I remember how betrayed I was when I found out that Jesus might not have looked like he did in the popular ‘Jesus of Nazareth’ film. He did not have piercing blue eyes. He did not have blonde hair.
In fact, if he was alive now he might be in a detention centre, arrested on terrorist charges for fitting the profile (Arab-looking, visibly vocal with loyal following). It’s a good thing he walked on water because with that profile, nobody would let him near a plane – at least not without some serious body cavity searching (“What’s that barrel for? You wanna turn water into wine? I’m sorry sir, Imma have to search you. Spread ‘em.”)
Recently on doing a bit of light reading for a short story, I discovered that our popular image of Mami Wata was not only done by German painter in 1926, but is based on a chromolithograph of Samoan snake-charmer.
Hear me out before you start crossing yourself, screaming ‘Obara Jesus’ or singing All Other Gods Are Sinking Sand. I can understand that Christianity is an imported religion and so should reflect imagery from where it came from (even if it doesn’t really), but isn’t it a bit….pathetic…that even in African traditional religions, modern images of deities that are revered, that have been revered perhaps by our fathers and their fathers etc, cannot even be found to have originated from them? Yes, this Mami Wata is close enough but no cigar.
I wonder how much this contributes to people’s religious self-esteem in Nigeria if on either side nowadays, God has no physical resemblance to you. I wonder if this translates to self-esteem in other areas; if your god is represented as blue-eyed and blond-haired or straight-nosed and wavy- haired, could it mean that you view anyone with these set of characteristics as closer to God somehow? And where does that place you with your flat nose and kinky hair and dark skin?
I suppose the Catholic church is ‘trying’ in this regard since we have some black saints but it’s telling in other ways that I couldn’t find women amongst them. If you know of any black women saints, let me know.
(Remember to show this blog post to your garri vendor in the market because you’ll get a discount.)
In other news: Jesu Kristi onye ebere, what is this? I tried to find an image for the goddess Idemmili (who is often mistaken for Mami Wata) and this came up.
Where do I begin? The girl’s brown underthings with sexy hint of bum-crack? The boy’s noticeable lack of poster originality? By picking my jaw off the floor?
His name is Gentle O. I can’t tell you what his music is like as all the links don’t play but it must be true that when God closes a door, he opens a window – he is from Chinua Achebe’s hometown.
Gentle O, carry go, nothing do you!