Nigeria Experiencing “kwashiorkor of love”, Catholic Archbishop Says, Calls for Patriotism

Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Nigeria's Abuja Archdiocese. Credit: Archdiocese of Abuja

The ills that Nigeria is experiencing, including selfishness and unjust governance, are a “kwashiorkor of love” and the failure to recognize the image of God in other people, a Catholic Archbishop in the West African country has said.

In his Sunday, October 31 homily at Saints Simon and Jude Minor Seminary in Abuja, Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama reflected broadly on love for one’s neighbor and called upon the people of God in the country to respect others irrespective of their beliefs.

“We in Nigeria must learn to consider others first. We suffer from what I call the ‘kwashiorkor of love’, as we fail to recognize the image of God in our fellow brother or sister because they do not belong to our ethnic group, social status or share our political views,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

The Local Ordinary of Nigeria’s Abuja Archdiocese called upon Nigerians to embrace patriotism that he said ought to go beyond political interests.

 “The call to love our country is called patriotism, which should go beyond partisan political interests, parochial religious attitudes and ethnic loyalty,” the Nigerian Archbishop said.


He added, “True patriotism must prompt us to beat our swords into ploughshares; leaders to do what is necessary to address national challenges with honesty, and the led not to allow themselves as easy recruits of violence and corruption.”

The Catholic Archbishop called upon the people of God in the West Africa country to go beyond the observance of religious practices to true religion, which he said does not entail refusing to recognize the good in others.

“The major ‘sins’ against our brand of patriotism are not the failure to carry out religious worship, but the tendency to take what is not ours, refusing to recognize the good in others simply because they are different and unjust governance that makes others strangers in their villages, states or the nation,” he said.

Archbishop Kaigama made reference to Pope Francis’ description of love as a call to fraternity, saying that it is through such love that Nigerians will experience rebirth.

“Pope Francis taught that our love for God should be an unreserved donation, to forgive without limits and in cultivating relations of communion and fraternity. When our motives and activities are driven by true love, we will experience a great rebirth,” the Nigerian Archbishop said, and added, “We will no longer have to debate over the distribution of scarce resources, advocate for good governance or defend human and property rights.”

More in Africa

Meanwhile, the Archbishop has announced a week-long celebration of the 40th anniversary of his Episcopal See, a time he says will allow Catholics in the Archdiocese to thank God for the growth of the Church headquartered in Nigeria’s capital city.

“This Sunday marks the beginning of our week-long celebration of the 40th anniversary of the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Abuja. All Parishes and chaplaincies have been asked to offer Masses in gratitude to God for the rapid growth of the Catholic faith in the Federal Capital Territory,” Archbishop Kaigama said.

He added, “The period is an opportunity for us as a family of God in Abuja to meet one another, get to know one another more closely, pray together and share our rich spiritual experiences and gifts.”

“We thank God for the blessings of the past 40 years and we look forward with great hope to record even greater successes,” Archbishop Kaigama further said.

He acknowledged that the anniversary comes at a time when Pope Francis is asking the Church to prepare for a Synod on Synodality, whose primary aim is to foster greater communion, participation, and mission at all levels of our Church.


Agnes Aineah is a Kenyan journalist with a background in digital and newspaper reporting. She holds a Master of Arts in Digital Journalism from the Aga Khan University, Graduate School of Media and Communications and a Bachelor's Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communications from Kenya's Moi University. Agnes currently serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.