We Need Not Go To Heaven 



Home is a place you are welcome, a place you are comfortable, a place that evoke memories of history and ownership. 

It is a place you are free to be good or bad and still maintain your human dignity and a place you are allowed to be fallible and still be human.

In a place you call home, that’s a place you should be able to enjoy the comfort of self expression and vast exploration without restriction. 

It is a place that offers you all the opportunity it can afford, so that you can realize your dreams and life aspirations without jeopardizing your decency, culture and sanity.

Any place or location that offers you the above is worthy to be called home, no matter where it is, because indeed, it is home.

However, this kind of perfect home description is almost non existent in our world today. 

No place in the world today come close actually, but it is not unachievable, should we decide to pursue it. We all deserve to be at home.

Many people only see their place of birth as their home. Some consider their parent place of origin as home, while others see their places of residence as home. 

In truth, all these places could be home, but if it doesn’t welcome you and give you comfort, if it doesn’t evoke memories and give you a sense of ownership, if it doesn’t accord you the opportunity to be free, whether for good or bad and yet maintain your human dignity, if it doesn’t allow you to explore so you can realize your dreams and life aspirations while keeping your decency, culture and sanity, it is not yet worthy to be called home.

Theoretically, when the word home is mentioned, several meanings come to mind. To Pourteous (1976), it is a structure or area in which an emotional investment has been made by an individual or a small group. In western sense of it, home is seen as the major site of family social relations and kinship interactions, a place to carry out the everyday routine of family life (Allan and Crow, 1989).

Okeyinka, (2012) explained that, home is unique and for a place to be called home, there are many factors the home must fulfil. This is why it is always referred to as a physical place and a cognitive concept.

However, the Yoruba understanding of home is broad and all encompassing.

In Yoruba philosophy, home is seen to be physical, physiological and spiritual. 

‘’Ile ni abo isin mi oko” is a popular Yoruba phrase, which is literally translated to mean, ’’home is the resting abode’’.

One of the universal attribute of man is imperfection and to live a fulfilled life in spite of these short comings, man requires a place that accommodates him and all his imperfections, so that he can learn and grow with experience. 

However, in the traditional way of dietifying what they cannot explain, the Yoruba resorted to the almighty and concluded that, ‘’Orun ni ile’’, meaning that, ‘’Heaven is Home’’. It was assumed that the kind of perfect home we envisage can only be available in heaven.

In a publication titled returning to Lagos: Making the Oja (Market) Home, Solima Otero gave an analysis of the Yoruba concept of ‘’aye loja’’ earth is a market place and ‘’orun ni ile ‘’ heaven is home’’.

According to him, in the idea of ‘’oja‘’ the Yoruba market place’’, and ‘’orun’’ (heaven) as home, yoruba present a truncated form of meta-analysis that provides a cultural critique about both the subject matter at hand and the use of language to reflect that message. 

The notion of the bustling, busy oja expressed in the proverb certainly applies to the place at which returning Africans and Afrocubanos arrived on their journey home.

However, beyond the Yoruba explanation, a Christian fundamentalist, Rev Eric D Barreto explained the concept of heaven as home in a different way. 

While trying to explain what heaven is all about, Rev Eric noted that heaven is far more ordinary. 

According to him, heaven is opportunity. Heaven is the mere chance for a better life and heaven is found just on the other side of the border. 

He concluded that, heaven is tangible, if only the right papers and documents and citizenship could come into their possession. 

What this mean is that, when the word home is mentioned, what come to mind are freedom, opportunity and comfort. 

Even when home is said to be in heaven as emphasized in Yoruba philosophy, man’s quest for comfort is still brought into the definition of the home in heaven. 

If the world is a busy market place, heaven which is regarded as home is seen as the resting abode.

If this is the case, I am of the opinion that, we need not go to heaven to have a desired home. We can start to build a home for everyone anywhere we find ourselves. We can start to make everyone in our environment enjoy the comfort of self expression and vast exploration without restriction.

We should not crucify people because they are fallible as human, just like we are. Let us allow everyone to be good or bad and still maintain their human dignity, hoping that they will learn and grow to be better human with experience.

I have observed that nobody wants to be bad in the real sense of it, but everyone has some element of badness in them. We all didn’t acquire those traits intentionally. The summation of our life experiences made us who we are and we should not blame or crucify people too much for being victim of the circumstances that made them.

Since it has been established that every human has some elements of badness, we shouldn’t make each other worse, by denying ourselves a worthy home.

If we can take our time to ask people what they have been through that made them who they are, we are most likely going to appreciate them and pity them for who they turned out to be. If you think someone is bad or unpleasant, don’t rush to judge or condemn them, until you go through what they went through and come out differently and better.

Finally, rather than judge people, without knowing their story or what made them who they turned out to be, make them a home.

…Hamzat is a Human Rights Ambassador and Executive Director, Foundation for Peace Professionals. He can be reached on discus4now@gmail.com*

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