In Nigeria, coordinated social media outrage takes a day. The resultant media crisis lasts a week. Then we collectively reset like nothing happened. Welcome to the cycle of twitter outrage.
Within a week I suspect the twitter opprobrium around the alleged rape allegation against Pastor Bolaji will disappear. It has happened before on another level of grace and I fear it will happen again.
Let me begin by applauding the courage of several especially in the entertainment community for coming out to take a public stand on this issue. As I’ve said many times, everything we want in Nigeria is on the other side of courage. I’m glad we are taking this critical step today with rape culture in the church.
That said as the son of clergy and a Christian myself I have grown up in and around the church my whole life. Anyone who has been going to church as long as I have already knows that so long as this is interpreted to be a battle between the entertainers at the gate of hell and the anointed one pastoring us to earthly and heavenly bliss – church members will stand solidly behind their own. After all – Christians dutifully paying tithes were the last target. This is simply one of other such attacks proving the end times. Ridiculous as it may sound this strong narrative mixes well with the opium of religion to ensure the status quo is preserved.
Sadly, today’s church is a reflection is society not the other way around. Sure – the Bible charged Christians to be in the world but not of it but welcome to reality of Gucci wearing, rolls Royce driving, private jet wielding shepherds as the emblem of today’s Christianity. The gospel of desiring a personal relationship with our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ seems to be dying out with earlier generations of Nigerian Christians.
Moreover we know this problem goes beyond one pastor or Church. Nigerian men in positions of power regularly take advantage of young girls under their authority. I have often argued that I’m not sure how Nigerian women haven’t picked up armed struggle against Nigerian men – especially given the prevalence of alleged crimes of this sort across social class and strata.
The truth is it will take real courage to call out what we lovingly call ‘aristo’ behavior across board beyond the easy target that might be hypocrite pastors. Yet this is the kind of courage that could have a lasting impact on the battle for gender equality in Nigeria. To prove we are not just in this to settle old scores our entertainers and influencers must also in this way call out other major power figures in society across business, government, and the academy who have and are still using their positions of power to sexually abuse young women? It will come at a cost as many will be fans, patrons, relatives, even clients. However showing that is a societal problem and not just a church one is the kind of courage this situation demands.
We cannot simply let this be another story of powerful entertainers and social media influencers rallying around one of their own to ‘attack the church’. This narrative does more harm than good to our righteous crusade. We have to make this about all those women and girls who lack similar star power and status? Do they continue to die slowly in silence? Can we use this platform to give them a voice too?
Our ability to show courage in going further to do this may mean the difference between this being another #hertoo moment that lasts a week or a much broader and sustained #metoo conversation and movement our society so desperately needs to expose man’s inhumanity to woman.
So as I would say in my mental health therapy circle – who wants to go next?
You can already be sure I am standing with you.