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Monday, 17 August 2015

My First Official Proselyte

A reader of my blog wrote me a brief email to thank me for making him realize that he was not going insane. He had been having doubts about his christian beliefs for a few years and had even stopped attending church which necessitated lying to family and friends that he had changed churches.
I wrote back to him to let him know that it was because of people like him that I started this blog. I know exactly what he is going through and have encouraged him to share with me his journey as I am most willing to help him along. He is not alone; there are millions like him, I believe, in Nigeria who have to live the lie of appearing religious just to keep up with the joneses. I feel so sorry for them because this journey is particularly difficult in Nigeria. It is a gut-wrenching ordeal and one which nobody should be allowed to face alone. I have been with terminally ill people and their relatives, and anyone who has had to be around them will know the feeling of a Nigerian who has completely lost her/his faith. It is a cold and lonely place to be.
I feel privileged to act as a guide for this young man. He of course has to continue to keep up appearances for now until he is able to 'come out'. Although he no longer lives at home, his parents are still very involved in his life as he lives not very far away from them and his mother dotes on him. I therefore understand his reluctance to let her in on his current status as one who no longer believes in the christian god, or any other deity for that matter. All his beliefs in the supernatural have simply evaporated, and his poor mother would be heart-broken; something he obviously cannot bear.
His journey started about seven years ago when he was admitted into university. The cacophony of university life in Nigeria, especially for a young man leaving home for the first time was quite overwhelming, but it was the way different religious groups (christian, muslim, eckankar, and so on) were competing for membership especially among the 'jambites' (freshmen or first year university students) that got him thinking seriously about religion for the first time. Like most Nigerian children, he was raised in a religious home and grew up never questioning the christian values that were thrust upon him. He followed his parents' religion religiously (pun intended) until he got into university and began to question for the first time this arcane part of his life. The scales fell off his eyes very quickly and he chose his own path. He stumbled upon my blog quite by accident (a friend of his on Facebook had provided a link which he followed out of boredom and curiosity, thankfully!) and he emailed me immediately.
The choices in front of young Nigerians today are not very palatable, and many of them have turned to religion as a means of giving their lives meaning, and unfortunately, of survival. They need to know that there is an alternative. The hopelessness engendered by an uncaring government should not drive them to religion; it is like jumping from the frying pan into the fire.