BY ADEKANBI ADEDOTUN

“Mom, it’s just a headache, I will be fine”, I said.

But she wasn’t having any of that.

“Go and buy Panadol Extra; you will not die by malaria in Jesus name”, she said.

Did she have to end her statement with that phrase? I thought to myself as I sauntered out of the house.

Religion, once again, is the basis for everything.

Raised in a bilingual family of Yoruba and English language speaking parents deeply rooted in the orthodoxical teachings of the Anglican missionaries, I was made to believe that the existence of the human race depends on the decisions of the sovereign creator of the universe.

An early bloomer, I always looked forward to visiting church on Sundays; to watch with fascination as the adults take their kneeling stance during communion, scream to the heavens during prayer-time and my favourite; goofing around with my friends in the church premises.

For a young child, my excitement took the greater part of me, or maybe not.

I would later wonder endlessly; how did the church actually come to be? Why was there a need for religion? Why are African countries filled with religious bigots and what is the basis for the deep reliance of Africans on religion?

Is it a function of poverty?

All these questions didn’t cross my mind till the latter stages of my teenage years.

I felt brainwashed by the idea of extreme religious practices of my childhood and wondered why I was made to go through those years, joining the crowd on a fanatical journey.

Sadly, or maybe not, our generation is not deeply rooted in the religious practices of our parents. We were born into an era of socialisation, the “computer age”.

We have grown more inquisitive about religion and why we are supposed to be deeply rooted in it.

A school of thought believes that the older generation is more involved in religious practices than our generation because they were born into the era of foreign missionaries but is this the basis for their deep convictions regarding religion?

Last week Sunday, I was in an outdoor bar with a group of friends – guzzling bottles of Heineken and trading tales of the week – when suddenly, a woman walked towards us and blurted “May God forgive you all”.

Startled? We were.

I rose to leave but I was urged by my friend to stay put.

She moved a little bit closer and shouted out at the top of her voice, “You children are supposed to be in church but you’re all here drinking beer”.

We couldn’t hold it in any longer, her attack sent us into a hysteric state of laughter – not out of disrespect, but out of sheer bemusement and the hilarity of the situation.

To us, she was just another religious fanatic. To her, our presence in a bar when we should be in church made us “bad children”. The unique circumstances of our collective gathering didn’t matter, whom we were was irrelevant.

Who was she to judge us?

You could go to church all the days of the week without a good intention and you could as well stay at home, even on Sundays and be highly favored in sight of the Supreme Being.

But in today’s society, there is hardly any statement made by an average individual without a religious addendum to it.

You are at the ATM and the machine stops working, the next thing you hear behind you is “The devil is a liar”. You’re on the bus and the driver swerves to dodge a pothole, someone would most certainly scream “Jesus Christ”.

Religion is in everything.

Nigerians take a daily dose of religion – prescribed by our thinking. Religion dictates the lives and norms of an average citizen in our society.

The encounter with that woman struck me. It really struck a nerve.

It got me wondering: Is the Sunday morning ritual now a determinant of who belongs in the book of life and a prerequisite of righteousness?



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