Saturday, November 25, 2006

FOP's birthday, 2004

It was the Managing Director of Phillips Consulting, Foluso Phillips’ 50th birthday. Everyone called him FOP, in line with a general house rule that the higher you were in the food chain, the more entitled you were to having your name initialised. He always wore a bow-tie to work, as part of a consistently dapper look. In appearance, he was a cross between Duke Ellington and Denzel Washington’s uncle, with something crisply Hollywood about him. Every time I looked at his face I drew an imaginary pencil moustache on it, while Paul Robeson warbled in the background. Alas, we were a long way from Beverly Hills inside the UBA building on Lagos Marina.

We were ushered into his plush over-sized office for the birthday celebration. First of all, Babs, the Financial Controller, gave the eulogy, peppered with the obligatory references to God and Jesus. Then it was FOP’s turn to thank everyone for their contributions and best wishes. After a few minutes of this, FOP invited Pastor ___, another employee, to lead the prayer. Pastor ____ quickly began a prayer which had a call and response structure, with people calling out ‘Amen’ (or rather, ‘Amin’) every now and again, while the pastor drew in breath. After a few minutes of blessing proposals, anointing invoices and thanking Jesus for our clients, he signalled it was time for individual prayer. All thirty or so employees in the room (except me) closed their eyes and started speaking in tongues, their faces bunched up in a furious passion. Some waved arms in the air, others fought with invisible enemies in an imaginary boxing ring. The sound was like putting your ear next to a bee-hive, quickly spun words buzzing through the air, confused, frantic human sounds layering on top of each other. I didn’t know what to do, or where to look. So I stared out of the window at the ships docking at Apapa, while sinking slowly into the carpet.

After a few minutes of conversing with our God, we all had to line up and hug FOP. I have not cringed so much since I was a small child, being kissed by the pursed and rubied lips of some vast smothering Aunty. Thankfully, my turn was quickly over with. I couldn’t help thinking of the Indian mystic whose religious offering is instant enlightenment with one heavenly clasp. Except that enlightenment did not come my way. I was soon to make my exit from the extended Pentecostal family that is Phillips Consulting.


Anthony Arojojoye 7:05 am  

U r a devil u know?
Others are 'fighting imaginary enemies' and you refused to close your eyes.


Anonymous,  8:01 am  

So it is not only to politicinas that the honest man\woman trying to earn a living is expected to genuflect(is that the right word)? What is wrong with a birthday cake and a card without having to get "spirits" involved. And then kissing everybody? You yourself, you have tried in this our Naija oh. You have seen some things as we like to say.

Anonymous,  2:24 pm  

Har we have unbeles among us, cast them out, CAST THEM OUT!!!!!!!!!

It's one of the things I find very disturbing about Nigeria, Religion, and I use that word very loosely, as a poor Muslim I try and live my life by the simple maxim of doing unto others, while all around I see the "men of God" wallowing in mammon.

Necessary disclosure: Most of my friends are Christians, even my better Half is.

I keep seeing IMO false prophets leveraging religion to expand their worldly wealth and their congregations justifying it, then when they get caught out it’s always the Devils fault, “the Devil Pushed me” then it’s back to the feeding trough, quite honestly I sometimes wonder if I want to go to heaven if it’s going to be populated by the “godly” people I see on earth………. Now look what you’ve made me say “Blasphemy”, see you in hell, but seriously I sometimes wonder if they missed out the passage about Heaven, the camel and eye of a needle (Matthew 19:24, love Wikipedia) when reading their bibles.


St Antonym 8:59 pm  

"All thirty or so employees in the room (except me) closed their eyes..."

Let me say this: I'm very concerned about the state of your soul.

That is all.

MsMak,  2:25 pm  

Na wa o! So i take it that if you are not a holy spirit-baptized christian you won't be part of the inner circle of 30 or so employees allowed to partake in celebrating Oga's birthday with him? (Unless of course you are oyinbo-buddhist oga Jeremy, who is automatically assumed to be christian because he is oyinbo maybe?) LOL.

The situation is past worrisome in Naija now. I am a christian and even i am worried. Notice how all this religious fervor has done nothing to reduce incidents marital infidelity, sexual harrasment and abuse, corruption, violence, theivery, etc in our society...

Like Tunde said, it is being used to explain away and justify every and anything. When will our people own up to their responsibilities and stop hiding behind the bible or koran?

Anonymous,  6:02 am  

Ehm... you know you could have respectfully declined to participate.

Anonymous,  6:20 am  

Let me say this: I'm very concerned about the state of your soul.

Phones ringing with the sound of one hand clapping. ... It's not Jeremy's soul I'm worried about.

iheoma obibi 8:00 pm  

I have never laughed soooo loud. You know why, I have a short story (if it's still there) on the farafina website called Pastor Saul Bottomsup. I just read an almost identical scene from my short story. You see, I am always amazed at how well meaning and normally intelligent people become confused when in the presense of a man claiming to be a man of god. You could be anybody. I mean anybody. Irony is like the others have said, it has not stopped corruption, infidelity (even with church members) etc, the list is tooo long.

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