The title of this article is coined from a late nineties’ Hollywood movie, How Stella Got Her Groove Back. It involves a forty-something year old single parent woman who rediscovered a zest for life after traveling to Jamaica on vacation where she met and fell in love with a young stud. The story served as an inspiration and still does to many women all over the world who otherwise feel that their best years have passed them by.
My article is related to the inspiring story of Stella in the movie as a result of the outcome of the recently held The Experience Lagos concert. It is a widely held view among Christians the world over that music in whatever forms it is performed today started from the Church. It is held in theological circles that Lucifer, a.k.a Satan, the arch enemy of the Almighty God was the leader of the choir in Heaven before he was thrown out after he rebelled against God in wanting to set up his place above the Almighty.
Originally, all music was meant to give praise unto God, the creator of man, as He had made man to give pleasure unto himself. It was a result of Lucifer’s fall from grace that a corruption was wroth on all music forms. From time immemorial, the Church body has struggled with the acceptance or otherwise of music forms, instruments, etc into its praise and worship system. It took so long before the body of Christ in Nigeria accepted such instruments as the gangan talking drum and many other traditional music instruments. The people who argued against its use claimed that it was an instrument dedicated to the worship of the pagan deities. But the proponents for its usage claimed that God made all things for the glorification of the body of Christ. The gangan and others like shekere (rattle); omele, bata etc have all now become part of our worship routine in the 21st century.
Coupled with the fact that the origin of instruments was a big deal in the past was also the problem that good music was only to be found in the world, not in church. That kind of music that made one to get on their feet and dance all night long could only be found in the nightclubs and other creepy places where Christians were not expected to go. But it must be stated that most of the popular music being danced to in the clubs were and are still being made by people who grew up in church and had their first real training in the church choir. Examples abound in names like King Sunny Ade, Marvin Gaye, Britney Spears, R.Kelly, John Legend, Fela Anikulapo Kuti, amongst many others.
Music is such a powerful force. Only recently, the founder of MTV was quoted as saying that he controls the minds of teenagers and adolescents the world over. This is a result of the station’s promotion of music genres like pop, rap and rock which is the opium of young people. It is a phenomenon that can be seen in the way young boys and girls wear their jeans and skimpy tops these days. They all want to behave like heir screen idols. I recall an incident in Accra recently when one famous rapper was on a tour. On his arrival at the airport lounge, he was hugged by one of his young fans who went away screaming that he’ll never wash that shirt he wore on him forever. Such is the power of popular music and its stars.
But the body of Christ in Nigeria took back what they had lost to the world with the successful staging of The Experience in Lagos last week. In an industry where it is the norm to charge gate toll in accordance with the caliber and number of performers, the organizers proved pundits wrong by taking nothing from anybody; not even the usual free will offering. And they brought some of the biggest names in the world of gospel music the world over. Award winning singers like Kirk Franklin, Donnie McClurkin, Israel Houghton, Lionel Peterson and some of the brightest Nigerian gospel names performed to an audience of over a 100, 000 people, young and old who thronged the Tafawa Balewa Square. It was a night when the youths of this nation made a stand to uphold the ideals of the founding fathers of our nation. They recited the national anthem and the Pledge with a conviction of the meaning expressed by the words there in.
It was not just about music, prayers were offered in intercession for the country’s general elections in 2007. All those who purpose evil in their hearts were delivered into the hands of God. Christians were advised that it was high time they started to think of posterity after all the years of prosperity preaching. What lasting legacies can be left for the coming generations? How individuals can make a difference in the running of the nation.
With the biggest names in the music industry, whether in the secular or religious visiting Nigeria in the space of a few months, it just shows the huge potentials that the country possesses in tourism. As the organizers of The Experience have indicated that they intend to make it an annual event, it makes our nation’s events calendar more buoyant. As it is, the churches combined bring such a large number of first time visitors to the country all the time courtesy of their conventions each and every year. Nigerian churches are the fastest growing anywhere in the world. They are in Eastern and Western Europe, Asia and the United States. It just might be that the Church does better image laundering for us than all the money spent on CNN and TIME. The Church has shown what can be achieved by a little trying.
One must commend the vision of Pastor Adefarasin and his indefatigable team for making such an idea work in these times. They made it look like child’s play. Their hiring of street urchins (area boys) and accrediting them, giving them uniforms and drafting them into maintaining traffic could only be Solomonic wisdom. Their demeanour belied their usual restlessness during events such as these. It must be said that they made the place safe for all and sundry making true the conditioning thesis of psychologists; how you treat a man is how he will respond to you.
The Church has shown that it is willing to take a lead in the social and spiritual life of the nation. It must also extend its influence into the sphere of political leadership. The Bible says that when good men are in authority, the people rejoice. We need the church to take up a more positive approach in governance. As it seems now, once the Church has got her groove back nothing can stop her. The Experience 2007 will hold under a new democratic dispensation, it can only get better for Nigeria.