Placing stupidity and superstition close to each other in my headline is to me a tautology; the two literally mean the same and any belief that contradicts natural science is superstitious.
Before I look at this particular absurd superstition, one of the many which are in force in Ghana and in fact somewhat serve as credible ideas in the unchallenged realm of both Western and African traditional religions, let me acknowledge that, the death of this young man-Richmond Osei Tawiah is indeed a sad incident.
Apparently, Richmond Osei Tawiah, 27, was beaten to death by two ‘unknown’ policemen at Krofrom, a suburb of Kumasi—-this contradicts an autopsy report which stated he died of natural cause, heart attack, a position the family rejects.
Richmond Osei Tawiah’s body was laid in state on Thursday, as usual neatly dressed, but this time, he was decorated with a machete, a bullet and a broom. These assassin tools, the family believes, would aid and be used by Richmond Tawiah to revenge his untimely death.
Though this sounds like some South Korean fiction and a bag of nonsense, for the latter it definitely is, the ‘Tawiah’ family is not the only that believes in this superstitious hogwash, several African cultures believe in this and anytime they conclude, even without evidence that one of their own has been killed, the dead is buried this way.
It’s believed that the death would need and use the machete, bullet and broom to revenge his dead, right from the land of the dead—-this is nonsense on many levels but here we have grown up individuals not just believing this but proceeding to put it in practice.
Without any substantive evidence, this palaeolithic era belief, totally stupid like the many others religion glorifies itself in, is being practised in a 21st century—-a clear indictment on the intellect of their practitioners and an indication that, we’ve not really grown beyond the stupidity of the stone man.
No one for sure knows where a person goes when he dies—-that’s even if he goes anywhere. Yet, on the back of concocted beliefs, religious and non-religious, which people have to believe without evidence, human beings have put in place various after-life horrific and thriller-like adventures such as this.
It was said sometimes back that when prominent Ghanaian chiefs or kings died, people were intentionally killed and buried with them, so that these people (slaves) would continue serving the dead chiefs or kings beyond the grave—-and interestingly, there was something like this also done in medieval China and perhaps in other countries too.
With the coming of human rights, enlightenment and the many human developments on the back of science and reason, we’ve come to realize that what remains beyond life (as things stand today) is a mere collection of unfounded projections which ought to be treated with suspicion. Yet, such projections continue to flourish in the backyards of some people—such that, a dead man would be deemed as capable of revenging his own death from beyond the grave.
Believing in this sort of nonsense and going ahead to practise it does not only clearly demonstrate the strong connection between holding ideas (even if stupid) and manifestation, but also tells us about the reasoning faculties of those who hold on this, and the extent to which they would go to act, inspired or caused by the bosh, in spite of its obvious absurdity.
On the meter of ideologically stability, there’s nothing really different between an Islamic terrorist believing that killing a bunch of infidels would grant him a hall pass to paradise as a martyr where he will receive 72 full grown”, “swelling” or “pears-shaped” breasts virgins (houri) from Allah—-and someone also arming a dead man with killing tools, to go and revenge his death.
Similarly, the two are not different from praying over a piece of bread and a red wine and suddenly claiming it has turned into the body and blood of Jesus Christ. These three beliefs are held on the back of faith (believing without evidence), a stretch of which leads to more class of nonsense, mostly deadly.
But then, we are talking about a credulous population which believes a bird can turn into a human being, a prophet flew to heaven on a wing horse and a Messiah was born of a virgin—I mean those who reject reason and evidence, and constantly opt for gibberish.
My point is, beliefs that spring out of traditional African religions mostly tagged as superstitions are no different to those somewhat neatly served in other Western religions—-and multiple propagation or mass subscription to a set of nonsense does not suddenly turn them into truth, neither does a book with no credibility that makes good use of pathea, championing these should suddenly make them true.
Here, a young man has died—-that’s a fact, and he ought to be given a decent burial. Yet, we are told by some superstitious drunks that he needs to avenge his death, and to do this, a broom, a machete and a bullet must go with him.
Even if you don’t see where such ideas and mindset lead to, at least, concede that, the machete could have been put into a better use, by giving it to a poor farmer.
Note: Some may consider this as more of a cultural superstition than religious; but I think the distinction between culture and religion is not wide here, and mostly, religious beliefs are shaped by the culture of the origin.