I got born again on the 29th November 1987. I was an undergraduate at the University of Jos, a few days to my 19th birthday (December 7). I knew what I was before the conversion and what I became after. It was a 180 degree turnaround.
Over the years as I grew in the knowledge and study of Scripture, I got very confused because what I read and understood were at variance with what I saw happening around me among fellow Christians.
I later discovered that Nigerians are a different breed of people who had a different understanding of life. Nigerians are ALWAYS right. If you do not conform to a Nigerian’s opinion, definitely you must be WRONG! That explains why a man who has never seen a generator before, who doesn’t understand what it is and what it is supposed to do is considered a bushman by the Nigerian. He does not realize HE- the generator expert- is the bushman. In normal and saner climes, power is taken for granted because it never goes out, unlike in Nigeria where you need a generator as a power back up. The Nigerian doesn’t understand that.
The Nigerian’s understanding of GOOD and BAD are also perfect. You can NEVER fault him! When he drives and runs a red light, he tells you, “but nobody is coming from the other side! I looked and saw the road was clear before I drove through…” It doesn’t matter if the traffic light is red or green- the average Nigerian driver is colour blind. He simply drives through any light colour and justifies it. If he does it, it is right. If you do, you’re wrong, simple. He drives through a One Way road against the traffic and he justifies himself- “but why should the road be one way in the first place? I’m just going about 50 meters into the road- you mean I should drive over 2 kilometers to make a turn before I get there? Haba! You sef, look am na!”
I once saw an Okada man who drove against traffic get knocked down by a car. The mob rushed the unfortunate man driving the car and smashed his windscreen. I tried to side with the man who was insisting he did no wrong, but the mob was not interested. As far as they were concerned, the car driver knocked down a poor Okada rider! He wanted to “chance” him! We no go gree! The unfortunate man’s car was eventually burnt, but he escaped with his life.
The Nigerian Politician is of the same hue (afterall, he’s Nigerian too). That’s why a Babatunde Fashola, Governor of Lagos (who I used to have tremendous respect for) could tell Lagosians not to vote for PDP’s Jimi Agbaje. Why? Because “at 60 years, he’s too old to govern Lagos effectively. Ambode is a younger man and will be a better governor!” Please be informed that Fashola’s party (APC) is fielding a 72 year old man as their presidential candidate and he wants us to vote for this older man (PDP’s candidate, Jonathan is 57) as president. What Fashola is trying to say is, “you can vote an old man into office, as long as he is being fielded by MY party.” Does that make any sense? It defies logic- but that is the thing with the Nigerian: logic doesn’t work with him. In Naija parlance, Fashola fall my hand…
In 2011, PDP’s Jonathan refused to participate in the Presidential Debate. He was justified by his party. Now, the opposition’s (APC) candidate says he won’t be taking part in this year’s Presidential Debate and PDP is making so much noise about it. Pray, have they ever heard about JUSTICE? Why accuse a man of something you’re also guilty of? Is it morally right? Sorry, we’re talking about Nigerians here- morals don’t mean nothing. Double standard is our forte.
Sorry for digressing, where was I? Ehen- I was talking about the Nigerian Christian. I had to go that route to make you understand the Nigerian Christian is still a Nigerian, so his attitude, behavior and belief system are all a result of the environment he finds himself.
I always thought as the Scriptures say, “if any man be in Christ, the old has passed away, all things become new!” I have come to understand that verse is not meant for Nigerians. Yeah- some verses of the Bible are not applicable to all. Now, don’t condemn me yet! Ok- why does the Bible say “the sun shall not smite thee by day…”? If you live in Sokoto or Maiduguri, you will understand that verse is meant for those in cooler climes. Trust me, the sun in Sokoto and Maiduguri WILL smite you. If you break an egg on the road in those cities, it WILL fry.
After trying for almost 30 years to understand the Nigerian Christian and Nigerian Christianity, I have come up with these observations. I think it will help the Churches in “Follow Up” for the young converts. It took me several years (decades, in fact) to understand these and I am giving them out for free- my own Corporate Social Responsibility, kinda….
As a Nigerian Christian, you must learn how to speak Christianese. That is the language Nigerian Christians speak. I don’t mean speaking in tongues, no. It’s a combination of King James’ English and “spiri” talk. For example, when someone asks you, “how are you?” you don’t answer “fine” like lesser mortals do. You respond, “We thank God”. When the next question comes, “how is your family/work?” answer, “We bless God”. Your speeches must be interjected with “it is well” or “Jesus is Lord” often. How else are you expected to let your light shine before men?
As a Nigerian Christian, you must be loyal to a Church and attend all programmes. Not necessarily because you want to uplift your spirit, but because your absence would cause some chastisement from the Leadership. I remember about 10 years ago, I missed a Church service and when next I came around, I was met by a stern looking Pastor. “We didn’t see you in Church last week!” I replied, “Yes sir, you didn’t see me. Do you know why?” “No, I don’t. Why?” he asked. “Because I didn’t come, sir”. Now, wasn’t that obvious? How could you see me in Church when I didn’t come? But in my earlier submission about Nigerians generally, logic is not a very strong point.
As a Nigerian Christian, you must be able to quote your pastor often. It doesn’t matter if these quotes are just philosophical talk or even contrary to Scripture, just quote him! Quotable Quotes are very popular in Nigerian Churches. You hear stuff like, “Anointing without Money leads to Annoyance” or “If you don’t pay your Tithe, things will be Tight for you”. In fairness to the Nigerian Christian, he doesn’t read the Scriptures, neither does he understand it so he really has nothing else to quote but his Pastor. If he read the Scriptures as he should, he would have realized that Elijah did not go to heaven in a whirlwind and money is not the root of all evil. He would have known that the Bible never told women, “thou shalt not wear trousers” or “thou shalt not drink alcohol” and such other popular teachings and submissions. As long as Pastor says it, it MUST be right. You must also learn to NEVER ask questions, lest you are labeled an apostate or a rebel. How dare you question God!
If you see a lady in Church you admire, you don’t walk up to her and chat her up. You don’t go tell her your feelings and woo her- no; she just may “nail” you. What do you do? Well, you bring God into the equation! You tell her, “Sister, I have a word for you from the Lord”. Aha! Let’s see how she will tell God NO. Well, that was the trend 20 years ago- I don’t know if it still works in this internet/mobile phone/social media age. In our days, you had to bring God into it. You tell the lady you have “received”. I always remember a dear friend who so received a sister and she agreed to date him, only to discover a better model a few years down the line. Guess what happened? I leave it to your imagination…
As a Nigerian Christian, you must not allow your children play with any child born out of wedlock. That child is illegitimate. If the parents are not married and they dared to have sex, the child pays for that. Even if the parents repent, ask God for forgiveness and get married after, the Church has rules that cannot be broken. The child can’t be dedicated to God in Church like the children born legitimately. The fact that Jesus never discriminated against any child but said, “allow the little children to come to me” is irrelevant. The Church must be seen as holy and must keep up appearances. The Church cannot condone evil! I guess if David and Bathsheba were in the average Nigerian Church, Solomon would bear the stigma of his parents’ indiscretions for life.
As a Nigerian Christian, you have to understand the importance of All Night Prayers. You see, Nigerian demons are more potent at night so you have to pray at the same time to neutralize their potency. It doesn’t matter the Scripture says NOTHING about the advantage nighttime prayers have over daytime prayers. It doesn’t matter if the Bible says “the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” with no reference to the time of prayer but on the fervency. It does not matter if you worked all week and you are tired on Friday- just come and pray, even if in reality you spend more time sleeping than actually praying. It doesn’t matter that the maximum concentration time for the average man is 4 hours (the white man knows this, so he always gives breaks after 4 hours of work), so any prayer going beyond that is more often than not just an exercise in futility. But yes, as a Nigerian Christian you must learn to go through the motions, no matter how ineffective it is. You must be like the pendulum: all motion, no movement. I once read a book by an American preacher where he wrote, “I can’t pray more than 30 minutes at a time- but then, I can’t go more than 30 minutes without praying”. Hmmmmm…. I guess that is why God in His mercy made him an American, not a Nigerian.
As a Nigerian Pastor, you must have plans to diversify into Education: you must own a University. You tax the congregation for the building of the University that you will ultimately own. Whenever you need to add another faculty, you tax them again. The irony is, these poor folks would still pay the high school fees if their children want to attend these universities! Like Fela sang, “Double Wahala for Deadibody”! My daughter once returned from a Church School about 9 years ago with a letter asking I pay a 100k “Development Levy”. The Church needed to build a new Classroom Block and the parents of the students should pay for it. Wonderful! Christianity Made In Nigeria. I asked some salient questions all other parents wanted to ask but were too scared to, else they would be called names: Who owns the school? If I contribute money to the building of this classroom block, would I become a part-owner? Is it a charity or a business? If a business, why don’t you sell shares and we all become shareholders? Then at the end of the year, you declare dividend. But then, we’re talking about Nigerian Christianity, so the rules of the game are different.
If you happen to be a Pastor, you pray and hope your Church grows. By that I don’t mean in depth or content but in size. The more the merrier. And more money, of course. As the Church grows, you make big billboards all over the city your Church is situated. As the money pours in, you take the message to the television stations, terrestrial and satellite. You also build a befitting house for God (like Solomon did) and organize a yearly convention where ministers from the USA and probably South Africa come to add to the razzmatazz- it doesn’t matter if the congregation doesn’t understand the accent of these guys. A convention without an American Preacher is not complete.
The Nigerian Christian has his portion, and it does not include accidents, failure or any other misfortune. Those are the portions of unbelievers. You must know what your portion is and what it is not, so you know what to reject and what to accept. When you understand these things, you will know when to say “I reject it in Jesus’ Name! It is not my portion”. You will also know when/what to accept or receive. Myles Monroe probably didn’t reject the plane crash that claimed his life because he wasn’t a Nigerian; else he would still be alive today…
As a Nigerian Christian, you have been saved from the immoral world. “Be not conformed to the world…” the Good Book says. You take that literally, so you don’t have any social life with unbelievers. All your life must revolve around your Church folks. The Church organizes every event and programme you want to indulge in. You want to play soccer? The Church starts a football team. Basketball? A Basketball team is formed. You want to watch a movie? Fine- a Movie Day is arranged. Same goes for picnic, singles’ day out, married women’s group, married men’s club, etc. As a Church, we must do everything together- that’s why we’re a Church, a Family. I always wonder, why then was Jesus with the wrong crowd? Why was He with the sinners more often than not?
As a Nigerian Christian, you must understand you cannot criticize the Man of God. You must respect Spiritual Authority, even if the Man of God is in error. “Touch not my anointed”, the Scripture says. In Nigerian understanding, this means you don’t talk bad about the Man of God. He could steal, he could rape, he could assault you- whatever. He just can’t be corrected. He has a level of Grace we mere mortals do not understand. He also could hold the keys to the Gates of Heaven and Hell. He practically decides who goes where, so we have to be careful! I once corrected the grammar of a Pastor on Twitter and he got offended and cursed me. I honestly don’t know why I’m still alive. Don’t get a Nigerian Man of God angry else he curses or slaps you in the Name of the Lord…
If you happen to be a member of a mega Church and one of the Associate Pastors decides to leave to start his own ministry, you must know that he has become an apostate and you cannot relate with him again. He has become a Rebel, Public Enemy Number One. Even if he was your very good friend before you even became a Christian, you must cut him off. Well, at least officially and in public. You could Nicodemously go watch a premier league match with him in his house (afterall, you’re both Arsenal or Chelsea Fans!) but you can’t afford to be seen with him publicly, until you probably leave the Church also and become an apostate too. Public Enemy Number Two.
If you happen to be a student, please be informed you may not need to do much studying. If you attend all Church and Campus Fellowship Programmes, chances are that you will pass supernaturally and have a testimony to boot. If you have to write an exam paper, just dip your pen in a bottle of Anointing Oil. You will suddenly be infused with power and wisdom from on high and you will probably pass with flying colours. Inasmuch as simple logic may try to tell you a pen dipped in oil would probably not write, you know that “all things are possible to him that believeth”.
The Nigerian Christian must learn to label each year and month. The labels are always good and nice to the ears- “Year of Abundance” or “Month of Breakthrough”- stuff like that. You never hear “Year of Lack” or “Month of Sack”, even if you may get sacked that month. Yeah- sack happens!
Finally, as a Nigerian Christian, you must understand you need some degree of spiritual tools to be effective. You see, there is so much diabolism around and you can’t afford to take chances. You must learn to meet these witches and wizards on their turf. When they hold charms, you hold a mantle. When they drink blood, you drink anointing oil. When they throw curses at you, send Holy Ghost Fire (whatever that means) to them. When they fly at night to their covens for meetings, you bathe with holy water so none of their weapons fashioned against you will prosper. You may add some salt to the water to increase the efficacy, I was made to understand.
I hope these insights and revelations will add some degree of knowledge to someone out there who is as confused and frustrated as I once was. Now that I have come to know these things, my life as a Christian has never been better. May God help us all. Shalom!
PS. For those who unfortunately don’t understand satire, there’s a high possibility you will respond in Holy Anger and hurl insults at me and quote all Scripture to condemn me- no wahala.
Have a blessed day! 🙂