If you didn’t know, now you know.
You can go to the market, same place they sell pepper, meat, crayfish, ponmo and shaki…yeah and after buying all those you can buy prayers. And you don’t even need to fast or take anything special from the merchant selling the prayers, just buy, like you would meat off the butcher’s slab.
I am one of those who think the grass is always greener on the other side, so I like to shop at Ojuwoye market Mushin. I think foodstuff would be way cheaper than where i live in the Anthony and Maryland axis. Ojuwoye has all the things I would need and more in any quantity I desire. So once or twice in a month, I head to the market to stock up.
While I was pricing fish from a woman who’s false eye lashes were threatening to make her airborne by their sheer length and thickness, a man came down from a bus and dragged his mega phone onto the sidewalk filled with hawkers threatening to skin you alive if you tipped their tray of wares or stepped on them by mistake.
He tested his microphone and that’s how I met a new trader, one who sells prayers.
He didn’t start by saying “Praise the Lord”, like they do in churches, I guess because he also understands his ‘buyers’ in a market this open would be made up of a conglomeration of faiths; the Christians, Muslims, traditional believers, we all shop at the same place.
So he greeted everyone, not anyone in particular. He asked how their ‘markets’ were doing and before I could say to the fish seller, “cut the fish,” he began to sway with his words.
He told his listeners “I know you woke up this morning, telling yourself as ‘I go to the market today, let good meet with me…’ I know you may have wondered, ‘will I take home any profit?’ Who plans to leave their homes and hope never to get back?”
He got me.
I realized he wasn’t just talking to the traders; he was also talking to shoppers. He was talking to every one whose ears ears were tuned to his tongue. He spoke in Yoruba. He spoke clearly, without stuttering or even repeating himself. He motivated the traders, he told them not to relent if they had a bad day yesterday, he told them today would be better. He encouraged the buyers as well, telling us many of us came to the market with a certain amount of money only to discover what we have, isn’t buying much. He told us not to blame ourselves, it’s the economy messing with everyone. He prayed that whatever we had, would be sufficient for our needs…
So I gave him my full attention. The crabs I wanted to buy could wait, even the fish could wait. I wanted to see how this worked. Is this a motivational speaker? A prophet? A traditional herbal seller? I was convinced he was simply riding the public, leading us to something he wanted us to buy. Was he selling agunmu? Special soaps? Aphrodisiacs?
He had to be selling something.
But that’s how, he continued praying o, describing likely and unlikely scenarios people were facing due to the economic situation in the country. He encouraged listeners to persevere, he prayed for peace and progress. He highlighted the insecurity in the nation and prayed for safety, he prayed for help to people in time of need. Everyone said Amen, I found myself saying ‘Amen’ to most of his prayers. I looked around me and saw many women, men, passersby, men waiting in cars for their madams who were shopping, agberos loading up for passengers…all mouthing ‘amen.’
In a few minutes, women, men, everyone began to drop ‘offerings’ in a plastic bag he had attached to his mega phone. They would say a prayer into the money and drop into his plastic bag.
Aha. Now I knew he was selling prayers. He was selling encouragement; he was selling hope to people who are so beaten by their own government, they have no where to turn to.
As we watched, he uprooted his megaphone, and moved to another section of the market where he began again to motivate, to pray, to encourage and challenge his listeners to do more. Everyone responded, everyone who understood the language responded, even people who were not natives but understood the language responded. And so they gave. They exchanged the prayers for a token.
This is incredible!
So here is my theory.
We live in a country where nothing is safe; no one is safe, everyday Nigerians are struggling to make ends meet, so people turn to anyone or anything that offers hope, that offers encouragement, one who doesn’t claim to have the solution but helps them see a better future for themselves.
So prayers are selling; they may not sell as much as pepper and meat and crayfish and garri, but there’s a market for prayers, there are buyers and there will be sellers…go to Ojuwoye and see…