Did I even mention to you guys that I was once a banker? Ages ago.
If I attempt to take all my gist from that side, the stories will never end. I learnt something vital; whenever someone walked into my branch to cash a third party cheque with no ID and the prefix Pastor or Imam was written on that cheque, regardless of the amount, one of my bosses would not honour the cheque.
I had seen him honour cheques for a lot of beneficiaries without proof of identification but once it was Pastor or Imam so and so, he would reject it.
With time and experience I learnt that when people want you to lower your guard, they sometimes come under the guise of religion. We being Nigerians who love our religion almost as much as we love dodo (except me, the dodo bit…) like to respect men of God. I learnt then to follow due diligence especially with church or mosque related transactions.
I was recently reminded of how much of a cover religion is.
There is this tailor’s shop close to my house with mannequins on which they display clothes they have made. Really beautiful well-tailored clothes. My nanny was looking for a place to learn the trade so I decided to stop by and speak to the owner. She was a lovely lady. She was light skinned with particularly pretty eyes.
She smiled a lot and called me ‘dear’ and was generally agreeable. She had no makeup, shaven head, no earrings and had a particular church calendar on display. My nanny eventually learnt how to sew from her.
We were having a big program and I was the MC (Bose of all trades, na me). I wanted something special and decided to sew something. I had this beautiful lace I had kept in my box for at least 7 years. I saw this lady (remember all the beautiful clothes they display) gave her the lace, it was short notice but she promised it would be ready and I was to pay ‘emergency’ price.
Fast forward, a day to the program I go to get it. She is busy on a table and one of her girls was with pieces of the material on a machine.
“Madam, wetin happen? I am supposed to use it tomorrow.”
She barely turns and asks me to come back later.
“It is 5 oclock, when is later?”
“Is it because I collected ya cloth? Under short notice sef. I am almost through, you will have to exercise patience.”
The rage that rose within almost made me explode. She was not doing me a favour. She had charged me for the express service.
I started to exchange words with her but caught myself. Her ‘girls’ begged me not to be angry but she did not even so much as give me a glance. She said she would bring it to my house. She did and when I tried it on, it was horrible! One side was shorter than the other. It was so badly tailored that even my nanny was shocked.
Meanwhile, madam tailor started calling me incessantly for her money.
I simply took the clothes back and pointed out all the ‘ish’ and as I am writing this, she never called back, this happened in April.
I will tell you what I find interesting. You know the mannequins with the well-tailored clothes? Well, when she is closing, she removes the clothes to keep them in but she NEVER leaves the mannequins naked. Each mannequin is modestly covered with a piece of cloth. There is care not to reveal even their thighs and their arms. A stupid show of modesty.
“Yay! We are Christians that will protect people from seeing harmful plastic breasts and hairless also plastic non vaginas. But if you interact with us, we will show you that though we do not wear earrings and we shave our heads deep down inside we are shitty rude scammers.”
It is no wonder that with the proliferation of churches and mosques, Nigeria is still crime ridden.
Our religion does not reach our hearts. We use it to drape cloths around useless plastic mannequins. Our religion makes for fantastic window dressing and fighting gay people while lying on beds we just finished fornicating on.
It is just like thoroughly washing the outside of a cup and leaving the mouldy smelling contents inside.
It is like kneeling down to greet the aunty whose food you just spat on.
It is like that bus preacher in Apapa that preached a fire and brimstone message but had condoms in his pocket.
It is like the MD that starts each day in the office with tongue speaking prayers and devotion but is a chief looter and has a girlfriend in every state.
Or the Imam sermonizing while his penis is a thorough well-known heathen.
Or the pastor that will collect an offering from a woman that he knows cannot afford to eat.
I am not cynical and I have met wonderful people that walk the talk. The problem is that they are few and far spaced in between.
Religion without an ounce of accountability, compassion or spirituality…
Announcing religiosity with hijabs that cover explosives or presenting piety with the absence of ‘material trappings’ but one single interaction and watch it fall down like a pack of cards.
I remember one semester in the university, a newbie was stranded and needed accommodation. Some holy sisters offered her a space on one condition, she had to join their fellowship. The thing is, this girl was a catholic. They were trying to use her need for a roof over her head to force a conversion to their denomination. Well, some girls that were a mix and mash of different religious beliefs opened their already crowded room to this girl without conditions.
The proof of the pudding is in the eating. Don’t preach to me or give me a tract or stare at my tight clothing and stiletto shoes in condemnation. Show me compassion, congeniality, fairness and turn the other cheek and then you will not even need to recite a Bible or Quran verse. That alone is all I need to know who you are.