A Novel Written By: Kolade Segun-Okeowo (KSO)
Fear gripped him; he quickly bowed his head again and resolved never to go out no matter what. Already two students were already walking down to the rostrum.
“Thank you Jesus!” Femi said “The Lord said seven, only two have responded! …. Don’t neglect your Salvation now!” From different parts of the hall, the boys and a lady walked down “Oh thank you Jesus….there are two more cult members in this congregation who have refused to come out…The Lord said one of you is wearing a white Jeans, a blue polo shirt and a green socks”
Benson was scared stiff were he sat. He looked up carefully towards Femi to be sure he was not looking at his direction. Femi’s eyes were tightly shut. The description fitted him perfectly well. He was not used to wearing white jeans. In fact, he had borrowed the one he is wearing now from his room-mate that morning. How did the preacher know him? Even if Femi had spied on his clothes, how about the socks!!!
“In fact, the jeans you wear presently does not belong to you!” Shouted Femi; his eyes tightly shut.
Benson burst into tears! The Lord had found him. He has never met Femi before on the Campus, so how come he knows all these. He came to the amphitheatre simply to monitor what Lanre would say. He introduced him to the Pythons Confraternity, so the Capone had ordered him to warn Lanre never to say a word about the Pythons. He sent Messages to Lanre to come over to his room for a discussion when the news went around that the Union President had become born again.
When Lanre would not come; Benson had gone to meet him at the Students’ Union Building and threatened the confraternity would kill him if he dared say anything to their detriment.
Lanre simply smiled and nodded. He reported to Femi who prayed with him and urged him to go ahead and say everything he knew about the cult. Professor Omatshola was informed about the development.
The Professor urged Lanre to go ahead but be careful not to mention names. Lanre accepted his advice. Omatshola had promised to alert the University Chief Security Office and the police. He also accepted to be at the amphitheatre for the testimony. He did!
Benson Osarode looked left and right. No one seemed to be looking. He was shedding tears already. He was not only tired of the Pythons Confraternity, but in recent times, he had been tormented by strange nightmares. For over three months he had secretly wished to leave the cult but the fear of repercussions kept him from such an attempt.
He remembered he had led a squad that fished out a former member of the confraternity who renounced his membership and got a transit to University of Calabar. From there, they kidnapped him and brought him to University of Benin Campus and slaughtered him. He thought of all these within seconds and considered the implications of remaining in the cult.
He damned all the consequences and stood up. If God could pick him out from over five thousand students in clear and detail terms, then he surely must have a plan for him. He stood up and walked towards the aisle. The legs were heavy, he carried them slowly; unsure of what he was doing.
A few heads turned around to see him. Quite a number of students knew Benson to be a cultist but no one dared say it!
“Thank you Jesus” said Femi as soon as Benson joined the six cult members separately from the large crowd of converts. They were quickly led towards the back of the rostrum by some counselors. Professor Omatshola stood from where he sat and quickly followed them.
“For your information….Those seven students will receive automatic pardon from the authorities of this University … Professor Omatshola the Dean of Student’ Affairs has just given his word concerning this” Femi announced. A loud applause followed the announcement.
Lanre could not travel after the service, Omatshola had invited him for lunch in his house on the Staff Quarters. Unknown to Lanre, Omatshola had given his heart to Jesus during the service but thought it was better not to make news out of his conversion yet.
By the time Lanre and Femi left the residence of Professor Omatshola residence it was after eight in the evening. If anyone would dare travel out of Ile-Ife at that time of the day it must not be Lanre. Although, Ife was not far from Ibadan and Omatshola had arranged two police escorts to be with him, Femi insisted that he must not leave Ife that night.
As further precautions, Lanre was driven to the Vice Chancellors’ Guest House to pass the night there amidst tight security. Omatshola had made all the arrangements.
For the seven cultists who renounced their membership, Omatshola lodged them in seven different hotels and provided adeqauate security for them. He left nothing to chances
As early as 5am the following morning, Lanre was already at the Campus Gate motor park, ready for the trip to Ibadan. He decided not to travel home with any of the SUG vehicles; though he could if he wanted to.
The risk associated with such a trip with an SUG official car was high. The cultists after his life could easily trail the vehicle and unleash a violent attack on him in the middle of the road. The police escorts who drove him to the park in Omatshola’s car waited to watch him from afar to ensure the car moved away from the gate before they left him.
Sitting comfortably in the back seat of the 504 station wagon car, with a dark glasses and a kangool that concealed his identity; Lanre’s mind raced quickly back to the events of the last four weeks; from his initiation to the attack by Princess Hagatha and the final deliverance. His mother would nearly faint by the time he begin to recount the ordeal.
He was grateful that Professor Omatshola did not proceed to inform his parents as he had planned to. Mrs. Durotoye would have arrived the campus within an hour of receiving the message. Omatshola actually made attempts to get in touch with Lanre’s parents.
When the phone would not get through, he decided to send his Personal Assistant and official driver to Ibadan and personally inform Lanre’s parents. He was giving final instructions when Femi came to break the news of the miraculous healing following the overnight deliverance ministration.
Soon, the vehicle was full and moved out of the park, heading towards Ibadan. Within an hour, the vehicle had pulled into the Gate Garage in Ibadan.
Lanre stepped down, stretched himself and picked his bag. It was not really the stress of the journey that weakened him but the facts that he was wide awake throughout the one-hour drive. He kept imagining what would have happened to him if the deliverance session had failed or there was none at all!
He would have been referred to the Psychiatric Hospital, Aro in Abeokuta. He would become an Aro; a popular but abusive acronym on the campus for anyone assumed to be mentally sick. He quickly jumped into a taxi and headed for their Felele residence.
Mrs Durotoye was speaking to her husband on the phone when he heard the knock. She wondered who was knocking, she was sure it wasn’t her son knocking. ‘Lanre would not knock of it was him’ She thought.
Lanre decided to play a trick on his mother, he knocked again. He knew his mother would have been expecting him. He had called two weeks earlier to tell her of his coming home as soon as the school closes for the semester. It was almost forty eight hours after his expected arrival.
“Please come in the door is not locked” Lanre stood, smiling to himself. He knocked again this time, Mrs. Durotoye became suspicious. Someone is trying to play pranks at the door, and she suspected his son! She dropped the receiver and tip-toed to the door.
“Hallelujah! …. Praise God” She screamed embracing her son “You kept me troubled. I’ve been expecting you since. I thought you said you’ll return day before yesterday?”
“Mummy, just thank God for me…. If only you know what happened, you’ll shout endless hallelujahs…”
By the time Lanre finished recounting his ordeal, Mrs. Durotoye was left speechless. She stared blankly at the young man; her mind calculating rapidly. She imagined the scenes her son had painted and wondered if she was watching an American movie. If someone else had recounted the story concerning her son, she would have fainted.
Here she was, sitting listening to what she would consider the “Mother of all testimonies” coming from her own son who had been to the den of lions and walked through the valley of the shadow of death.
She recalled how about a month ago; the Holy Spirit had prompted her to go into a session of fasting and prayers on behalf of her children; particularly Lanre. She had reluctantly fasted; wondering why at that moment.
Lanre had barely left home after a weekend visit home. She did not see or notice anything wrong with her son. Unknown to her, Lanre had come to collect money needed for his initiation into the cult from her. She shuddered, her own son in a cult? The son of a deaconess!
Suddenly, she stood, burst into a song in her Ekiti dialect….
Oluwa ku ise ooo eeee
Iba mi ku ise oooo ahhh
Eni kan-an wi o ti ku ma ro gu ro rete rete….
Oluwa ku ise oooooo
The Lord is at work!
My father is at work
Despite the mischief of the enemy, we are victorious
The Lord is at work!
She sang and danced to the amusement of her son. Lanre sat on the sofa, unsure of what to do. He began to recall all the incidents that led to his conversion and testimony at the Christian Union fellowship.
He started crying. The Lord is indeed at work!
It didn’t take time for lunch to get ready. Mrs. Durotoye wasted no time in preparing a sumptuous meal for Lanre that afternoon. The food was more of a thanksgiving lunch in appreciation to God for the great deliverance over her son.
As she cooked in the kitchen, her mind raced back to the events described by Lanre and she kept sighing aloud intermittently. She tried to paint a picture of the events but could not. She could not, in her wildest imaginations fathom the existence of super natural beings like the one described by her son. “How can a human being be able to control the life of another like that” She asked as soon as Lanre came to join her in the kitchen.
“Mummy, if it did not happen to me, I would not have believed. As I speak to you now, no one has been able to trace her on the campus. In fact, nobody knows anything about her apart from seeing her in lecture rooms and hostel” Lanre explained.
“Could she be a spirit?” Fear was completely written on her face as she speaks.
“Mummy, no one can convince me that she is not…That girl is an agent of darkness. I have heard my roommate, Bolaji say things about agents of darkness and such things; but I have never for once believed him. I don’t need anyone to prove it to me now!” Lanre explained further.
“Jeeesuuuu OOO!!!” Mrs. Durotoye screamed “I must take you to see Pastor Kalejaye immediately. He must pray for you”
“Why Mummy?” Lanre asked, wondering what his Mum was up to. She was in the habit of taking him to meet Pastor Kalejaye when he was a bit younger. Many a times, it is to report his acts of truancy to the Pastor. As a young lad; Lanre detested the idea of going to meet Pastor Kalejaye. However, the situations have changed now.
“Don’t you think we need to share this testimony with him? He always pray for you and asks after you. This testimony is also worth sharing in the Church. It will be an encouragement to many” Mrs Durotye sounded apologetic. He knew how stubborn his son can be. He had gone through a lot to bring him up to this extent.
Her husband has not helped matters. Although, his job as a career diplomat hindered him greatly from performing his role as a father-figure to his children; his personal disposition to domestic issues have not helped matters. Even when he is at home, he hardly contributes to domestic matters and leaves the children to the whims and caprices of their mother. To say his absentee-fatherhood status had affected Lanre is stating the very obvious.
His current posting to the Nigerian Embassy in Liberia is the fourth within the last one decade. He had served at the OAU Headquarters in Addis Ababa for two years before being moved to Sierra Leone. He was in Freetown for another three years before he got directives to resume at Kingston in Jamaica. He was getting used to Kingston when another posting required him to move to Liberia.
Initially, Mrs. Durotoye had moved with her husband to Addis Ababa when he got posted; leaving Lanre in a boarding School. The harsh weather of Ethiopia and the sudden pregnancy of Akinlolu forced her to return to Nigeria. Since then, she has vowed not to follow her husband to any of his incessant and rather too often postings.
Lanre smiled and spoke assuredly. “Don’t worry, mummy, we shall go and meet Pastor Kalejaye” The thought of sharing the testimony appealed to him. He recalled the outcome of his testimony on campus yesterday which led to the salvation of over 1,500 souls. Lanre had become thirsty of such opportunities again. Something inside him wants to see such altar calls made again and again.“Your wish is my command Mummy”
Mrs. Durotoye smiled again. This is too good to be true. Lanre agrees to meet Pastor Kalejaye without much persuasion. In the past, it could take her a minimum of three days to achieve such a feat.
As soon as food was ready, Lanre dished out for himself and went ahead of him mum to the table. A lunch of poundo yam and egusi soup was not a common delicacy for an undergraduate.
Mrs. Durotoye sat across the table watching her son devour the meal. She could eat as there was no appetite in her. The excitement of the testimony given by Lanre made her feel she needed no food again. The events described by Lanre were too strange to be real. Lanre was almost done with the food when he remembered Akinlolu, his brother.
“By the way where is Akinlolu?” He asked from his mother. Marrs Durotoye smiled and replied. “Oh you just remembered your brother now. The kitchen and the food were more important since you returned from the school. Thank God you remembered him at last” They both laughed over the joke.
“He is on holidays. He has been on holidays since last week, but he’s presently with your uncle; Morakinyo who is presently on mission field in a village around Saki. I went to visit him last week only for your brother to insist he’s going to stay behind to spend the remaining part of his holiday there”
The story was beginning to excite Lanre. He adjusted his chair almost thrice as he moved closer to his mum, enjoying every bit of the news.
“I had to accept when your uncle insisted I allow him, since your dad is not around. Ah! That reminds me; you have to go help me pick him from there. He’s in a town or shall I say village called Onigba Iwofa which is just about thirty minutes away from Shaki. By the way, Shaki is three hours from Ibadan. That will give you an opportunity to meet your uncle who you have not seen in the last one year”
Lanre sighed deeply as he listened to his mum reeling out the details concerning Uncle Morakinyo. Suddenly, he had picked interest about mission. The last time he came home and his mother told him about Morakinyo’s decision to step into full-time missionary work in the village, he was pissed off. To him, his uncle was no more than a religious bigot who had carried the madness of Christianity beyond necessary boundaries.
However, today the whole concept of mission is making a new meaning completely to him. The outcome of the testimony he gave at the Amphitheatre yesterday during the ECU Fellowship has completely changed his entire understanding of God’s work and missions.
“Mummy, when am I supposed to go and pick him? Can I go tomorrow?”
To be continued in Episode 27