Ejiro, a style director, creative consultant and culture journalist, who is the lead journalist at The Baton, a media and creative agency documenting culture from the lenses of faith-based creativity, recently sat with Derin “Big Dee” of Street Church, to talk about his experience as an alté kid, in a conservative Christian culture.

Here’s what he had to say:

Please tell us your name and what you do.

My name is Ejiroghene, I’m a Style Director, Creative Consultant and Culture Journalist.

Would you consider yourself spiritual? And why?

I’m a spiritual person. Because of my intentional walk with God.

What inspires your personal style?

My vast thought process inspires my style.

Lots of people in Nigeria assume someone isn’t spiritual if they don’t dress or act a certain way. Can you tell us about a time you experienced this stereotype and how you challenged it?

I randomly remembered what happened during The Outpouring. In the bus that was provided for us, the coordinator asked someone to lead prayers, and after what seemed like no one registering interest, he picked me to lead prayers as we drove to TBS.

As I walked to the middle. He signalled for me to to take off my face cap. I did that and led the prayer charge.

When I was done and opened my eyes, I was met with stares of surprise. The ‘what you ordered vs what you got’ type of surprise. I mean I was dressed in a black trad and red cap turned backwards, that screamed ‘unchurched’ to a large number there.

When I got back to my spot, it was then I remembered that Ejiroghene, some years back, won’t have taken his cap off to lead prayers, especially if the order was from someone who felt condescending, in front of 20+ people.

But I had taken it off, before I even remembered what I did. Leading something as important as prayer meant more to me than all of that. And right there, I thanked God for how broken he has made/is still making me. How what mattered few years ago, made no tug at my flesh anymore.

Has these sort of judgements from religious circles ever made you question your faith?

No, I’ve never had to doubt my faith on account of third parties. I’m living for an audience of one.

Has your personal style ever hindered you from faith practices like evangelism and the likes? Please share your experience.

My style has aided, more than hindered, because I can engineer conversations just based off how I look in certain spaces. Also, people tend to have an idea of what you represent until you speak, then they start to pay attention, because you are nothing like what you look like. That’s the story of my life.

How have you been able to find your place in organized religion, as in the church structure, in Nigeria, without feeling odd and out of place?

When I started my career in fashion, it was really hard to not feel off, but then my local church has consistently built a space for people like me to “come as you are” but be engraced to be like Jesus, in word, truth and deed.

How would you advise someone who has a unique sense of style like you and might be facing condemnation from the church, but still wants to serve and worship God within the organized church structure?

Walking with the Holy Ghost would never reduce your “steeze”, rather it makes you even inventive and affords you decorum of some sort. So you know, that there nothing you cannot give up to serve him, including your drip.

How do you balance following church dressing rules and staying true to yourself?

There’s no church dressing rules I cannot abide by. God and Church is important to me. I’m too cool to be bound by rules.

Any last words?

It’s okay to be the coolest in the room, but always remember your identity is in Christ and the power of his resurrection, so seek to live in that identity.

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