Group Bemoans Government's Insensitity To Traditional Religion

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Chairman, Association of African Traditional Religion, Nigeria and Oversees (AATREN), Lagos State chapter, Chief Olusegun Elegushi, has described none recognition of the religion by successive governments in the state as disheartening.

Speaking at this year’s Isese Day in Lagos at the weekend, Elegushi lamented government’s insensitivity to traditional religion, noting that none of the people invited to grace the occasion was not there, except an official of the Lagos State Council for Arts and Culture.

According to the chairman, who is also Opemoluwa of Ikateland in Eti Osa area of Lagos State, “I am sure, if it were to be a Christian or Muslim function, this place won’t be big enough to contain them as they would be jostling for attention, but now, the reverse is the case, whereas these religions are foreign.

“We have appealed to government on several occasions to recognise our religion, which is African, while we also begged them to declare 20 August of every year a holiday as is the case with other religions, but the contrary has been the case, but the matter is now before the state Assembly and we hope government will resolve the issue in due course.

Going down memory lane, Elegushi traced the history of the association to when it was called Ancient Religious Societies of African Descendants Association (ARSADA), registered under Companies Ordinance Chapter 38 on 20 March, 1957 and gazetted in Federation of Nigeria Official Gazette number 22, volume 46 of 2 April, 1957.

According to him, the association was formed to promote the spirit of friendship, mutual trust and cooperation among other traditional religions as well as protect the existence of African traditional religion denomination generally, among other things.

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“African traditional religion is deeply rooted in the belief and worship of Olodumare through the assistance of divinities. The religion of the Christian belief that the Almighty God should not be approached directly except through Jesus Christ, this also goes for the Muslim faithful, who acknowledge Mohammed as the intermediary between them and Allah.

“Ifa is the composition of spiritual and mental knowledge. It is the treasury of wisdom of life handed down to our ancestors by Orunmila, just as the Bible and Koran teach morals and knowledge, they guide, protect, enhance happiness and epitomise people’s consciousness far beyond human comprehension.

“Although there were other notable associations that cater for specific traditional religious groups, such still subject themselves to the overall control of the Association of African Traditional Religion, Nigeria (AATREN), while executive members were drawn from specific groups just like Christian Association of Nigeria (CAN) and the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (SCIA),” he explained further.

The event was graced by dignitaries from all walks of life including Brazilians and others from Europe as well as various cultural groups, among others.

—Akinloye Adelusi

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