Sanni K. Yusuf

I once had something to do with one of the bigwigs in southwestern Nigeria. To perfect what bonded us, we needed to have a face-to-face encounter, which made him give me an invite to his residential mansion.

Don’t be bored. Keep reading. I want to make a point

It was on a Sunday. I took off at the passage of the dawn to prove that I was very time-conscious. I entered the estate where his edifice stood noticeably. Like a cemetery, the whole place was silent that I hardly heard a human voice aside that of the security official who checked me in.

I got to the gate of the rich man’s abode. The bell button was tapped to signal my presence. From a less-spacious window appeared the gatekeeper’s head. He asked whom I sought. I was about replying to the inquiry when the PA came out. With my cheeks occupied by smile, believing that he would recognise me, I greeted: “Good morning, sir.”

“There is no prayer today. Alhaji returned this morning from a hectic activity. He is currently far asleep.” He responded. “What! Prayer! What for?” I exclaimed to myself. I felt embarrassed. I looked at my outfit and saw that I was clerically attired. No wonder!

Rather than react annoyingly, I softly, (though frankly) told the man I wasn’t a prayer merchant. I am though a cleric, but a civil servant. I told him I was there on appointment. He insisted Alhaji would never have given me an invite for the day. He thought I was there for money, apparently like some alfas do.

Mr PA was hell bent, until I summarily told him the son of whom I was. Alhaji is a friend to my father. He apologised for taking me for whom I wasn’t. He ordered the gatekeeper to allow me in immediately.

This is the ugly extent to which alfas, so-called sheikhs have soiled the image of the Islamic evangelism. Many rich Muslims see clerics as beggars even though it is not so.

Alfas prescribe prayers for rich men. They offer to do them in their houses with the intent that some monetary honoraria will accrue to the ignominious service. Some do monthly, while some do weekly. Alfas go with a large number of students and co-alfas in order to get fat returns – the more the prayer warriors, the chances of prayer acceptance. Iro lasan, like Dr Saraf Gbadebo Raji would say.


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