On Going to Church in Nigeria

Going to church in Nigeria is a serious affair and Sundays are far from average. It is expected that you don your finest clothing, akin to what you would wear on Christmas or on your birthday. Coming early for Mass is a big deal.  There are people who strictly arrive way before time. It's pretty serious for them. My theory is that they come early so they can sit on the pews right in front of the altar, very close to the priest. Perhaps, so that the blessings will get to them first. I hope to be among these people someday and receive first-hand blessings but for now, I will have to settle for sitting under the tree outside the main Church building. Singing the hymns with all your heart and soul is also really important. There is no need to be shy about being louder than the choir, for your voice has to reach the angels in heaven and your reward shall be great on earth. It is also necessary to go for the first, second and third offering collections as well as special collections and be among the first to receive Holy Communion. Joining as many church societies as you can as well as getting involved in many church activities is also smiled upon.

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I have never really been good at doing any of these things and for this reason; I have received my fair share of scoldings from members of my church. Back in the day, when ignorance was in abundance, I was told off for wearing jeans. This did not surprise me however. I was rather underdressed for Sunday Mass compared to other people at Mass. My mum had given up on me years ago when I refused to keep attending ‘Children’s Mass’/Sunday school, so the threats I received from some church members to “talk to my mother” never bothered me.

My worst Church experience however, happened in a church I had never attended before. I had gone there with my parents for an event they were invited to. It was during Holy Communion and I was just fresh out of Catechism class. I had just received my first Holy Communion some weeks ago and was still excited about being born anew. While I was in line, a strange woman approached me and told me to leave the line because my hair was exposed. She even offered me a handkerchief of dubious origins to cover my hair. I had never heard of this before. What sort of Church was this and why were they trying to hinder my salvation? Of course I wasn’t going to collect it. Only God knew where it had been. I went and cried to my mum and vowed never to receive Holy Communion again but I eventually broke that vow. I also became a student catechist in my secondary school some years later and took my revenge, not allowing catechumen to receive the sacraments of Confirmation and Holy Communion. (This isn’t entirely true)

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I believe this woman with the handkerchief is one of the reasons for my love-hate relationship with the church. I’m sure people have much more joyful experiences attending church but sadly, I don’t.

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In other news, my amazing cousin read The Ramblings and decided to make this awesome sketch of Aladi. It’s a welcome change from my state of the art sketches chicken scratches. I describe it as Rambling Dropout meets Rock-star Hippie.

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Love and regular blogposts,

AA.