I have often wondered if my spirituality is based on my longing to understand the story of man and subsequently myself or perhaps it’s just another symptom of living in Nigeria.
The truth is in other countries where the 3 E’s exist: electricity, entertainment and the environment, it’s harder to squeeze religion into one’s busy schedules. I mean, in between walking up and down the high street hunting for 70% reductions and watching X factor and sampling the next chain restaurant, it’s kinda hard to fit ‘go to church’ in your Filofax. Or to put it bluntly, it is damn right unfashionable.
Tell the truth boys and girls ‘of the abroad’, tell me the last time you said to your NY/LDN/MIA-connect that “Hey, I’ma pop into church tomorrow…” Half of us haven’t woken up sober on a Sunday morning since ChiChi of Africa serenaded us with ‘Don’t smoke’
But it’s a whole different story here at home; we are quick to let the other person know how “God-fearing” we are. Some even think it’ll make up for a lack of IQ as today’s curriculum vitae now carries in bold italics under career goals ‘I’m a diligent and God fearing citizen…’ almost like that’s going to make the HR team propel your handwritten CV from back to the front of the pile.
One of the average Nigerian Christian pastimes is comparing notes about our respective worship houses. The old money opt for Our Saviour’s Church, the ‘I-must-belong’ movement prefer This Present House, the retired Major-Generals, SANs/JPs/CJs who live in the Ikoyi area stay true to Ikoyi Baptist Church, the knot.nine.knot. Maybach owners worships at Church of the Assumption Falomo, then of course there’s the Adefarasin English literature students who swear by House on the Rock.
The ‘Which Church do you go to?’ debate is as inevitable on a married couples’ double date as it is at a Business roundtable. Nigerians talk about their churches with the same level of enthusiasm as the fashion police talks about Gaga’s last ensemble.
Perhaps, this vigorous energy would be comforting if I knew that we are talking about the issues such as the fading or otherwise strength of the Church or the influence of the word of God. Instead, we find that the average churchgoer seems more concerned about telling you about who goes to his/her church. It’s all about dignitaries’ baby. How many times have you heard someone say something equally as obnoxious as “Biko, se you know Aunty Dame Patience goes to my church…”
They say we are a religious nation…yes that we certainly are but has anyone actually asked what exactly we are all worshipping? Because if you ask the man on the street, he’s either so in awe of his pastor that he forgets that he’s in Church to worship God. He’s too preoccupied with the big senator sitting in the front row that instead of praying for salvation he’s focused on praying for money so that the church ushers can sit him too in front row someday. And the pastor himself is not helping matters with prayers and counselling sessions and mid-week bible classes on ‘how to turn your life into a money making blanket’.
When I made the conscious effort to attend Church weekly, I was amused by the large numbers of people whom all week commit every possible and impossible sins in the book but somehow comes Sunday morning, they turn their ‘Open Heavens’ swag on.
Last week, I was given 2 VIP tickets to the Experience concert 2010. For the benefit of those away, it’s an annual gospel concert organized by one of the more popular congregations, House on the Rock. The concert boasts the biggest names in Gospel music at home and away and it takes place in an open air space with an audience of over 100,000. And the best part is…it’s free.
Now if you know me you’d know I like free meals, free owambe champagne, free newspapers…. BUT a free concert….in Lagos…..I’d rather party with Cliff Richard.
However, on this occasion, I was persuaded by my sister. Until we actually drove past the Onikan roundabout, I was convinced that she would chicken out and I’d put on my faux disappointed face and race home quicktime but as we walked further into the Tafawa Balewa Square looking for the seating area, it was clear it was indeed going to be an experience.
Human being resemble ant in this infamous parade ground, hawkers shoved fried puff-puffs in oily nylon down your throat, security guards used tasers to flex muscle and you couldn’t avoid perceiving the ‘gbana’ odour.
As you’d expect, in the middle of this anarchy were enthralled souls seeking divine interventions through renditions of gospel hits. But in this same middle of spirituality were blatant display of bad human behaviour.
Upon arriving at the seating area, whilst everyone pretended to be one with their heavenly father, some found time to avoid someone getting past them or throwing frowned faces whenever someone stepped on their toe, or my favourite – putting a bag on the chair next to them if they sensed someone was trying to sit next to them.
It was just a stark reminder of how badly people behave even in Churches. How many times has one witnessed people making testimonies and shouting ‘praise the lord’ louder than everyone else in church then once service is over, they are fighting and cursing their fellow worship mate in the parking lot.
I hate to ask this but do we go to church to strength our faith or is the whole concept of attending Church an exercise in ‘I do this to abide by the roles and regulations’ of being a Christian in Nigeria’?
Let’s marinade on this for a minute!
This week’s Friday Track is N*E*R*D’s Hypnotize you. By far, N*E*R*D’s best effort in years.