In the last one week, I spent some time in rural areas of Southwest Nigeria, in some places so cut off that the roads become impassable when it rains so in the rainy season, farmers have difficulty getting their produce to market; there is no connection to the electricity grid; cell phone coverage is erratic, at best; there is lack of access to information on current prices of agricultural produce, leading to exploitation by middlemen, and there is a host of other misfortunes.
This is the same country where individuals experience miracles daily, including financial and economic miracles. Societal miracles are needed, especially in the rural areas, which happen to be the bread
basket and the cradle for the country. It is hard to appreciate the much talked about population growth in
Africa without seeing the number of babies and children per household in these villages. Despite being the source of food for the cities, key sources of votes for politicians and comprising Africa’s and the
world’s future, they are so economically and politically raped that nothing short of miracles is needed to provide much needed development and amenities while putting an end to poverty.
Nigeria is a country where people expect to receive miracles and miracles happen, to individuals. For a while, I have thought there needs to be a shift from individual-focused miracles to public and collective miracles but I became further convinced on this trip. I think we need miracles with widespread benefit. It does take faith, but a different kind of faith, as I mentioned in my post, The faith we need.
After all, Jesus Christ, whom a significant percentage of Nigerians claim to follow, already gave us the license to do greater works than he did. Perhaps, the “greater works” imply societal miracles than the individual miracles Jesus focused on. And, true discipleship of Jesus Christ necessitates active compassion for the downtrodden rather than a focus on personal comfort and wellbeing. True godliness, I am convinced, consists in working with God to “raise the poor out of the dust, the needy out of the dunghill” rather than merely raising ourselves from the ranks of poor folk.
To clarify, poverty in the villages should be redefined. Economists would consider people in those places poor and I think they are poor, but I think people who live in the villages are much richer in many respects. In the cities, simplicity is a luxury most people need a miracle to imbibe but in the villages, life is simple by default.
Environmental pollution is the norm in the cities but villagers cannot afford assets that lead to pollution so their environments are relatively pristine. Highly processed, “civilized”, packaged and fast foods are the norm in the cities but the villagers eat unprocessed, fresh, organic and slow food so a number of them still live well above
120 years in some cases. City dwellers live relatively sedentary lives but villagers have the “misfortune” of keeping themselves very active, primarily through farming, which contributes to their longevity.
However, at the risk of sounding contradictory, there is still abject poverty in the villages, which is leading to increase in similar kinds of poverty as the youth migrate to the cities in search of “greener pastures” – lack of infrastructure, knowledge and information, basic social amenities. In Nigeria especially, we know how to obtain personal miracles but we need to begin to create of societal miracles.
It is quite common for individuals in Nigeria to become miraculously wealthy overnight. I think it is time for whole communities and societies to become miraculously prosperous in commensurate timeframe, using the same principles, if the principles are true.