Nigeria has made the news again. In a special news article, CNN reported that ‘a Nigerian gospel singer started a praise challenge that has attracted over 68,000 participants.’ For the sake of those who didn’t know let me summarize.
Nathaniel Bassey (look him up on social media), a Nigerian Christian musician, decided to dedicate the whole of June 2017 to praising God. From June 1 to 30, he will be leading millions of Christians in Nigeria and across the world in a live praise and worship session on Facebook live video streams and Instagram starting from midnight local time everyday.
Sixteen days gone already and it’s been successful and wonderful. I’ve not really followed but I doubt if a day has been missed. As reported above, close to a hundred thousand Nigerians have joined him. It has drawn different reactions from different quarters. To the believers, it has elevated their spirits and blessed them immeasurably. So many miracles have been reported too, so many that a special blog has been opened for the testimonies — miracle pregnancies, miracle births, cancers disappearing, miracle jobs, etc — the regular unverifiable stories Christians serenade themselves with all the time. On the other hand, unbelievers — notably atheists and secularists — have attacked it citing different logical and illogical reasons. I have a different opinion though. It has drawn the raging ire of the irreligious but I don’t think it needs to do so.
In a subsequent article, I will talk about what I feel about praising God generally. That’s my personal opinion which might not describe the reality of the ongoing hallelujah challenge themed ‘olowogbogboro’. The reality is that people have to think differently about this. Are there some benefits in it? I thought of it and I highlighted 3 reasons why I think it should even continue beyond the said June ending.
1. Hallelujah Challenge is More Environmentally Friendly than Physical Gatherings
The typical Nigerian physical religious gathering disturbs the environment in 2 ways. One, the noise. Two, the traffic logjam. I don’t need to go into details about both. Every Nigerian understands.
Someone told me that the pastor of a church in his neighborhood announced that all vigils for June have been canceled and that instead of coming to church in the night, the church members should join him (the pastor) in Nathaniel Bassey’s Facebook hallelujah challenge. According to him, God has changed his mind. God is no longer waiting for them at church: instead he will be waiting for them on Facebook to bless them.
I congratulated my friend on the loss of one source of noise in his neighborhood. Now he can sleep better, can’t he? And come to think of it, my area too has become less noisy this month. Is it due to the hallelujah challenge? The noise from the mosques is at least manageable: that one doesn’t start till 5 am and is for barely up to 1 hour.
My wish. This hallelujah challenge should continue please. Let more people join. Let all the camps on Lagos-Ibadan expressway close down and all their members move to Facebook. Even though God doesn’t have a Facebook account, he can actually receive praises from his people on Facebook. As people will now remain in their respective houses and in front of their screens, there will be less noise in the neighborhoods and less logjam on our roads. Less noise pollution = better environment! This hallelujah challenge is a perfect execution of the principle that says ‘You’re free to believe and do anything you want once it doesn’t turn you to a nuisance to your neighbours.’
2. It’s Safer and More Productive
I’m imagining if this was to be a physical event! So many faithfuls would’ve taken days off their work. Those who wouldn’t do so would’ve simply absconded from work leading to an immeasurable loss of man-hours. Picture 100,000 Nigerians escaping from their workplaces to gather at a single location for days to worship God. Can you fathom the loss in economic terms? But now, they can do it overnight in their houses and come to work the following morning. Beautful, isn’t it?
And how many deaths have we recorded on our roads everytime people travel from different parts of the country to gather at a single spot to worship? Uncountable! Nigerian roads are death traps as we speak. At least, worshipping on Facebook eliminates that threat, doesn’t it? People no longer need to risk their lives on the road to Lagos from Maiduguri and Port Harcourt.
3. It’s a Distraction Away From the Ongoing Ethnoreligious War on Social Media
Look at Nigerians for the past couple of months for Pete’s sake. They’ve been busy nuking one another about their own country. Everybody has been singing bitter tribalistic songs. Igbos have been calling Nigeria a zoo. Northerners have been telling the Igbos to go. Yorubas have been firing both of them while the less populous tribes (my preferred term for ‘minorities’) have chosen to pitch their tents wherever suits them. And at a time, I actually wished that social media was closed down in Nigeria as it became nothing but a battlefront where the impending civil war will begin from.
But to my surprise, I went on the hallelujah challenge thread and I saw Nigerians unite in one accord. South-Easterners were there not fighting other Nigerians on why they want to leave Nigeria but just flowing with Nathaniel Bassey’s music. For once, Yorubas forgot about how they are a more politically sophisticated tribe than Igbo and Hausa. Hausas weren’t so many as most of them must have been asleep because of the Ramadan fasting but the other northerners there were also united in the music. And for once, there was peace and calm in the Nigerian Facebook space!
To be sincere, wouldn’t you want the hallelujah challenge to continue for a longer time?