By ‘Demola Adesina
I once had to take a cab to a friend’s apartment close to Sabo, Yaba on a Sunday morning.
Upon asking the taxi driver why so many strange manoeuvres, he gave me that Nigerian
quizzical look: you know, the ‘You don’t know Lagos look’ and then told me something
about ‘that Yaba Church’.
On a normal weekday, this church is almost inconspicuous, but on a Sunday morning, the
entire area opposite the Marda Barracks on Herbert Macauley Way is almost inaccessible
despite conscious efforts to keep traffic in control.
The usual image an average non-Catholic has might have about Catholicism is of images
and of solemn ceremonies, and I was in no way disappointed when I decided to visit ‘that
Yaba Church’. In fact, in addition to the statue of the blessed Virgin standing abreast the
Church Jubilee Fountain, there were full size images of not less than ten other entities
inside the Church.
The air of jollity one finds in contemporary Christianity was missing. Which was just as
well. For me, the lure was more to discover what drew about 20,000 people, worshipping
in six Masses (Services, to the uninitiated), to this church every Sunday. Arriving at the
8:30am mass, I found it strangely easy to drop all appearances, there was the immediate
realization that no one would notice me in this mass of people anyway. They really came
While, the early part of the Mass bordered on some regimentation, the priest took time
to be socially conscious, talking about how we all contribute to corruption and the need
to continually pursue utmost good in relation to the scriptures. The order resumed right
after the homily. Through and through, the entire mass felt like something out of a movie
depicting 400 years of culture blending. The aura of solemn worship and the many rites
and prayers do take some getting used to.
The mass concluded and I realised I had only about 5minutes to leave the auditorium
before the next mass packed full again, begins. Something occurred to me: perhaps the
need to service such a huge focused crowd removes the personal touch one gets from
visiting the more ‘cooler’ churches.
Outside the church, I struggle into a huddle to realise that a brand new Hyundai Accent was
the centre of attraction. Evidently, there is a yearly raffle draw with a brand new car as the
star prize. Of course, I bought a ticket and prayed like a million other people that it would
be the winning ticket when the draw holds in February – I could really use a brand new car.
I hope to worship here again next year. Driving my new Hyundai Accent.