Rowland Onyenali, Nigeria
1. Please describe your (scientific) work/research in a short way.
I am a senior lecturer in biblical theology and biblical languages at the Spiritan International School of Theology, Attakwu, Enugu State, Nigeria. I also double as the priest in charge of the formation of seminarians at the House of Theology of the Claretian Missionaries in Enugu, Nigeria. My special interest in biblical/religious studies has been on the impact of religion on the lives of people generally and especially on the lives of Nigerians. This is important judging from the premium placed on religion in this country. Since religious affiliations color the political, educational and cultural arena, my research has always centered on the understanding of the religious faith of ancient peoples in order to make a meaningful application of same in the modern Nigerian context. This has given rise to a number of publications.
Which aspect of a sustainable life, work and research is especially relevant for you and why?
As an educator, I consider an “applicable” learning process as worthwhile. What I mean by this is the kind of learning that considers the context of the learning environment. Since the political sphere needs urgent sanitization and the politicians lean towards religion as a guide, I consider it important that the religious leaders must offer the kind of leadership that must impact positively on the life of the people. As a religious teacher, I am engaged in the kind of religious education that is aimed at producing religious leaders who have the goal of sanitization of the political sphere in the country at heart. This is important in a religiously charged environment where corruption is endemic and religious violence is an everyday reality.
What would be your wish for the future (and why) with this regard?
My wish appears very simple. It is that the younger generation would have a rational approach to religion. This rational approach would lead to a positive engagement among the different religions in the country and the world at large. A situation where religious texts and creeds are not critically evaluated leads to avoidable tensions and loss of regard for human dignity. In practice, my wish is complicated. This is because government does not pay attention to education as much as it does to politics.
How is the Corona crisis affecting you in your every-day life and work?
The Corona pandemic is a real stress on all levels of my work. First, we had to deal with the closure of our school for a whole semester. We had to grapple with online learning. Second, the crisis increased the level of poverty in an already impoverished environment. The ripple effects were uncountable: the quality of education had a dip; many people became interested in daily survival; insecurity increased due to increased poverty, etc. On a personal level, I was cut off (physically) from my friends and colleagues both within and outside the country. Academic conferences are not limited to zoom meetings. On the reverse side, I have been able to churn out a couple of research articles since I now have more time to myself.