Kicked Out of the 24/7 Church
(Here’s a personal WELCOME note to the MTN Lagos staff who were recently recruited by ‘someone’. Sure he just told one person, but this spot can be contagious)
The next morning, which was Friday, an uncle was having a Thanksgiving church service to praise God for his recent political appointment. The venue, of course was our very infamous village church at the mission, St. Andrew’s Church. Now let me tell you about good old’ St. Andrews. It is the center and the pulse of Uburu-Ekwe. Everything happens in and around that church, even when it has no business being there. There was a time when the village tried unsuccessfully to ban women from wearing pants and mini skirts. Then they successfully ran the sacred Mmau masquerades underground. This and a lot more done from the pulpit of the church while they came up with one project or fund raiser to get your money. If you get anything new such as a house, baby, wife, husband, and you don’t take it to St. Andrew’s, hmh...hmh… you have not completed the ritual. If you can’t go there, at least invite the pastor to come to your house. Then if you are having a party for any of the above, you need not waste money to print out invitations or flyers, just say ‘Onakpotu na b’anyi, yirinu efe mara mma bianekiri ife n’akwu’ (there’s something happening at my house, wear you best clothes and come and see for yourselves). Let’s not even talk about the radical wing of the church, the Ekwe Born Again Association aka ‘Ndi-Born-Again’.
Anyways my sisters and I tried to get out of going to church, but this uncle is a rather important uncle and my father said to us, ‘If you like go to heaven and come back, just make sure you are in that church.’ We didn’t make any special outfit so I just wore one of my dresses. I don’t know if I was just being stubborn or that I refused to be bothered with what ‘villagers’ would say so I did not think twice about what I was wearing. After all my father saw and did not say to go and change. The criticism started when one of the ‘mamas’ who came to greet ‘ada-america’ came and pulled my dress up in the front. I was like ‘mama hapu that thing, it is the style.’ My sister’s told me to just take a pashmina just in case. I took one with me but draped it around my neck. At first there were no seats for us in the inside so we stood outside trying to be inconspicuous. But how is that possible when my sisters decided to do the Jackie O meets Queen Nora look with huge gogglish shades and their scarves tied like a hijab. I was like whatever. Things were going ok, we came in, one or two people tugged at my pashmina, trying to get it from my neck to my hair. Being me, I rolled my eyes and raised my finger, ‘Excuse me, how is it affecting you?’ The call to give offering came and I sashayed to the offering basin and back to my seat. Little did I know that the ‘mean’ custodian of the church had his evil eye on me and followed me. He came up from behind and pulled my pashmina over my hair.
ADDY: Dude get away from me man…Lemme alone.
CUSTODIAN: Cover ya hair... ah ah... how can
ADDY: How is that affecting you?
CUSTODIAN: I SAY COVER YA HAIR… it is ‘awa’ law.
ADDY: Where is that law and who made it? Please allow me to listen to the pastor.
CUSTODIAN: (by now raising his voice and being rather obnoxious) If you don’t cover ya hair I will embarazz you hear now. Either that or you leave.
ADDY: The church I go, it is abomination to cover our hair so I am not covering mine. Do your worst…geroutta my face please.
CUSTODIAN: This is ya first warning, don’t let me come back and see you here.
WOMAN: Cover your hair o, you know this is village and these are illiterates, they won’t understand you.
ADDY: Madam, se me see wahala o, if I say I don’t want to cover my hair, is that now a reason to be rude like that and shouting any how. He would rather interrupt the service just to prove power than to let me listen to the word of God.
CUSTODIAN: (Walks past) Hmh…hmh…second warning
MY SISTER: (Irritated by the man) you know what we really don’t have to be here. Let’s just leave and avoid any nonsense because as I see this man he is ready to stop this service.
RANDOM MAN: Nne we know your hair is fine but you can just take handkerchief and cover it, the is village, they are not exposed and the man is ready to embrazz you here.
Seeing that this was a battle I could not win, we got up and stormed into our car and I drove off. Not before some foolish boys yelled out in Igbo, ‘See what they are wearing, since when did people start coming to church naked?” Wow…naked is not quite the adjective I would use to describe our outfit.
We then went to my dad’s maternal home, Umuduruehie, which was just down the road from church. It is one of the few places we can eat freely and not worry about and juju-like stuff. I went to see my favorite old man, De Chukere. He is my dad’s uncle and the oldest man in the village now. He is really really old, so old that he has lost even his sense of feeling. In the past, he could hold your hand or hear your voice and know who you are. Seeing him like this broke my heart because he is dear to us and I can’t imagine going to Umuduruehie and not seeing De Chukere. Not normal, but we are all preparing ourselves because any moment the news could come. What I can say is that the man lived a wonderful life and we all pray to be as old as he is. Anyways, I took his hand and took a picture with him because I may not get that opportunity again.
Later that evening we had the annual Ekwe Day at the primary school field. BORING. That stuff used to be fun back in the day. I guess I have gotten too old to enjoy its.
Somewhere in between, our tire lost air and we had to go and find a vulcanizer. We drove through the bumpy road for 20 minutes to the only vulcanizer in the village. The negro charged us $500 (almost $5) to put air in our tire. It was either that or try with a bicycle pump. After that, our tire wheel started smoking; we’d probably burn the clutch from driving on only gear 1 and 2. Meanwhile we were operating on 1-0-1 (Breakfast-No lunch because our mother was not home to cook- very late dinner)
The next morning we decided to go o my mom’s village in Owerri. We took our Christmas guests along. My late cousin’s German wife Gerda (Nwaanyi Onye ocha aka Oyibo), and their seven year old daughter Adanna. This holiday was my first time meeting them. Naturally we have to take them where ever we go, like hand bags and accessories, and you can imagine the attention it was bringing, especially since they had an African outfit for every church service. Anyways, we got to Owerri and considering the fact that I truly feel that the next time I come to the east would be for someone’s wine-carrying, we decided this would be an express visitation. First stop Umuorie-Naze to see Aunty KZ. We did her the honors first because she is always upset that whenever we come we never make it to her house, or that we come to se her last and rush out. Unfortunately she was not at home. Next stop Umuakali-Naze, my mom’s home to see her brother ‘Uncle Daddy’. Why everyone calls him that, I just don’t know. He served us some African Salad (oil-bean salad) with pumo and shaki which Gerda examined extra well and asked questions like an invigilator before she and Adanna ate it. She cleaned the bowl and said in her broken English, “zis vehry gud gud but iz vehry pepper an’ zee meat hard.” We found some dusty and worn out books from the 50’s and 60’s in a glassless cabinet. One book stood out, ‘Do’s and Don’ts: Mistakes ’. This is a book from the colonial era. We shall learn more from that in subsequent blog entries. After a while we found some cute chicks (as in baby chickens not fine girls) roaming around in the back yard. I tried to catch one to play with but it kept evading me, Adanna joined in, and then went to call her mother who was carrying her camera around and taking pictures. I went and got some garri from the kitchen and that’s when they all came to me. But the mother hen started clucking really loudly and tried to fly out of the pen so we retreated.
From Naze we went to Isi-uzo Egbu to see Mama Felicia, my mother’s eldest sister. She was surprised to see us, but then all the neighbors came to see the ‘Ndi-ocha’ that we came with. It was so embarrassing the way they were just coming in and just starring. We didn’t stay long not just because of the growing crowd but also because we were hungry and Mama had not finished cooking. We were hoping to get to Ofe-Uzo Egbu to Aunty Celina’s to meet dinner. Bad move, especially after my mom refused to call to tell them we were coming. You can guess what happened. But on a good note, we met the birth of a new cousin, who my Uncle, her grandpa, has decided to call… you guessed it…ADAURE. I wasn’t too pleased to hear that but I decided not to express that displeasure. Apparently he had been thinking of what name to give the baby when I walked in and pleasantly surprised him. Aunty Celina had no food in the house so we had to rely on good ol’ Indomie noodles. On our way home, we got stuck in some wicked traffic for two hours. No AC because there was fuel scarcity, and you know how that goes. We didn’t get home till 10 pm.
STAY TUNED TO READ ABOUT MY VIP TREATMENT