Can Pastor Ojigbani help single women find perfect husbands?

Kenyan singles rush for prayers from Nigerian Pastor Chris Ojigbani at the Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi. Photo | DENNIS OKEYO. 

For the second time in a year, Kenyan women will today– as they did yesterday – flock to Nairobi’s Nyayo Stadium for a special kind of prayer.

The prayer will be led by a man who pledges his spirituality to Christianity but has no church. On the first day, thousands of single women turned up.

A man whose teachings and prayers are so divine that, after a session at his seminar, a woman will walk out and find that elusive perfect man in a matter of days.

Pastor Chris Ojigbani has a vision. A vision to remove the devices that cause delay in marriage and a vision to empower single people in marriage.

In a society that partially believes there is a real shortage of good men, his teachings lack neither followers nor believers and he is here to mend one of mankind’s most endangered institutions – marriage.

On his website, Pastor Ojigbani promises that after the seminar, one will get the kind of spouse she has been looking for all along.

The perfect mate, a term that relationship counsellors say is the cause of almost all heartache, disappointment and despair in modern-day relationships.

“It is on this footing that women go wrong,” says relationship and marriage counsellor John Gacheru. “The image they are looking for doesn’t exist. The ideal male in their eyes was simply not created. This explains their endless search for him.”

Mr Gacheru, in a bid to explain this apparent shortage in eligible bachelors, says there is a general dissatisfaction with the current male within the female population, and part of the problem lies in the perceptions that women have of the Adonis they would wish to share the rest of their lives with.

Finished products

“Naturally, women love finished products. They have neither time nor patience for work in progress. This explains the traits they seek out in a mate: financial stability, mature, someone who owns a car, a house and with little or no baggage from previous relationships,” he says.

At times, even the Mr Right in another relationship may not be as perfect as those watching him from over the fence think him to be.

“The outsider seeks out a married man believing he is responsible enough and hard working enough not knowing that at times the wives cover up for their men … There is no such notion as a perfect man,” says sociologist Agnes Zani of University of Nairobi.

Dr Zani says relationships should be nurtured and that, in many cases, men are built by the women.

“A strong woman will make a man appear strong, and vice-versa. But the problem is that not many women are ready to make their hands dirty to bring out the beauty in the potential mate.”

On the contrary, she says, men are willing to build and mould a female companion into the wife they wish her to be and, as long as the women keep looking for the finished products, they might just as well keep searching to the end of times.

Yet there are sociologists who say there is, indeed, a shortage of not only good men, but men in general.

“A couple is three times more likely to sire a girl than a boy, thus explaining the scramble for the available good guys,” says Dr Halimu Shauri.

Dr Shauri says finding the perfect mate for women has far more implications than just the continuity of a family name and companionship.

“For women, marriage represents a shift in social status. If they choose the right man their status in society changes to that of the man. If he is rich and respected, automatically these qualities transfer to the woman,” he says.

He says women look for someone with ambition, vision and drive.

But how many of these men are there, and why does it need special intercessory prayers for one to find this rare creature?

“They are few because the opportunities too are few. Even if you are an ambitious visionary with a lot of drive but with no outlet for your energies, you too will be swallowed up in the ever swelling river of average men -- those that aren’t good enough to be willingly chosen as lifelong mates by the women,” Dr Shauri adds.

It is this inadequacy that Pastor Ojigbani, who equates dating to witchcraft and sees no relevance for courtship in the lead-up to a successful marriage, says he will do away with in prayer.

The pastor, who is the founder and senior pastor of Covenant Singles and Married Ministries, says he has been commissioned by God to liberate marriages through the preaching of the word.

His prayers will focus on pointing women to the right men. An intervention, according to some, that will offer little in terms of a solution.

“Relationships are not constructed outside the individual’s mind. They are made from lifelong attractions from childhood, through school and in early adult life. All things constant, seeking out a mate should be a natural, enjoyable process,” says Dr Zani.

The pressures of life are, however, stifling whatever joy existed in the settling down process for the fairer sex.

“There are expectations of marriage and notions on when it should happen. If a woman is not married by her mid 20s, she feels there is something wrong,” says Dr Zani.

And, instead of meeting and enjoying dating, she begins actively seeking out a man.

“This complicates things because she is now looking for something specific. When she does this, she sees only the bad in a man and don’t give time for the good to develop, eventually missing out on who could have been a good man,” she says.

Selfish ploy

Others, however, see the issue of inadequate husbands as a selfish ploy by a lost bunch of women who no longer know the values and virtues of womanhood.

“They can’t say they have searched and not found men. It is because they have no value for men. They only respect those with money and property. That is why their ideal man will always have to be financially independent and come with many more perks,” says Nderitu Njoka of Maendeleo ya Wanaume.

But politician Orie-Rogo Manduli says women have a right to be choosy when it comes to selecting a mate.

“In this era of parasites, hooligans and serial killers we do have a right to be as picky as possible,” she says. “As long as we don’t narrow down our preferences too much.”

Her other explanation is that nowadays people seldom stay within their age brackets while dating, a factor that later on influences them when they go for that final search of a companion.

“Men in their 60s run around with girls in their mid twenties and vice-versa. When such flings end, it becomes hard for the younger ones to find a suitable mate within their age brackets or their social circles,” she says.

Despite love and relationships being matters of the heart, Dr Shauri believes there is a place for people like Pastor Ojigbani.

“His mission to Nairobi is a therapeutic outlet for the women. He gives them hope in situations of hopelessness. That is the aim of religion. He is showing them a light at the end of the tunnel. Before him they will share their despair, loneliness and their hope for triumph and they live the session happy, gratified and hopeful,” says the scholar.

If hope is the order of the day, then counsellor Gacheru believes that a lot of it will need to be churned out in even larger volumes since the situation is not about to get better.

“The indicators that society uses to measure success are lopsided and only encourage the fallacy of the perfect mate. Historically, women were taken care of. But now, the paradox is that if we live in such a world where women are habitual dependants, the democratic space in homes and families that many rights groups clamour for cannot be achieved. All the power will lie in the hands of men and very few women will tolerate this and opt for marriage,” he says.

In all this inadequacy, Ndiritu Njoka says he has the perfect solution.

“Women should go back to the old virtues. If they look at our success in society before they chose us for marriage, what should the men look for since they stopped playing the role of a traditional wife decades ago?”

Do men have a role to play to at least make things easier for the female on the prowl for a companion?

“Commit and treat her right. She will choose you and make you the king of your home regardless of your situation,” says Ms Manduli.

Egos of men

As long as capitalism flourishes and the egos of men continue to bulge, the ideal man will go extinct. Capitalism breeds competition. Competition breeds classes. Classes result in a hierarchy. There will always be men who are a class lower than others but women will pretend such men don’t exist.

As far as the egos go, if the measures of success are economic, then the less economically stable male will naturally shy off any contest to woo a woman.

“Many of those who will rush to this seminar already have a man in their lives but are on the lookout for a bigger, better deal and a shot at social mobility,” says Mr Gacheru. “The result of this unholy mix of unnatural expectations, a societal conspiracy on bogging down definitions on mankind, capitalism and extremely fragile egos will only result in one thing – the emergence of cougars.”

This aside, the flamboyant Pastor Ojigbani, who says his organisation is neither a church nor a religion, continues to soldier on with his divine mission. Testimonies from his website show that there may be power in his prayers.

A believer in Lagos, Nigeria, claims to have got two marriage proposals in 24 hours.

“On the 17th of August 2011, I attended Pastor Chris Ojigbani’s marriage seminar. I believed the prophecy and received it as mine. After the seminar, at exactly 11.30 p.m. on that same day, my fiancé, based in the UK, called me. This man proposed. The next day, I got a call from another man who is based in the US. He said he wants to marry me immediately,” reads a testimony on his website.

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