A Novel Written By: Kolade Segun-Okeowo (KSO)
The man who directed Morakinyo was wrong; he said four hours instead of seven hours! The journey to Onigba-Iwofa on foot will take seven hours! Morakinyo trekked for four hours and saw no traces of a village, five hours flew past then seven! He looked at his wrist watch, it was eleven forty-five. He became alarmed! He must have missed his way.
Fear gripped him. He blamed himself. Why on earth did he not listen to the man who advised him against trekking? What stopped him from checking into a Guest House in Sepeteri. ‘But he said four hours!….. Oh my God!’ He had not changed the route from what the man described. He remembered his exact words “Follow this road straight, it leads to Onigba-Iwofa”
Suddenly, the fear turned into hunger and thirst. He had only bought two loaves of bread and four eggs. He had eaten all. He stopped, thought of what to do. Turning back was impossible; he had seven hours already behind him. He looked around for any sign of smoke, none was available. He trekked again then he stopped. It was true he had been in the evangelism sub-group for years, this was different. He had never trekked seven hours before, worse still, alone in a dangerous forest.
His strength gave way. Will he have to sleep in the forest? The thoughts of all sorts of dangers shook him. He remembered what the man in Sepeteri said about the forest. He tried to suppress the fears as they came but he was getting nowhere.
All of a sudden he remembered His words: “He that keepeth Israel never sleeps nor slumbers” he smiled and started singing a praise song, his voice rang out through the forest, he was no longer afraid, he did not even care if his voice will attract danger or not. All he cared for was just to praise God and he did and the fear left him.
He tried singing another song, but he yawned, the energy sapping trek was ready to take its toll on the body. He drew his traveling bag closer; he will use it for a pillow. The ground where he sat was a bit clean, it was too dark so he could not see anything. The moon did not cooperate that night. He prayed and covered himself and the environment with the blood of Jesus. Then he slept….
Unknown to him, he was sleeping right under the Iroko Oluwere tree; the abode of the strange demon called Oganranganjan! He had hardly closed his eyes in sleep when the angels arrived. They took their positions around him, each with a long shinning silver sword which they waved continuously.
The atmosphere changed and became charged. Heavy vibrations started around the imposing tree; one after the other, all the demons in the Iroko Oluwere flew out. Suddenly, a loud roar broke forth from the tree, Oganranganjan, the master demon in the tree stepped out. He had been forced out of his abode which has suddenly become uncomfortable. He looked around wondering what was causing the disturbances. He saw the angels and charged at them. The angels simply stretched their swords towards the demon while covering Morakinyo with their wings.
A flashing light blazed through the swords to the demon causing him to groan in pain. He let out a loud yell, turned around and jumped away into a smaller tree a little distance away. Morakinyo continued snoring; the angels remained there until the early hours of the morning.
Three of them returned to heaven leaving behind Greatone who had been given charge to look after him.
Ogundeyi and his wife rushed towards the Iroko Oluwere tree that morning with their daughter. They waited impatiently for dawn. Their seven year old daughter was attacked over the night by the strange epidemic. Ogundeyi was alarmed as his wife woke him up that night. That was his only remaining child. He had lost five children; one after the other over a period of eight months. He was not going to wait and allow the only remaining one to die.
They had left the village at the first crow and got to the base of the tree while it was still dawn. Ogundeyi led with the black goat and other sacrificial items. His wife, Motunde ran after him backing the almost paralyzed child. The urgency of the sacrifice and the condition of the dying child was uttermost on his mind. He did not bother to watch around like Fadiora, he had no time to waste. He made straight for the tree….
Suddenly, he dashed back throwing away the items of sacrifice, he dragged the goat back almost colliding with his wife who seeing the figure at the base of the tree also turned back and ran with all her strength. The sound of their feet and yells woke Morakinyo. He saw them and rose. For the first time, he realized he was sleeping near a ritual-tree; his heart missed a bit. He quickly understood the plight of the man and his wife and called back at them, at least they could provide useful information on how to get to Onigba-Iwofa village.
“Man! Come back, I’m a human being, a friend for that matter. Why are you running away from me” said Morakinyo hoping that at least, the couple would come back. He needed them now more than they need him; so he thought.
The man stopped and looked back; the fear was clearly written all over him. He could not believe a sane man would lie under the tree.
“It must be the demon inside the tree…. He’s hungry for human heads, it’s a plot to trap us” he said quietly to his wife.
Morakinyo repeated himself.
“You mean you’re a human being and you sleep under Iroko Oluwere tree?” said Ogundeyi watching every movement of Morakinyo from the distance, he was really a man! “Don’t you know that the demon living inside that tree is very deadly and wicked” he added.
“Wicked demon?” Morakinyo could not believe that there were people who still fear and worship trees and demons. He saw a good opportunity to start evangelizing. “I don’t know. I got tired yesterday while on my journey so I decided to pass the night here, even if I know, that does not stop me from sleeping there.”
Ogundeyi screamed “Young man you’re a trouble maker. You better don’t allow Oganranganjan to hear you say that again; he can decide to harm or kill you” The man drew closer.
“Ogan…gan..jan or what did you say the demon is called” Ogundeyi repeated the name. “But no demon either in this tree or elsewhere can harm me because greater is the One living in me than any power of the world”
“Then you’re a bloody liar!” Ogundeyi screamed maintaining the distance. “I thought you said you’re a human being, how can another person be living inside you?” he asked still groping in fear. His wife pulled him again saying “Leave him let’s go”
“That is the work of God, the One living in me is JESUS, He is the Lord of the World. He can cure all diseases and forgive all sins. There’s nothing difficult for him” Morakinyo moved a bit closer to the couple; he wanted them to see the human features in him clearly.
“I am convinced you have come to put me into trouble and I will not allow that” Ogundeyi said staring at Morakinyo carefully studying his movements. “I have come to offer the sacrifices prescribed in our village for victims of a strange epidemic; so I will not wait here and allow you to….. wait” the man suddenly remembered something. He drew closer to Morakinyo. “I thought you said that spirit in you can cure all diseases?”
“Yes I said so” Morakinyo moved closer.
“Good. Now come and try that power on my sick daughter and let’s see.” Ogundeyi was not sure he was doing the right thing but the risk was worth taking. If the “human being” turned out to be Oganranganjan he was not going to do more than killing them; if not and the man’s boasting turns to be true, then… His daughter could be healed.
He debated again in his mind whether to wait or run as Morakinyo drew closer. Ogundeyi took his daughter from her mother who stood clearly away. He stretched the girl on the ground carefully watching Morakinyo who was now within reach. ‘He does not look like a demon’
Morakinyo knelt beside the girl and prayed laying his hands on her.
“Father in heaven, I thank you because you are good. In the name of Jesus Christ your Son, the Saviour of the world, I command the spirit of infirmity to leave this body immediately. Young girl, receive the spirit of Christ and the breath of life in Jesus name”
He lifted his hands from the girl and watched. Nothing happened… Greatone touched the girl’s forehead with his sword, then she coughed. Her mother, who was a distance away, drew closer. Greatone touched her again and she coiled, trying to gather herself together. Ogundeyi stared unbelievably at the sight. Again Greatone touched her and she rose! The mother rushed to her daughter, lifted her up, rejoicing and dancing. Ogundeji stepped back again with mixed feelings. His joy mixed with shock.
“Ever since I was born, I‘ve never seen a man like you before. Now, I believe you must be a spirit not an ordinary human being”
Morakinyo smiled walked closer and shook hands with him. “You see, I’m a man like you. I have not healed your child, my Lord who lives in me; Jesus Christ did it” Morakinyo started preaching and before long the man his wife and their daughter were all on their knees confessing Jesus, they became his first converts!!!
“Young man, why you don’t do me a favour” Ogundeji said as he rose from his knees “This disease that your Jesus saved my daughter from is killing everybody in our town. Can you come with us that the whole town may hear of what you and Jesus have done… who knows may be Jesus can do the same for them also”
“Yes, I believe Jesus will do theirs also but where is your town, I am on my way to…”
“Onigba-Iwofa !!!” Ogundeyi interrupted. He was too anxious to have Morakinyo follow him to the town. Not only has his daughter been healed, he would soon become popular in the town; having brought the healer.
“Onigba-Iwofa!” Morakinyo could not hide his excitement. This was more than a coincidence. It suddenly occurred to him that God had directed his journey perfectly to suit His own plan. All things work together for the good of those who love Him.
Morakinyo returned to pick his bag at the base of the tree, fear gripped him as he realised the gravity of the danger he passed through over the night. Two human skulls lay about ten metres from where he slept. He saw the blood stained stump and scattered sacrifices on the ground, he wondered why he did not smell the odour before sleeping last night. He picked his bag as tears swelled up within him in gratitude to God for His protection.
Then he recalled His words again: “The Lord is good and His mercies endure forever!”
Folagbade stepped into the palace hall again, his feet dragging behind him as he forced himself into another “room to palace” journey. He must have made that same journey about ten times within an hour. He kept strolling back and front between the palace hall and his bedroom.
‘How do I get out of this messy situation?’ He asked himself as he stopped near the throne chair. He shifted back a bit, leaning on the chair and gradually sat on the mat spread on the floor.
‘Sacrifices upon sacrifices….a maiden we gave to the gods expecting them to hear us…foul!’
He turned around to be sure no one was within his hearing range. Assured that no one was around, he continued his monologue.
‘Yet, no one dares challenge Ajamolaya-Bi-Eru…he keeps enjoying the benefit of the sacrifices’ He hissed loudly, rose and started another purposeless “room-to-room palace” journey.
“May your Highness live long!” The greeting was more like a scream. Folagbade, hissed again. “They‘re bringing another corpse…. I will not see this one” He quickly gathered his Agbada and made to enter.
“May your Highness live long” Folagbade stopped. This does not sound like the voice of sorrow. He turned back to see who must have brought this seemingly good news. He has not heard one in the last nine months. He had become accustomed to tears and wailings. Ogundeji stormed into the palace gleefully leading his young daughter and wife into the palace. Morakinyo strolled in behind him.
Greatone flew in directly behind Morakinyo.
Folagbade could not understand the cause for Ogundeji’s rejoicing… just then, he saw the small girl. He wondered what must have happened to her. Three weeks ago Ogundeji, a palace official had come to announce the death of his fifth child. Folagbade, examined the little girl closely, nothing was wrong with her. He wondered why Ogundeji had brought a healthy child to him. Only those attacked by the strange epidemic were brought.
“Your Highness… this is Ajoke my only surviving child. She was attacked over night so I took her to the feet of Iroko Oluwere to that accursed thing called Oganranganjan!”
Shock gripped Folagbade. He stared at Ogundeji as if to ask ‘Do you know what you‘ve just said?’ Though, Folagbade never enjoyed the experience of going to offer a maiden in sacrifice to the deadly demon; the fear of its powers have completely overwhelmed him. He pitied Ogundeji wondering what had come on him
“Ogundeji, do you have your senses on the right side” roared Folagbade.
“Certainly, your highness! I am not done yet. You’ll enjoy my story just as a whiteman enjoys his cigar” Then he started a long narration of how he and his wife went to the Alupayida forest where the miracle took place. The narration was a rather long one with details of how he woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning and how many steps he took before he saw a strange man at the feet of the demonised tree.
Folagbade breathed a sigh of relief after having to pass through the rigour and horror of listening to the long story filled with too many irrelevances. He stared at Morakinyo with disbelief.
“Your Highness, when I thanked him, he said I should thank Jesus” added Ogundeji.
“Young man” Folagbade started, his disbelief gradually turning into curiosity. “How true is the story of this man…”
“May you live long Your Highness” Morakinyo rose to pay obeisance to the King; he knew the opportunity was a good one and quickly seized it. “The miracle we witnessed this morning is the work of Jesus, the son….”
Suddenly, screams of agony and pain streamed towards the palace. A crowd was already building up raising dust so as to scramble to see another dead child just attacked by the strange epidemic.
A woman rushed out through the back door of the palace to meet the surging crowd, she identified the dead child to be her son and burst out into a loud scream throwing off her loose headgear. She made straight for the palace hall quickly followed by three women who tried to hold her; she broke free and screamed violently throwing herself down at Folagbade’s feet.
The King, already on his toes shivered. This was much more than what he ever bargained for. His Crown Prince was dead! He looked at his wife, screaming and rolling on the floor. Tears rolled down his cheeks. He quickly stopped the tears wiping off his eyes with the back of his hand.
Four young men bearing the corpse of the Crown Prince solemnly marched with the body into the palace hall. Even though it was a taboo for the King to see the corpse of his Crown Prince or even any of his children, at a time like this, taboos could go to blazes. The atmosphere became tensed; only the screams of the King’s wife pierced the cold silence.
Folagbade stepped forward and touched the corpse…it was cold! Emotions betrayed him! The tears flowed. “Ah what happened to Adeborioye my son? How did it happen?
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!”
To be continued in Episode 10.