It all started as a simple conversation, the same old one that Nigerians home and in diaspora loved to have – the state of our love-hate country.
I shared my resent experience with a family member, about a muslim woman at a conference. The woman was articulate, she talked about how our school children must be protected from the evil of the world. This was last year when Osun state merged schools together into a new and better purpose-built one to promote conducive learning environment for students irrespective of their religious background – that was a big deal because traditional Christian and muslim schools were merged.
My concern was that I can not seem to remember why everyone must be seen as a potential threat just because they belonged to a different religion, and here we are creating monsters in the minds of the future of the nation – it was all big drama, but thankfully, good people stepped in to uphold the decision to keep school children together for the purpose of receiving quality education.
So I shared the story with my uncle, we both felt concerned for how religion is used to further divide us when we have so much in common to celebrate. Then I must have said something on the line of what will happen on the ‘last day’ if there’s one so he cuts in “You are not counting yourself amongst us, are you?”
“What?” I asked. “That you are going to heaven” he responded. Whao, I thought. Egbon Kola knew me from when I was a baby, so he must be right that hell is my home so I told him, “shut the gate in my face if I followed you!”
Now, he laughed so much on the other side, that I thought he had collapsed from a cardiac arrest. “I miss you” he later said. I told him I was not joking.
Here is why my uncle thought I belonged in hell – purely for my church attendance or the lack of it. Last time I was in church was with my mother. I love and enjoy immensely the singing and dancing of Pentecostal church, sermon is a different ball game. I can’t remember how the sermon got to the part of American health system but the pastor stumbled on it and went on and on. American health system? Why, upon all the subjects we can talk about? Then he spoke about him spending the whole night digging into it and the US plan to implant codes under the skin so it’s easier to get help in case of emergency. The preacher later relate that to treble six sign – it all got really messy. I felt like dragging him off the pulpit to get some cold drinks, he was in a completely different world, nothing made sense.
My poor aged mother was worried after the service. I told her not to worry that the pastor was on crack otherwise he would have focussed his preachings on the state of Nigeria that people can easily relate to. He wanted to sound ‘out there’ but chose subject he had no clue about. “is he really on drugs” my mother asked. “Moomi, please give it a rest.”
Given uncle Kola is a senior pastor – I told him not to worry about me as he will not make it to heaven neither. “How?” he asked.
“Stuck in traffic at Ibadan-Lagos expressway during Redeemed Church monthly prayer meeting”