I can’t really say why, but I was so petrified to go to Mass last Sunday I almost backed out, but for the grace of God. An uncertain feeling of foreboding overwhelmed me sort of, an unusual experience, for a Roman (not Roaming Catholic), who should, ordinarily, be happy to die in church or on the way to church. Story for the gods!!!
Anyways, I managed to shrug off the fear and went for the 10:30am Mass, which for me is less rowdy and more relaxing, being the final one for the morning. Come with me as I narrate my experience.
Now, as I drove to church, all kinds of thoughts, horrific thoughts, were going through my mind. It got to a point I toyed with the idea of turning right back and heading back home. This was actually the point I imagined a bomb going off inside the church or a dozen armed militants storming the church during offertory, thanksgiving or communion with guns blazing. Jesus, Mary and Joseph!
I was literally lost in this wandering and wondering contemplation when I found myself suddenly at the church entrance, collected a gate pass and inside the church premises I was. I looked around and there were cars everywhere! And I didn’t remember anyone check the boot of my car or scan it for bomb. All manner of people were streaming in and out of the premises. I saw one guy that looked very much like a suicide bomber and almost stopped to flee. Seriously.
I chose my spot. Parked my car. Looked around. Took my mobile phone (something I never do) just in case. Then, I started wondering whether to sit outside or go inside. Outside appeared safer, and even comes with a gentle breeze and fresh air. Inside? Air conditioned. Closer to God, so to say, but seemed like a confinement and for someone who’s frightened by the unknown, a sudden claustrophobia descended upon me.
Anyways, I decided to go inside, and die in relative comfort-if I have to die. In the end, it turned out a good idea. Or maybe not. Because I kept looking around, suspecting everybody and every movement. The funny thing was that I appeared to be on my own. Everyone else appeared at ease, listless and totally oblivious of my concerns, and my fears. I almost jumped out of my skin, when I heard a loud bang, probably a burst tyre along the road or fireworks nearby. The man sitting next to me, with bushy hair (which he thinks is Afro) and long dirty nails was also startled. I wasn’t totally alone, after all, thankfully.
Well, I’m alive and sharing this, which means my fears were unfounded. Hmmmm, were they? That’s debatable, really. Lagos has been under constant threat by Boko Haram terrorists, whose luciferous plans for the city has been fortuitously snookered twice or thrice. It will be preposterous to believe those evil ones won’t get here one day. Not that I’m praying they get here, but who ever thought a Nigerian would strap her/himself with bombs and blow himself or herself up in a desperate bit to waste others?
Ironically, I saw, buried under the rubble of less important announcements, a security alert in the church bulletin, warning against bringing big bags and charging mobile phones inside and outside the church-warnings, typically and regrettably observed only in the breach. And I’m like are these people serious at all? Now, this foolishness is not peculiar to St. Agnes’s Church, Maryland; I’ve seen same at Divine Mercy, Lekki, Church of Assumption, Falomo, St. Dominic’s, Yaba, and St. Leo’s, Ikeja, which I’m quite familiar with and regularly attend Mass at.
You might say Emeka is paranoid. Yes O. Let me be. It’s better to be safe than sorry. What would it take for the Church Management, the PPC (Parish Pastoral Council) to deploy scanners at the church entrance to scan all incoming vehicles? Will the heavens fall, if the church insists that no handbags be brought into the church? What will it take to get body scanners installed at the entrances to the church or even the handheld ones to check all those entering the building? And why would cars be allowed into the premises, in the first place? Isn’t it possible to have the bomb squad sweep the church before the day’s Masses gets underway?
My intention, true to God, is not to throw the scare into anybody, but I’m sure you can figure out, from the four or so questions asked rhetorically above, what can happen -if the demons choose to strike. If you go to the northern parts of the country, especially to churches that have unfortunately been hit by terrorist, that’s the drill: Caution. Do we have to wait for it to happen here before we get wise? With all the threats and all we see happening around the world????
The malls, schools and other public places, even estates and homes, can use this free advice as well. It is said in my village, and I suppose it is also said in yours, that when the drumbeat changes, the dance steps also change. We are living in paranormal times, when strange things, really strange and scary things, are happening. We have to change our dance steps, brothers and sisters.
Lagos State Government and the Catholic Archdiocese of Lagos, and any other interested religious denomination should please take note. Provision, they say, is better than kiosk. LOL. Seriously, prevention is better than cure. Let’s do our bit and leave the rest to God, for in vain the sentries stand, if God doesn’t watch over a city, my Bible says.
May Almighty God continue to keep us safe in the hollow of His hands.