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Church Bus

Now and again on road journeys before the journey begins someone stands up in the bus to pray and preach. In the past, it was purely voluntary: some passenger volunteers himself/herself and everyone joins in the singing and praying and possibly listens to the preaching.

In the last decade or so it seems a profession has grown out of the practice so much so that if a passenger volunteers to pray, the bus conductor or other person tells him/her to hold on since they have someone whose job it is to pray before the journey starts. I have personally seen this. I guess we can refer to this person as the Official Bus Pastor.

Of course, the Official Bus Pastor must be paid! Who pays the pastor? Moreover, I kinda suspect that the pastor himself pays to be permitted to preach else the bus conductor wouldn’t preserve their office so jealously. It is very common if not ubiquitous for such Official Bus Pastors (mostly our Igbo brothers) to ask for offerings at the end of the prayer and message. (I would have thought the One who sent them could pay them, if they were really sent by Him).

It upsets me (I am sorry) so I often either do not participate at all or I don’t drop the ‘payment’. In my last bus journey, the preacher was skilled at capturing the audience: “wave your hands if you belong to the Lord”, “I need a louder amen”, “clap your hands to Jesus” and all such public speaking clichés. Of course the message needs not be too deep lest the customers get offended and refuse to pay.

In this case, at the end of the message, while he was praying the preacher dropped a CD in selected laps and exhorted a bit on “sacrifice”. I was one of the selected (maybe my suede jacket and the ‘I Believe in Visions’ book I was reading helped my selection). After the prayer, he made the request for money in a web of words mentioned possible denominations such as five cedis, ten cedis …. Well, I did not donate. In fact, I turned my face to the window. I would have preferred to give the money to the boy begging for food outside.

Believe it or not, after the prayer, as the preacher walked backed from the other end of the bus he picked the CD up right from my lap with some stealth. Err… OK… So it wasn’t free after all. Amazing. As he walked out of the bus I wondered what he would be most glad about that morning: the number of souls he won or the amount of money he made. What do you think?

Professionals

While on a bus to Nigeria recently, we happened watch a video of Night of a Thousand Laughs where a certain comedian told a joke about the fact that people should be proud of their profession. Yahoo boys, prostitutes etc. should indicate theirs on their complementary cards: “Kenechukwu Egoigwemmadu, Marco Polo”, “Bianca Omonigho, Runs Gal” etc.

Incidentally, at the Nigerian border (the only one with almost 10 checkpoints), a certain set of officials discovered a “Yahoo Boy” on the bus apparently from an SMS on his phone. We were delayed for about an hour. When he was finally release after having his phone seized (to be picked up for 50 thousand naira the next day), made such statements as the following when someone raised the issue on the bus:

“It’s just that I didn’t have much cash on me, nobody would have known”

“I have nine boys in Ghana”

“If I hit money now you go … ” Referring to a woman who had challenged him for doing that kind of ‘work’.

“I dey settle them for Ghana”

Among the varied comments from passengers, I managed to glean the following:

“It is better than being an armed robber” – err… OK, debateable. Different brands of thieves.

“My brother collect all the money wey white man collect from us” – OK, so it’s about revenge.

“Oya provide job for am now make e stop” – excuses, excuses.

“Na yahoo boys full churches for Ghana” – as long as they pay tithes, I guess. (To pastors like my brother who preached earlier).

I guess it has become a publicly accepted profession in Nigeria as long as the professionals pay tax to policemen and their cohorts. Simultaneously, Nigeria’s reputation rots, people are excluded from genuine businesses and upcoming young men see it as the next means of breakthrough. Well, different strokes I guess. What would have been your opinion?

Till Death – Excerpts – 20th October 2012

I was standing by the staircase at Silverbird Galleria after a movie. Helen and I were gisting about what most 21st century girls gist about in their mid-twenties. I had not noticed Elvis until he got quite close to us.

“Mademoiselle …”, he began.

I stopped talking and looked at him. Helen cleared her throat and excused herself to take a look at some jewelry nearby. We had been friends a while and she had gotten used to being completely ignored when men walked up to me. She wasn’t ugly though. In fact, in some environments, she was actually beautiful but standing beside me was, I dare say, like the moon, as beautiful as it is, standing beside the sun. Please forgive me Helen. I love you. Mmuah!

 

“Monsieur” I responded in the little French I knew wondering whether he would keep speaking French. His French must have been flawless from the way he pronounced ‘Madmoiselle’. He was definitely attractive and could have made a fortune just toasting girls for a fee (from the girsls themselves).

“How was your flight?”

“Sorry…” I was actually stammering. Unbelievable.

“How was your flight, ma belle dame?”

“My flight? …” I was trying to articulate the question.

He wore a black fedora which cast a shadow over his upper face but I could see his eyes looking straight into mine very squarely. His confidence was intimidating. Normally it’s men who stammer during an encounter with me.

 

“I am sure I could not be mistaken. The perfection in your appearance convinces me that you came in recently from the Third Heaven. How was your flight?”

He smiled. I had started laughing before he finished.  I caught Helen staring from a few metres away. I had heard many lines but this Third heaven line was almost blasphemous. Thus began our roller coaster relationship in which Elvis Lartey was the wind and I was elephant grass in the middle of the Sahara.

 

He was Ghanaian. When Mama noticed I had been going out with him for more than two months, miraculously, she asked whether he could speak Igbo. I just laughed and joked that I was learning Twi since we were planning to live in Ghana. “Hoa!” she exclaimed and went on with her chores.

 

Thinking back, I realize there was never any depth in our discussions. I guess it was just a case of Ronaldo meets Messi. Both of us were players. No questions about children, or long term plans, or genotype, or even where each of us preferred to settle. The discussions at our dates bordered on movies, fashion and current events. We just were not thinking about family, just fun. I knew I was losing it. I still prayed on my own. Once in a while he went to church with me and then we went out to lunch afterwards. Till date I still wonder how he made all the money he spent on me just by working in a Bank as a teller. Our dates usually ended in his house, on his couch, cuddling and proceeding on the borders of forbidden activities. I always asked for forgiveness when I got home. I could almost hear him yelling “leave that man alone”.

A Long Trip

When going on a long trip, we find that the process of boarding  the plane could be somewhat gruesome and seemingly superfluous. From the airport gates to the long queue at the airline’s counter; customs,  the long walk from one section to another while heading towards the boarding gates. Sometimes you get a place to sit, often not but always there is a sign somewhere telling you which way to go or else a voice from the PA system. Eventually you can see the planes, and when it’s time, you strap yourself to your seat and take the journey.

 

Short trips are usually not that gruesome. Not too many processes. Neither is there so much sophistication in the signs and instructions and slips one has to fill. This is the same with less risky modes of transport like a bus or a car. The boarding process is often easier when the mode of transport (quality) and length of the journey (quantity) are minor.

 

In life, there are certain journeys in life that require long and gruesome boarding processes, several verifications and check points, clearance here and there and often a good number of waiting periods. In such life situations, your willingness to go through the various checks, wait when there is need to wait and read the signs at each corner often reflect the quality of the journey you are about to take. In life’s long journeys, YOU define the quality and quantity of that journey.

 

Assuming you are the captain of the vessel in this journey and you choose to skip several checks because time is of the essence, or completely ignore those waiting periods, it becomes clear that you do not value the safety of your passengers much. What are the risks? A hijacker aboard… a passenger with no ticket… unforeseen circumstances … a faulty vessel … it could go on and on.

 

When your vessel reaches the middle of the ocean and there is no help in sight, no land nearby, a storm rises and your lack of preparation becomes apparent in the midst of the ocean. How grievous it would be to have a ship sink in the midst of the sea for failing to perform a simple check at the beginning of the journey.

 

How is your journey going?

If I Wanted to Rule the World

If I wanted to rule the world, I would want to know everyone in it. I would want to know their names, their locations and what part of my world they own. I would not ask them their names; I would let them tell me on their own volition. I would not ask them the names of their parents, their spouses, their brothers and sisters; I would let them tell me themselves. I would give them reason to tell me everything about themselves without asking.

 

If I wanted to rule the world, I would sell them my ideas, I would sell them my culture; sell them my ideologies and that at very high prices which they would be more than willing to pay. I would watch them stumble over one another trying to by my ideologies. I would not teach them in schools, I would come to their homes. I would be with them first thing in the morning and last thing at night; I would go far deeper than their conscious mind and embed my own thoughts. If I wanted to rule the world, I would imprint my image on their souls.

 

If I wanted to rule the world, I would identify each person uniquely, collect their finger prints for years, capture their pictures from multiple angles, record their educational history, track their spending patterns, monitor their travel patterns, and track their daily movements. If I wanted to rule the world I would not force them to give me these, I would simply make it a pleasure to share everything.

 

If I wanted to rule the world, I would let them loose, free to roam the earth and enjoy themselves, free to express themselves in whichever way they choose as long as they do not interfere with my rule. If I wanted to rule the world, I would silence the narrow minded conservatives and make them completely resented in the public sphere. I would let everyone loose to express themselves. After all, everyone has a right to live the way they want. To be FREE!

 

If I wanted to rule the world, I would penetrate every possible institution on the earth. From government to churches, entertainment to education. I would have representative in every sphere of life promoting my ideas. I would have sworn followers, strong personalities with carriage and influence, sound thinkers with persuasive personalities able to sell me to the world long before I show up.

 

If I wanted to rule the world, I would do my utmost best to ensure everyone is far too busy to notice I was coming. Busy trying to be rich, busy trying to meet targets, busy trying to keep up with the latest fashion, busy keeping up with customers’ ever changing demands, busy planning the next event, busy busy busy. Too busy to notice when I ascend the throne. Too busy to notice the massive changes unfolding before their eyes. Far too busy.

 

If I wanted to rule the world, I would not let an unseen deity get in my way. Why worship what is unseen when I can be worshipped! I would demonstrate that what is unseen cannot be real. I would prove over and over that we are all one and we can all worship one. I would show that we can help ourselves rather than looking to some distant unseen deity. If I wanted to rule the world I would persuade men to come together in worship.

 

Someone wants to rule the world, and he knows his time is short.

Njansi: The Missing Page

Hello Everyone! A certain Printer’s Angel took away page 100 on the Nigerian print of Njansi. Please accept my apologies. Here is the rest of the fight between Dr. Fleming and Njansi:

“A flame rises but I remain, A fire burns, I am not consumed”

Soon both men were in deep space, then in Sesiri’s court.

“Lord Sesiri, it seems to me that you are not aiding your son” commented Sri Verruca.

“They are both my sons” whispered Sesiri.

“I thought you wanted Njànsí eliminated”

“What does it matter who is eliminated? I am interested in the more wicked heart”.

Both men were back again in the underground temple which was now thick with smoke. Njànsí’s experience helped him put up a good fight but soon the higher powers working in Dr. Fleming prevailed and Njànsí was wounded.

“Dr. Fleming, listen to me! Sesiri has deceived us both! He deceives his servants and asks them to deceive others”. Njànsí breathed hard as he spoke. He was sure he would die. If Dr. Fleming spared him, Lord Sesiri would not!

“Listen!” Njànsí conti nued, “He is using you to kill me now but soon, he will use someone else to kill you. He cares nothing for humanity…”

“Shut up!” Fleming yelled, “You dare blaspheme Lord Sesiri. You ascend to Chitanam tonight!”

Dr. Fleming unleashed spirits to kill Njànsí but Njànsí disappeared.

 

——————————————————————————————-

 

WARNING: This would noot mean much to you if you do not have the book, would it. You can find contact points on the website. Have a great rest of the week.

10,000 Hours

Repetition can be considered the tool for deep and lasting impression. When you were in nursery school for instance, you learnt the rhyme Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and you have not forgotten it since then. Why? Because you sang it so many times it rang in your head. You recited the ‘Times Table’ several times a week now you do not need to think too hard to answer the mathematical equation (2×3)x(4+5).

 

There is a theory that an expert is someone that has spent a minimum of 10000 hours on a specific subject area or skill. This theory of experts surprisingly does not refer to the age of the expert but to the time spent on the subject. A child as young as two is already theoretically capable of reaching the 10000 hour mark. The key is talent and repetition.

 

Have you ever tried practicing the concept of repetition in more advanced academic tasks than your regular Multiplication Table? Do you realize that if you are studying mathematics in the university and your decide to solve the same quadratic equation 20 times you will discover things that will impress the technique on your brain; the very same equation.

 

As a literary student, if you read the same book 20 times over, at some point you will be able to tell the story without looking at the book. That is what has happened with certain religions that make it a practice for their children to memorize their scriptures at a very early age. The indoctrination effects of this practice can only be broken by the Almighty.

 

In the workplace, it is the same effect. The Human Resource question concerning your years of experience simply refers to how much time you have spent on a particular role. This means how many hours you have spent doing a set of similar tasks. Generally, people gain experience involuntarily but the effects of experience gained over years on a particular skill can be deliberately reproduced by focusing on that task not for years, but for hours. 10000 hours.

The Human Touch

I believe Social Media really became popular in the early 2000s. From Yahoo Chat to My Space to Facebook, Blackberry and the like… the list is in the hundreds. Now we are even asking each other “What’s Up” without getting to see the response. Our world has changed dramatically since the Internet and the various innovations that have been brewed mostly in the West to satisfy our need to be connected to other human beings.

 

Off the Internet and such Social Media I understand business deals have been struck, new friendships developed, waves of fame and even marriages have been born. These days dating websites have become more popular than Mickey Mouse. I hear it sometimes works and I even know a couple who met through a Blackberry group and are very happily married. Amazing isn’t it?

 

You know, maybe someone should try being married over the Internet! Live in different cities, chat on What’s Up, talk to each other on Skype, comment on each other’s Google + walls, share videos of each other’s daily events on YouTube, attend Church online and so on. Sounds like something from a movie, right?  I would not be too surprised if someone in the US attempts this in the near future.

 

Well, in my opinion, I doubt if it would work because something would be obviously missing: TOUCH. Technology is yet to replicate the effect of a human touch without physical contact. Even with our video calls and chats and all, we still find there is a world of difference between talking face to face and using Social Media. The façade is removed, the body language is true to life, both parties feel the same temperature and the same touch from the atmosphere. It’s just different.

 

Some of us (including yours truly) have the habit of responding to PINGs while in a meeting or while talking face to face with someone because it simply has become that: a habit. After reading this, I hope you do value a little more the Human Touch when compared to the attempt of Social Media to fill the gap.

Events and Emotions

About 11 years ago almost 3000 people died at their workplace when two commercial aircrafts rammed in the twin towers of the World Trade Centre in New York City. It’s all part of history now. In January 2002 we were sitting in our houses when we began hearing what sounded like aerial bombardments from enemy aircraft. We eventually learnt that these were stationary bombs exploding in Ikeja Military Cantonment, Lagos, Nigeria. More recently several bomb explosions have hit the northern Cities of Nigeria killing and wounding hundreds. Just a few weeks ago a single plane crash claimed the lives of more than 150 people. When it happened, there was a lot of emotional outbursts about the nation, the government, aviation in Nigeria, the age of aircrafts and so on. Apparently most of it was just that: emotional outbursts.

 

When events unfold in history within the period of such events there is a natural tendency for emotional outbursts; people rail at the government, the perpetrators, nature, maybe even God. People make drastic decisions “I will never live in the north again!”, “I will never travel by Skondo Airlines again”, “I will preach the gospel to everyone I see”, “I will do this and that…”. But all this often fades as the events are swallowed up by the passage of time. Very few make lasting decisions based on events. These events have very little lasting impact on anyone except maybe those directly affected.

 

Go back a few weeks to the Plane crash in Lagos Nigeria. Remember all the things we said. Remember the BBM messages we wanted to forward until the Government does something about Air Safety. Remember the movements that may have been formed. Emotional Outbursts. Decisions made base d on emotional outbursts do not last. Or maybe they do for some people.

 

I think we should go over our lives again once in a while and determine what decisions we have taken in response to events and consider how we might implement those that make lasting sense. It could be some social work, some missionary work, charity and so on. It could even be some adjustment to our own personal lifestyles. Going beyond just the “Hey yaass” and “It’s a pity” ensures that we are actually making reasonable progress in our lives.

War, Peace and the Federation of Nigeria

A little reading on the Nigeria Civil war of the late sixties reveals that what most people considered an ethnic issue did not really begin as an ethnic issue but a struggle within the army against what some top soldiers like Major Nzeogu considered corruption in the ruling government. It is a historical fact that Major Nzeogu surrounded himself with Hausas and had his base in Kaduna when he began his struggle prior to the war. General Aguiyi Ironsi also had a lot of non-Igbos around him and some people even think he was exposed as a president by his ‘naivety’. A few months later some people saw things differently and it became an ethnic issue leading to a civil war.

 

The understanding we had of Boko Haram’s struggle is an attempt to Islamize Nigeria and wipe out western education yet these days some statements I read seem to indicate that they are trying to prove that the current administration is not strong enough to stop them. Their actions further tell us that they are trying to wipe out Christians from Northern Nigeria (and possibly from Nigeria generally). Some of their statements also seem to be an attack on anyone who opposes their cause. What is all this really about?

 

If the other militia and non-militia groups in Nigeria – OPC, MASSOB, the Niger Delta groups and the like have begun viewing the actions of Boko Haram as ‘external aggression’, then we need to intercede harder. If Christian clerics have begun organizing congregations for reprisal attacks, then we need to pray even harder. Some may say we are being merely religious in calling for prayer while others vent their anger by writing against the Jonathan –led government. Whatever you view is, trust me, you do not want war in Nigeria.

 

A war in Nigeria means complete instability in the entire African continent. Managing close to 100 million fleeing refugees is not a joke.  A war in Nigeria means a standstill to the thousands of businesses including major African Banks whose largest branch networks are in Nigeria. A war in Nigeria means global impact on supply of crude oil. A war in Nigeria means the closure of a major market for manufactured products produced by major developed and developing nations: China, the US, India …. A war in Nigeria means a standstill in the economy. No matter how bad it is now, a standstill is far worse, believe me.

 

Everyone has a right to defend themselves but I do not believe that stirring up emotions about warfare within a nation as big as Nigeria in this day and age is a step in the right direction. I do realize that there is probably some dishonesty in the negotiations among leaders  regarding bombings in the North but I do think efforts should be directed at unveiling  the masked mafias behind this group rather than fighting all Northerners. As a possible solution to Nigeria’s complexity, I subscribe to Pa Enahoro’s idea of a Sovereign National Conference proposed as far back as 1992. Rather than dividing the nation violently, we should agree on what the terms of our living together are.

 

After the last civil war, I understand some Igbo’s swore never to make any investments in the North only to yield to the enterprising spirit just a few years after. Well, truth is “If they persecute you in one city, flee to the next” meaning in this context, better to stay among your own people than to be killed among another. Yes, another. We are one political entity but we are definitely different peoples and if we are going to live together in peace, then we must agree on the terms rather than depending on a mere political structure created by the British. Finally, maybe God is indeed trying to tell us something we are not hearing. God bless Nigeria.