Saturday, 5 May 2012

Potatoes Sunny Side Up?

And so I was asked: 'What can I get you for breakfast? Boiled Potatoes, sunny side up?'
For a moment I was baffled. My mind raced to try to imagine what this dish looked like. Then i put two and two together and realized breakfast normally included the question about fried eggs, sunny side up? So it had nothing to do with eggs at all, it simply meant, the best we can offer. So I obliged and said, 'ok, let me have it!'I literally got small boiled potatoes for breakfast in my plate. I have never eaten potatoes for breakfast anywhere else except in Kiev, in the Ukraine, where I ate nothing but potatoes for a whole weak until I went with the lady of the house to buy some withered vegetables and a bit of meat in a shanty shop location two hour bus ride away from their community apartment.
But I was in a little village somewhere in Nigeria and in a hotel and the young man was put in charge of training the hotel staff. He was ambitious, energetic and high spirited and put his best foot forward all the time to impress the foreigner, but they did not have everything in place yet, not the right equipment nor the right products for meals. For instance they do not have Coca Cola in the bar. Only Sprite. They only serve from the bottles that are open - otherwise you have to purchase the whole bottle.
They are making great improvements all the time. They are training the staff - and the young man, whose name was Paul, was in charge of all the training, which happened openly. He corrected staff members on the spot and reprimanded them in front of the guests and also met with them every morning after prayer and worship, to give them instructions. He warned the older men not to be offended by his youth but to learn from him. He was giving them a three week window to improve before he would recruit other staff.
He felt obliged to look after me and ordered my meal, then sat with me at the table watching me eat it, all the time asking if I enjoyed it. It felt very uncomfortable being watched with every mouth full. If he had to go and attend to something he would asked to be excused and then rushed back to take up his position where he could watch every movement I made from the plate to my mouth.
When I went for a swim the pool man walked up and down the pool like an Olympic Coach. I felt hard pressed to swim faster with each stroke. Even if I felt like quitting after so many lengths I felt guilty and kept on turning and swimming to the other end.
I gave one of my blues CD's to Paul and to some of the other senior members. When I went to the pool bar they played my CD over the extremely loud sound system that was supported with speakers stacked up to the sky on both sides of the pool. I heard my voice being boomed out to the whole neighborhood. They particularly liked the slow songs such as 'Come sit by me' and 'Memory be kind'. It set quite a drastic contrast to their up tempo African rhythms that was all about dancing and not about melody.
In church I observed how they dance and being a trained actor, simply imitated them to their great delight! Legs bent, buttocks stuck far out, arms dangling in front as if you are playing a bush drum and head forward looking down at your feet, you cut your steps to the left and the right and move forward and backwards shaking the hands at intervals or clapping them once or twice. You let out a yell of excitement now and again, 'Jeyh!' and then throw yourself into interpreting the rhythm in a dance.
I preached in an unfinished church building in Umuahia in Abia State. The pastor received me well and so did the people. When I ministered on the I AM Principle the penny dropped after an hour and a half of preaching and suddenly people lay prostrate on the dirty worn out cement floor and started weeping quietly. You could hear them repeat the gist of my sermon, 'God wants me to be myself!' It was a revelation to them. They had been trying so hard to live up to all the demands of religion that the burden became to heavy to bear. The simply message I brought cleared up all the jet and flotsam of years of religious bondage and they were allowed to go free! There was a long silence after I preached where people just lay on the ground and some wept quietly - very unusual for Nigeria. The pastor eventually took the mike but said, 'I don't know what to say...' He dismissed the people but no one wanted to leave. It was a moment of divine glory and we all wanted to linger a little longer.
They invited me back for their annual conference.
On the Sunday morning a visitor stepped forward and offered to pay for th

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