…Lockdown, Curfew, Covid-19 Pandemic Takes Shine Off Easter Fiesta
Nigerians, from all zones had a rather unusual ‘new experience’ of Easter celebrations last week. The ‘low profile celebrations’ as both Bishop Funso Awe and Pastor Tayo Adesiyun put it, left virtually all Churches’ Auditoriums and Worships’ Centers empty on Easter Sunday.
The celebrations of the death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ are the symbols of the Christian faith. These were muted across the Country, with only noticeable intermittent messages of greetings and identifications by political and traditional leaders, all over the country.
Some, resorted to the use of technology by creating what is now known as visual church whereby the pastor or GO led the service from his own abode, streamed live for his congregations and is then seen by church members who can afford the data to watch the service online live.
Save for the then Eastern Region, that suffered something close to this lockdown during the internecine Civil War between 1967-1970, this was perhaps, the first time, since the advent of Christianity in Nigeria via Abeokuta in the mid-19th century, that Christians across the country would mark the death and resurrection of, Jesus Christ, with muted soberness behind the doors.
Millions of adherents were majorly solemn, downcast, soberly depressed devoid of any wild celebrations and conviviality associated with the Easter holiday period in the country. They trepidatiously locked themselves behind the gates of their homes.
On March 30, some ten days before Easter fiesta, the President, Muhammadu Buhari had ordered the lockdown of three major States: Lagos, Ogun, and the Federal Capital, Abuja. Some States not in the list of the Federal Government quickly followed to stem the tide of the rapid spread of the highly infectious communicable disease. The threatening plague called COVID-19 was at the epicenter of this muted behind the doors celebrations.
Usually, by Thursday, there would have been heightened preparations and frantic movements out of the cities. Churches’ auditorium would expectedly wear a new look. Transporters are sure to recoup the losses from the gloom of the past months, poultry farmers would smile, as stocks of chickens and turkeys would be pushed out at a great profit, so also are the groceries dealers, who are also sure to enjoy a great boom. Wine and beer bars too will bubble. But, alas, since February 29, when the first index case of the COVID-19 Virus, an unnamed Italian came into the country via Turkish Airlines, things have not been the same.
The newly-elected Bishop of Orthodox Gospel Church of Nigeria (Orthodox Anglican Communion), The Venerable Funso Awe said the Easter celebrations were seriously affected by the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.
According to him, ‘it was a new experience’ but urged ‘all Christian’s adherents to use the occasion to be closer to God.’
A distraught Mr. Remi Emeka Njoku likened the muted Easter Celebrations to his gory experience during the unfortunate Nigeria-Biafra War and said: ‘you will not understand if you were not born before 1970, or not resident in my region during the three years of the Nigeria-Biafra war’
Almost becoming emotional, he continued; ‘People are ignorantly saying this the worst Easter ever in the country, but I tell you, this is nothing near to my Easter experience during the Biafra war. The difference is that there are no shootings and killings, nor air bombardments’
According to Mr. Njoku who claimed to be a kwashiorkor victim by the time the war ended in January 1970, ‘all other conditions are similar. No free movements, fear of imminent deaths, hunger, no water to drink, arbitrary high costs of food items, deceptive palliative measures, rumours’, he sadly concluded.
Also, Pastor Tayo Adesiyan, a Lawyer/Pentecostal clergy, blamed the lifeless Easter celebrations of the lockdown ‘that has impacted the Easter season. This lockdown impacted badly on Easter Celebrations as unlike before Christians did not have the opportunity to gather together in Worship Centers to celebrate. No church services, no movement greatly affected the festivities’.
According to him, the inability of Christians to sing hymns in Churches to have praise and Worships with others contributed to the coldness so observed in the society generally. All these make up the glamour of celebrating the resurrection of our Lord and Saviour
Pastor Adesiyan was of the opinion that ‘staying at home is a new experience for Christians during Easter periods. The last Easter period was a period of sober reflection for all Christians I believe’.
But spiritually, he noted that the lockdown has allowed Christians to focus more on the sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Christians are generally in a low profile mood right now because of the lockdown. Of course, it affected the manner Easter is being celebrated. Low profile albeit by force is the order of the day.
He concluded by saying that the good side is that some of the excesses of the people including Christians have curtailed by the lockdown.
Keeping a low profile is not a sin’.
Afolayan Adebiyi writes from Lagos, Nigeria.
Feferity (c) 2020