Brotherhood Thanatology / La Confrérie de la Croix et de l Étoile et le mystère de la mort. - article ; n°1 ; vol.65, pg 161-171
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Brotherhood Thanatology / La Confrérie de la Croix et de l'Étoile et le mystère de la mort. - article ; n°1 ; vol.65, pg 161-171

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Archives des sciences sociales des religions - Année 1988 - Volume 65 - Numéro 1 - Pages 161-171
11 pages
Source : Persée ; Ministère de la jeunesse, de l’éducation nationale et de la recherche, Direction de l’enseignement supérieur, Sous-direction des bibliothèques et de la documentation.



Publié par
Publié le 01 janvier 1988
Nombre de lectures 30
Langue Français


Friday M. Mbon
Brotherhood Thanatology / La Confrérie de la Croix et de l'Étoile
et le mystère de la mort.
In: Archives des sciences sociales des religions. N. 65/1, 1988. pp. 161-171.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
M. Mbon Friday. Brotherhood Thanatology / La Confrérie de la Croix et de l'Étoile et le mystère de la mort. In: Archives des
sciences sociales des religions. N. 65/1, 1988. pp. 161-171.
doi : 10.3406/assr.1988.2464 soc äes Rel. 1988 65/1 janvier-mars) 161-171 Arch
Friday MBON
Cet essai examine les may ens par lesquels la Confrérie de la Croix et
de toile Brotherhood of the Cross and Star un nouveau
mouvement religieux du Nigeria entend proposer ses membres
actuels ou venir une explication consolatrice et apaisante du
mystère de la mort Ce mouvement enseigne que la mori est une
illusion Personne ne meurt jamais vraiment Ce on nomme
tort la mort est que le passage un état existence physique un
autre spirituel travers la réincarnation Par ce processus de mort et
de réincarnation et conformément la théorie du karma la possibi
lité offre aux humains de récolter ce ils ont semé dans des vies
antérieures Cela explique pourquoi la mori comme la réincarna
tion doivent être considérées comme une nécessité morale Par
ailleurs la théorie de la mort et la doctrine de la réincarnation de la
confrérie ne sont pas sans rapport avec la conception africaine
traditionnelle de la nature de histoire et de unicité du temps
histoire décrit un cycle tandis que le temps est une vaste unité qui
englobe la vie passée présente et future dans la grande roue de
étemel recommencement La mori est rien autre au une période
de latence dans ce continuum existentiel
the idea of death the fear
of it haunts the human animal like
nothing else it is mainspring of
human activity activity designed
largely to avoid the fatality of
death to overcome it by denying in
some way that it is the final destiny
for man the fear of death is
indeed universal in the human
Ernest Becker
No matter the length or brevity of the creed of any religious system or
tradition it must at some point come to face the task of attempting to explain the
mystery of death and dying in ways that adherents of the religious tradition may
nd to be satisfactory or consolatory The present essay examines how one
Nigerian new religious movement goes about this difficult task But first of all
some introductory remarks about this movement and some of its main doctrinal
tenets precede the discussion
Born in 1918 Olumba Olumba Obu is the charismatic founder and leader of
what is today the most dynamic and controversial new religious movement in
contemporary Nigeria The movement is officially called the Brotherhood of the
Cross and Star BCS) although members also refer to it as Universal
Spiritual School of Practical Christianity They stress that the movement is not
church in the sense the West conceives of church but rather spiritual school
where Christianity is taught both in precept and practice with emphasis on the
practical aspects of the religion
The movement began in 1956 initially as prayer-cum-bible-study group
healing home in the city of Calabar the present capital of the Cross River State
The handful of charter members consisted mainly of women and children in
search of physical healing through spiritual means Before long reports
personal charisma and reputation as successful spiritual healer and miracle
worker spread far wide Consequently hundreds of others in search of
spiritual help flocked into the emerging movement with such alacrity that within
its short history of some thirty years the now boasts of teeming
membership of nearly two million drawn from all social strata from all over
Black Africa the United States the United Kingdom West Germany Japan
India and the West Indies Members see the whole world as their mission field
believing that it is now turn to evangelize the world especially as they
say the unbelieving White world
Although the BCS claims to be Christian movement through and through
some of its unique doctrines have caused the mainstream Christian Churches in
Nigeria to raise their eyebrows leading to the generally negative and often
antagonistic attitude which these churches have toward the movement For
instance the BCS teaches that Obu the founder and leader is very
god in human form He is believed to be the eighth and final incarnation of Jesus
Christ Jesus Christ had lived on this earth during seven previous incarnations in
the persons of Adam Enoch Noah Melchizedek Moses Elijah Jesus in that
order In those previous incarnations Jesus had not yet reached the pinnacle of
spiritual perfection That was why Obu teaches Jesus cursed the cities of
Bethsaida and Chorazin Matt 11:21 According to christology spiritual
ly perfect person should curse no one or nothing Obu further teaches that Jesus
failed to reach spiritual perfection because he occasionally succumbed to feats of
anger as when for instance he angrily drove the money-changers out of the
Temple Furthermore Obu critizes Jesus for having turned water into wine and
thereby causing people to commit the sin of drunkenness
In the final analysis Obu sees Jesus as having fallen as any human being
during his existence as the first Adam As the first Adam Jesus had caused the
death of the world In accordance with the law of karma he had to come back as
the second Adam to hang on the tree to save the world thereby paying for the
sin he had committed in his previous life In the same manner the Eve who had
caused the fall of man came back as Mary to ressuscitate men to eternal life
Having paid for his sin Obu argues Jesus then became perfect theanthropic
personality at the peak of spiritual enlightenment That was why be could rein
carnate this last time as the very epitome of spiritual perfection in the person of
the Holy Spirit now on earth represented by Olumba Olumba Obu who alone has
perfectly done the will of God Thus Obu is believed to be the holy trinity rolled
into one personality
Furthermore Obu teaches that God is pantheistic pluriform good and evil
and like human beings bisexual He also teaches that God human beings both
animate and inanimate things of nature are biospiritually connected As such
when humans kill animals for food they are committing the terrible sins of
murder and sacrilege
Moreover Obu teaches that the entire Old Testament and most of the New
are obsolete that the Holy Spirit and the Holy Ghost are not one and the same
being that marriage is evil whereas celibacy and sexual abstinence have spiritual
meritoriousness and that salvation is achieved both through grace and through
good works There are other interesting teachings in Brotherhood doctrinal
system but we must proceed with the subject of the present paper
The following observation on African traditional concept of death and dying
summarizes trenchantly Brotherhood thanatology
In Africa the problem of life and death constitutes the basis for religious
feeling and is the unconscious foundation of philosophical reflection Life and
death are both given to man by the creator they are the fundamental terms of
existence and are so closely linked that one cannot be conceived without the
other Death however enjoys the incontestable advantage over life in that it is
necessary for it was not inevitable that life be given but as soon as it appeared
death had to follow It is fair to say that death seems to be the unavoidable
consequence of life 3)
Brotherhoods see death as messenger in hand which only acts at
command Death they further believe strikes only when it is the ap
pointed predestined time for the individual concerned According to this belief
person dies precisely in the way and on the very day he or she had been
preordained to die Thus if it were written that you would be matcheted to death
so you will pass away Since this is so they argue lamenting over
death is fighting against will For that reason members of the
movement are taught not even to attend the funeral service of their relatives or to
carry out any funeral rites on their behalf Obu is unequivocal in his condemna
tion of the practice of criying over the dead and attending funerals when he
To cry is the work of flesh All those who attend funerals and shed tears have
scored zero Do you know where man comes from or where he goes when he
dies Man is the property of God and whatever it pleases Him to do with human
beings He is entitled to do You have no right to question Him 6)
This particular statement is in fact departure from Nigerian cultural belief
and practice according to which anyone who goes to funeral home and shows
no sign of sorrow over the dead is considered to be

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