I got the call on Saturday morning. I was still sleeping. Saturday mornings are sleep in mornings for me. No waking up early to prepare for work, oh what joy!
The caller was Brother K from the Prison Chaplaincy. The Prison Chaplaincy is a society in my church. Their activities include Prison visitations, Evangelization and so on. I joined the Prison chaplaincy sometime last month after I decided I didn’t want to be a nominal christian -Sunday church goer anymore. However since I joined I had only attended meetings once (My bad, I know). At the only meeting I attended there had been discussions on plans to visit the Kiri-Kiri Medium and Maximum Prisons in Lagos and since I didn’t attend after then, I had missed going with them on their visit to The Medium prisons.
Brother K had called to inform me that they were visiting the Maximum Prisons on Sunday 9th September (Yesterday). He also enquired why I haven’t been present at the meetings since the last time I came. I apologized and promised him I was going to come along with them on the Maximum Prisons visitation.
Sunday morning, I dressed up and headed down to the agreed venue from where we would set off. I was excited. I hadn’t visited a prison before but I had watched some prison movies ( I saw Prison break recently, a great watch. If you haven’t seen it…u need to!) and I had an idea what to expect.
We got to the prisons at about 11am. When they learnt I hadn’t been to a prison before, every one went out of their way to show me one or two things, they pointed out the Medium prisons to me, showed me some prisoners returning from their early morning duties, I think they had gone to cut grass cos I saw them with hoes and cutlasses.
Finally, we reached the Maximum Prisons. We were asked by the wardens to leave our bags and phones at the gate. Phones are not allowed inside they tell us. The females were frisked by the female wardens. The male wardens also frisked the guys to make sure we were not sneaking any contraband inside,lol.
Inside the Prisons now, I ask a question about the prisoners. I am quickly corrected that we don’t say prisoners rather they are called inmates. In fact, I am told that as long as we are inside the prison walls, we are also inmates. Hmmm… Princesa the inmate,lol.
We head for the Catholic church inside the Prisons where there is a mass celebration going on. Actually, it was a Feast day. For those who are not catholics…Feast days are certain days set aside in the catholic church to celebrate certain memorable events. Yesterday was the feast of the birthday of the Blessed Virgin Mary so the idea was to celebrate with the prisoners.
Mass over , the feast proper begins. Some other church groups had also come on their own and they brought food too so there was lots of food and drinks to go round. We had come with about 5 big coolers of rice. Funny enough I always had this impression that prisoners were hungry looking, malnourished people but these prisoners I was looking at were healthy looking and well dressed (I guess they were on their Sunday best). Some even spoke very good English. Some of them weren’t even as thrilled as I thought they would be at the mountain of steaming rice and chicken that was being served. They would eat the chicken and abandon the rice in the plate. I was shocked!
Aha! Some were very enterprising. There were those selling some beautiful hand crafted hand Fans, some were selling wooden Key holders. It was nice to see that they were putting their talents to good use.
I also met a young man, Micheal. He had come to toast me. What was that line he used? Ok ..”Sister, while you were serving , you looked so beautiful I wanted to come help you”lol. Initially I just pretended not to hear and went on walking but he just wouldn’t relent. He just kept on following me. See me see wahala o! Prison love!! I decided to talk to him after all it was part of the evangelizing-showing love to those that need it. He told me how he came to be in prison. According to him, he used to work in a bank in Abuja. There was a fraud in his bank and he was indicted by EFCC. The case hadn’t gone to court yet but he had hopes that in about a month’s time he would be out on bail. Why it has to take that long…I don’t know!
Anyway, Micheal gave me piece of paper on which he had written down a phone number and begged me to call him. Na wa o! I tire for this guy!! I asked him if he had a phone and he told me he did but it was against prison laws so it was always hidden and on vibration. In the spirit if LOVE, una sister collect the paper put for bag o! Now I keep having this image of the poor guy sitting down in his lonely cell waiting for my call and am feeling guilty that I promised to call. Maybe I will call him…just to wish him luck… or what do you think guys?
Oh! I forgot to tell you I saw Pastor King! The pastor that set some members of his congregation ablaze. He was sentenced to death by hanging but the guy I saw yesterday did not look like he would ever be put to death by anyone. He was strolling along the prison grounds and he had this air of arrogance around him. Even the Prison officials-wardens and co. were all hailing him: “His Holiness, His Holiness!!” One of the inmates told us he was untouchable there as he always doled out money to the officials and prisoners.
All in all, it was an experience for me and when we finally left around 4 o’ clock, I was happy that I went after all. I was also thankful to God that I could go where I want, sleep when I want, eat when/what I want. These are things that I take for granted but some people don’t have it.
So am happy, I am FREE!!!