Pangolo Junction
Life, arguments, and kunu... with Max, Nat and Zack

Friday, December 29, 2006

The Way of Aklamaada

(Max, Nat and Zack are chatting in the Junction as usual, when someone dressed in colourful flowing robes walks up to their table and taps Max on the shoulder. Max turns round in astonishment, and the expression on his face changes from surprise to delight. Nat continues to look on at the stranger in surprise, but the expression on Zack's face is that of pure unconcealed contempt.)

Max (to the man):
Charlie! My main man! How're you doing? I've been begging you to come and see us in our haunt for months, and it's really good of you to finally honour my invitation!

Charlie (pulling up a chair and sitting down): Sorry, Maximilian. I've always intended to come and see you, but it's been extremely hectic since I stopped the pursuit of material things and started my quest to understand the spiritual things of this universe.

Nat: How's that going? I still never could understand why you chose to give up a promising career in petroleum engineering... it was quite obvious that you were the best graduate in the university. I still have a hard time getting used to seeing you involved in spiritual matters.

Charlie: I know, Nathaniel... I myself fought against my calling... but it was like swimming upstream in a raging current. Once I accepted that this was my destiny, everything fell into place... and while I have had my share of challenges and setbacks, I feel so rewarded that I have been able to act as an instrument of blessing for thousands of people.

Zack (annoyed): Oh, come off it! You can fool Max and Nat with your pompous platitudes, but you can't fool me. Of course you feel rewarded - that's because you've just recently bought an SUV and are in the process of building your second house!

Charlie (with a slight shrug): Can I help it if people reward me for the good that I have done for them? Should I throw what they give me away? Should I not refresh and empower myself so that I am of more use to more people? I tell you, Zachariah - these material things are more of a burden than a blessing to me. But that is the price you pay for the quest for spiritual excellence.

Max (waving Zack aside before he can say any more): Oh, Charlie - don't mind Zack. He's suffering from a chronic case of baddus bellicus. But tell me more about your... er... movement. What's it called again?

Charlie: The Way of Aklamaada.

Nat: Aklamaada?

Charlie: Yes, Aklamaada. That was the name that was revealed to me in the vision that led me out of the darkness and into the light. The word comes from an ancient form of the Sanskrit language, and it means 'purity'.

Max: And what product do you se... sorry, I mean, what message do you preach?

Charlie: In a word, I preach the message of success. To do this, I have attuned my spiritual consciousness so that I can now harness the knowledge that is freely available in the twenty-seven spiritual dimensions. For example, did you know that the secrets of successful business deals are transmitted via a special etheric frequency? Are you aware that there is a karmic wheel whose rotations send out rays of good health every seven minutes? It is such knowledge that I have put to use for the benefit of others, whether he is Christian or Muslim, job-hunter or child-seeker, Hausa, Igbo or Yoruba.

Zack: So. Your movement is known as 'the Way of Purity'. (nastily) Somehow, I think 'the Way of Prosperity' would sound better, since you seem to be so concerned about getting information on business deals.

Charlie (in a concerned voice): Zachariah, I'm sensing a truly negative aura around you. Using my inner astral eye, I can detect really strong psychic vibrations of anger, jealousy, bitterness and frustration. This is a dangerous state to be in - you are laying yourself open to attacks from the powerful evil entities who inhabit the Sixth Circle on the Sixth Plane in the Sixth Dimension. Fortunately I can help you here...

(Just then, Charlie's GSM phone goes off. He answers it, and listens for a few minutes, punctuating the silence with an occasional "go on", "yes..." or "I see". The call ends, and Charlie rises to his feet.)

Charlie: Guys, I'm afraid I have to leave. The person that rang me is planning to contest a position in next year's election, and he has requested spiritual guidance. This will require special fasting so that I can attain the higher state of superconsciousness that I will need to unlock the doors to the Seventeen Secrets of Politics. Zack, here's my card... please get in touch so that we can do something about your aura. I hope we can all meet again soon, and may your collective consciousnesses continue to expand. (He gets up and leaves. As soon as he is out of sight, Zack explodes.)

Zack: What a cheek! Coming here and spouting all that nonsense... and both of you were mooning over him like star-struck fans! Please don't tell me that you're that gullible.

Max: Just forget about all that spiritual mumbo-jumbo... the man is a business genius! First of all, as a good businessman, he has studied his market and is selling a product that everybody wants - happiness - by offering them riches, health, success, companionship or respect. Then he uses esoteric and mystical language to make his customers feel they are getting an effective product. After all, if it's hard to understand, it must be complex, and if it's complex, it must be powerful. And lastly, he widens his market to include people of all faiths by saying that his 'Way' is a complement rather than a substitute for the faith they already practice.

Zack (incensed): Genius? Excuse me - that man is defrauding the people who come to him for help - and you call that a business? Max, sometimes I think that you are that close (makes a thumb and forefinger gesture) from the line that separates criminals from honest businessmen.

Max: Come on, Zack - you're being unfair here. What's all this talk about fraud? Look - the many has a lot of happy, satisfied customers! If Charlie's 'Way' were bogus, surely he wouldn't have people going back to him or recommending him, would he?

Nat: Well Max, there are all sorts of reasons you might recommend someone, or go back to them - and not all of them are because you're a completely satisfied customer. Once you have spent a significant amount of money on a product or service, you have made an emotional investment in it - to acknowledge that product is bad is to admit that you're rubbish at choosing products to buy.

So to prevent yourself from coming to that unpalatable conclusion, you convince yourself that you actually like the product. To further bolster this conviction, you also get other people to purchase the product. So in a perverse way, someone who sells poor quality stuff can actually see their sales increase!

Max: Hmm... interesting. I must file that away for future use.

Zack: The other thing is that people like Charlie are very vague with their claims - and this is deliberate so that they can have an escape route in case of failure. I bet you, if he told his customers "You will be promoted to the post of supervisor on 25 July, 2007", then his quackery would be more quickly exposed. But I'm sure he says something like "I see a promotion for you sometime in the future...", where the future can be anything from tomorrow till when Hell freezes over.

(Max reflects on this. Then he leans back and chuckles.)

Zack: What's so funny?

Max: A thought just struck me. Here I am, the unbelieving infidel defending a Man of Faith, while both of you as believers are opposing him. Isn't that funny?

Nat: Not really. My problem isn't whether his solutions are effective or not - I personally doubt that they are - but he's pandering to that very disturbing tendency in Nigerians to seek easy magical solutions to all their problems instead of doing the hard work of figuring out the solutions.

Max: And what's wrong with that? Why should any sane person rack their brain trying to figure out a solution when there's a ready made solution waiting? That's just like asking you to walk to work when there's an air-conditioned limo waiting to pick you up.

Zack: Of course there's nothing wrong - but how do you know it really is a limo? Once people know you want a limo, they'll try very hard to sell you a well-disguised kabukabu instead.

Nat: That's right - in other words, you need to be able to make sure that the 'easy solution' really does work. The fact that it's labelled as 'easy' means that your mouth begins to water, you drop your guard and you're not as discriminating as you really should be. And what's even worse about this 'I want the easy solution' attitude is that you care more about arriving at the solution than trying to understand how to arrive at the solution.

Max: So? What's wrong with that? After all, when you use your GSM phone to call me, you don't care about what the chips inside the phone are doing. All you care about is that you press some buttons and my phone rings.

Nat: That's true - it's not practical for me to figure out how every product or service works. But to use your example, if I wanted to find out how GSM telephony worked, I could get books to find out.

And having this inquisitive critical mindset is a good thing. If I dig deep and find out how the product works, it means that I can re-engineer it, I can enhance it, I can clone it and I can derive lots of transferable knowledge from it. But if all I'm interested in doing is just consuming the product, then it leaves me at the mercy of the person who made the product. If he doesn't like me, he can yank his product - and I'm stuffed!

Max: I'm still amused, though. How do your protestations square with the fact that you're both churchgoers? I could say to you that when you pray, you don't understand the processes by which your prayers are answered, but you still pray anyway. Isn't that what you're accusing Charlie of?

Zack: Well, you're right - God answers my prayers, and I don't understand the power through which He does this. However, the facility of prayer isn't some closed secret that only a select few know about, like this 'Way' of Charlie's. Instead, it's open to anyone who wishes to use it.

And it's not quite true to say that I don't understand what's going on when my prayer is answered. There are different shades of belief in the church - some believers who want God to do all the work and answer their prayers magically without them having to lift a finger. And some - like myself - believe that God helps those who help themselves. In other words, we prefer to do at least part of the work - we pray to God for the necessary 'intangibles', like the right mental, emotional and physical state that we need in order to accomplish what we pray for.

So for example, instead of praying for an 'instant' promotion, I would pray that I be given the wisdom and intelligence to figure out the right things to say or do to earn promotion. Or rather than looking for an 'instant' cure, I'd pray for God to give me the wisdom in choosing the best doctor and the discipline to adhere to his prescribed treatment. So I don't understand how God gives me the wisdom and strength, but I do understand how I use them.

Nat: Exactly. I believe, but I still keep one foot in the world of Reason. For example, take an instruction like "Kill one white cock that has perched on a tin roof and put its remains at the main crossroads in town. Then go back home and rub yourself with fat from a ram that has been killed by a left-handed widow wearing a black headscarf. After doing this, make sure you do not eat anything for three days and three nights, except for the meat from a lizard that has perched upon an Indian almond tree". If a prophet gave me such an instruction, I wouldn't follow it. I'd find myself asking "What is the sense in this?" or "How does it relate to what I understand about the world?" too many times to feel comfortable doing it.

Max: The sense? He's a prophet - he knows all! What more is there to say?

Nat: But he's a human prophet. I shouldn't be placing power over my life in his hands - especially a if he's a Nigerian prophet who is prone to get power-drunk pretty quickly.

Max: Well, yeah - I wouldn't do so either. But I think that as long as you still have your other foot in the world of Faith, Max, in my book you're still open to the charge of unquestioningly accepting unexplainable solutions.

Nat: Sure, Max. Let's just say that for some circumstances, I don't feel the need to question whether the limo really is a limo. Hey - there's an idea for you, Max. The market for prophets, pastors and other assorted spiritualists is crowded out... but I'm sure you could set up a business screening fake prophets from real ones.

Zack (sarcastically): Yes Max, you could do that... you could set up a prophet registry and ask genuine prophets to demonstrate no fewer than three verifiably authentic miracles at registration. And while you're at it, you could ask them to show evidence of a loud voice, a bushy beard, a wardrobe of assorted flowing robes and miscellaneous bells, staves and bottles of various holy fluids...

Max: Hmm... I'm liking this idea already. I guess I'll need to drop by sometime at Charlie's to get a feel of all that spiritual lingo that he uses - if I'm going to set this up properly, I'll need to sound like an authentic prophet's prophet. Would you like to tag along, Zack? I think there's still the outstanding issue of your aura to settle. Wait - I think that my hidden prophetic skills are kicking in already. I'm picking up intense psychic vibrations that are screaming out "over my dead body"...

[AWW's note: Pangolo Junction will be taking a well earned nap for several weeks while I do some other stuff to keep the wolf from the door. Feel free to browse the archives while waiting, if you haven't done so already. See you then, and have a great start to 2007!]


  • Wow...

    Right on point with the new spiritual wave.

    By Anonymous azuka, At December 29, 2006 3:44 pm  

  • Atala Wala Wala...uhm...Pangolo Junction...interesting names. I've been shadowing your site for a while. I'm not sure you know who I'm. Do you?... Okay, here a clue:

    "The caller referred by Taiwo A. of CR regarding a portal project."

    Warm regards my friend, and compliment sof the season. Keep up the good work. I may have a juicy proposition for you regarding this 'agolo Junction narrative of yours: The chronicles of Pangolo Junction- As narrated by Atala Wala Wala.

    By Anonymous imnakoya, At December 29, 2006 6:04 pm  

  • Omigosh! I didn't know that that was you... well, well, well!

    Thanks for dropping by, and a Very Happy New Year to you too.

    PS Any juicy proposition will be most favourably received. :)

    By Blogger Atala Wala Wala, At December 29, 2006 8:17 pm  

  • Nap for several weeks????

    awwwwww :-(
    will miss Pongolo Junction...

    ..well i guess i still have all the archives to catch up on :-).


    By Anonymous Anonymous, At December 29, 2006 8:31 pm  

  • Offtopic,
    I saw what you did on my blog.
    One word - NICE :-)

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At December 29, 2006 8:38 pm  

  • This is great stuff! lets just say i shall be reading more often definitely ..... and

    Happy New Year!!

    By Blogger Jem, At January 01, 2007 9:02 am  

  • For convenience, please let me refer to you as 'Atala'.

    The funniest aspects of this blog had to do with the 'aura'. I was amazed that despite Zack's maneuvering he was reminded ova and ova bout his aura :). 'O ye ki wolo weri fun'

    Then we had the issue of the paraphenelia of office of the modern Nigerian prophet. I might argue that's changing from the fluids, bells and candles. But hey! that's what Nollywood still portrays, so multifarious fluids, bells and candles it is.

    Have a good one, Atala!

    By Anonymous learnman, At January 03, 2007 12:31 pm  

  • @Atala: This is Yomi Adegboye from Yomi Says. Interesting satire you have there on our modernist all-problem-solving self-seeking preachers and the frame of mind of their followers.

    You have a way with words! I thoroughly enjoyed reading this piece. Will hang out at Pangolo from time to time.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At January 04, 2007 10:22 pm  

  • Learnman,

    You're probably correct about what you say about Christian prophets relying less on holy candles and water these days. In fact, a cousin of mine actually pulled me up on this. Serves me right for relying too heavily on Nollywood movies!


    Thanks for stopping by. Reading your blog, I can guess why this post might be of particular interest to you. :)

    By Blogger Atala Wala Wala, At January 05, 2007 3:58 pm  

  • wow i enjoy this blog oh, thanx nilla for holding me hand ;)
    I think you should write a book or get a colmn please dont get a local one make sure it has international coverage or else people in naija wont even appreciate your work well enough and we wont get to see any
    ride on!

    By Anonymous Anonymous, At January 06, 2007 9:20 pm  

  • lmao... baddicus bellicus eh

    o do this, I have attuned my spiritual consciousness so that I can now harness the knowledge that is freely available in the twenty-seven spiritual dimensions. For example, did you know that the secrets of successful business deals are transmitted via a special etheric frequency? Are you aware that there is a karmic wheel whose rotations send out rays of good health every seven minutes? (YOU ARE A GENIUS>>> LMAO)

    "I'm picking up intense psychic vibrations that are screaming out "over my dead body"...(lmao)...


    By Blogger Overwhelmed Naija Babe, At January 15, 2007 10:35 am  

  • ONB,

    Gosh... I'm speechless. I haven't been praised this much since I won the prize for 'Student With The Tidiest Desk' in my third year in secondary school.

    Anyway, I'm glad you liked it... and if you did, you'll have a ball going through the archives.

    In the meantime, the next installment of PJ has been properly cooked, and should be ready to serve... round about next weekend.


    By Blogger Atala Wala Wala, At January 15, 2007 12:36 pm  

  • Atala Wahala Wahala, oops , my blunder, thats some though provoking stuff you have going on there. Good one! LOL student with the cleanest desk ke! Taht one go make you chop cane for my primary school o.

    By Blogger Omodudu, At January 17, 2007 7:42 am  

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