Friday, 10 April 2009

Send Forth

One of the most frequent excuses for a party in this part of Nigeria (and possibly all over Nigeria) is the ‘Send Forth’. Where in the UK you would have ‘leaving’ or ‘going away’ parties, the celebration here is sending the person forth to their next challenge. Usually held by a father for a soon to be married daughter, I was fortunate last Sunday morning to attend the Send Forth blessing of Monday Daniel, one of the longer-term local volunteers at Fantsuam, who is leaving to find work in Kaduna, the big city to the north of us.

The blessing was held in the Calvary Baptist Church in Bayan Loco. This will have been the forth church I have attended in Nigeria. The first three being our large local ECWA (Evangelical Church of West Africa – biggest business around here), Kagoro’s small ‘Christ the King’ Catholic Church, the large St John’s Catholic Church in Kachia.

The church is just round the corner from Fantsuam Foundation in Bayan Loco, and reflects Bayan Loco in many ways. It is certainly the simplest church I have visited in Nigeria with no altar pieces or attendants, but that may be more to do with the Baptist denomination than anything else. However the mud floor, unfinished walls and windows and make-shift benches were typical of Bayan Loco.
The congregation gather outside the church, and members of the choir sit on benches donated by members of the community and proudly bear their names.

Monday urged me to take photos of the event and despite my reluctance to ‘snap away’ during the service I was encouraged to do so. The church was clearly segregated: men to the pastor’s left, women in the middle, and children seated quietly on the right. After the opening address (in Hausa) a number of women, many carrying their children, took their places on one side at the front of the church behind an array of bongos, and other percussion instruments. I guessed this was the choir.
The children's section with 'mummy' in charge on one side and the choir on the other

My neighbour had let me know that all visitors attending the church would be asked to stand up and introduce themselves and we prepared a short speech in Hausa on the drive in:

Na ga shaiku a chikin sun a Jesu (I greet you in the name of Jesus)
Sunana Cicely, na zo da ga UK. Ina aiki a Fantsuam Foundation (My name is Cicely, I’m from the UK and I work at Fantsuam Foundation)

This effort was well received and I (and the other newcomers) were warmly welcomed.
The tune of the opening hymn (the introduction hummed by the pastor) was very familiar to me, however I had to consign myself to humming along as it was sung in Hausa.
Shortly afterwards, a group of children, led by Monday himself did an excellently co-ordinated musical tableau at the front of the church. I’m afraid I can’t tell you the story but it was animated, tuneful and thoroughly entertaining.
Monday leads his band whilst the children enthusiastically act out the story

Readings were made by members of the congregation Monday’s blessing was introduced.

Monday first stood up and gave an eloquent and emotive speech. All of those attending the church on his behalf were asked to join Monday and the pastor at the front of the church whilst presentations were made, including the pile of his IT certificates that he has received whilst studying/volunteering at Fantsuam. These were to be the tools with which to found his new life.

I'm invited to the front of church with Monday's other friends
Monday re-receives his ICT training certificates
Once seated again the pastor gave a short sermon and another, very ‘British’ hymn was sung (no swaying in the aisles and clapping, as I have become accustomed to in Nigeria) and in under two hours the service was over.

We met outside the church for some official group photos and to wish Monday well on his way.

His first challenge on 'going forth' will be the Bayan Loco roads in the rainy season.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Cicely,
That is an impressive bit of Hausa! Next time you are on the phone I'll be testing you for get the real feel for what the words sound like.
Love the bongo drum choir...that's cool! Good luck Monday - great name!