A TRANSITION OF A THOUSAND NOTES…..

Free Jazz Music: Click here to listen and/or download a very beautiful Jazz track by the author of this article, Iye Echa, a great Jazz musician. It is Iye’s and Afreecan Read’s International Jazz Day gift to our readers and visitors. 

Pick Up: Jazz Appreciation Day

In November 2011, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) officially designated April 30 as an International Jazz Day in order to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people in all corners of the globe. Therefore, 30 April is ‘officially’ jazz appreciation day, as if ‘those in the know’ neglect jazz. However, what about those who know nothing about the art form? I think this day has the mandate of reaching out to this group. This day has a specific purpose: International Jazz Day brings together communities, schools, artists, historians, academics, and jazz enthusiasts all over the world to celebrate and learn about jazz and its roots, future and impact; raise awareness of the need for intercultural dialogue and mutual understanding; and reinforce international cooperation and communication. Therefore, jazz day is all about creating awareness of the art form.

A Scratch, not a Groove

Jazz or African American Classical music or improvised or instrumental music or any name you like to call the art form is more than a century old. In this short piece, I will reflect on what the art form has meant to the world. This reflection only scratches the surface of this rich musical genre (I encourage the reader to further explore some of the subject matter highlighted in this piece).

Riff: America’s Greatest Invention              

Some call jazz ‘America’s greatest invention’. There are several reasons presumably why this music is so called.  First, ‘jazz’ is a conflation of many cultures and musical elements. The art form could have started in faraway Africa; specifically its syncopated rhythm. The slaves carried their rhythms with them during their voyage to the Americas. In the United States of America, the slaves experimented with different harmonic and textural forms from varying sources (blues from Africa and folk music from elsewhere and European harmony). Second, the art form has spread to every nook and cranny of the globe. In every continent of the world, there is a ‘jazz’ musician. The music’s spread I credit to the ingenuity of musicians like King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Charlie Parker, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Sonny Rollins and many other musicians who have dedicated their lives to the pursuit of excellence in the art through music. Jazz will forever be indebted to these great people. Third, it is a democratic art form. What do I mean by this? Picture the very simplistic definition of democracy as government of the people, by the people and for the people.  Now, if I replace the government with ‘jazz’ I could also claim that the art form is of the people. It is made by the people and for the people because the art form allows for the appropriation of folk elements from any culture that embraces it. It is no wonder that some people call the art form the most democratic institution to ever exist.

Interlude: Music in Transit

Jazz is music in transit. What I mean by this is that jazz has never stayed the same since it came on-board. From ragtime, blues, swing, bebop, cool, hard bop, free and the very many mutations and variations of jazz, the music has constantly evolved and never stagnant. Because jazz is ever changing and evolving, some people get confused nowadays about so many kinds of music that people brand as jazz. Some people use the word loosely to refer to any musical form with a saxophone (the quintessential jazz instrument) or that allows for improvisation.

A musician who plays ‘jazz music’ draws not only from the ‘jazz ‘tradition’ but also from folk elements in their regions or cultures. In Africa, there are many forms of jazz, usually grouped as Afro jazz. Many African folk elements have been fused with jazz elements (Ethiopian jazz, marabi, South African jazz, Highlife jazz and many more). For instance, as a musician who plays improvised music, I draw inspiration from rural Africa when I write music. The song titled Deceit is a reflection of how elements of jazz music can be fused with local elements. For example, the 4/4 jazz rhythm has been replaced with the 6/8 syncopated rhythm from the Southern part of Nigeria where I grew up in. The beauty of improvised music is that it allows for this kind of alteration and this in my view is the reason why jazz has endeared itself to many cultures and people all over the world.

Outro: A transition of thousand notes begins with Miles

In closing, “International Jazz Day is the culmination of Jazz Appreciation Month, which draws public attention to jazz and its extraordinary heritage throughout April.” Therefore, it might be appropriate to recommend a few recordings to those who, after reading this piece would like to go on the jazz adventure. I will like to recommend an ‘entry level’ jazz album by Miles Davis called Kind of Blue. After listening to this record, you can investigate who the musicians were that assisted Miles Davis create this masterpiece of an album. Search up the name of the drummer, the pianist, and the saxophonists (two of them) and of course read something about Miles Davis. Once you complete your investigation of this record, you would have started on the right path to discovering more jazz music and musicians.

I wish every jazz lover a happy jazz day.

Iye Echa MA, is a doctoral candidate (University of Amsterdam), a cultural analyst, musicologist & musician. Iye made a beautiful jazz piece for Afreecan Read called Decieit. To listen or download it, click here. it’s

“Mad” people in a mad country

Part 0ne: Gathering Firewood

State-of-On-‘n’-Off

In February 2015, Nigerian psychiatric expert Dr. Rahman who was then the Medical Director of the Federal Neuropsychiatric Hospital, Yaba, Lagos, stated that 12.5 per cent of Nigerians “have one form of mental disorder or another”. With Nigeria’s population reaching an estimated 170 million, Dr. Rahman’s estimation indicates 21.2 million people are affected by mental disorders. For an illustration of this number, 21.2 million nearly reaches the entire population of Cote d’Ivoire and is about twice the population of Belgium.

One out of every eight Nigerians is mentally disordered. How sure am I that I am not in the number? How sure are we that Mr. President or any other high ranking political office holder is not in that ‘state of on and off’. Going by the figure given by Rahman and if the saying that ‘as the people are, so is the country’ is truthful, then, I can safely conclude that Nigeria is a geographical entity that is considerably “mad”.

Living in a Foreign Country

One acada, after study plenti plenti, say ‘Madness is a foreign country’ (I think his name be Roy Porta). If Rahman’s figures are anything to go by, 21 million of Nigerians experience foreignness while still living in Naija!

I see them everywhere across the Nigerian federation. I have seen many of them waste away their lives in neglect, scorn, misery, in dilapidated environments and without the leisure and pleasures that make this life wonderful and worth living. I have a couple of them as family members. You might also know someone in this condition. In a nutshell, they are everywhere in my country – Nigeria – the giant of Africa. I am referring to the alarming number of people in Nigeria with mental disabilities and impairments.

Frankly speaking, sorrow grips me like tick glues to the body of a dirty dog, each time I stumble across the wake of their clan. I feel sorrowful for the crude and miserable ways of their life. It pains me greatly because no one seems to care a bit about their plight. The picture I have about these members of our society is an image of a human with the filthiest rags you can ever imagine as cloths. Barefooted, they traverse the length and breadth of our nation without giving a consideration to climatic conditions.

Commonly, they wear a “shaggy” as their hairstyle. The shaggy hosts an innumerable population of lice. You hardly can take a dose of oxygen when you enter their proximity, jocularly; the odour oozing out from them is capable of disrupting the proper workings of your cerebrum, cerebellum and medulla oblongata all together at once.

When they are bored, they find their way to the various dunghills and garbage dumps of the big cities and towns for them to be entertained by rats, lizards, ants, fleas and cockroaches. At dusk, when the shining sun, fatigued by the day’s task had retreated to where it came, they follow suit by retreating to their filthy abodes where dirt is the cosy mattress and stones from Olumo and Zuma rocks as pillows.

They sleep and dream of something I know not, and have conferences while sleeping, perhaps with inhabitants of the elusive world. At the crowing of the cock, they arise again as in the previous day and forge on with life, at times they are accompanied by idle and playful children who delight themselves by singing, dancing and playing on the mental vulnerability of their victims to the maximum.

How they survive in the absence of shelter, inadequate food and water, hygiene and health care is a mystery to me (to you as well I suppose?). I wonder if they are immune to diseases. Each time I think of them, I cannot help but to ask again and again; do we as humans really care about them?

Scattered Firewood

This is the view that comes to my mind when Dr .Rahman discussed the incidence of Nigerians with mental disorders. However, admittedly, my perception of ‘mad’ people does not entirely encompass those with ‘mental disorders’.

In his interview, Dr. Rahman never explained to us what he meant by mental disorders. Since the expert stated that 12.5% of Nigerians are suffering from ‘one form of mental disorder or another’, without listing any, I will presume that he is making reference to the over two hundred forms of mental disorders. These mental disorders include; autism, schizophrenia, pica, phobic disorder, Parkinson’s disease, etc. It is pertinent to note that there are a good number of people who look normal and we all perceive them as being of good mental health, which in reality they are not.

That said, my main concern are those in Nigeria commonly referred to as “mad”, or “crazepesin” in Nigerian pidgin English, or “mahaukaci mutane” in Hausa, or “ara ndi” in Igbo, and “asiwere eniyan” in Yoruba. To me, we use the term “mad” in Nigeria for those exemplars of people unfortunately plagued by mental disorders. Those facing mental disorders in manifestations clearly demarking their existence as separate from what is the normal manner of social relations. These people we know and refer to as “mad” are just a portion of those plagued by mental illnesses.

From my own (non-academically informed) perspective, I am not entirely surprised by the number of “mad” people in Nigeria. Reflecting upon the great wealth of this country and how a large population of this country live on less than a $1USD per day is enough to make you mad. How can you remain sane when you’re starving for food, when the gutter is where you find water, when the roads have deteriorated into death-traps, when you light a candle in place of electricity, when first aid units replace hospitals, when playgrounds are schools – all while corruption stifles good governance and injustice becomes the lubricant for rampant inequality in Africa’s largest economy? In this context, it’s a surprise anyone is sane at all.

As youths and students, we go gaga when we study very hard – some among us abusing stimulants and other drugs in this pursuit – only for some lecturers to score us down for the most unacceptable reasons unbecoming of a professional.

Or we can go crazy when our thoughts are rather not on academics at all, but on an explosive going off in our vicinity at any given time and when the images of dismembered bodies are what cloud our minds. These are more than capable of distorting the proper functioning of the brain.

Life in this country is a feat in itself, sane life here a miracle! Living in Nigeria is ‘survival of the fittest’. The fittest in this regard is not just the physically strong, but the ones with enviable mental strength. In the words of Ghanaian poet Kofi Awoonor, ‘the firewood of this world is for only those who can take heart, that is why not all can gather it”.

Suffice it to say, the state of Nigeria is more than enough to drive you crazy.

Elisha Gwanzwang Godswill is a Nigerian obsessed with knowledge and has a wide variety of academic interests. He hopes to research Conflicts, especially as it relates to Africa

 

A Collection of Mantras

Last night was cold

It wasn’t me who sat sold

Go back to that seat

It was miffed who sat heat

I want to vanish

Melt so unrecognized

I am already brittle

What could be more visible?

 

Go back to that seat

Lust hastened your feet

Across the ice-coated lawn

You came to be gratified!

Yes! The preacher says it

The mind knower tells it

Everyone quotes it

Still I can’t hold it

 

Feels like sandy soil tossed up

Returns as wet clay soil

On my head and feet

Stained and unable to wash up

It is my life; my decision

It is your courage; your approval

You drown my children

And tell me not to pooper your party

 

Open the prison gates

I fancy a guided spurt

Do not tell me I am a woman

I want to dance at my children’s funeral

My newest clothes will be on me

My panties and my bra all new

Gonna ghastly hide my nakedness

It is a day of Joy!

 

With those fingers again

Point them at me for gain

Let the ancestors be alert

But tell them you took my womb

And geered at up for being barren

In human flesh Sytx is my name

Rehearsing how to die

Dying is a skill!

 

Next Sunday in Church

Sitting in this divine laboratory

The men apportioned the right side

The women told to sit on the left

The bells shall ring

Can we sell the priest’s regalia?

I will be able to pay for my funeral

First skill in dying.

 

The preacher mounts his pulpit

I know the sermon already

Today’s service is for the righteous

“Two blind men cannot lead each other”

But you are wrong pastor!

Two blind can lead each other into a pit

Now, it makes sense to me.

Keep giggling in your omniscience

 

Two blind people leading each other

The concept of humanity and love

The heartbeat of compassion

Blindness trusts; it sees straight

Two blind people leading each other

No damn judgment will be cultivated

Each one knows they are both weak

Preacher let us go; it is lunchtime!

 

While mounting the hill in daylight

Your eyes you deafened

And your hands you gelded

I crawled on in futility

Like an ant failing to master spherical

Now it is dark! And you are a nyctophile

Bravo! On your change of status

All for my descent so you can descend!

 

Last night was cold

But your looks are now even colder

The sinner canonized and incensed

The saint is interrogated

I call blindness on myself for peace

Deafness for firmness

My lips jogs in this collective enchantment

I needed more than just a mantra!

The Author Larry Onokpite is from Delta State, Nigeria. He considers reading and writing as great forms of spirituality

I lied, Yes You lied

To be a homosexual is honourable, a gift from God. It is who I am. God makes no mistakes. Knowing the truth as a gay christian  is liberating and gives me the most joy of my freedom.

But I lied, yes you lied…

I have paid the price for lying to be heterosexual. Pretending to be who you are will only harm you. EVERYONE was hurt, my father, mother, wife, son, my siblings, in-laws, friends and relatives etc.

But I lied, yes you lied.

I was FORCED to lie. I justified these lies with religion, culture, tradition and law.

But I lied, yes you lied.

To myself for all of my adolescence, I lied (yes you lied) to my family and friends. Because I didn’t know any better.

At the time it didn’t seem to matter

To my ex-wife because I was afraid of telling the truth.

I made those marriage vows in 1991, in the days of my youth.

But I lied, yes you lied.

In my prayers asking God to cure me of homosexuality instead of helping me to come to terms.

My religious belief and dogma nearly killed me. I wrongly married a woman and badly hurt everyone.

But I lied, yes you lied.

In my ministry I lied, (yes you lied) because I was deeply ashamed of who I was, it took my seven years to reconcile and give up the self stigma, denial and discrimination.

I suffered emotional and psychological breakdown and through it all I survived.

But I lied, yes you lied.

But I lied, yes you lied.

But I lied, yes you lied.

Through it all the healing begins. I declare that I am a Happy Holy Homosexual.

My holiness is connected to all things sexual.

I love the Lord God with all of my heart and soul.

Giving praise from my head to my feet and sole.

I rejoice in knowing who I am and whose I am.

No more lies, no insults, pain or harm

I am an example of God’s Pulchritude

At best I come with amazing attitude.

Though I lied, (yes you lied) the truth finally sets me free.

I have become the beacon of hope

Helping many others to cope

Thankful to God the Father, son and Holy Spirit, the magnificent three.

Jide Rebirth Macaulay is an LGBT rights activist. He’s the founder and CEO of House of Rainbow , London. He left Nigeria in the cause of his fight against homophobia and for the dignity of LGBT people. Jide Macauley now lives in London and has a British citizenship

 

Night

Sleep tight

Good night

Dream right

Until twilight

With His might

In His sight

Heavenly knight

Without a fright

No plight

Zero fight

Am alright

Protective moonlight

Wake up Bright

Dedicated to “OneLove”

Jide Rebirth Macaulay is an LGBT rights activist. He’s the founder and CEO of House of Rainbow , London. He left Nigeria in the cause of his fight against homophobia and for the dignity of LGBT people. Jide Macauley now lives in London and has a British citizenship

Killing Mosquito with a Cannon: Lagos Ban on Live Bands

Overture: Ssh in the City        

The Lagos State Government has proscribed performances by live bands in pubs, joints and restaurants in the state, in what could be regarded as a renewed crusade against noise pollution in the state. The General Manager of the Lagos State Environmental Protection Agency, Adebola Shabi, pointed out that this decision was necessitated by the increasing rate of complaints by residents. This is not its first time of cracking down on bodies for not complying with the extant laws on noise pollution in Lagos state. In June 2016, 70 churches, 20 mosques and 11 hotels, beer parlours and clubs were shut down for contravening the law.

Interlude: State Form Fool

Lagos, the former capital of Nigeria, prides itself as the country’s ‘Centre of Excellence’. In recent years, the state government has been relentless in uplifting the face of its territory to keep up with its ‘excellence’ tag and to meet the standard of other great cities and regions of the world. The government’s effort to transform Lagos into a mega city has been felt in transportation, housing, commerce, security and the infrastructures being put in place to make their lofty ambition a reality. One aspect of the ‘Lagos life’ that is yet to bear the mark of the transformative agenda of the state is the noise pollution that its inhabitants are grappling with.

Though a state bursting with excellence as its slogan constantly reminds people, the state has underwhelmed in its efforts to tame the beast that is noise pollution. Lagos is by far the noisiest city and state in the entire Nigerian federation and probably one of the noisiest places to live in Africa and in the world. Automobiles are disturbing by the sounds produced by their nagging engines and the hooting of horns by impatient commuters. Music record and movie hawkers go about with huge speakers booming out loud music and commercials in their attempts to attract prospective customers. The irresponsible and uncalled-for use of sirens by our political leaders and security personnel contributes to the noise. Loud noises blaring from churches and mosques are some of the pollutants that Lagosians contend with. Sometimes the noise is produced from elaborate parties. It is at sunsets that beer parlours, pubs, joints, restaurants and club houses come to life with live bands performing to the delight of  people lusting after the entertainment pledged by the performers. A stranger to Lagos would most probably regard the scenario before him as a sort of riot or any other chaotic condition.

With the above near chaotic state picture of Lagos matched against its mega city ambition and the health danger that noise pollution poses, one cannot help but to justify the decision of the government. Be that as it may, it is just one way of looking at this issue. There is a side that the Lagos State Government should have looked at that was neglected. Perhaps if they had done so they would not have arrived at the decision they have taken.

Scherzo: No high notes, no high notes!

With Nigeria’s unemployment rate at an estimated 4.5 million, one would think that any masses-oriented government would seek to reduce the number and not to add to it. The action of the Ambode led Lagos State Government seems to have no qualms with adding to the number. He may not intend that but that is what his action is saying. Relaxation, hospitality and entertainment business is a long chain that includes the proprietors of the places, employees of the ventures, DJs, marketers, petty-traders, people in business relation with the enterprises and people who want to have some fun and take their minds off the problems of this country. Banning live bands will put off some people from work; affect economic activities and livelihoods of some people. This will add to the unemployed population of the country that if underemployed people are factored in, the figure will soar far above the estimated 4.5 million.

It is at these proscribed places that upcoming musical arts hone their skills. The renowned Highlife maestro Prince Nico Mbarga, whose ‘Sweet Mother’ is regarded as Africa’s anthem and a song that was voted as Africa’s favourite by BBC readers and listeners in 2004, started his career with a hotel band in the eastern part of Nigeria called The Melody Orchestra in 1970. His Rocafil Jazz reeled out their tunes from hotels around the country. We can go on and name several musical arts that started from the hotels, beer parlours and club houses. To most of this young people, music is what keeps them occupied, provides their daily bread and keep them at bay from crimes and the temptations to engage in them. We must heed to that ageless warning that says; na pesin whey no ghet work devil dey take do spanner for hin workshop.

Forget the complaints about disturbances from the live bands. This hospitality places and the good music they entertain us is the lifeline of Lagos. It is hard to conceive a Lagos without this side attractions or distractions; it depends on how you want to look at it. They are all over the state. They help Lagosians to unwind after a long working day or week. The ban on live bands is a severance of the people from what gives them joy and helps them relax from the stress of the hustle and bustle of Lagos life.

Intermission: All noise is equal, but some noise is more equal

In Nigeria, there has been a long standing mistrust between the government and the governed. It is no longer news that Nigerians regard those in power as irredeemably corrupt. They also regard all the regimes that have governed the country as only after the aggrandizement of their families and close pals. Any legislation that tends to put off the masses from their sources of livelihood is usually regarded as an attempt to damn them and make them over-reliant on the high class. If matters come to a head, be sure that those who feel undone may resort to arms to topple the regime and make themselves masters of their fate. The outcome of this action is usually devastating. The story of the Jacobins in France is an ample example.

Why did the government single out places of hospitality for their war against noise pollution and only sound out warning to places of worship? If we banish our religious sentiments for a while, we would admit that religious houses are a great source of noise pollution in Nigeria. In this latest move of the government, they only sounded out warning to them without allowing the law to apply on them on this issue. It is a blatant case of some animals being ‘more equal’. This selective approach to the execution of a law is not just the right way of clamping down on a perceived anomaly in the society. As a matter of fact, it is a negation of the doctrine of the Rule of Law that advocates every person to be regarded as equals before the law.

Noise is a large part of us in Nigeria. It surprises me that some are complaining of noise. I cannot help but to wonder about the quarters that the complaints are coming from amidst us the people of the street. Perhaps it is a cover-up by the government to achieve their usual selfish aims, unknowingly to us. It is hard to understand their selection of noise pollution by the environmental agency of the state when worse situations are in need of attention. With the apocalyptic threat posed by environmental degradation and pollution of the air by industrial fumes, one would think that this issue is at the forefront of the government’s war on pollution of all forms. But no, it is noise pollution – a lesser evil, so to say. It is not hard to comprehend why the government continues to pay little attention to that aspect. They own all the big factories in Lagos and they are behind the plundering of our natural environment.

Finale: It’s senseless to kill a  mosquito with a cannon!

One thick man, after too much thinking, said ‘no use cannon to kill a mosquito’ (I think it was Confucius that said it).  It suffices to say (with what been pointed out above) that the government’s approach at combating noise pollution in Lagos by proscribing live bands at hospitality places is the wrong move. It can be likened to attempting to kill a mosquito with a cannon or to crack a peanut with a sledge hammer – it does more harm without actually getting rid of the ill. On behalf of the poor people of the state, we would like to see the government reconsider their actions and reach a decision beneficial to all parties.

 

Elisha Gwanzwang Godswill is a Nigerian obsessed with knowledge and has a wide variety of academic interests. He hopes to research Conflicts, especially as it relates to Africa

 

Road to Emmaus

On this winding road
A shadow is close by me

On this lonesome road
A shadow trails after me

Extending from my heels
East to the Sun’s cradle

And now the sun is setting
Slowly into lurid clouds

Spread behind the ridge
That sends out darkness

A shadow is close by me
On this wandering road

Yet Darkness attracts me
As flames attract a moth

Oh my lord, draw nigh
On this road to Emmaus

The author, Bruce Zondiwe Mbano is a lecturer in the Department of Language and Communication Skills at Chancellor College. He has authored short-stories, plays and poems, some of which have been published in The Fate of Vultures (BBC prize-winning poetry), Heinneman and The Haunting Winds (published by Dzuka). His poem The Viphya won second prize in the 2000 Peer Gynt Literally Award.

To Serve a Vulnerable God

As a child growing up in Lagos, the advent of lent, the season when everything smelled of nothing, provoked something sour in me: the fear of sadness. A rust of recalcitrance, a reluctant and furious blink at the thought of Ijeoma’s head tightly wrapped in a silky multi-colored veil that ended in two flying drops behind her like banana peels, dragging me in firm grip of my wrist, to Stations of the Cross at St. Paul’s parish, Ebutte Metta. It made my days seem overcast.

Each year I felt like I was going to die within this time of my torturous longing for Easter to come and intervene, so that these moods at St. Paul’s parish would loosen up: The altar stripped of gloriousness, the grotto looking bald, the purple Lenten hymns that lightened up remorse, the late afternoon sun that hung low and idle in the skies outside the church building while Father Raphael Kpooh in purple stole repeatedly sank one knee before each one of the fourteen hanging, story-telling arch paintings of Christ’s sufferings around the four walls of the church.

Then he would chime evenly with his tenor voice “we adore thee o Christ and we praise thee”, and Jesus fell the first time, again, and again. I felt slightly angry with Pontious Pilate and the soldiers in thick skirts, often portrayed as haggard-faced, long sharp noses, a tint of sordid guilt in their eyes. I imaginatively wished I could grab each of them by the scruff of their necks and whisper a curse such as “God will judge you” into their ears, often elongated like antennas, because Lenten season wouldn’t have existed if they had been nice people, if they had simply just let my Jesus be.

Among the most moving parts of the liturgy was the twelfth station, Jesus Dies. Chilled silenced hovered around the building. All knees and necks bow to the floor in posture of renaissance paintings. A bright light filters t
hrough the windows as though the clouds suddenly parted, and the sun came out afresh. That was when some babies remembered to cry out their “waa”, “neeh” or “eair” sound, I felt like joining them in this chorus that blended with the frozen moment when the wall clocks seemed to pause “Jesus Dies”. Even the statues in church corners would be overwhelmed by this, their smiles seemed to fade, shrink, all the tiny pink-and-blue Stations of the Cross booklets would be shut closed for the moment, then the pages would flip again when everybody finally arose.

After the final blessing, I would exchange glances with my sister Onyinye, we prayed in our hearts that Mummy won’t oblige us to wait for evening mass, her Fatima-styled scarf which covered her entire frowning fore head, fell straight and long behind her like a curtain, in readiness to sweep the floor. We seemed to share this affinity: the deep fear of sadness.

In no time, without waiting for mummy to decide, a procession of gloomy people draped in purple flowing robes floated into the red-carpeted isle, ushered forward by a backward song “Jesus my Lord, behold at lent the day…” it made me want to escape my skin. I would have to sit close to mummy, hanging my attention on the acculturated crucifix, a crucified bearded black chubby Yoruba man in his thirties tying a thick black towel.

Fr. Kpooh already had this sort of handsomeness, a handsomeness that wasn’t meant to smile, bespectacled. He preached gently: suffering, sorry-ness, sin, death, all colored the sermon. But the aftermath of this childhood drama, this perseverance, was a moment of grace. It was the thought about a vulnerable God that converted me. The thought of one who chooses to suffer when he had the option not to, a God who understands the wounded reality of my inner world.

Once again this God comes to me this year, smiles at the naughtiness of my childhood, sits in presence of his priest and listens to my confession, shows me the wounds on his palms, the marks from the crown with thorns, shows me his back, then a tired smile flickers across his lips when he says: “Now let me see yours, the one in your heart, when they dismissed or expelled you unjustly, when she abandoned you, when he beat you up, when you repeated a class, when they insulted you, when you insulted too..I know you insult a lot, when he blocked you on facebook, when your friend died. Boy, let me see”.

My willingness to be vulnerable, and to serve a vulnerable God, was what changed my life. This year Jesus says again in a confessional “Let me see, open up, let me see the wound, is it bleeding? Come, feel my own”.

Anthony Nonso Dim is a writer who was born in Lagos Nigeria, he is currentlyy working on his first novel. He is also the content supervisor for Afreecan Read. Read his previous posts here