Tuesday, April 27, 2010

In Love… we Live



In love we are free… truly free.

Friday, April 16, 2010

Makoko…A View From Below

“It sure looks different from down here…”

You know that place you look down at when you are riding in your car or in a bus across the mainland bridge…Yes, that cluster. Like you, I spent many years wondering what life really is like down there. Who these people are…what they do; where they are from, what they are like. Well, one Friday morning, I took a nervous trip down there with my friend, Yemisi. And what we found…I’d say, put us on a rollercoaster of emotions.
As we made our way into a most unfamiliar territory, we realized that the community is divided in two parts…one is where the Ilajes reside and the other is for the Eguns…okay, at this point we didn’t know where to turn. Suddenly, we were met by a nice lady who led us into the market where they all trade and the riverbank they keep their boats till nightfall. DSCN1610
So, we stood at the riverbank for less than 5 minutes before another woman popped out of what I assumed was a wall covered with cloth. “Good afternoon”, she says. Okay, I also didn’t think I’d be speaking English down here…but I was very pleased that finally someone did. She excitedly led us to sit in front of her home, which is where we were standing already. Her name is Victoria Ojuri. She sells fish (main trade) and clothing out of her home. Her parents were from Ondo state but she was born right here in Makoko. She spoke proudly of her six children all born in Makoko as well; two youngest ones in school, four others employed, married and living with their families…all here in Makoko.

DSCN1608 Here's her son, Oye, who took us on our canoe ride

What struck me most about our conversation with Victoria was her declaration, “This is our home…our community. It is all that we know. We never want to leave here…all we want is better homes, clean water, security…all here in Makoko”. Yemisi and I couldn’t hide our thoughts…we were wondering why anyone would want to stay here. Standard of living is below appalling. But she made us understand that she was born here, like many others, and to take them away from here would be stealing their own identity. While we spoke with her, we noticed a group of little children chuckling to each other and yelling… “Foto…mo fe ya foto.” They wanted to take pictures…so we did ;)
We also caught up with Bukky and Martha as they returned from school

After our chat, Oye informs us that a canoe had arrived to take us across their town.
As we rode on, I started to feel a bit uneasy…the water was (to say the very least) filthy. I struggled to hide my fright…but somehow Yemisi remained disturbingly calm (or maybe she could hide hers better;) Oye was extremely aloof while we sailed. We tried to speak with him severally, but his answers were curt. I later realized it wasn’t just him. Most of the adults we met along the way were even more.

We greeted. And if we got an answer, it was in the look they shot us. Oye’s friend who rode with us, explained that most of them don’t understand English nor Yoruba… but I knew it was beyond that. They must have seen many like us come in the past…and to them we were just another charade. Somehow, the cold shoulders gave my nervousness the boot… I started to wave more intensely. Any canoe that passed us, Yemisi and I would wave or reach out, just so they knew that we were here to be part. However, it wasn’t hard reaching the children… their chatter and playfulness, we found very comforting.
DSCN1626DSCN1613 Yes, even in that water…they swam

Many times Yemisi and I would forewarn each other, ‘duck!’. They had ‘roads’ leading to different areas and homes in the water. At a point, we got stuck…there was some kind of ‘traffic’. We couldn’t move…we had to wait for something to be moved out of the water. “Let’s just go back”, Yemisi says. But for some reason, Oye was determined to get us to where we could view the 3rd mainland bridge. So, we waited and rode on...
Here's a view from below...

Finally, Oye spoke…well, a little. “I always come here to watch the cars pass on the bridge…”, he admits. Before he could say another word… we heard, “I go break that camera oh!”… Oh oh, Yemisi and I turn around to see 4 disgruntled men shining wood behind us. Quickly, Yemisi urges that we return. But Oye and his friend reassures that its just a bluff. However, we turned our canoe around….and I still took a quick shot ;)

This is how they get around to their wood shops

When we got back to shore, we met Victoria’s youngest son, who’d just arrived from school. He’s so cute ;) She reminded us, “All we want is a better life here…here oh”.She was willing to talk to us even longer…though she wasn’t prepared to be photographed.
Yemisi and our other 'chauffeur', Kehinde

We met Bukky again as we prepared to leave...at this
time she had resumed at her mother's shop to
sell till nightfall...
Yemisi and I
After we said our ‘goodbyes’, we stood outside and stared back at everything we were just coming from…It felt like we couldn’t tell what was real anymore. Through our ride back home we kept ranting to each other..."I wonder what would be a typical bad day for these people?"..."Truth is everyday has a potential to be one". Through every conversation we had in that community, we saw a people simply existing… but do not feel alive. For the children, it was like we brought with us a new excitement that they do not see very often... and now we have taken it back with us. At least, so they feel.

Till this very minute, Yemisi and I are still talking about Makoko…it just won’t go away.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

While We Waited...We Praised

Gogo Majin
You see, I know what it feels like when you don’t know what you are waiting for…when you are not sure of anything. And in the silence of your heart, you just want to see His face…you want to hear Him speak, you want to walk with Him and talk with Him about all your pain and joy at the same time…You want to touch Him and feel Him near, but you realize that… He’s not there. Not the way you expect.
So, while we search, while we wait...we praise.

Gogo prepares us...

{Now, the body of Christ was gone...Mary Magdalene wept-she wanted to see her Lord again-, Peter dragged around his baggage of guilt, not sure he could ever seek his Lord's face again. John raced with passion and love. And in panic they all went in search of their Master, Teacher and Lord. But He found them, instead. Suddenly, hope replaced despair, peace replaced fear, love replaced shame, light replaced darkness…and they fell at His feet, crying out of their joy and belief. Then it became clear what they'd been waiting for; restoration, resurrection, rebirth… a fresh discipleship. Ultimately, now they had the gospel that had come full circle…and they knew that the world will one day hear their account and believe}

{Christ said to Thomas… “You have seen and now you believe, but blessed are those who have not seen, yet believe}

It is for this we worshipped tonight like never before.
In place of the uncertainty of His resurrection 2,000 years ago, today we know for a fact that joy cometh in the morning. While we wait, we know our King is preparing to reveal Himself in the morning.

Bj Bj...The Saxophonist

Gogo…I love love her. For me, she is the best voice out of Nigeria. She praises with her voice and soul like not many do. She performed the song that made us all fall in love with her in the beginning… ‘Almighty God’. There were other great performances by…yes yes, BJ Sax…Oh my God!!! As Dan said, “Mike Aremu who?” This guy on the saxophone must have been like David, the Psalmist on his harp. Talk about bringing down all the Heavenly glory…He sent chills down my spine. Hear a little bit of him…
Holy Mallam

So, we worship…
Gbolahan, Gogo's guitarist for the night

The Jazz praise concert tonight was worship right in the presence of God.
Music that brought down the glory, tears that showed gratitude, shouts from the heart that revealed the intensity of our love for our Lord… And we worshipped.

Show opened with an incredible performer called Frank Edwards…I wonder where Dan found him. He is amaaaaaazing, mind-blowing, beautiful, goosebumps-sender, worshipper…fantastic!! I just loved him. But blogger won't let me put up his video ;-( Right after him, came Pure&Simple; two guys who had the most magical hands on the guitar. I was blown away. Dan wouldn’t let them get off stage until they spilled their entire talent right before us in worship.

Most Incredible (MI)
And for those videos I couldn’t post on here {blogger limits;} I apologize.
Nonso’s performance…“I go always pray for you”, was so soothing. He was great. Mfon also blew us away with her beautiful band and performance. At this point in the show, everyone was on their feet, dancing and praising…then MI walked in, and we got even more revved up. For the first time, he performed a song he wrote years ago, ‘Jehovah’.
Peace Anthony of Hefzibah{God's Delight}
Hefzibah ended the great night on her guitar with beautiful praise

Dan and I
Gogo ;)