I happily write this foreword to Nimi Wariboko's book, Ethics and Society in Nigeria. Like the theology and ethics characteristic of Paul Tillich, the scholarship of Wariboko epitomizes correlational mastery. For Tillich, theology is hermeneutical— namely, interpreting the “situation” calling forth the voice of theology in every period. The “situation,” says Tillich, “cannot be neglected in theology without dangerous consequences. Only a courageous participation in the ‘situation,’ that is, in all the various cultural forms which express modern man's interpretation of his existence,” can overcome the present reluctance of most theology to reach the freedom implied in genuine theological analysis. Tillich further insists, “The ‘situation’ to which theology must respond is the totality of man's creative self-interpretation in a special period.” The “situation,” Tillich says, “refers to the scientific and artistic, the economic, political and ethical forms in which they express their interpretation of existence.” Tillich imprints on these passages a great sense of urgency and necessity in the theological work of interpreting the “situation” of our times. Thus, while there is always a need for historical research on any context, contextual analysis is but one pole of theological interpretation. The imperatives of theological interpretation, the urgency and necessity, are demanded by the “situation” begging for salvation.
In this book and in more than seventeen others, Wariboko responds to the sense of urgency and necessity. He dialectically critiques theological languages, vocabularies, images, and practices in response to the ways that the worlds of business, economics, finance, markets, and social and political global centers stake claim to the lives of people and nations. Wariboko synthesizes complex relations between faith, social systems, and centers of power. He engages and critiques globalizing economic and political power operating in the reaches of world financial organizations and multinational corporations, and contributing to governmental corruption and excesses that give legitimacy to their global holdings.
In this book, Wariboko turns his dialectical perspective on the geopolitics of contemporary Nigeria, whose people stand in urgent need of wholeness. He also looks to Nigeria's traditional African religious heritage as a powerful spiritual, social, political, and ethical source of transcendence from sociopolitical forces at work in Nigeria's debilitating statecraft, domination, corruption, and necropolitics.