empires and emirates included) led to the attempt to find the direct route to India to seek access to the trade in silk, spices, and others, that accidentally gave birth to their interactions between the West and the Columbian New World, eventually leading to its domination.
Thus, as in the Middle Ages the crusades was able to unite and globalize Europe, as it united the forces of the Turkish invaders to the Holy Land producing its own unique forces of globalization, a cultural and religious configuration that dually and respectively unified Europe under the Roman Empire and the Ottoman Empire. The commercial detour toward seeking access to the Asian markets also produced another globalizing idiom, namely the connectivity of Africa with the West, first underlined by the religious aspiration of Prince Henry the Navigator to find the mythical but acclaimed magnificently Christian theocratic kingdom of King Prester in the heart of Africa. Thus, together with his Order of Christ, sub-Saharan Africa opened up to the West through Portugal's curiosity leading to the capture of Ceuta in 1415. In 1518, a young North African (Moor), Leo Africanus (El-Hassan Ibn Wezez), who preferred being called El Fasi (The Man of Fez) was captured with an Arab gallery. Rather than sold the corsairs presented him to Pope Leo X. Leo Africanus, the El Fasi would further added to an understanding of Africa and incensing the arousal of the imagination of the West with African and its ancient civilization, through his stories and texts (see Martin Banes, The Pope and Western Africa: An Outline of Mission History 1460s-1960s, New York: Alba House, 1968, pp. 11,18-19). Not long, thereafter, Africans began to become a predominant feature of Western society, imported as slaves and royalties into Portuguese territories.
In fact, the King of the Kongo (Congo) had begun to send emissaries to the King of Portugal and the Vatican. Thus by 1608, the Kongo King Alvaro sent a Kongo Chief, Antonio Emmanuel, Marquis of Funesta as an ambassador to the Vatican. Thus, the first diplomat of Africa to the West was anointed with the sacrament of the sick (last rites) by Pope Paul V himself, as he lay dying few days after his arrival. He was interred in the Basilica of St. Mary Major, and a monument in his memory was erected in the chapel of Sixtus V by Pope Paul V. In the same vein, as Richard Gray, notes, African slaves, through the mechanism of their religious confraternities and sodalities in Portugal even sent an emissary to the Vatican in the hope of confronting and righting their treatments and denigrations in the hands of fellow Christians, without regards for their rights as baptized Christians (cf.
Black Christians and White Missionaries, New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1990). Thus, such linkages are fundamentally significant toward understanding the mode of the operations of the African religious modalities within the globalizing tenets as mediated within the dynamics of Western expansion. Thus, like in the case of the Portuguese Africans subtle and physical violence against a contrasted others was at stake, and the contestation was using the superior order of the Catholic Church, to counter the crown, within the contexts of the referent of Christian baptism as it confers rights of faith and citizenship.
Thus, in deed we find a precursor to the similar situations that would riddle New England much later in the United States, as it pertains to using religious rituals to signify citizenship and confer rights. Thus, subtle and real violence has been evident even at the realm of the religious domain in distinctively legitimating crude violence and extermination of people, the exploitation of people and their ecologies, and above all the aspirations of domination, within the secular realm. Focally, it is interesting to note the contextualized modalities of immigrants' agency in terror schemes (including the allied native born descents of immigrants in the West, such as the North Africans in Europe in such spaces like Netherlands, London, Spain), in their contestation with the political hegemony and the secular order. Interestingly, can we purely assert to what extent their agitations are fully religious without secular undertones, especially within the contexts of their alienation and marginalization within western societies, as recently expressed by the French scarves ban in public schools?
Thus, the ontology of the civilization which the West now ascribes a superiority over the "others'" is often embedded within the banality that forms the orgiastic core of the crude matrix, referenced through the fetishism of real, subtle, masked, and symbolic violence unleashed by society and the forces of capitalist consumerism and materialism, that is at times also reified by the sanctions of religion. Hence, what is happening today seems to be grounded within the antithesis of the logic that privileges the superiority of "us" over "others." Thus, within this anti-clockwise syndrome, it could pointedly be that the others might cynically be reacting to the truncation of their unique cultural, religious, and moral identities within the specific orders privileged by the forces of globalization. Critically, the so-called discontents of globalization seems to embody the referential reactions of the once assumed "na�ve primitive" who not incapable of utilizing the normative channels of challenging their discontents, contend that such channels themselves are not value-neutral, as they sanction some hegemonic precepts, thus allowing these "others" the claim to any power or a civilization worth respecting but always considered as inferior. Thus, actors whose feel their self-worth denigrated by the West, capitalist forces, and the political order act and react in unpredictable but devious ways.
Sadly, the same logical constructs of domination that characterized Western dominations, not long ago, producing the evils of the Belgian King Leopold, that are now being re-assembled and replicated, albeit through utilizing a strategy contextualized within modernity yet negating it, by the prescribed others in their vengeful reversal of sanctioning the logic of violence. Thus, not only is colonialism in reversal, so too is imperialism regressing in a new, uncharted, and intriguing form. Evidentially, even the modes with which the West ascribes the power of domination in privileging the state as the controller and user of violence, even when the authority using that power is an imbecile and possess Machiavellian orgies, is now being hijacked and reversed. Ironically, today, even the state is becoming powerless ceaselessly confronted with violence, acting to control the source and utility of violence, it now attempting to manage and cushion the effects that the competing actors of violence are unleashing within its constructed national borders, thereby yielding grounds- even if not wholly accepted as a valid proposition- to amorphous and amoebic forces, often validating their machinations using the resources and constructs of religion. Thus, within this redefinition of the function of the state, is the state becoming morbid at the end of its history in Fukuyama's style?
The contemporary order is revealing that certain forces, using the justification of Islam, even if considered to be interpreted falsely and maliciously, are employing expansive tools of violence in globalizing terror. Thus, within these schematic of globalization of terror the elements involved are not merely to be deciphered as involving the malcontented forces of Islam and the West, but rather there is another mode by which there is spatial and imagined globalization of terror within the global consciousness. Thus, uniquely Africans, Asians and even fellow Muslims are now intermeshed within the amorphous and transmogrifying globalizing boundaries of conflicts that now define the new frontiers and antics of terror. Therefore, heightened interactions, the media, internet, and other tools like the enhanced traffic of people across transnational borders are due largely to an understanding of the effects of globalization.
However, the same forces of globalization strikes terror into the hearts of the terrorists, who afraid for the mode of the practice of their faith have decided to act God. The death of the film maker Theo Van Gogh and the threat against the Somali-born female activist and Parliamentarian, Hirsi Ali in Netherlands, all show the extent to which such actors would go to fight for God. Thus, this week, shortly after the London incidence, Mohammed Bouyeri, in court over his killing of Theo Van Gogh would not defend himself, but apocalyptically focusing upon his reward in the hereafter (cf. Toby Sterling, "Accused Van Gogh Killer Won't Defend Self," Associated Press (News), July 07, 2005). But, Bouyeri fate is not unique, Christian martyrs in the Roman Empire would not renege their beliefs rather preferring deaths in the gladiator arena, burnt at stake, crucified, and fed to wild beasts in the gladiator arena. Thus, under Nero, Caligula, Pliny the Young, Diocletian, and others due to the Christian obstinacy in refusing to align themselves with the interests of the state, especially through by indulging in burning incense to the Emperor's image (hero worship) they went to their death chanting songs of joy as they faced the sword, facing their earthly demise and denouncing their torturers. Thus, how far do we and can we know of religious motivations. Not even the theologians are telling us much, except to reify such acts as Christian heroism, given that the more these Christians died the more others were willing to face the stake. But can we say that it is a similar kind of motivations and internalized faith heroism, the kind that sent the Christian saints such as Perpetual and Felicity to their early ending that is at work with our new "bombing" villains?
Concerted Appeal: New Actors, Awakening Sonorous Silence:
Thus, more significantly, the war on terror cannot be won solely by the forces of legitimate and illegitimate use of violence. It needs to co-opt other method and strategies. Rhetoric and arrogance of certain leaders cannot resolve the complex issues of violence and a disregard for human life in our world today. We must confront squarely the very thesis that makes many of our young people, in different parts of the world to become so used to violence, and cheapening human life. Thus, what are the factors that drove a John Lind from a Catholic family in California to end up on the side of the Taliban in Afghanistan? What are they not getting? Does capitalist induced individualism provide all the multiplex quests of young people? Meaninglessness is rampart, leading people questing for ontological meaning especially in heroic and often less use channels and idioms, even if such meaning is momentary and predicated upon a teleological notion regarding their own earthly finality.
This is not a judgment on the current efforts at reducing terror far from that. However, I know the current antics critically embedded in violence possess the qualities of ensuring resolution, and will hardly wholly work. Rome was not saved from Alaric the Great by the forces of counter terror, but rather by the warm action of the Catholic church to be at the service of its suffering people, and of an African, St. Augustine of Hippo to use his enormous perceptive fountain of human knowledge to pen "The City of God," offering hope when hope seemed decimated. Another crucial fact remains that decapitation of a movement has never killed a movement, but often allows it to become hydra-monstrous. Even weakling or quadriplegics have been known to, after many years to avenge their kin death. Thus, the African story of Mari Jata (later Emperor Sundiata), who left alive because he was cripple after Sumanguru annihilate his entire family. The cripple would later return in avenging himself to reclaim his birth right by ascending to political prominence in the old Mali Empire, easily comes to mind here. Social and religious movements like Sundiata, often re-capitate as hydra-monstrosities in their re-evolution into dangerous malevolent idioms. The same is true of the Kimbaguists Church movement founded by Moses Kimbaigu.
However, one thing is clear to me, that as acts like the London scenes unfortunately unfolds more people visualizing their personal risks would become more invested in fighting hate, violence, and all despicable forms of human denigration within and between global polities. Hence, the involvement of different sectors of civil society would refuse to leave the daunting task totally to the machinations of the political class, whose leaders often politicize and magnify violence through sanctioning wars, even on doubtful credentials, that narrowly defines their legitimacy, sadly but more in conformity with the tenets of the terrorists. Thus, unfortunately, offering terrorists a nuanced view that violence represents the ultimate and legitimate means toward settling social scores. Through shared voicing across diverse spaces around the globe, and even among unlikely allies, especially from the survivors and families of victims in New York, Washington, and Pennsylvania on 9-11, Russian school hostage, Madrid on 3-11, and London 7/7, Chechnya, Gulf War II (Iraq) and Afghan wars new vistas of interactions and alternative power aimed at truncating the menace of global terrorism will surely emerge. Human society, therefore, possess a resiliency of spirit to generate a global movement aimed at creating a force toward untangling our global society from noxious threats.
Through such means terror and violence would fervently be denounced, as the reality of it- actual physical, symbolic, and imagined violence-incarnates in us the desire to savage humanity from pristine orgies. Therefore, it is no longer enough to speak of human solidarity in the abstract while actually harboring hatred of others. We must actually be agents of transformations, by being self aware and acting to dislodge hate from our own specific purviews. Sometimes it is within our personalized and conflicted purviews that social violence actually begins. Sometimes, we say can I do it? Can I within the multitude make a substantial difference? Yes, we can, and we do make differences every day in improving our world, even when we feel we are not doing enough. It only took four young adults to traumatize millions around the world and cause the carnage that has destabilized hundreds within our human families from different facets of lives, faith, gender, and nationalities. It is no longer about whether we can be relevant in changing the world, rather it is about our abilities to transcend these and pursue worthwhile redemptive options. While we may harbor stereotypes and prejudices about others, we can still act in recognition of our shared humanity in deciding to be fervent in showing love and respect to people without regards to the color of their skins, their heights, weights, gender, races, ethnicities, and nationalities.
Therefore, a critical re-evaluation at the non-violence theories of folks like Mahatma Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr., and acting on them would overcome the malevolent forces now pervading our universe. In this way, even as the terrorists expand their purview, quantifying the numbers of their new victims within the globalizing spaces of the world, including their own kin and fellow believers, the consciousness of society would transform the horrifying images that we saw recently in London, and have seen so many times in other places around the world even Pre-911. We must all now say good bye to a sonorous passivity, and aspire becoming actors in savaging our world. That is why I found the message of Mrs. Maria Fatayi-Williams, whose son Anthony is feared dead in the Bus bombing in Lagos, significant. "Today, we have Christians, Muslims, Jews, Sikhs, Hindus [Hindi]- all of us united for Anthony. Hatred begets only hatred. It is time to stop this vicious cycle of killing. We must all stand together for our common humanity." A strong appeal in deed, issue out of the rhetoric that knows the pain of terror's blazing blade of horror.