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Phone Call from Lagos

A Message of Peace from (Ex-)General Butt Naked

Another letter from Nigeria.
Κείμενο Andy Capper

Pastor Joshua Milton Blahyi (formerly General Butt Naked)

Since visiting Lagos for the Nigeria episode of Fashion Week Internationale, we have kept in contact with a young photographer called Justice Kano, who has become VICE’s official correspondent for Nigeria. This week we discovered that the star of The VICE Guide To Liberia, Joshua Milton Blahyi (formerly known as General Butt Naked), is on a mission to bring a message of peace and hope to the troubled city. And so we asked Justice to tag along and meet Joshua. VICE: So, you met our friend Joshua in Lagos this weekend? How was that?
Justice Karo: He was preaching at a Christian event which was set up to promote a “stop the violence” message. I live in Mainland and the event was on the island at a place called AJA. I left the house, trekked for about ten minutes to the bus stop and took the three-wheeled bike known as keke napep to Berger. From there, I took a BRT bus going to Obalende CMS at Victoria Island. Traveling around Lagos is a nightmare?
When I got there, I took another bus going straight to AJA. I spent almost two and half hours on the bus. There was traffic, but the driver didn't help at all, because he drove like a woman. When we finally got to AJA, I took a bike from there straight to the church. That took about 15 minutes.


OK. How was it to meet Joshua? He is a very controversial character.
I must say this Pastor Joshua is another "Saul that became Paul" [a Biblical story in which a sinner becomes a saint], because he has done so many horrible things in his life. He killed many people during the Liberian War. And at that time he was known as General Butt Naked because he fought naked, and when he was naked he had no mercy. His preaching style has always reminded me of James Brown meets Mike Tyson—he is very energetic.
He talked about how he gave his life to God and I said to myself, "Truly God is a merciful God." God always looks for those who have done terrible things to do his work here on Earth.

And did he talk about his old life?
Yes. I felt really bad when he told us how he killed little children for sacrifice before going for battle. He said if he was to go out for battle ten times in a day, he would've had to kill ten children that day. You can imagine how many children he must have killed. He said he was begging for forgiveness from the families of the people he killed and I felt really bad but the themes of his talk—violence and forgiveness—are an important thing to talk about at this time, because what Nigeria is going through now is a “War in Disguise.” Is that because of all the trouble that is happening in the North with the fundamentalist Islamic group Boko Haram?
Yes. With all the killing and bombing, I think Pastor Joshua is in the right place at the right time and I believe he can do something with the help of God. If there is anybody out there who can help Nigeria right now, it's Pastor Joshua. There was another attack this week I heard?
I really don't know when the attack happened, but it's a recent one where some kids lost their lives, some were injured, some got burned. It was a bomb and it happened in the northern part of the country.


It must be scary to know that this is happening in your country.
All the attacks they have made so far took place in the northern part of Nigeria, and our prayer is that they don't think of coming to Lagos. I don't even want to think of the outcome. No matter how bad things are in life, no one is ready to die. So we are all scared. And I feel so bad because these people called Boko Haram have killed more than 300 people and they are not ready to stop. But you have no idea how happy I was to meet the ex-General Butt Naked himself. I was very happy, because he is a good guy now, and he has a good heart, with a great sense of humor. When we met him in Liberia it was hard not to like him, despite all the terrible things he said he did when he was younger.
I believe I can learn a lot from him and I am going to connect with him all the time. He even asked me to come to Liberia, and I said to him, as long as they don't shoot me, then I will think about it. Well be careful! Thanks, Justice.
One thing more I want to say is that we need more people like Pastor Joshua in this world, especially in this great nation Nigeria. And if you are out there and you believe you can make a difference in the lives of young boys and girls who are lost and confused, who are into drugs, prostitution, and carrying guns to the highway to rob people of their money, etc. then come out like Pastor Joshua has done, and let's make this great nation of Nigeria and other countries who are going through a difficult time better places for our next generation. God Bless Nigeria.


Follow Andy on Twitter @ANDYCAPPER

Previously in Phone Call from Lagos:

Occupy Lagos

Another Blue Monday in Lagos

Watch Fashion Week Internationale - Nigeria Fashion Week