Devil Worshipping: A Word From Dexmond

I wrote and recorded Servant Of The Most High out of concern. Growing up in a heterogenous religious household in Edo State, I was introduced to two distinct religious institutions from a very early age. My introduction was not done by members of the extended family. No, my father was/is a traditional worshiper and my mother is a Christian, so it was a very nuclear-based introduction, needless to say, I took both religions seriously. I had to. My mother – Mrs Ireti Eghaghe – was ordained as a deaconess in our church back in Edo state. I say this to point out her devotion to Christendom. Imagine being such a devoted Christian married to a traditionalist husband. Mummy tried to shield us as best as she could from what she called Devil Worshipping. She employed all the tricks in her bag; she would take us to grandma’s house on the day of any big “ritual”, send us on never-ending errands, anything just to keep us away from Devil Worshipping. We – my younger brother Osaretin and I – experienced the best shielding one can get from a loving Christian mother. However, Daddy, Mr Jonathan, was different. Mr Jonathan – yes he has a Christian name – my life is just weird – never had a problem with us going to church or engaging in Christian activity. The only thing he ever said about Christianity is that it is the same God with his religion. He constantly implored us to give the same devotion to both. I was amazed, he won me over from such a young age with that outstanding open-mindedness, and also because we never had to walk certain kilometres to go to the shrine. It was just at the back of the house. Unlike the Christian church, we didn’t need to put on our best outfits to stand in front of the gods. We could be playing, all rough in dust and mud and still get invited to the shrine, unlike the Christian church where we had to put on our best outfits. These were my thoughts as a child, so the traditional religion resonated with me more at that age. It was way more fun than Christianity and Daddy never said anything ill about them. 

Time went by, and stand-up comedy found its way into my life. an art form that permits you to decipher situations to come to humorous conclusions. Beautiful. Guess the first thing that was worth deciphering, yes, you guessed right, the very thing that gave me much trouble and dilemma all through my childhood: religion. I did the digging and Servant Of the Most High was born. All of my concerns have been channelled into this comedy special; the power of religion, the absurdities it allows, how a person who wields this power tool exerts his control on his subordinates unchallenged, the judgemental nature of it, the individualism it rigs off his members, etc.  “You see something, you say something”, the Nigerian police slogan for public involvement in security has always been my guiding light in my stand-up comedy career. I have noticed these things about this institution therefore, I am obligated to share. Of course, I have my fears. But in the numerous art-based articles I have read, every great artist has always looked past their fears. The message they intend to pass surpasses every fear, at least to them. In fact, as an artist, if you don’t feel fear you are not doing it right – I saw that in one of the articles too – “feel the fear and do it anyway”. In my case, while writing/performing Servant Of The Most High, the same thing that gave me fear, also gave me courage. Fear: Religion is too sacred to joke about. Courage: since it’s too sacred, the more reason we should joke about it. Art is weird like that. 

Sincerely, I’m excited to share this special with the public and at the same time, I’m not. Ok, this is why I’m excited: I have been bothered about something long enough and I have come to an artistic resolution about my worries. I’m immensely proud of that. I feel like a true artist. I can walk with my chin up wherever art is mentioned. I take pride in that for real. Why am I not excited? Because a lot of people will get to see me in a different light. A lot of people will get to see me, for me. I have successfully mastered the art of shielding my personality from friends and family and now I’m sincerely letting them in on my thoughts. It’s giving me cold feet. I have a devout Muslim girl I have been in love with since high school. Islam wasn’t spared in the special, I wonder how she will take it. What about my mum? I mentioned her quite a number of times in the special, I mean she knows my stand on religion but not to this measure. It will hurt her to some extent, I know. All these breed fear and excitement at the same time. 

When the special eventually drops, I hope the viewers go through it with open hearts and see or try to see things from my perspective. If I’m being brutally sincere with myself, I’m not doing it for the immediate public. I know and spoke a lot in the special about how powerful religion is, and the kind of effect it has on the human mind. Karl Marx was not mistaken to describe it as an opium. So, my goal is not to convince the immediate public. It’s for the yet unborn generation. That one day when they stumble on it, hopefully before religion catches them, they can fully grasp what I’m trying to say. The purpose of this special is immortality for myself and positive change for those who will come after.

Author: chief

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