Curfewed Crossover

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If you needed proof that Nigerians are largely and overly religious, and nearly fetishly so, you had the proof in the popular rite of crossover into year 2021 one week ago. But with the Covid-19 second wave averaging some 900 new cases across Nigeria per day, state governments like Lagos, Ogun and Ondo, among others, resolved to enforce a daily curfew between 12 midnight and 4 a. m. that the Federal Government ordered to curtail the spread of the pandemic. That meant people could not be out of their homes at the traditional crossover hour. (Apparently owing to the sensitivity of the issue, some other states like Osun and Oyo temporarily stood down the curfew. ) Many big churches found a way around the constraint by scheduling early in-person services that ended in good enough time for members to return to their homes before 12 midnight, with some continuing their services online to coincide with the strategic crossover hour. Some other churches were not as obliging regarding the curfew restriction. Cottage churches in inconspicuous locations held in-person services that were tightly congested, partly for afore-stated reasons, far beyond midnight. The Covid-19 precautionary rule of social distancing did not feature on the radar, much less the curfew. A popular mega church located in Alausa, Ikeja Lagos, not only held a jampacked service where attendees wore no facemasks all through the night, but also streamed the service live on television. You would think the prescribed curfew and safety protocols of social distancing and using facemasks were the new persecution against which they were role-modelling defiance. Worship consciousness and determination to begin a new year ‘with God’ is by all means a good thing. But defiance of rules prescribed for the protection of all was not. Frankly speaking, defying protocols meant to keep society safe from Covid-19 made the crossover rite by some devotees more fetish than spiritual.

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