On first meeting with Mummy Favour; she does not leave you in doubt of who she is or what she stands for, a peace loving Christian whose faith is deeply rooted and solidly based on Christianity and all that it entails. The names of her four children are testimony to her near cult like religious devotion; Miracle, Pentecost, Favour and Divine. Not for her the antiquated names such as Elizabeth, Mary, David and Sarah, nor the heathenish Chukwu Emeka and Chibuzor sent as names from the village. Mummy Favour owns a small but perhaps most patronised and thriving neighbourhood frozen foods shop, selling chicken, turkey, fish and very recently crabs and shrimps. A very beautiful, young woman most likely in her mid to late 30s, Mummy Favour appears a well bred woman. Her very fair complexion and neat appearance naturally attracts one to her. But then, she was well equipped for the trade she embarked upon being the only one with a big enough generating set to take care of the epileptic power supply, the bane of most entrepreneurs of such small scale businesses. This way, one was always guaranteed of fresh products from her shop which no doubt was responsible for the high patronage she received. Many did not even mind that they often had to pay a little more than what obtains in other shops around.
I never met Mummy Favour’s husband but I was informed that he is also a very fine gentleman. He works for a Telecommunications outfit on one of the Islands in Lagos and drives a posh car that complements his handsome looks. The gist is that after four children, Mummy Favour got tired of sitting at home, so, the shop was set up just so she could feel good about herself and appear busy. They did not really need the money, or so neighbours assumed. Besides their seeming conspicuous comfortable financial status, is their religiosity as I mentioned earlier. Right at the back of Mummy Favour’s car, you will find a couple of Holy Bibles neatly displayed at the rear windshield. Next to them are tambourines of different sizes. I am told you will find same thing in her husband’s car. She went to church almost every day of the week for one programme of another and you are not likely to meet her at the shop anytime after 5.00pm. She runs an 8.00am to 5.00pm shop as nothing could distract her from her church activities.
I was never a great fan of Mummy Favour. Not for anything she did in particular but based on my observations. You see, I am always wary about people who try very hard to convince me about how religious they are. In fact, once you tell me you are titled in any religious manner, pastor, Alfa, Woli, etc, I am already in my caution mode, my antenna searching for any signs to prove you a liar. Mummy Favour struck me as one. On the few occasions I had course to stop at her shop, she did not strike me as a truly godly woman. She appeared very intolerant of her sales girl and wasted no time in tagging her as being possessed with familiar spirit, threatening to send her away at any moment. I was told she changed them like she would her wrapper because they were not able to live up to her expectations. Mummy Favour would punctuate almost every statement with outbursts of “holy spirit, Jesus Christ, Jesus is Lord, Satan is a liar, Thank God or Holy Ghost Fire to mention a few. I assumed this was to convince us that she is highly spiritual. And truly, most ate it all up, many insisting their wards and children must buy her goods. So, it was a rude shock that left many jaws dropping and mouths drooling recently, when Mummy Favour’s persona came crashing down one night.
According to my hairdresser who happens to be the next door neighbour to Mummy Favour on a row of about six other shops, she had closed for the day at about 5.00pm as usual, telling them she was going to church. At about 7.30 or thereabouts, some people said they perceived something burning and the odour was traced to Mummy Favour’s shop. There, they saw traces of smoke drifting out from under the door and concluded they must avert a fire outbreak that was about to happen. Those who have her telephone number tried to call her but her phone was not going through. So, they decided to break the door and save the situation, thanking their stars that they saw the fire before it turned wild. However, on peering the door open, what they saw was a far cry from what they expected. Right in the middle of the shop was a big calabash filled with all sorts of items for a juju ritual. The big pot had little supporters at the four corners of the room, all five of them had palm oil and incense burning. The smoke had filled the entire room and was slipping out through every hole available. This was what the other shop owners and neighbours saw and thought it was a fire outbreak.
After the initial shock, the brave ones put out the little fire, pouring water on the rituals and breaking the pots. They got another key and locked up Mummy Favour’s shop and agreed that no one must tell her that night. She must come in as usual in the morning to see things for herself. To the chagrin of everyone, our tongue blowing, spirit filled churching sister continued chanting Jesus, holy spirit, haba father, as she manoeuvred through the debris of her burnt offering now scattered all over. Needless to tell you that a huge crowd had gathered all around the shop, waiting to see what her next action would be, or perhaps pounce on her for whatever crime they might accuse her of in the neighbourhood. Wisely, she locked herself up in the shop until my hairdresser and others assured her the coast was clear. She left and never returned. A few days later, her husband organised for the shop to be evacuated as most of the food had started rotting away, causing a foul odour in the air. A few weeks had passed before I visited the place and was regaled of mummy Favour’s escapades. No one could have guessed her capable of such a thing. Everyone thought she was whom she said she was. The shop is still locked up and her tenancy running.
In between laughter and pity, we tried to empathise with mummy Favour and dissect what could have made her go down that path. Had she been any other ‘regular’ person, perhaps it wouldn’t have been so difficult to comprehend. For someone who pushed her religiosity in your face at every turn, would it be correct to say that her god was not all that she wanted us to believe it was? Why did she need to assist him do his job through juju? What was the juju for, a crowd puller or sales promoter? How are we even sure that it is was meant for the shop and not for her handsome husband to keep him glued to her side? Is the husband aware of her extra religious activities or he was as surprised as we were too? We are not likely to get answers for all these questions. However, one thing is sure, we have been able to unmask mummy Favour for whom she really is.
I am not against seeking spiritual assistance from anywhere one believes they can find help. It is human nature to desire to rise above our weaknesses and uncertainties. I just don’t think it is right for anyone to deceive others the way mummy Favour carried on over the years. Even without the juju, she would have naturally outsold her competitors as she was better equipped for the business. Her goods stood her apart as they were always in a better condition than others. The juju appears an unnecessary distraction to me. But then, I may be wrong. We have heard many similar stories. From women washing their privates into foods to be sold to unsuspecting buyers, to those who collect water used for washing customers’ hands after eating, to some others who spray the floors with spiritual water so that those who enter are forced to make purchases before they can leave, and all what naught. A good product needs very little public relations to be accepted. Perhaps, we must carefully assess the kinds of goods and services we push out to people. Do they meet up to accepted quality standards? What is your human and customer relations like? Spiritual manipulation may fetch you a one off sale, I doubt it can keep an unsatisfied customer coming over and over again. Though this may account for why they have to renew the juju over and over again to sustain its efficacy.
Similar scenarios often play out in corporate environments too. We’ve heard stories about how workers manipulate the elements or situation to arm twist their employers or bosses into giving them what they do not merit either by hard work or hierarchy. Our dear Uncle Sam had a cautionary advise for a newbie who felt he was home and dry after securing employment in those days. “It is easy for someone to help you get a job, but the person cannot help you execute the job”. Manipulations can get you the job but you will need your skill and much more to excel at it. There are many mummy Favours in our midst, pepping things up here and there by adopting any means possible to get through life. They have various excuses to justify why they must take such paths, including those you might find impossible to rationalise. I am told life is given but living must be bought. I have also heard that it is in only when we are in Lagos that we form ‘born again Christians and practicing Muslims. When we get to our roots, we know who we are! So, let me ask, who are you?
Do have a wonderful weekend!!