Today, I visited the Afrika Shrine, Alausa, Ikeja. It was my first time ever as I had only, before now, passed by it and turned up my nose at weed-smokers.
But today, I was passing by the Shrine with my friend and we decided to drop by and just walk around. In my mind, I entered the shrine to walk superior among them and semi-judge their ways. But that was not what happened at all.
Yes, there were smoking high people at every corner of the place; with some sprinkling of unhigh people, but this did not stop me from realizing that I was not in the position to judge.
you see, I am also a photographer. And to be a ‘street photographer’ in Nigeria or a photographer who documents random Nigerian moments, you have to be very tough. Everywhere I go, someone wants to collect money from me for bringing my phone or camera out to take a picture. Or, they want to display false authority.
I was wary of taking pictures there because I believed they’d come and get me. But in my moments in the Shrine, no one accosted me, no one talked rudely at me. They were polite and even kind and helpful. When they did not agree to our pricing their items for sale, they did not yell or tell us to get out of their sights (like most Nigerian traders do), they simply said, ‘The prices here are fixed’ (in Yoruba).
There, I saw why people keep going back to Shrine – because the shrine accepts them. I saw pretty and unpretty people sit in the same kind of place. There are no high-tables or VIP sections. Everyone is together, everyone is accepted. This is the kind of culture we should breed in our churches and social reform centers/platforms.
My experience at the Shrine taught me that to keep people following you, your movement, or your ideologies, you must be ready to accept everyone as they come. No discrimination. No prejudice.
I cannot quite communicate my full lessons from the acceptance I felt at the Shrine, but I hope I am able to emulate it.
Here are some pictures I was able to take: