I recently photographed a wedding in Warri, Delta State. It was a union of two different ethnic groups: Yoruba (Groom) & Delta (Bride). The church service started an hour later than planned and seemed like we were going to be in the service forever; perhaps I felt uneasy because I had not eaten breakfast.
It happened when the pastor was preaching his sermon to the new couple. I was so tired and hungry that I didn’t know when I slept off. Perhaps because I was confident that my two assistants would still cover what I miss. Suddenly, I awoke to a loud affirmative revelation uttered by the pastor of the church: YORUBA MEN ARE COWARDS!!! I was shocked. Did he just say what I think he said. He was “encouraging” the husband to learn to stand and protect his new wife in troubled times. The example of a challenging time he gave is “when armed robbers come visiting”. He mentioned that a Yoruba man will flee in the presence of armed robbers and forget his wife. I’m not too sure I got the point he was trying to make. Perhaps the new wife understood what the Pastor meant.
I’m not sure he remembered that the groom he was uniting in holy matrimony was a Yoruba man. I wondered if Yoruba men attend such a church. But then I was quick to remember that there were multitudes of churches to choose from in the oil-rich state. I was able to take pictures of over 2 dozen churches while sitted in a fast-moving bus on my way to the traditional wedding; a 20-minute journey.
I felt that was too derogatory a statement to be uttered on the altar of a church. I wondered what the mindset of the members of the church would be like. I wonder what their perspective of Yoruba men will be. More importantly, I wondered how a city filled with so many churches (almost 1 in every 6 buildings…on average) hadn’t experienced a level of development you would associate with a city where God abides. I wondered within….and felt sorry for people who think that they are better than others.
I didn’t know when I left the church auditorium (before the end of his sermon) to go get myself something to eat. Perhaps if I ate some food, my backward thinking Yoruba mindset will make good meaning of what the Pastor just declared in church. Maybe I was just upset because I was (& still am) a Yoruba man.
And we are supposed to be the Light of the World…the Salt of the earth. May God help me not to be a coward. May God help us all.
UPDATE: November 10, 2013
Some people (especially members of the church) are probably mad at me for posting such about their pastor. My goal isnt to bring down anyone. I write because I feel its one way I can address issues I feel we need to address. Its easy to be quick to defend someone for behaving or thinking in a particular way but my appeal is for us to be conscious of the fact that what we say or do affects ultimately how people behave or think. My goal isnt just to defend the Yorubas; my goal is to address the same similar mindsets that some Yorubas have towards the Igbo or Hausas. Especially if we call ourselves “Christians”, we should be conscious of the derogatory statements we make towards other tribes (whether or not we’re joking). Some Yoruba Christians I know consider themselves of a higher caliber of Human Specie when compared to a Hausa “Mallam” or a Black American. Buttom line is for us to review how/what we think about other people through the microscope of God’s eyes. So be it if I make enemies for discussing such a sensitive issue. For anyone getting angry at the pastor, just stop and ask yourself if the way you behave (or think) towards a set of people is the way Jesus will treat them (e.g. house helps, gatemen/security guards, cooks, drivers, mallams, Ijebu people, Americans, etc).