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Unequal yoke: The paradox of religious slavery

Lydia Isioma Chineyemba


Slavery is a historical reality of most societies in Africa. Lately, there has been an outcry on the resurgence of slavery with modern trends that include religious slavery which has become the fad of many clergies, who utilize their privileged positions, capitalizing on the gullibility and desperation of members to exploit them in the bourgeoisie/proletariat form of relationship. Ironically, Christianity is a redemptive tool for the emancipation of mankind, yet, it has been used to entrap adherents in the bondage it purports to liberate from. Studies have paid greater attention to other forms of modern slavery, like child trafficking, forced labour, and forced marriage, but the paradox of religious slavery in Nigeria is a dialectical contradiction that requires anthropological inquiry. This paper examined the role of the clergy in perpetuating slavery to uncover the motive(s) underlying the act and its implications for society. Marxist's perspectives on religion and fetishism of commodity, elaborated by Taussig (1980) provide theoretical explanations. The study revealed that pastors use intimidating prophecies and scaring messages to enslave adherents to obtain material/financial benefits from them. It poises that such engagement negates societal expectations of pastors as advocates of morality and custodians of trust and urge them to desist from it.

Keywords: Religion, Slavery, Dialectics, Paradox, Clergy.