I was returning from Idi-Araba that day, and was trying to beat the traffic that was certain to gather on the Lekki-Epe expressway. I glanced at my wristwatch, and let out a sigh- I was running late for my afternoon shift job.
I got to Obalende, and peered into a nearly full green and white bus. The only seats left were the ones without back-rests. I let out another deep sigh. Even though I was nearly out of time, I didn’t want to spend that long journey without resting my back, and you see, I was so tired I also planned to doze. So, I turned away and boarded the next bus in a bid to find a good seat. There were only a man and a woman with excessive load in it.
After a split-second analysis of all the seats in the bus, sitting next to the man was the best option. By this time, my head was banging from the fatigue of jumping buses under the scorching sun coupled with the fact that I had not had anything to eat.
The bus filled up and was soon making its way out of the park. Lo and behold, the man beside me opened his mouth and began to speak in a very loud voice.
Now, I don’t enjoy it when someone makes noise in the bus- whether you are receiving a phone call and talking about the N2.5 million that is yet to be transferred to your account, or you are giving your house girl instructions… or errrm, your boyfriend is asking you what you had for lunch. I mean, no law says you can’t talk, but making sure the entire bus listens to your conversation is really annoying. I also hate it when mountebanks begin their gimmicks- their inspiring talk about mustard seed and its divine nature- how that it cures Staphylococcus, Streptococcus and gonorrhoea; Jerusalem stone and how it cures not only HIV/ AIDS, but also witchcraft; or some other branded or generic products and their gbo gbo nise properties.
So Bro Akpan (let’s assume his name is Akpan) began to say unto us, what he termed “The gospel”. But first, he started off with a prayer. During the prayer only a few people responded with an Amen, obviously as a call-and-response obligation, or just to fulfill all righteousness, or probably just to encourage poor bro Akpan who was bringing the message to them.
Remember I was hungry and tired, and planned to doze. Now bro Akpan looked like he was going to disrupt my plans. I decided not to partake in his ministration even though I felt a little prodding: Isn’t it the word of God?
After the prayer, he encouraged us to respond. He began to prophesy that we would not have accident; that we would not die. The Amens began to proliferate. Nobodi wan die. But a number of us were still mute. As though he became angry, he threatened, “Anybody that don’t say Amen is a witch! Angel of devil!! That is the person that is pursue all him relatives.” There was an outburst of laughter as all heads turned to behold this radical preacher. Of course, he accused the people who didn’t respond of more atrocious deeds, and when he resumed his prayer, I was the only one who remained mute.
I hoped not for a confrontation with bro Akpan, for I was certain he was aware of my silence. He sat facing me, his right leg causing me to move my left farther away. I could not bear to exchange words with him to the full glare of others. He seemed deranged enough to take on me. Thankfully, I guess he was satisfied with his congregation. 90% is such a remarkable passmark afterall. And even Jesus had Judas.
After the prophesy session, he beseeched upon a spirit-led sister to take up praise and worship. No sister took up the challenge. He then threw his options open- brother or sister, the Lord would bless. None of his recently-acquired faithfuls considered themselves worthy of such an honour, for he then began to lead his praise and worship, and they sang along, after which he began his message. He urged all to listen attentively. All the while, I hoped he was about to conclude his sermon, and who knows, I might still catch forty winks. I hoped on…
We were now at Jakande, and the traffic was light, but his message had not downed in tempo. He talked about women who put on men’s clothing. Suddenly, he decreed, “Women wearing trousers is sin. You are going to hell-fire.” He proceeded to explain how unimaginably hot hell fire is. I was wearing my grey-coloured pants. On and on and on he spoke, shouting into my ears. His service was nearing two hours. “Would this not end?” I thought silently.
And then two minutes before I alighted from the bus, his service ended. I just wished he would continue.