A Novel Written By: Kolade Segun-Okeowo (KSO)
One of the young men who bore the corpse stepped forward. “We don’t know your Highness; we were preparing to go for hunting when he started complaining of pains all over his body. All of a sudden, he started shouting Orogojigo!”
“Ah I’m finished! Orogojigo, again! Someone, go get Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru the Chief Priest”
“We have already sent to his house” another of the four young men spoke. “He was said to have gone to Awofolaju village two days ago”
“The deed is done” Folagbade said, throwing off the horsetail in his hands. “I’m on fire! My Crown Prince!”
The screams of the King’s wife rose again as the crowd in the palace hall went into a dead silence staring at the corpse on the floor. Folagbade sat back on his throne chair holding his head in his hands unsure of what to do. Several thoughts raced through his mind. Was God paying him back for the killing of an innocent maiden used for the sacrifice?
Greatone touched Morakinyo’s shoulder and said ‘move’. From the corner of the palace hall where he had sat watching the moving scene, Morakinyo stood up. He excused himself through the crowd to where the corpse laid, directly in front of the King.
“Your highness, can you give me a chance to touch the boy?” Folagbade stared at him blankly. He wondered who the stranger was. His memory had completely erased Morakinyo. He looked at him again; just then, he saw Ogundeji and remembered his story.
“You want to touch him? Go on touch him” Folagbade said, not knowing what to do. Morakinyo stooped near the corpse and laid his hands on his chest.
“Father, I thank you because you have glorified Jesus and you’ll glorify him again” Morakinyo started a round of prayers. It was brief. Greatone touched the boy’s head with the tip of his sword. “I command the life of this boy to return to him now in Jesus name”
The seconds tickled away as if they were hours. Anxiety and tension mounted everywhere in the hall. The crowd was dead silent. The King’s wife was already on her feet waiting for the unexpected.
Folagbade lurched forward, his eyes fastened on the corpse. Five seconds rolled away… six, seven… eight… nine … ten … eleven … twelve seconds. Morakinyo was not too sure of what was happening. Has God answered his prayers or not? The success of his mission in the village depended largely on the outcome of the just concluded prayers… He touched the head of the boy again, it was still cold.
The silence deepened!!!
The crowd waited earnestly. Will a miracle happen or not? Was there going to be another Saviour or should they simply put their hope in the Chief Priest, the seconds rolled on …twenty, twenty one… twenty two… Morakinyo was becoming scared, but he smiled expectantly. May be he should repeat the prayers? He stretched out his hands to lay them on the corpse and start another round of prayers…
Just then the boy sneezed!
The jubilation lasted the whole day and continued the next day. All the twenty villages surrounding Onigba-Iwofa sent emissaries to rejoice with Folagbade on the resurrection of his Crown Prince. All the pleas of Morakinyo that the celebration be unto Jesus alone fell on deaf ears, the villagers literally worshipped him.
The following day, the King invited Morakinyo to his palace. ‘Morayo … or is it Morakinyo you said your name is?’’ Folagbade started; smiling.
“Morakinyo is my name Your Highness’’
“This is the greatest thing that had ever happened to this town. We would have lost a Crown Prince but for you?’’
“But for Jesus, Your Highness’’ Morakinyo quickly responded bowing.
“I know! But if you had not come, who would have done this great thing. Onigba-Iwofa would have become a ghost town’’
Morakinyo bowed again to acknowledge the compliments of the King.
‘This gospel you have introduced to us’’ Folagbade leaned towards Morakinyo his face wearing a more serious appearance. “We don’t know much about Him. Although, I learnt some bits of the Bible in those days at the Modern School, we didn’t go beyond the Psalms.’’ The King spread out his hands to express ignorance.
“When you spoke to my people yesterday afternoon, many of them decided to follow Jesus. We have all promised to surrender our Idols’’ Morakinyo adjusted his seat. The testimonies of the last twenty-four hours were too good to be true. He had never seen such move of God before. He smiled again as he remembered the anxiety and tension that gripped him when the miracle of the earlier day seemed delayed. He compared the anxiety with the ease he now enjoys as the King spoke to him. He tried to imagine what could have happened if the miracle had failed to occur. Silently, he muttered prayers of thanksgiving to God.
“How do we cope alone when you return back to your place?”
Morakinyo smiled, he ran his fingers through the smooth black cover of his Bible. He had waited for that question. The answer was ready!
“I have nowhere to go’’ The smiles increased and gradually turned back into seriousness “I came all the way from Ibadan to this town on God’s instruction and before leaving I had decided that this is where I will spend the rest of my life. God sent me here, my mission started only yesterday…. Your Highness, I am a missionary. I only need two days to return to Ibadan and bring my belongings”
Oba Folagbade stared wildly at Morakinyo. He thought he was dreaming. Morakinyo does not look like a pauper or anything close to his expectation of a missionary.
Though weak and wearied by the strains of the previous day’s journey, his speech and facial expression betrayed him. The bewildered King smiled, then laughed, he stood and embraced Morakinyo. He held Morakinyo tightly in the warm embrace as he showered blessings on him.
“May God himself do well with you and the family you left behind’’. He released him from the embrace and returned to his throne chair.
“Your Highness, I wish to make a request’’ Morakinyo rose as he addressed the King. “You remember I told people yesterday that we shall start church services next Sunday… I wish to ask for a place for our meetings and another one for me to stay’’
“There is no problem concerning your accommodation. That is the least of your worries’’ Folagbade said, the excitement in him was clearly visible. “I will arrange a house for you… my boys will take you there at sunset’’. He stopped; the excitement gradually gave way to soberness.
‘There is no place for the church now, the only available place can’t be used now’’
“Why your Highness’’ Morakinyo asked almost immediately.
‘The place is the shrine of one of our gods. A terrible demon called Olojongbodu lives there. It’s a terrible and fearful demon: it will disturb you, so you can’t use….’’ Folagbade stopped suddenly, he remembered something. He looked straight into Morakinyo’s eyes…. “I thought you slept overnight under the Iroko Oluwere tree the day before yesterday?” Folagbade said not asking Morakinyo the question. “Today, I will order the boys to throw out all the idols and images of Olojongbodu and burn them to ashes’’ Morakinyo rose and paid obeisance to the King.
“No o!” said the King “We should thank you for coming. You have rescued my son from death and removed shame from my family”
“Your Highness, God alone deserves praise”
“Come with me… I ‘will show you the great shrine of Olojongbolu…”
The shrine was completely rid of idols and images that same day. Folagbade assigned four of his attendants to do the job. At first fear gripped them when they received the order.
‘Remove the idols of Olojongbodu, the deadly demon?’ But it was a royal order which must be kept. The King had spoken and his orders must be carried out. Morakinyo followed the men to the shrine and supervised the clearing of the shrine. The mud-hall, though small would be a good start for the church. Measuring about eighteen feet by twenty feet, Morakinyo sensed the house would contain at least fifty worshippers.
“Pastor!” One of the men called suddenly; fear clearly written all over his face. He stood there looking menacingly at a strange looking object on the ground. “Nobody can touch this one!” He stepped back from the red calabash covered around with parrot-feathers and black soap. A thunderbolt sits precariously on the calabash.
“Pastor, that thunderbolt will blast into fire if it touches the ground; don’t touch it!” Another of the men explained; his voice shaking as he warned Morakinyo who was already approaching the calabash.
“Friends, we intend to use this place for God, yet this calabash represents the devil, it cannot remain here!” Morakinyo said as he moved closer to the calabash. The men scurried out of the mud building. They knew the building would catch fire if the thunderbolt should touch the ground.
Legends have it that the great ancestor of the village removed the thunderbolt from the bowels of a mysterious elephant he destroyed on the grounds of the village square. He was said to have used the thunderbolt on several occasions to send fire into the camp of his enemies during wars. On each occasion the thunderbolt automatically returned to him. Ever since his death, other ancestors of the village have used the thunderbolt for the same purpose.
The men stood a far distance away from the building expecting fire any moment. They waited…One of them thought he saw smoke, they stretched their necks to see if it was true. There it was, smoke rose from the back of the building! The leader of the attendants bite his finger, he hissed aloud and wondered why the King did not take time to explain the intricacies of the shrine to the poor pastor! He must have fallen down right inside the shrine.
“Go call his Highness, you… You heard me go quickly run…” The leader said, shouting at one of the men. The man stood there looking directly at the entrance of the shrine, what he saw shocked him. “I said go!!! Can’t you understand?” The leader shouted again at the man he sent on errand who stood like a zombie, glued to the ground staring at the entrance of the shrine.
The leader turned around to see what he had seen…Morakinyo had just stepped out with the red calabash. The thunderbolt was not on the calabash again. They looked at him; bewildered and completely confused. The smoke they saw had not stopped, yet the thunderbolt had dropped. Morakinyo could read their minds, he smiled as he dipped his hand into his left pocket and brought out the thunderbolt, raised it up to dash it on the ground.
The four men dived for cover! The thunderbolt hit the ground, the men covered the ears to avoid whatever deafening sound the expected explosion may bring…There was no explosion. A pin drop silence reigned everywhere. Gradually, the four men rose from their hiding places, one after another, wondering what went wrong.
About five metres away from the shrine; Labudanu, the notorious village mad man fanned away the embers of a fire he made at the hole of a bush-rat!
The following Sunday, the former shrine was filled to capacity. Not even the bamboo-shed constructed outside the shrine could contain the surging crowd, many of whom simply came to see the ‘wonder-man’. Many more could have come but for the fear that the gods or Olojongbodu may choose the occasion to wrought vengeance upon the villagers for allowing the ‘desecration’ of the great shrine.
The service lasted six hours! More sick people were brought and were healed. Midway into the service, a small crowd rushed to the service with a young boy who was screaming ‘Orogojigo’ as they bring him in. The crowd mingled with the one already outside as they quickly made way for four men to carry the boy straight to the ‘wonder man’. They wanted to lay him on the floor but Morakinyo stopped them and commanded them to hold him.
‘You foul spirit! I command you, come out in Jesus name!’ The boy screamed and wriggled violently as if in great pain. All of a sudden he stopped, regained his strength looked straight into Morakinyo eyes and dashed towards the door! The men who brought him went after him and brought him back. Morakinyo laid hands on his head and spoke in tongues. The boy stopped struggling and simply fell to the ground.
The news spread like wild fire in the harmattan. All the surrounding twenty villages heard about the ‘wonder man’ who had started performing miracles in Onigba-Iwofa. Within three weeks, the people of Onigba-Iwofa have started the construction of a bigger hall for the church as the former shrine could not contain worshippers who trooped in endlessly even from other villages. Weekly services had also commenced in the evenings of Tuesdays and Fridays. Morakinyo was surprised that they also trooped out for the mid-week services.
One evening, the service had just ended, as the villagers trooped out of the newly constructed mud-hall, Morakinyo went on his knees to pray while a few people waited to see him. One after the other, he attended to each of them. Each meeting ended with a prayer. Finally, Eebudola, Odesola’s wife; having waited for all the counselee’s to take their place stepped forward. Eebudola, a middle-aged woman who had lost four children to the strange epidemic was the first to find great solace in the message of salvation of Morakinyo. Though a beautiful woman, the sorrow of the last few months had wiped away the finesse of her beauty leaving behind the scars of bitterness and wrinkles.
Morakinyo had a great task trying to persuade her that God was not wicked to have allowed four of her children to waste away before sending a Saviour. Now she understands better and had become a real convert. In the last one month she had brought not less than five families to the church.
She single-handedly supplied all the foodstuffs used for the welfare of the men who moulded and set bricks during the construction of the new church. Morakinyo had found great comfort in her also. Two bottles of palm oil and two tubers of yam is what she gives Morakinyo every week.
“Iya Derombi, you want to talk to me “? Morakinyo asked as the woman moved closer. Her skin shone even in the darkness of the twilight.
“Yes Sir, I want to inform you about something Sir”. She courtesied and knelt; her usual way of approaching Morakinyo.
“Please have your seat Mama Derombi…. I hope all is well? What is it?”
She rose from her kneeling position and sat on the bench opposite Morakinyo. Another bench stood between them.
She sighed heavily and spoke…
To be continued tomorrow in Episode 11.