by: Kayode-Dada Ifeoluwa Lois
Hypothetically, three girls have been invited to a pool party on Victoria Island. In their excitement, none of them properly read the invite, hence: the first lady shows up dressed in a business suit, the second shows up in an outlandish ball gown and the third in traditional aso-oke, head to toe. The confusion that would result from this hilarious scenario is the reality of how religion is practiced in our country Nigeria.
“Unnecessarily over-enthusiastic” is a phrase coined from a rather sarcastic description of a woman who sat next to me in church on a lovely Sunday morning. She would always get up and scream at every opportunity, in fact, I dare say she created opportunities much to the dismay of my poor unfortunate ears.
As a believer, who now is being introduced to religion as it is practiced in Nigeria, I must say that I brought a knife to a gun fight (because apparently it’s just that, a big fight). I did some research and uncovered very amusing stories that led to the need for this appeal to the various faithful.
Noise is at core of this very first appeal. A myriad of complaints could be doled out by people who have encountered or can remember encountering this strange practice: praying at odd times of the night, in a public space! A poor friend was an unfortunate victim of an energetic, tongue speaking sister (torturer), who wouldn’t allow her sleep peacefully. The poor distraught girl had to endure all the “Shaddock ba lo bey bamoseeeeeeeee” all night because she didn’t want to disrupt the prayer.
Unnecessarily over-enthusiastic believers can be a catalyst for job opportunities. This was the case of the young Muslim brother, who happened to be a gate keeper. He thought it right to leave his duty post to pray at hours when he was needed the most. Whenever he was called to question he always played his trump card “I was praying”. He expected his employer, who was so happy to have employed him to pray over her surroundings instead of guard it to keep him as an employee. The young man who got the job after his sack was availed a job opportunity he was immensely grateful for. Jobs are not easy to get a hold of these days; therefore this is a humble appeal to our brothers and sisters in the lord to keep proffering a solution to this dilemma.
The plight of the pamphlets is another critical case that needs a vocal advocate. The printing press though, must be having a field day with the sporadic sprouting of various religious outlets. The horrors of being a religious flyer or pamphlet is one of the must underreported tragic story thus far. In every gutter, there is a church flyer that tells a story of a poor individual who was chased and cornered by an over-enthusiastic evangelist who thinks he/she won them over. An appeal for better working conditions of religious pamphlets is hereby made.
An appeal for religion to be made central in places where it is primary focus is pivotal in this next story. This story is set in a certain primary school where parents gathered together on a Saturday angrily to complain about a certain school necessity to the principal. Well, they asked that a mosque be constructed in the school premises so as to allow the children be excused during lessons to pray. It’s gladdening to see that the educational system is being forced to fulfill their duty to the children which is to make them pray hard.
Another vital appeal to be made is one against the weaponization of speakers. This dear tool has been used and abused much to the dismay of any individual who lives close to any religious outlet. Hell doesn’t seem like an interesting place but unfortunately the ears of the average Nigerian have gone to hell and back. The evangelists that carry speakers around will ensure that a lot of Nigerians make heaven, without their ears.
There is the “move of the spirit” and there is the “move away from the spiritually hygienic brother in the lord”. A characteristic of many over-enthusiastic believers is that they tend to fully embrace their calling and nothing else. This could prompt sorrowful reflection from victims who after being preached to could end up saying, “Omo, this one touch me o, thank you sir”. The forced answer you give to a preacher that has touched your soul by opening his/her mouth.
A landmark trait of unnecessarily over-enthusiastic believers is abundance of opinion. The popular street slang “you just open mouth waaaaaa” perfectly illustrates this trait. The most amusing part of is the attachment of divine backing to catty personal opinions. Imagine being harassed by someone and telling the person off, instead of getting an apology you get “sister it’s not me o, it’s God that said I should tell you, stay blessed”. Our brothers and sisters in the lord, you are implored to please keep your opinions to yourself.
Let’s address the classic trump card, “It is God’s will”. This is usually used to sugarcoat an act of irresponsibility that could have been conveniently avoided or lay to rest a matter that no one wants to pry into. Everything is always “God’s will” till it gets to more interesting topics and then “God’s will” changes to “our will” or “no will at all” in any case involving money. Our dear brothers and sisters accountability is also godly.
The last piece of the puzzle is an insightful one. It is an appeal premised on redirection of religious exercises to their main aim. This story perfectly illustrates the need for this appeal. On an early, bright and beautiful Monday morning, a young woman heard a knock on her door. On answering it she found, to her surprise two religious sisters with their trusted umbrella, humongous speakers and pamphlets. She couldn’t help but wonder whether these women had actually jobs due to the timing of their supposed evangelism. They proceeded to share their wise words with her as she waited to share her own gospel with them, the gospel of employment. They finished their monologue, and she told she had a couple of questions. Their eyes lit up only to be shattered when she asked them if they had jobs. She told them how they are in their youthful phase that shouldn’t be wasted. Her gospel seemed to startle them as both were rendered speechless.
Brothers and sisters, we do appreciate your diligent efforts to save our save our souls. Your bravery, virtue and love are recognized but the appeal is centered on etiquette. Counter productivity shouldn’t be the order of the day in your exhaustive military effort to take us to heaven.