Saturday, October 19, 2013

What Would Victoria Do?

BY Adejoh Idoko Momoh

There’s something about the worship here; the church amazing in its construction: paved rocks like waterfalls leading to doorways that in themselves lead to a really expansive football- field -like arena with very high ceilings of public address systems, air-condition vents and beautiful art.

With arguably the largest congregation of any American church, Lakewood Christian Center seats a remarkable 40,000 people; the building was once Houston’s Compaq Center before the church bought it at $7.5 million and then started an ambitious $93 million worth of renovations, the church as it stood before me, justified every expense.

‘I am a mess sometimes. I might be a mess tomorrow… And you know what? God-says- it- is- okay to- be- a- mess, provided- I don’t- stay- that- way’ Victoria Osteen would say. Picking her words individually, in that voice white people use when they are overtaken by amazement or the sudden realization that whatever troubles they have has been mysteriously relieved.

I would loose concentration, think to my local church: Pastor Biodun Fatoyinbo’s Commonwealth of Zion Assembly, Abuja. His church, much like this: in branding, the motivation- like sermons, the largely youthful, hopeful population with excellent service of songs and praises: the ideal picture of a progressive church.

I would allow my mind wander. Ask what Victoria would do if like Pastor Modele Fatoyinbo, Joel Osteen had an ‘Ese Walters’ leveling allegations of a weeklong affair against him. A weeklong indulgence in fornication which Pastor Biodun fully aware of his actions lured her into, first by asking her to join his pastoral care unit, offering personal spiritual counseling and encouraging her to try alcohol. 

His ‘Ese’ would probably say he spoke in his very charming Texan accent, saying: ‘I’m gonna teach you a level of grace mankind doesn’t understand’ his eyes sparkling with the glow of a teacher eager to school his student. He would then threaten just like Pastor Biodun did: ‘I see premonition in which you leak details of our affair to the press. When such a time comes, remember that the bible requires you to hurt not Gods anointed’

Bringing myself back from thought, I would see her. Light skinned and very pretty in her above-knee-length blue dress accentuated at the waist by a metallic black belt, I imagine she would say to Joel, our marriage is for better and for worse, but mostly she would realize that he didn’t just sin against her, but against his church, against the part of Christ’s body he shepherds and therefore owed more of an explanation than the ‘Leave it to God’ posture Pastor Biodun has currently adopted with the people of COZA and the larger public.

For every one worker who would labor every Sunday, every weekday making sure services run smoothly,
she would demand that he apologizes. Not because by his apology he admits some form of guilt, but because by his actions, he has brought them embarrassment.

She would probably ask him to take a back seat from church activities, let other pastors who were content with their wives and didn’t see the need to desecrate their flesh with adultery, shepherd the church.
She would know that he is human, probably forgive him after she overcomes her own anger. She would know that because of this humanity, he would make mistakes sometimes and would need the direction a good wife should provide.

She would pull herself together: show that she is a woman in control and not just one who is lingering in the background, gleefully playing the victim of a cheating husband. She would take a stand: publicly stand by her husband, help him find God again or walk away, but all she would do, she would do boldly.

Adejoh Momoh ( can be followed on twitter @adejoh

Monday, October 7, 2013


Adejoh Idoko Momoh

I do not remember the date, what I do remember is that it was on our way from Orlando to Atlanta. The trip registers fondly not only because it was a 7 hour drive but also because on that trip I had a fight with my sister.
After everyone tired of hearing my hunger complaints, we stopped at a local Wendy's just on the highway to get a burger and a coke. I had gone in, placed and collected my order and returned to the car when my sister in her usual calm demeanor asked why I didn’t ask if any other person wanted to eat. I do not remember if I did ask, what I do remember is that I was so focused on my own hunger that I probably would have forgotten to ask.

'Supreme Chicken burger and a coke please'

I said to the red haired lady behind the counter. I was going to laugh at the very silly looking bright red hat that held her hair up the middle and had the word 'Wendy's' inscribed on it in white, but I decided not to at the thought that she might be rude if I did.
I ordered the most basic item on the menu so I didn’t have to speak a lot of English and have the lady annoyingly say 'excuse me' intermittently in her silly American accent that to me sounded very un-english.

'So, if you’d take a seat over there, your order'd be up in 5 mins'

She pointed to a sitting area splattered with color it looked like a child’s playground. I didn’t sit, I felt like it would be wrong to sit there so I stood.
This is one thing that confused me about Americans: the practice of ordering you to do something and making it sound as though it was merely a suggestion.
As she handed me my order, she finally asked:

'Where are you from?' I would hesitate and she would continue 'I ask cos your accent is so cool'. I would say Nigeria and thank her.

In about a week, I would leave Atlanta and head for Chicago where I would visit the Northern Illinois University to consider graduate school options, I would meet a dark skinned Cameroonian- whom I would first refer to as my African sister and therefore think her easy to relate with. Before I would notice her beauty.
Very sightly both in looks and features: humbly small breasts that would fit perfectly in the palm of my hands, healthy round hips and those kind of legs you only see in catalogs.
In the course of conversation, I would describe Igbo girls as light skinned and pretty. My Cameroonian would say:

'I enjoy listening to you, Momoh'

Her hands holding mine as we stared forward in the realization and discomfort that it was the first time we held hands.

'Here the 'T' is blurred such that it sounds like an 'L'. The 'R' is rolled off your tongue such that it sounds somewhere between an 'R' and a 'W'. If you’re considering graduate school here, you really have to learn to fit in, to sound like us'

I tightened my grip on her palm as though signaling that it was okay to hold hands and she tightened hers too in agreement. I looked at her and felt pity for this green card holding African. Despite being here 10 years, I could see she still tried to fit in. She was trapped between a country that would forever label her foreign and one very rich in culture and hospitality that lost her 10 years ago.

 Adejoh Momoh ( can be followed on twitter @adejoh