“So BRTs have a monitoring team?”
“Yes, They do. They monitor the activities of the buses and the drivers I think”.
“I think they ensure that they comply with the rules; take the prescribed routes, work the stated hours and see to the no standing, hawking, advertising and preaching rules of the buses”.
“Hmm, really? Some of them still don’t comply then, because I’ve entered so many where there were more standing then sitting and just recently I entered one where there was a Man of God preaching”.
“Well, that’s Nigeria for you. The BRTs are fast going the way of the Molue”
“I don’t see why they should outlaw preaching in BRTs though… that doesn’t seem right since it’s God that’s been talked about”.
“Hmm… really, I don’t see why not. It’s an inconvenience most times. It’s not fair to everyone involved. If Nigeria were to be an advanced-
“You’re a Muslim then?”
“No… at least in this matter. Let’s just stick to the discussion without bothering about my religious affiliation(s). Really, some of the things we let slip in this country only happen in this part of the divide because we are where we are. Preaching in buses etc., while not sinful isn’t legal or completely lawful in a civilized society. We have the Churches, Mosques, and recreational centres for such activities. I wake up most of the morning to the morning call of prayer in my neighbor-hood mosque and while I don’t hate God; most times, the noise is an inconvenience. A residential area should have a degree of peace I think at least at that time of the morning.”
“Hmmmmm….. I see”
Though she said she’d seen or saw, I sensed she didn’t really or perhaps it was something else she saw. Perhaps, now she saw me for what I really was; a God-hater, anti-social being, an agnostic, and the list goes on…
That conversation took place between yours truly and a female acquaintance. I say acquaintance because our romance was still in the seed stage and I say romance because I have poetic license (I kid myself). There was/is no romance whatsoever K. Anyway, it remains to be seen what move she makes next when we chat again.
I’ll make this piece brief because I really need to go sleep now before the Morning Prayer call sounds again very soon. One treasures what seconds of quiet one can get in these parts.
The whole essence of all this is just to point one focal point. As Christians and Muslims and whatever else we may be as a people, we are intolerant. Tolerant only of beliefs, activities, that falls in line with our own accepted idea(s) of ‘good’.
Indulge me please, not because you like me or what you’re reading but because you want to prove that you’re tolerant. Let’s play at conviviality and imagine you and me in a BRT and then suddenly midway to our destination, An Ifa priest stands up in full regalia at the regular office corner unconsciously allocated to preachers, hawkers et al in buses and begins to chant the eulogies of Eledumare Oba adake dajo, Oba mi… sorry, got carried away briefly there.
Now, in the spirit of toleration, let’s imagine half the bus joins in the chanting and you survive that incident because you’re tolerant. Let’s imagine this becomes a daily occurrence because you have no choice but to use the BRT every day. Every day, a different Priest… Would you still be tolerant or call for an encore of the Crusades/Jihads?
I’m not saying all these because I think I’m right or I have the answers or because I’m more tolerant than you or you. I’m only pushing for a constant re-evaluation of our minds, selves and beliefs. I believe as humans first; regardless of religious, tribal or any other affiliations we are all on the same quest for self-betterment. Here too, I might be wrong. Maybe my problem is in being too optimistic that I have become naïve.
The average Nigerian’s spiritual consciousness works on a bi-dimensional plane. You’re either a Christian or a Muslim and both don’t even have genuine respect for the other’s belief. It always amuses when I answer the “are you a Muslim/Christian” question and watch the recoil reaction in the questioneer’s face/expression when I fail to give the expected response. It hits home each time that toleration is still out of reach; Swimming in our sub-conscious like vapour, uncontainable.
Anyway, my thoughts; what are yours?