I used to attend a church with my mum where the pastor was believed to be a powerful man of God.
The pastor was instrumental to my mum’s business becoming a big one. My mum wasn’t doing well with her business then when she began to attend the church, the pastor prayed for her and her business began to do better. She deals in pure water business and sells wholesale.
I was 14 years old when I first knew my mum and the pastor had something. I was sent home from school one day because I fought with one of the prefects and tore her uniform, (she called me olodo rabata, meaning dullard) so I was flogged and told to go and call my parents. My dad is late so the only person to call was my mum and her shop was just a few houses away from our house on the same street.
I knew she would either be at the shop or at home. I got to the shop and she wasn’t there, though she had opened but had padlocked the burglary gate so people would know she had opened shop and was around in case they needed something. She also sold minerals as well as iced block.
I went home knowing she at least hadn’t gone to the market; otherwise the shop wouldn’t be open. I got to the house and the door was locked. We lived in a two room house where we shared bathroom and toilet with a few other tenants on the ground floor.
When I saw the door was locked from the inside because we usually locked our door with a padlock on the outside, I knew my mother was in. I stood on the corridor wondering what I was going to tell my mother, because up until then, I hadn’t formulated the right words to tell her why she was needed at school.
I assumed she was sleeping or something and so paused to arrange the lie I was going to tell her because If I told her what truly happened at school, she would kill me. So I stood in front of our door thinking, what I would tell her so as to make her follow me back to school because I was told I would be suspended if my parents didn’t come.
As I stood there, I heard my mother’s voice, mnn, mmmunn, mummmnm, mummm…
It went on and on and it didn’t even take me much time to guess what was going on inside.
It was kind of embarrassing too because young as I was, I had seen sex videos, porn, seen people live, have sex in our area, even at school, those seniors had sex with themselves in the toilets, so I knew what was going on.
I crept away from our door and went to wait outside.
After sometime, I have no idea how long, I fell asleep on the slab outside and must have been snoring away when my mother’s voice woke me up.
“Mabel, what are you doing at home? What happened at school, are you ok?”
I saw my mother and pastor standing beside me; I said, “I was waiting for you to come out.”
Seeing her there with pastor, I completely forgot the lie I had planned to tell her, I just told her that I fought in school and the principal wanted to see her.
There was big trouble for me that day because my mother beat me black and blue at school!
We never talked about what she was doing with pastor that day. We never even referred to it like it was something that never happened. But I saw a few signs between my mother and the pastor and knew that things would still have been happening while I was at school.
Anyway, fast forward a few years later, I was to do NECO and WAEC.
To be honest, I wasn’t good at school, o. I hated Math, I hated Economics, I hated Biology, I hated all the subjects taught except Art. I could draw very well but we often didn’t have Art classes because there was often no teacher for that subject.
My mother told me she was afraid I would never pass my NECO or WAEC because I was too playful and forgetful; she said she had told the pastor and he had offered to pray for me and give me things that would help me remember whatever I read.
So I went to meet the pastor, he gave me “special biros” and something in a green bottle to drink before I studied. I took them, I used the “special biros” for my exams and I drank what was in the bottle and I tell you for a fact, I passed my WAEC and NECO!
I made three Bs, three Cs and one D; the D was in Math. I passed! I even passed my NECO, so you see, the pastor helped us!
My mother was so happy, she bought the pastor some materials and a pair of leather slippers.
I didn’t do JAMB because like I told you, my mum wasn’t even sure I should pass WAEC not to talk of “wasting her money” for JAMB. So the following year because I already had my results, my mum paid for me to do JAMB, again, we relied on Pastor’s prayers for the exams and the drink, for memory retention…abi?
You know with JAMB, you must practice with a computer so that when you need to write exams, you will be fast. My mother couldn’t afford a computer but pastor said I could come and use the church’s computer to practice. So we bought the past JAMB exams on CD and I was going to the church every evening to use one of the church’s laptops to practice for my Jamb.
The church had two laptops. One was for the pastor and no body touched that. The other one was what I used to practice and that one was used by virtually every one that worked in church. It was the computer they used to make the church’s bulletin, keep records of attendance and all- what- not. So I had to wait until whoever was using it for church business to finish using it before I had access to it.
That’s how come I was always in church late. That’s how come one day, while I was practicing on the computer, the pastor came and pretended to take something from the table the laptop was on and ‘accidentally” brushed my breasts!
I sprang back immediately because I knew it was deliberate! I was no longer the 14-year-old too timid to look him in the eye the day I caught him with my mum, I was almost 18 and knew when a man was giving me the eye.
So I just got up and was frowning.
Pastor said, “What is the matter with you? You mean a man has never touched you before?”
My mouth was open, this pastor had guts, so you do my mama, you wan do me too?
I said, “Pastor please leave me, I don’t want any trouble.”
Same thing happened the following day, when I resisted, he said, “It is not your fault, I have helped you pass your exams and now you are too big to be touched, you want to go to university where those small, small boys will use you as sleeping mat.”
I got up and left! I told my mother pastor said I shouldn’t come again…I refused to go back to that church and I begged my mother not to force me to go. The woman put 2 and 2 together and arrived at 6, she said, “Make sure you pass your JAMB.”
I failed my JAMB, even though I studied really hard for it… but I will try again, I don’t believe the pastor had a hand in me passing in the first place, I will continue to try.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)