Easter Iscariot

Judas Iscariot was a traitor. But was that infamous act of betrayal specifically predestined to fall on him? This question is pertinent because the person he betrayed had foreknowledge of the act yet allowed it to happen. Is it misplaced to describe Judas as a scapegoat? Is there the possibility that he was a victim of circumstances that he neither understood nor had control over?

This is not an attempt to exonerate Judas or launder his image. It is my personal quest to better understand the political context and cultural background of his betrayal that led to a monumental death and resurrection that took place 2000 years ago we are today celebrating as Easter. Truth is without Judas there would not have been the arrest, trial, death by crucifixion and resurrection known collectively as the Passion of Christ which is the very foundation of the Church. Judas was therefore the historic means through which Scripture was fulfilled. The fact that he had degenerated from being an Apostle into an Apostate makes him a villain that acted with reckless abandon. That is irrefutable. We however worship a merciful God.

Anyway Judas was the son of Simon of Keroith which meant he was a Judean. The other 11 disciplines were Galilean. It is against this background that Judas became the treasurer of the group. Judea and Galilee were Jewish parts of Israel sandwiched by Samaria, a land of non-Jews called Samaritans. Politically Galilee was under indirect control of Roman conquest through King Herod meanwhile Judea including Jerusalem was directed administered by Rome’s representative Pontius Pilate.

The Judeans were more politically rebellious and religiously zealous; their concept of the Messiah was that of a military leader that would mobilize an army to overthrow Roman colonialism. On the other hand Galilee had vast agricultural and fishing resources therefore its citizens had a higher per capita income. It was also an area of Israel that was more cosmopolitan with lax religious observance than the more mountainous Judea which encompassed Jerusalem the spiritual capital of the Jews. The Galileans and Judeans all spoke Aramaic but with distinct accents. Judas’s ease in relating with the chief priests that facilitated a payment of 30 silver coins for his betrayal was not unconnected with the fact that Jerusalem’s spiritual hierarchy was dominated by Judeans. The grouse of the priests was understandable – Jesus Christ usurped their authority. Judas had both financial and political motivation for his betrayal apart from being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Like other disciples he had given up his life for a Master that was going to be arrested and willingly die in the hands of his captors without a fight.

For someone who had been in charge of the finances of a group of disciples that had limited funds, Judas was fully aware a precarious future. Being a disciple meant a life of struggle, harassment and no fixed address. The motivation to embark on self-help was therefore high. Irrespective of his incentive of 30 silver coins Judas embarked on a necessary duty. Interestingly he returned the money intact. Wrecked by guilt he committed suicide. He had left home, alienated his fellow disciples and run out of options. He had neither future nor master. I therefore fully sympathize with him.

The moral of my empathy for Judas Iscariot is anchored upon the Biblical injunction of our mandate to bless those that hate, despise and deride us. If we fail to extend compassion to Judas and indeed our detractors including real and imagined enemies, our faith is in vain. The implication being our celebration is meaningless. We must return to the true essence of Easter and the wisdom it entails, if not we shall increasingly lose relevance, purpose and direction.

“In a speech Abraham Lincoln delivered at the height of the American Civil War, he referred to the Southerners as fellow human beings who were in error. An elderly lady chastised him for not calling them irreconcilable enemies who must be destroyed. “Why, Madam,” Lincoln replied “do I not destroy my enemies when I make them my friends?”

POEMS: Whistling Pines, Life’s Fires, Temperaments of the Seasons, The Epic of Bamaguje, Gold and Silver, Emmanuel, Strong & Plagues of exodus

WHISTLING PINES

Where is the world I want to see?
I fear it will be gone before I do.
Like a half open umbrella seizes
A gust of changed wind and blow.

My fight to exist as best as I can
Crawls along earth’s tarred lawns.
And toiled harvests lost to man;
Banked daisies, squared up pawns.

The need to be an icon dreamt,
Creeps up my own gut; so alive.
The last enemy to destroy is death,
Our Cavalries ride same horses in life.

Pointing only skywards all this time,
Evergreen leafless people whistle one line.
On this tree, weathered to man its spine,
The whistler is always actually the pine.

LIFE’S FIRES

Fire is that living thing
That manages some win.
It lets go of its past being
And spreads till it is thin.

It breathes to win and lose,
Not a single thing changing.
In an all meaningless pose,
It finds its very own meaning.

It eats its feeding path,
The war grounds it won.
And the misery life fought,
These can’t be ever worn.

It hates and gets on lives,
Some day it just all ends.
In every home it thrives,
Grass again covers its battle-fields.

TEMPERAMENTS OF THE SEASONS

It must be the first, like the light;
Sunny rising summer, all so bright.
The height of the moods pick its reign
When the temperament is sanguine.
The confidence predominates over all,
Its bloodied florid hopelessness stands tall.

Then in that order sets in depreciation;
With bare windy Autumn’s desperation.
A sluggish retrogressive mood, so apathetic;
Displays the temperament as phlegmatic.
The unexcitable disposition throws up its palms;
Receive unemotional bleakness that never calms.

With the mood at its least hopeful state,
Gloomy winter’s horizons hide living fate.
The sad presentation of it is so symbolic,
Revealing a temperament so melancholic.
Its mournful dejected air doesn’t let out
That around the corner linger what its about.

Its about life going on, resurfacing yet again;
Like spring returns to mellow out the pain.
The tasty fruits of a weather so irascible,
Its passionate choleric temperament is unstable.
Speaks volumes of man being never mature
And how he resembles the seasons in nature.

THE EPIC OF BAMAGUJE

The Tale

Myth tales of great Bayajidda
The stories’ author of all Hausa
He trophied a serpent in Daura
Which made thirst of their well
And married their crown bearer

Prince of mighty Baghdad
City of the most sacred race
Fleeing his so furious father
Across the vast dry expanse
Like a worm he left a trace

Bastards ever begat bastards
This prince did have fourteen
With the crown he had seven
And with loose maids another
All formed lands legitimate or not

With a faith embraced in force
The tale sought to erase history
Legitimizing its apt ascention
Without due regards to facts
Either traditional or customary

Tales the child tells his peers
After he has compared origins
That pride and great honour
Like Ishmael’s became a nation
And the swords crossed palms

The Truth

Driven on downwards earlier
Off northern homes by Berbers
In flight also they meet Tuaregs
Brought together in their fear
Two races like fated and destined

Much time of harmonious peace
The races naturally yoked here
As they settled to live and bred
Their half-castes knew ease
And such a mere life they led

Traditional in past and faith
Makeri of so great a repute
Islam’s sword left its sheath
And a mere life was made mute
So became the land and its

Ashamed of all its culture
That the sacred didn’t nurture
Hiding from all the nights
And clinging on rootless future
Denied are all that is right

Sons of the soil, Bamaguje
You breathe this land and its
Homeless children, Bahaushe
The stench of you is too real
But Bamaguje is the Bahaushe

GOLD AND SILVER

Heat maketh we both;
Rich soil’s own waste.
Woke us to its breath
To breed it and eat.

The furnance is bold
To have and to Gold,
Mere crucible to hold
Silver crusts it fold.

Stallion run over care,
Strife lil’ earthen mare.
What stages we share
Sow values not fair.

EMMANUEL

In an image man is housed
Able or not, isn’t all too well
Like the creator who bossed,
Life is his image, Emmanuel.

STRONG

Mine has come to this one thing,
Appreciated and loved for my sun
Was, is and will be in everything.

As able then stays man’s proud son;
Strength is always but much nothing,
It lost out as strategy ever again won.

PLAGUES OF EXODUS

The taste of blood quenches
Not the thirst water touches.

These frogs’ tongues sang
On sacred pyramids for long.

The origin of Gnats says
Fleas’re significant in ways.

Clouds of all flies amass
Ever to so pester such as.

Like wealth is in livestock
And these riches do mock.

Boils rumble health’s wealth,
Discomforting it with stealth.

The Pharaoh swells with hail
And it rained to make him fail.

No silo will locusts ever fill,
Nations suffer to pay their bill.

Black is the trust of darkness,
Folding its blanket’s meanness.

The reign of the first born towed,
Pulled away all their pride sowed.

Exodus 7:14-11:10