TURNING PILGRIMAGES INTO BUSINESSES.
During a recent trip to Abuja, Nigeria, one of my friends was having a jolly good time in a beer parlor enjoying Isi-ewu (spiced goat head) with fresh palm wine from Udi, Enugu State with his fiancée. The two gentlemen seated at the adjacent table, engrossed in a lively conversation, caught his attention.
They were elegantly dressed and from their diction and intonation, my friend could discern that they are educated and cosmopolitan.
“Bia nwokem” (come my man).
“Are you hearing what I am hearing?”
“The APC Government is selling dollars to pilgrims going to Mecca at 200 Naira to one dollar whilst the market rate is 400 Naira to one dollar. When did a private religious event become a National affair? Are we in a Muslim country? With each Muslim and his four wives, that is a substantial drain on our foreign reserves especially in the current recession.”
“Anaka, in Nigeria there is no distinction between private and public affairs. When you elect a private person into office, that individual converts all public property to his/her personal property, impoverishing the masses and stalling development.
Peter, one of my relatives, a born again Christian converted to Islam. On questioning, he responded that he needs his share of the National Cake. He has not missed a single pilgrimage to Mecca since his conversion. Actually he goes twice a year to the small and big hajj. He stops in Dubai to load up on supplies for his shop.”
“Is it true that you have started a new religion?” Anaka inquires of Okiki.
“Anaka, Yesooo, since this government is sponsoring pilgrimages, I must claim my own share of the National Cake without converting to Islam.
While watching TV one day, there was a program on Santeria Religion in Cuba. I found it fascinating. It is similar to our traditional religion. The slaves invented it to confuse their white masters while they practiced their traditional faith right under their noses. I contacted the Cuban Embassy and subsequently established a working relationship with the Chief Priest, Juan Dominguez in Havana, Cuba. He came here on an all-expense paid trip to help establish our branch. Today we count 550 members. Our shrine is at 1 Odudukazi Street, Gwarimpa, opposite Church of Riches and Blessings, International. We are sending ten people to Havana next week through New York, USA on a pilgrimage to Cuba.”
“I would rather have enemies than friends such as you. Okiki, you claim to be my friend but did not inform of this opportunity to make money.”
“As a born again Christian, I did not want to bother you with a pagan religion.” I did not want you and your pastors to send Holy Ghost Fire after me.”
“Holy Ghost Fire, do you know who I saw at the Babalawo (voodoo priest), the other day? It was our bishop. He inquired what I was doing at a Babalawo’s? I replied that I was there for the same reason he was there. We both kept the peace and went about our businesses. As the saying goes, do not put all your religion in one denomination as no one knows from where salvation shall emanate.”
“Anaka, my friend, you are invited to our next incantation service on Saturday.”
My friend is currently working on bringing a religion to Nigeria.
Africastallestman believes that the business of pilgrimages has just begun in Nigeria.