Before I came to Lagos, I had heard about THE EXPERIENCE. Frankly, I was not really interested in going even in my first year in Lagos. I had this idea that it would just be a sightseeing kinda thing. You know… An avenue to see favorite gospel artistes.
This year, I had to clean off that mentality. I was going to praise my God. The venue is close to my office. The starting time was 7 pm. I had prayed about it. What else could stop me? I decided I was not going to go alone. I roped in my friend Kay. He agreed to go with me but wasn’t so sure. Up until that day, he was still skeptical.
On Friday, the D day, we all got an email at the office that closing time will be 4 pm instead of 5 pm. Praise God!!! That was due to the multiple events happening in Lagos that day. You know- Shiloh, Experience and all.
It would have been a wonderful thing for me to go by that time but I could not. My friend was just leaving home right about that time or before. I had to wait in the office for him. I was quite indecisive about whether he should stop at my office bus stop or just go to TBS and then join him.
After all the waiting, he told me where he was. He was quite close. I decided to leave for the bus stop. I think it was about past 6 pm at the time. I trekked to the bus stop. The queue was long. I didn’t have the time to waste- so I opted for a bike. After agreeing on the price, I jumped on it and we rode straight to TBS. I had only been to TBS once, sometime last year. The bike man stopped me. The crowd outside was massive. I called my friend. He told me where he was standing, close to the big screen outside. I walked towards the place. He was wearing black on black. We were excited to see each other.
We walked towards the entrance. We met another massive crowd. We could not gain free entrance to the square. Policemen rode on horses to control the crowd. I mean, who does that? My friend and I were in the struggle, hand in hand. He had kept his belongings in my bag. As the horse approached, whip followed, as they used both to control us. The fear of the horses coming towards us and having us trampled was real. As we advanced forward, the policemen on horses came towards us. This caused us to push and be pushed from one direction to the other. I remember a particular man who had with him two of his daughters. He was already worried. I had to tell him to calm down. *roll my eyes* That was before I knew what I had gotten myself into. When the push was becoming terrible, almost turning to a case of stampede, I became worried. The man with the kids got fed up and broke through the crowd going back from where we came from. How survived that, I can’t say. I was still holding my friend. At a point, the horse came very close to him. I was so worried about him. I was pressed against other people. I was in need of air. Thank God I had the height to at least stretch my neck to receive air. Shorter persons would actually gasp for breath.
We continued pushing through the crowd. My shoe was almost out of my leg. Alas! We were able to enter. The square was filled with people. What direction were we going to take? Hmmm… We saw a place that was still free. We navigated towards the place with other people. We bought bottles of coke and water.
We climbed the first floor, then the second and then the third floor. We got to sit at the topmost part of the topmost floor in that section of the square. At this time, it was a few minutes to 7 pm. It was a perfect view for us. Although we could not see the stage closely, we were able to see everything that needed to be seen on the big screens. Never had I been to such a gathering with such a crowd.
At 7 pm, The Experience 14 was declared open. A few minutes after, the hosts were announced- RMD and a lady. The shouts of jubilation were epic. The screens came on and it was simply awesome. Before the ministration, I prayed in other tongues to set my mind aright. I did not come to see celebrities. I came to meet Jesus.
The first minister came- Preye. His ministration got me hooked on Jesus. Then the next, and the next and the next.
I had not sat for long before I started feeling pressed. I managed to stay for more than two hours before I told my friend that I wanted to pee. I was also very hungry. We came all the way down. I was not sure if we could find our way back. Kay assured me that he could. We located the toilet. To use it was 100 Naira. He paid for it. I got to the toilet. It was not bad but the floor was filled with water. I had a very low shoe on, plus it was new and had the least resistance to water. I found one that was not so bad and I used it. On coming out, I saw a classmate of mine from way back secondary school. It was a delight. I had not seen Favour in years. We hugged, took pictures and parted ways.
Kay and I left to look for what to buy. At this time, it was Don Moen who was ministering. We bought rice and sachet water. I did not take my bag with me. I left it with a total stranger but I took my phone. It was a risk that I was comfortable with. After buying, we found our way back to our seats. We got lost a little bit but we found our way back.
Frankly, at some point, I got sleepy. I was so asleep when one of my favorites ministered- Nathaniel Bassey. Kay said he kept waking me up but I was far gone.
Need I say that all who come for The Experience are not all worshipers. People come for different reasons. I can’t forget a guy who was using the whistle to disturb us. The minister was talking and he was busy blowing the whistle. He made it hard for me to hear what the minister was saying. I had to shout and tell him ” Oga, it is okay ooo.” He kept on with that saying there is freedom of speech. I really was trying hard to keep my cool. In my mind, I wanted to drag the whistle from his mouth and throw it into the crowd. There were those that were interested in using their phones more, those that criticized and those that tried to post every minister that ministered on their WhatsApp status.
After my sleep, I became more alert but was still feeling tired. I became vibrant again when Sinach started ministering. In fact, I stood up, sang and danced. Then, Mercy Chinwo ministered too. The last minister that came before we left was Travis Greene. He was so energetic. He was looking all ”gangster” with his jean on jean and bandana tied around his head.
We took our leave when Nathaniel Bassey came on stage with Duncan Williams. The time was past 5 am. People were already leaving but the crowd was still massive. We did not want to experience the rush when we came in. The crowd moving out at that time was quite much but was more manageable. We successfully moved out of TBS.
The dilemma was how to get a bus. The buses were calling rooftop prices. The BRTs were in high demand with long queues. Luckily, Kay met some people he knew. We began heading to the direction one of them told us that we could get a bus from. Due to the crowd, we lost him. We continued moving. At a point, we had to stop. We were informed that where we were about taking was dangerous, as there was robbery going on. We quickly found another route and crossed over to the main road. We were trekking towards where we came from the previous day. There were pockets of people here and there.
Suddenly, Kay told me to stop. There was something going on just a few meters ahead of us. Some folks were being robbed. They were told to kneel down. We quickly made a turn and headed back. Luckily for us, a bike was passing. We stopped it and told him to take us to Iyana Ipaja park. He said the fare was 500 Naira. We did not argue much. We jumped on it and rode off. I saw the whole robbery scene. I think two guys knelt down while some others, apparently the robbers stood. Need I say that God is faithful to us? You judge. Remember my favorite verse on safety, Proverbs 21:31? God still honours His word daily to all
We got to the park successfully. Although we could not get Iyana Ipaja, we boarded a bus to Oshodi. From Oshodi we took a bus to Ikotun. It was as if everyone on the bus was coming from The Experience. We discussed briefly the event as we journeyed. Kay and I parted ways in Ikotun because I was going to see my cousin.
That was my experience story. I learned a few things though- Never go for The Experience alone. Always go with someone. It is too much of a massive crowd to go on your own. Prepare your heart to praise God, so you don’t get distracted. Take with you enough cash and food.
Would I still go for The Experience if I had the chance? Oh yes, I would by God’s grace. I will definitely go with Kay over and over again. You needed to see the way he took care of me. Such a perfect gentleman. He’s a story for another day. For now, gist time is over.
This is my Lagos story. Tell us yours!