Sham

A few years ago, my boyfriend (at the time) and a mutual friend of ours decided to attend “Praise night”. Praise Night in my university, was just the name given to a night specially dedicated to singing, dancing and praying to God. Back in the day, everyone in school looked forward to Praise Night; Christians and Muslims alike would attend; some persons for a lack of what to do, some to feel the rush after a night of dancing in the open air, others, for the sake of friends and of course, some people just wanted to praise God.

In between one of the singing and dancing sessions one of the artistes asked “How many of us love God”? and almost immediately, hands shot up in the air.

For a split second, I thought of all the times I had left school and lied to my guardians about my whereabouts, of all the exams i hadn’t studied for and yet aced because money got into the right lecturers’ hands, of all the times I had said horrible things about people and yet squealed with excitement and hugged them when I saw them next. I thought of how tonight, even after all this, I would almost surely end up at my boyfriend’s place, doing things married people wouldn’t dare to. In that second, a wave of guilt so strong almost swept me off my feet; but I turned around and everyone’s hand was up. John had his hand up, so did Temi, Wura and Linda; my boyfriend had his hand up, and he never even remembered to pray. I wondered how  a person like me could be on sacred ground. And then I realised that I live in a country where “turpitude” and “integrity” coexist in one person; a place where people have found a way to reconcile corruption, greed and lust with church-going, vigils and praise nights. I was in a place where your lips have to say ” I love God”, even if your actions indicate otherwise. And with that realisation, I was brought back to reality.

If I had to be a hypocrite then I would play the part well. “How many of us love God” she asked? I stood to my feet and waved both arms in the air. “Alleluia” I screamed.

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