Adeola’s ears perk up when he hears about The Ball being blessed by various religious and spiritual leaders. A marabou blessed The Ball in front of the world’s largest mud building, The Grand Mosquee, in Djenne. Two animists blessed The Ball in the Dogon Country, Mali. The Ball visited my good friend Kweku’s bible study group in Accra and was given a benediction by the Pope of Voodoo in Ouidah.
So, when Adeola invites The Ball into his church, The Ball was hardly likely to turn down the opportunity. It is the first time I have set foot in church for a while. The childhood scars of many a Sunday morning spent bored to tears in Sunday school, when all I really wanted to do was kick a football, have left a lifelong impression. I’m slightly nervous.
And then there is Ade’s church in Lagos, packed to the rafters – gospel music permeating the hall. Men and women with beautiful voices are singing and dancing in the aisles. Praise the Lord! I dance, I sing (very badly) and I thoroughly enjoy my time in Church and I can’t help but wonder what my religious beliefs might be if my Sunday mornings had been spent with these fun loving souls.
What’s more The Ball is at centre stage. The reverend, preaching to the packed crowd has this to say:
“In our midst this morning is someone who is bringing unity to the world. He has been to 20 countries in this world and he has 10 to go. Right now he is in Nigeria and on Tuesday he will be in Cameroon. This is all in the name of football. And this man carries to the countries of this world a football. One Ball. One World. It is a symbol of unity. It is a ball that is made in Africa. You can all sign this ball.”
I speak about the fear I had of travelling to Lagos and how I am now feeling embarrassed about those fears because of the wonderful reception The Ball and I have had in Lagos and in Nigeria.
I guess the point I want to make is that sometimes a few bad apples can spoil the reputation of a place but the vast majority of people in this world are good. I have met loads of friendly, generous and sincere people here. Nigeria has been fantastic.
Written by Andrew Aris on Thursday, May 6th, 2010
No comments yet
Be the first to leave one!