Today I received an identical Black Berry messages from my cousin and a fellow artist friend. It was simple link with no further explanation. Curious as I am, I clicked on anxious to know the story behind the link. The first thing that popped up on my phone’s screen was the image of Christ followed by a bold caption that read “DID YOU KNOW THESE FACTS?”…… “Be not deceived; God is not mocked”. I scrolled down slightly irritated, not knowing what to make of the header. Was I being targeted for some evangelical crusade? The next line hinted a little more on where this whole thing was going to. In blue letters it said “ here are some men and women who mocked God” The first person on the list of culprits: John Lennon who is quoted as saying “Jesus was okay but his subjects were too simple today we are more famous than him”. The author of the text then goes on to say “Lenon after saying that the Beatles were more famous than Christ was shot six times” Next on this bizzar list is ex Brazilian president Tancredo Neves who feel ill and died a day before he was to be sworn in to office. His offence? During the presidential campaign, he said if he got 500,000 votes from his party, not even God would remove him from the presidency. Thomas Andrews the man who built the Titanic is also cited as saying not even God can sink his vessel. “I think we all know what happened to the Titanic” comes the authors comment. Blond beauty Marilyn Monroe is not spared. Her telling Billy Graham off (“I do not need your Jesus”) is said to be the reason she was found dead a week after their encounter. Others on the list are ex AC/DC frontman Bon Scott, (he was chocked by his own vomit for singing “Highway to Hell”) and Jamaican journalist Christine Hewitt (found burnt beyond recognition in her motor vehicle. Her offence?- She allegedly said The Bible was the worst book ever written). I finished going through the disturbing text feeling very hurt, angry and sad. I am used to religious fanatics spreading their special gospel of truth by citing a vengeful, no nonsense taking God who is ready to strike (at an time) and wipe out all none believers from the surface of the earth. But why in Gods name did my cousin of all people have to send me this link? Was he trying to tell me something? What stunned me even more is the fact that he has never come across as the religious type. I also questioned my artist friend’s motivations (I had expected her to be at least more tactful). Not wanting to just press delete, forget the incident and let matters rest I decided to confront both of them so I sent out a BB message: “Why send me such disturbing propaganda stuff? I don’t buy this God of vengeances stories”. My cousin’s reply: “Olorisha (idol worshiper) be warned”. My friend’s response “everyone has something to say which is good, I tot it was interesting”.
Here’s the link: http://spespa.com/news/media/the%20tongue.htm . It seems to only work on mobile phones
Images of a mobile holy ghost church
I came across this wandering preacher man while stuck in traffic on Surulere Industrial road in Ogba. His self styled mobile church on wheels was an instant eye catcher. It was fully equipped with donation & prayer request boxes, signs painted with quotes from the bible and a mini “I better pass my neighbour” generator set that powered a PA system playing Christian hymns and songs in endless repeat mode. The mysterious man in white seemed to be in constant motion and in some trance like state as he pushed his cart in the scorching hot Lagos afternoon sun. Occasionally he’d make brief stops to call on all (passer byes, Okada riders and go slow stranded motorist) to repent and give their lives to Jesus Christ warning that the end is near.
I must say this headline arose my curiosity instantly I was keen on getting a copy of the Guardian Newspaper as soon as I read the front-page caption. You see, Obasanjo is a known born again who does not hide his mission to serve Christ and the Lord. So it should not have come as a surprise that he donated a Church. This man has been truly blessed (amen o!)
I mean after serving the nation for 8 years Baba Iyabo (as he’s fondly called) made sure he amassed a fortune in Naira, Dollar, Pounds, Euros and other Western and Eastern currencies to subsidise his official presidential pension. So building a place of worship shouldn’t be much of a problem for this generous and God fearing ex-general. What I found rather amusing was that he donated the said Church to the Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (the names says it all; it’s basically him giving back to himself I hear you whisper well you’re right) but to ensure things looked and sounded legit (even before the heavenly father) he invited his friends, associates and church leader to his hometown in Abeokuta, Ogun State for the grand opening. From what I gathered, the president of the Christian Association of Nigeria Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor conducted the opening sermon. He listed the lack of fear of God and love of money as a major contributor to Nigeria’s stunted growth (hear, hear was he talking to or about his friend OBJ?) but just when you thought he was going to embarrass his host and give him a piece of his (and most Nigerian’s) mind Oritsejafor blew it and decided to backslide by commending Obasanjo for his “revolution” in the communication industry and for building the National Christian Center in Abuja- I guess you can’t bite the hand that feeds you.
By the way, the vision and mission of Obasanjo’s Church is “to save humanity by promoting the Kingdom of God”
Show Me Your Logo
Nigerian Christians seem to be obsessed with stickers and banners there’s a deep urge to share the scriptures with the world and protect one’s self against all sort of ills, evil spirits and none believers (after all this is Africa and you never know who or what might be against you). So what better way to go about guarding your home than a front door sticker saying, “This house is washed in the blood of Jesus”. Personally I’m not sure if that has ever stopped an armed robber from carrying out his duties but hey it’s worth the try in a country that lacks basic security and who knows, the thief might even have a conscience. For those in doubt of your heavenly ordained blessings all they need do is read the fine print (Roman 8: 19-21) on your 2009 Manifestation sticker majestically displayed on door in your living room. As a proud owner of a brand new second hand Tokunbo car you can silence all the bad belles and no gooders who thought you’d never make it big with a bumper sticker reading “If Go be for me…….” (for those behind you, mentally filling the blanks might be a pleasant way to reflect and think about life while stuck in one of those notoriously brutal Lagos go slows) and finally to ensure LASMA officials, traffic wardens or hungry police officers don’t dare take bribe from you there’s a specially designed “Jesus on board” plaque (not to be confused with the baby on board sign) that can be mounted on your windscreen-my neighbour Mr. Sam has one of those. He does a lot of travelling so I guess it comes in handy.
I was woken from my deep slumber by a sonic mix of the strangest kind. From the left I heard a monotonous high pitched ringing from what sounded like a hand held bell, to my right a church choir was passionately singing off key while from a distance I could hear a man screaming at the top of his lungs. The gentleman seemed to be engaged in a battle of sorts (maybe with some evil spirit?) the passion and urgency in his delivery could not be escaped. I hurriedly ran to consult my brother trying to decipher the preacher man’s noise. What’s going on out there I asked? It’s church service my brother replied . But why is the guy screaming and behaving like he’s fighting somebody I quizzed hoping to get some plausible explanation for this strange phenomenon; well that’s the way they pray over here Doyin answered with a shrug and with that he went back to his daily papers. Still sleep drunk I tried to make it back to my bed after all it’s Sunday for crying out loud- my off day! but somehow deep inside I knew it was a mission destined for failure the noises around me seemed to intensify with every passing minute. My pulse raced I was getting furious and upset didn’t someone say to me that Fashola our super hero governor of Lagos State had banned outdoor PA systems If my memory isn’t failing me I remember hearing an advert on radio some months back warning Lagosians of the implications of Noise pollution - an offence punishable by law So how come this laws are not being implemented I asked out loud to no one in particular. Why is there this battle for sonic supremacy amongst store front churches? came the question in my head, does this noise actually attract “customers” or worshippers? I desperately wanted to make sense of my dilemma but the more I tried the less I understood till it dawned on me : I am in Nigeria a country where anything and everything goes
Ever since I relocated to Lagos i’ve been intrigued and fascinated by the staggering amount of churches and mosques that have mushroomed in the city of big myths and dreams in less than a decade. I have seen private homes and buildings converted to prayer houses and places of worship. Friends, relatives and neighbours who once lived carefree lives have suddenly retreated to Pentecostal camps and bible study groups in a bid to come closer to God. Everyone around me seems to be armed with the bible or Koran.
While I applaud the individuals quest for spiritual fulfilment and transformation I cannot help but wonder how little seems to have changed despite this new found religiousness. The holier than thou trend has not translated to a fundamental shift in attitude and actions of most Lagosians and Nigerians. Violence and corruption is still rampant. Social injustice is rarely addressed and life for the average Nigerian is at an all time low. Religious crisis and clashes have become the norm in a nation that once prided itself on being open and tolerant. Faith has now literally become a matter of life or death. As an artist and activist I keep asking myself what went wrong?, what changed during my sojourn in Europe? Why have we become so obsessed with defining ourselves first and foremost through our pastors, imams, churches and mosques ?
Armed with nothing more than questions, curiosity and common sense I have decided to take a closer look at things and document my findings.