Warri Nor Dey Carry Last -20
(The Chronicles of Okiemute in Lagos)
The whole house was calm and quiet as everyone was still in bed when Kenneth started calling Okiemute’s name like an ‘Amadioha’ priest in the rural settlements of south eastern Nigeria, bringing messages from the gods. “Okiemute, Okiemute!” He began. “Did the god’s of thy ancestors protect your bum from the rod of Bola?” He repeated it three times, with the later volume louder than the former. By the time he got to the entrance to Okiemute’s room, his deep baritone voice had already woken everyone. “You dream see me last night?” Okiemute asked, as Kenneth stood at the door and push it open to peep inside. “It’s barely 5 am, and you’ve started to disturb the house?”, he asked. “Is that how you were supposed to greet me? My friend jump up and get ready, we are attending first service so we can come back early”, Kenneth replied, and was about shutting the down when Bola spoke up with his sleepy eyes, “who talked about going to church? Did we agree to go to any church this early yesterday?”
“The church starts by 7am and closes by 9:45 am first service. Anybody that is not dressed by the time I am ready would either stay at home or find his way to church. After all, I am the official driver in the house.” Kenneth said as he walked to his room, and made a detour to bang Bayo’s door too.
“Can you imagine?” Okiemute said, looking startled. “I cant remember the last time someone threatened me to get ready. For church service for that matter?” Bola said, looking bemused too. “The annoying part is that we don’t even know the church he is talking about. Hope he is not taking us to Anglican church? Gosh! Their services can be as boring as watching a Nigerian politician reading his swearing in speech; just as they are concerned about donations and offerings, that’s how the politician is concern about what he can embezzle”, Okiemute added. “You’re not nice at all. How can you compare a church service with the presidential inaugural speech? Are you saying the church is lifeless?”, Bola asked in response to Okiemute’s statement. Standing up from the bed and gesticulating with his hands, he started mimicking the lyrics of a Nigerian artist song, “if I say ‘O’, you say ‘P’, another one say ‘C’ omo na you ‘sabi’. I said politician and never mentioned if I meant a Governor, Senator, or a council chairman. If you choose to put the President there, that’s your business. Just don’t call my name when you’re being charged for hate speech, or for crossing the national red line!” he said.
“Look at you, so you fear the government more than God?”, Bola asked. “Excuse me, bro. Did I mention God? I said Anglican church services are boring, did I say God’s services are boring? Why are you bent on making me guilty of an offence this morning?” He replied. Not ready to give up, Bola too rephrased his statement, “but the church conducts their services in line with God’s instruction. So if you attack the church, you’re attacking God”. Okiemute shook his head slowly, and drew the blanket from Bola’s body, and then said, “I would have said your education was a waste, but you studied Physics education and not theology. But as a Christian, which passage of the Bible stated the modalities to conduct services? Or what book, chapter or verse stated that they should collect more than three offerings, organise special charity funds, and still the poor are asked to pray to God for help? If the services are in line with what God commands, while is the other set calling fire to kill their enemies, and some are going to the river to wash the enemies away? My brother stand up and get dressed before Kenneth leave you here”.
The three of them sat in the vehicle quietly as if they were hypnotised by Kenneth. He was the the only one whistling as he drove from the house to the church. As Kenneth pulled over at the spacious compound of a very big church, with a tall pinnacle like a cathedral, the three of them tried to take a look at the inscription on the electric singpost at the top of the church. It read ‘The Armageddon Church of Christ’. Bayo finally broke the silence, “how did you locate this church? Hope it is not another girl that invited you here?” He asked Kenneth who was busy arranging the luxurious native attire he was putting on. With out responding to Bayo’s question, he locked the car doors from the central lock, and shove Okiemute out of his way, walking gallantly into the church with his huge stature. The three of them stared at themselves, and scurried along, walking behind him like kidnapped victims acting obediently with the hope that their good behaviour will somehow appease their abductors to be lenient with them.
The Choristers were ministering in songs when they got in. Kenneth had gone to sit separately close to the front roll, while the three of them tucked themselves at the middle roll. Wondering how Kenneth knew there was a church there, they also used the opportunity to feed their eyes, which almost pulled the church down with their scrutinizing gazes. From the ropes of the choristers, to the beautiful lightnings, the plaster of Paris ceilings, the pews, the loud speakers, the flower pots strategically positioned, the rostrum, all that made the ambience electrifying. They soon started to wish they had joined Kenneth in the front when they came in, but none of them spoke out.
As if God was answering their prayers, it was time to give offerings. So they had the opportunity to go forward to give offerings. As they were dancing along with other congregants to give their offerings, they tried to take a better look as the heads of those in front of them had been obstructing their views from the back. Laughing and smiling at each other, they danced along with other congregants as the choristers led them in songs. Bola suddenly went pale. Okiemute was scared as Bola stopped dancing, and kept his gaze at the direction of an elderly woman that was superbly dressed. “Is he mad, what is he looking at an old lady for?” He thought. He was about to tap him to consciousness, when Bola grabbed his arm by the wrist and took him back to their seat.
“I am in trouble”, he said. “That is Prof. Essien, the Vice Principal Admin in my school, and also a board member. She knows I stay in the mainland and might be thinking I came here to find her niece that works in the school too”. He explained, visibly shaken with fear. If not for the fact that they were outside, Okiemute would have laughed so loud. “You look terribly pathetic bro, just hear yourself. Guilt is written all over you, and if you don’t comport yourself, you will be entering into a big mess”, he replied Bola with a frown.
They sat silently as the preacher started the sermon. Bola was stupefied when the sermon was centred on Nigerians and how they cut corners. The preacher gave several examples of how Nigerians manipulate and circumvent rules which is drawing us back as a nation. The more he spoke about it, the more Bola felt frightened, as he was already condemning himself. The sermon was barely over when he walked out to wait by the car, trying to avoid meeting the Vice Principal. The three others were looking for him inside the church, not knowing he was outside. By the time they met him at the car park, waiting beside the car, they were angry, and wanted to know why he left the church without telling anyone.
“Hello Bola, how are you doing?”, Prof Essien greeted. Bola was shocked, the woman he was running from had finally seen her. He did not know that the car parked beside theirs, was that of the Prof he was running from. At that point Okiemute cuts in asking if this was the Vice Principal he was talking about. Bola then introduced him to Okiemute and they exchanged pleasantries. The more Okiemute kept the conversation going, the more it irritated Bola. Kenneth had to honk before Okiemute entered the car for them to go back home.
The weekend was finally coming to an end as they look forward to Monday morning, and what the new week would bring. At home, lunch was had been prepared and was served almost immediately. They ate their meals quietly, and went inside to prepare for the week. Okiemute was learning slowly, what would soon be his routine for many years to come.
IDEDE Oseyande, a graduate of the Federal University of Technology, Akure, is an unrepentant believer in the Nigeria project.
His concern for the actualisation of a prosperous nation and the continent, in general, is reflected in his written works.
He currently runs an online advocacy platform (www.socialwatchdog.ng) where he engages the government and the people.
Among his published works are ‘What is Left of What is Right?’, ‘The Portrait of a Revolutionary Leader’ and ‘Warri No Dey Carry Last’.
He is a guest writer for several blogs and his Attitudinal and Behavioral Coaching classes has transformed many lives.