Once upon a time, many Easters ago, I was an innocent child without any knowledge of the grave importance religion held in the society. To me, the best part of every Sunday, was the mornings on the way to church. It was then, that I got to sit in the front sit of my father’s battered (but oh! so loved) Peugeot 504 and made very important decisions like which newspaper we should read for the day. There were always so many papers to choose from and sometimes we got them all, because we could never decide. We also bought petrol, “lucky bread” and if I had been really good, I got to buy “butter mints” and “tomtom” for my brothers and sisters. The rest part of the day, “the church part” was basically an intrusion in my very tight schedule of Sunday activities. There was always so much to do; there was “ten-ten”, “suwe”, “police and thief” “plucking ebelebor” and other very important games with the neighborhood children. I enjoyed my observation post in church since all I ever had to do was sit quietly, make up stories in my head and wait until the service was over.
All this was about to change one Sunday when Thomas visited our home. You see, Thomas was “one of Daddy’s people”. This simply meant he was one of those people that could call at any time of the day. He could eat breakfast, lunch and dinner and still call the next day. He needed no excuse to visit, because he was from the same village as my father. Thus, he was “one of Daddy’s people”. I peeped from my hideout behind my father’s chair as Thomas informed my father that he thought it was time I and my brother started attending catechism classes to prepare us for “holy communion”. What! How dare he intrude on my care-free church participation? I was perfectly happy just sitting. I had seen the lines of sober people standing for communion, and watched their lips moving as they confessed and prayed for contrition. They always seemed to be in pain and I did not want to be part of whatever pain they all seemed to be going through. I ran with this terrible information to my brother whose own afternoons were spent playing football. His new fixation then was the Brazilian mid-fielder “Zico” and even wore a Brazilian jersey with the number “10” printed on the back. The news however meant nothing to him, as he bounced his ball up and down. In fact, he seemed to be happy about the recent development. I realized later on, that the football field was right next to the proposed venue of the catechism classes, and my brother spent many happy hours on the field instead of in a stuffed classroom.
That summer, the world of religion was opened to me and left me asking more questions than I thought were possible. Some were answered and some were not. Some, I am still asking after so many years. You could say, that care-free innocent view of the world was lost….forever….and I blame Thomas.
As we all celebrate at this time of the year, Christians and Muslims, I pray that we all find in our hearts, those times of innocence when we were able to see beyond the confines of our churches or mosques. May it be a time for compassion and love to our fellow brothers and sisters but most of all, please Lord, do something about this country. Amen.
P.S: Those of you serving starch and banga soup, please feel free to invite me at firstname.lastname@example.org