To understand what we are experiencing in Nigeria today, we must understand the difference between confraternity/fraternity and cultism; and what is leading young people to join the former groups. We observe that the almighty created fraternity with our family system. Confraternity or brotherhood exists in all walks of life, mortal and religious lives. In religious orders, confraternity exists as in confraternity of penitents – Oremus Pro Invicem, in Catholic dogma, we have the Knight of Columbus, a sort of confraternity of some religious order, and in mortal world – the university campuses all over the world, we have, for example: Pyrate confraternity formed fifty years ago in a Nigerian University, and in Yale University, The secrete of the Tomb: Skull & Bones. To all intents and purposes, Nigerian military has metamorphosized into confraternity and some may even say into cultism because of the crimes it committed against Nigerian citizens and the looting spree it invented. Such formation of brotherhood was not initially formed to commit crimes but to understand and help create  disciplined men capable of moving a nation forward. Cultism, on the other hand, is an unorthodox or spurious deviation from the tenets of confraternity, make no mistakes about it. Cults are formed, at least in Nigeria, for the sole
purpose of destroying, pillaging and usurping violent powers
inherent in the new found cults for political intimidation and extra judicial killings.
In the fifties, sixties, seventies, and even in the eighties, confraternities thrived on the university campuses in Nigeria.
Some of the confraternities
ended up making positive
contributions on the lives of
their nations. One of such
fraternities is the Skull & Bones
or whatever the name is at Yale
University in the United States
of America. Many of their
members are ex-Presidents, ex-
senators, current and ex-
members of the House of
Assembly and judges of the
most powerful nation in the
Another fraternity which people
fail to recognize as such is the
military. Because of their Espirit
de corp, the speak no evil, hear
no evil cult, most of the financial
and human right crimes
committed by the military men
in Nigeria may never be solved.
The military enabled criminality
more than any one group in our
civil society. Because the
military are so cohesive and
speak in unison, they easily
pillage, loot, can destroy Nigeria
and we seem not to be able to
do anything about their actions
because we’ve all been
intimidated and forced to recoil
into our shells. On their watch,
corruption became systemic and
endemic. They negatively
impacted our daily lives most of
the time. Yet, many military
men past or present were,
during their times of service and
after their retirement, are still
good men and patriotic
Nigerians. Some of them,
potent, however, are thugs and
rogues who would have been
armed robbers even if they
were not in uniform.
Fraternities attract people of all
shades and colors and people
with different mission just as
politics does even though the
definition on what politics is to
accomplish is well set in stone.
Fraternities could be where
angelic acts are established or
they may be where the devil
recruit, take your pick. In and
by themselves, fraternities are
not bad if their intents are
positively harnessed.
In the video, Professor Wole
Soyinka gave us the definition
of the fraternity he formed
over fifty years ago. The
members of his original group
were young and idealistic men.
Their fraternity was formed to
counter colonialism which still
exists in Nigeria of today but
under a different aegis. In
America and Europe, for
example, there are different
fraternities. In America, some of
them are police, fire fighter, rifle
association and religious
fraternities such as the Knight
of Columbus that perform good
deeds. What Adedibu is doing in
Oyo is equivalent to cultism not
fraternity. At best, Chief
Obasanjo enabled Adedibu and
President Musa Yar ‘Adua
tolerates him because, maybe,
he does not want to offend OBJ,
his godfather.
In the fifties, sixties and
seventies, fraternities existed at
the Federal School of Science,
Onikan as in our universities in
Nigeria. Some of these
fraternity members or “what
you ma call them” were very
brilliant, socially relevant,
dynamic in outlook and were
productive members of the
science school and the
university communities. The
worst that we thought of the
members of the pyrates, at least
at the Federal school of science,
was that they drank a lot and
were very sociable bunch not
cults or killers and indeed, no
one can give record of killing,
maiming, or threats to lives and
properties. But then, drinking
was a fad among many
teenagers of their time. Yet,
they were best of the bunch
academically. I believe what
lured people then to
confraternities or fraternity
was the academic seriousness
and brotherhood these young
men exhibited among
Unfortunately, what is luring
students to cultism these days is
the hopelessness and
joblessness in the nation, and
more importantly, the need to
be relevant since looting and
extra judicial killing have
become a way of gaining
recognition and of making
money, the same money that
hard work could have earned
cult members. Moreover, the
employers of these cult
members are the very people
that looted the nation and still
want to be relevant even after
their time is up. The difference
between the then fraternities
and the now cultism is
joblessness effectively created
by the very sources that are
using the members to do their
dastardly and cowardly acts of
maiming, looting and outright
political thuggery.
An idle mind is said to be friends
of the devil. Whenever young,
impressionable and energetic
young men and even women
have more time in their hands,
they can be dangerous to
themselves and to the nation.
We have all been concentrating
on making the almighty Naira
(Dollar conversions) to the
detriment of our children’s
lives. Rather, we must
understand the mind set of
these cult members, parents
must be alert to the activities of
their children and know who
friends of their children are. Our
responsibility to rid the nation
of cultism begins at home.
We have blamed Professor Wole
Soyinka long enough. It is time
to direct the blames where they
belong. Why is cultism thriving
in our society? If we know the
reasons we can begin to solve
the real problem. The jobs that
our politicians and hence milito-
democractic system created are
jobs for hired, vicious and those
whose minds have been altered
by drugs in our society. How
we resolve our present political
impasse and joblessness will
determine if we can eliminate
cultism and if we want our
nation develop? Otherwise, we
may just accept cultism and
killings as the new albatross on
the nation’s neck, one that is
more vicious than corruption.
What I was expecting Professor
Wole Soyinka to state in his
conclusion was that since these
so call big men are using these
kids to cause mayhem and
chaos, we the citizens are
challenging government to
identify the supporters and
users of cult members, take
them to court and rid
these menace to our society. Do
not blame Wole Soyinka for
starting his fraternities. Blaming
him is equivalent to blaming the
gods for establishing religions
dogma and hanging them if
their members strayed away
from the philosophy of the
founders. But then, if Professor
Wole Soyinka’s exposition on
cultism was just be to draw a
distinction between the
fraternity he formed and
today’s cultism, he succinctly
succeeded. Thank you, Wole
Soyinka for finally visiting this
nagging national issue. We may
have, at last, received our Nunc
dimittis servum tuum, Domine,
secundum verbum tuum in pace;
Quia viderunt oculi mei salutare
tuum (Now thou you’ve dismiss
your servant, O Lord, according
to your word in peace; Because
our eyes have seen thy

By Chris Odetunde Ph.D ( Review )
By Adebowale Abdulhafeez Adetola


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