From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

By Andrew Keili
Apr 17, 2013, 17:06

“You, out!, you also, get out of here!” At this order from a security guard to two well dressed gentlemen waiting outside St. Anthony Church hall to join the after funeral repast of a friend’s father, the gentlemen walked out of the compound without so much as a mild protest. My friends and I who witnessed this bizarre episode were shocked that the guard would behave this way to mourners but were surprised at the lack of protestation from the  gentlemen. “Pa, den man den don pasmark. Den day ya for all berin” he explained to us.


Incidences like this are much too commonplace now. Well dressed crooks now frequent all kinds of ceremonies to look for “booty”. Some may attend purely for a square meal. The story is told of a visiting expatriate lady who went to a church that she usually attends when she is here. She was followed unsuspectingly by four “worshippers” who walked off with her bag when she went for communion. Lots of ladies now go for communion with their bags clutched in their hands-a new meaning to the famous invitation “.....Draw near with faith.......” which should probably be rephrased “ If you have made sure you have taken all your belongings with you and no thief will make off with your valuables, draw near with faith and receive....”. Many a lady’s handbag has got stolen this way. The announcement in Churches about making sure your valuables are collected at the end of a Church service is now the norm. Just about the only thing you will be likely to recover if you leave it in Church will be a Bible. You cannot however be sure about this if the Bible looks fairly new. I however have a philosophical view of the theft of Bibles. If the thief or someone he sells it to uses it , he may be along the path of fulfilling the objectives of the “Great Commission” even if the thief flouts the eighth commandment.


I recently attended a funeral service in Bo and heard someone remark at the repast that people were going to have a field day as there were three funeral services on that day. True to the prediction, a mourner walked into the repast room with a black plastic bag containing his food packet from another funeral repast. He walked up gingerly with his hymn sheet and pin-up from another service and helped himself to some more food.


It is however when man steals from God that it probably becomes totally inexcusable. Many churches now device contraptions by which money goes in one way and does not exit. My  Dad modified the church collection bag specifically for Mammy Johnson (not her real name) who was in the habit of dropping in one thousand Leones and collecting her change of five thousand Leones. Her attendance rate dropped after the change!


Priests and families have got quite innovative at addressing these issues however. I went to a funeral last year at which the priest announced at the end of the service “Announcements will be made after the interment at the cemetery”. Some shady looking characters behind me immediately disappeared-the uncertainty would obviously be too much for them. Even graves are not spared. Families usually wait now until the grave is sealed before leaving the cemetery.


Many genuine and non genuine guests attend wedding receptions with their plastic bags to make off with food and drinks. When they notice gate crashers some families resort to serving by “recognition”. I once went to a wedding at which I was sidestepped for food and drinks services because the servers did not “recognise” me. After several embarrassing service episodes, I made my way quietly out of the hall.


Criminals are taking advantage of our religious and social events. Some may however be looking only for a square meal. Indeed man “live” by man.


Ponder my thoughts.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.