if witches were horses

A Novel Written By: Kolade Segun-Okeowo (KSO)

Within seconds, he had disappeared from the meeting venue…He had given his judgment and moved on for another to and fro assignment. He hardly stays long during meetings. He attends hundreds of meetings in a day, giving his aides an impression of omnipresence just as the Owner.

From the floor where she stayed glued, the Queen of the Coast lifted her body gradually and tried to listen for further instructions from Lucifer, but he was gone. She rose from the arena of the meeting determined to become more ferocious and mean in her assignments. She knew the last chance means the last chance with Lucifer, so she must produce results.

Therefore, when she addressed her aides at the Palace of the Katangua sea region, she meant every word she spoke!!!

“The Onigba-Iwofa mission must be renewed with vigour and determination!!!”

The service at the Onigba-Iwofa church on Sunday took a new dimension. The confirmed news about the death of the Pastor’s wife had spread like a wildfire. From all the nooks and crannies of the town came former members of the church who had abandoned the church for one reason or the other.

“Let’s go today at least in the honour of the dead!!!” Ilelomia told Mojoyin, her friend. “That woman was very nice to all the women in this town…A very generous woman she was…”

“Very generous indeed…. only that…” Mojoyin chuckled as she said the last words.

“Only that what…?” Ilelomia enquired from her friend.

“Walls have ears, come closer” Mojoyin quickly drew Ilelomia closer without waiting for her consent “I heard the woman was a water witch before she died”

Ilelomia jumped away from her. “Heeeeh…!!! Mojoyin the wife of Badipe ooooo!!! Now I am convinced that you have traces of uncured madness in your generations!!! How can the wife of a pastor be a witch!!!”

“See who is talking… the other day, were you not the one who heard some strange nonsense from ‘one of the friends of the one of the wives of one of the men loyal to the late Chief Priest’”

The two friends burst in to laughter and rolled on each other as they began making preparations to attend the service.

Bambino, wife of Gunwaola, led a delegation of the women from Awofolaju to the service. The news had streamed to them late on Saturday evening that the pastor’s wife was confirmed dead. The women numbering about seventeen wept as they filed into the church that morning extolling the kind virtues of Oyinkan and her ability to mingle easily with them. Morakinyo welcomed them and consoled them assuring them that she had gone to Heaven to be with the Lord.

Pastor Joju Dairo was introduced to the whole church before he preached a powerful sermon titled: Resurrection of the Saints. He assured the congregation that they will meet Oyinkan, their pastor’s wife again if they are able to make it to Heaven where there will be no more death.

He thereafter made an altar call and virtually everyone in the congregation stepped out to give their lives to Jesus. Morakinyo smiled pleasantly as he slightly opened his eye and saw Eebudola and Odewole amongst the new converts. He breathed a sigh of relief and prayed silently for Pastor Joju Dairo.

“Lord Jesus, please help him to succeed where I failed…” He prayed silently. Stream of tears were already running down his cheeks as he watched Pastor Joju Dairo pray for the new converts.

Suddenly, a loud noise erupted from the back of the church. Morakinyo was jolted from his prayer mood and tried to see what was going on from the back of the congregation. From the altar, he could see clearly. Labudanu, the notorious mad man in Onigba-Iwofa was stepping into the church, appearing remorseful and seemingly conscious of his environment. He stared strangely at the congregants and checked himself pitiably as he continuously marched to the altar.

Pastor Joju Dairo was already speaking in tongues calmly. Morakinyo stood and began to pace around the altar. Labudanu kept marching towards the altar with a solemn piety. He stood still as he got to the front of the altar and began to weep. He knelt and continued to weep.

A thunderous shout of hallelujah greeted his latest action, drawing the attention of the neighbourhood. Within minutes, the church had become filled up completely. Others, especially young ones climbed the windows and perched to catch a glimpse of the spectacle! Labudanu, the most notorious mad man in Onigba-Iwofa has been healed.

Pastor Joju Dairo beckoned to Morakinyo and Barrister Olaoye to join him in praying for Labudanu. As they prayed for him, Labudanu kept weeping like a baby. From where he sat, Oba Folagbade also had started shedding some tears. Labudanu was his first cousin.

According to grapevine sources, Labudanu was a young Major in the Nigerian army when he suddenly became mad. He was a veteran of the 1967 Civil War, an officer of The Third Marine Commando headed by the then Lt. Colonel Olusegun Obasanjo, who later became the Nigerian Head of State. He had been posted to the Army Paymaster Office in Lagos due to the wounds he sustained during the civil war at Obodonta near Owerri.

The wound left him limping on his left leg. While at the Paymaster Office, he was said to have discovered a massive fraud of funds running into hundreds of thousands of naira meant for the pension and resettlement scheme for The Civil War veterans. He threatened to blow the whistle.

He actually made attempts to report the perpetrators. However, one day, he was said to have started firing imaginary guns at the air right in the barracks of The Ikeja Cantonment, his official residence. At first, his colleagues thought he was making mockery of the Biafrans, but when he continued to ‘shoot’ at every human being entering the cantonment; he was bundled into a car and taken the military hospital at Oshodi.

After spending several months in the hospital without getting any better, his family was advised to take him back home. All efforts to cure him had proved abortive. After spending his entire gratuity and other entitlements from the military on the mental ailment, his family gave up all hopes on him. He had since remained in that condition at Onigba-Iwofa, shooting imaginary enemies and hunting rats around houses.

The Queen gave Folagbade a soft jerk to remind him he is in the public. She leaned close to him and said “Kabiyesi, please comport yourself”

Oba Folagabde quickly drew an handkerchief out of his robe and cleared his face. Just then, Morakinyo and Barrister Olaoye led Labudanu out of the church towards the church bus. Taking him out from the church was a herculean task as everyone wanted to catch a close glimpse of the renewed Labudanu.

Outside the church, more spectators had gathered to confirm the news of the miracle. As Labudanu was being taken to the bus, shouts of ‘Hallelujah’ rented the air. Inside the church, songs of praise continued as the people danced and rejoiced the more for the great things their eyes had seen.

Within thirty minutes, the team that went with Labudanu had returned from the Mission House. He had taken his bathe and his hair had quickly been shaven. He wore a cloth belonging to Morakinyo. A thunderous ovation welcomed the return of Labudanu to the church. Once Pastor Joju Dairo had announced to them that Labudanu will soon be back, they all insisted on waiting to see the brand new man who was a mad man some minutes ago.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Major Olabode Olabowale Rtd., a great son of the land whom the devil had put under bondage until a few moments ago” The voice of Morakinyo rang happily and loudly on the microphone.

Another round of dancing and praise worship ensued. Morakinyo used the opportunity of the joyful mood to announce that Pastor Joju Dairo and his wife will take over from him as the pastor of the church for the next six months. The wild jubilation that greeted the announcement was louder than before. Many remembered that it was while Pastor Joju Dairo ministered that Labudanu encountered the miracle. They quickly concluded that the new Pastor was a miracle worker!!!

Natas and Vampiress saw everything from afar. They could not come near the vicinity of the Church. Powerone and Greatone were standing at alert. They seem to have increased in stature and grown much more muscular than the last time the Daughters of the River had an encounter with them.

“Staying away from them is wise…The experiences of the last few weeks in the hands of these terrible creatures has left me stiff scared” Natas told Vampiress.

“Really, but why, with all the powers conferred upon us by the forces of Lucifer, we should not be scared of them” Vampiress said arrogantly. Natas simply stared at Vampires in a ‘you fool’ manner and burst in to a loud laughter.

“Vampiress, you are a new comer and learner here, so stay behind and watch before you leap. I have more than enough experience in this job to know where to go and where not to go in this territory” Natas explained.

“But the Queen of the Coast told us Lucifer said we can do and undo whenever we are sent on special assignments like this… Are you saying either of them lied?”

“You will soon learn…keep watching” Natas said and fastened her gaze on the events at the church, 200 metres away. Vampiress looked at Natas with hatred and vexation. She felt like pushing her over and taking over the leadership of the team from her. She stood there calculating and thinking of what to do.

The celebration in the church continued over the miraculous recovery of Major Olabode Olabowale, Rtd. aka Labudanu. For another one hour, the service continued with more people responding to the altar call and giving their lives to Jesus. Within minutes, crates of cold 7Up drinks and cartons of biscuits had been brought into the church on the order of the king, Oba Folagbade. Once the service was over, the serving of drinks and biscuits started, to celebrate the miraculous healing of major Olabode.

“When I said we should come here at least in the honour of the dead, did you not say I had a smelly mouth!!!” Ilelomia told Mojoyin, her friend sarcastically. “See how you would have made us miss this wonder…”

“Most especially, the cold bottle of 7Up and biscuits!!!” Mojoyin burst into deep hearty laughter “I know, that is what excited you most in all of what happened here today… You glutton!!!”

“Swear…swear it is not the same with you. When last did you have access to drink 7Up like this… tell me?” Ilelomia asked. The two stared at each other and burst into laughter again.

The testimony of Major Olabode went beyond Onigba-Iwofa very quickly. The women from Awofolaju who came with Bambino took the news back with them as they returned home. They stopped by on the villages along the route to announce the deliverance of Labudanu whose notoriety went beyond the boundaries of Onigba-Iwofa since he normally trekked to Awofalaju, Aponbiede and seven other villages around Onigba-Iwofa on his daily ‘routine parade’.

By the time the evangelical team arrived the Mission House with Major Olabode, another crowd had gathered in front of the house waiting for the ‘man of the moment’ Relations and immediate family of Major Olabode were part of the crowd who had waited in front of the Pastor’s house when they got wind of what had happened at the church. They were on their way to the church when they got information that the service was already over and the pastors were bringing Major Labode home, so they waited at the parsonage.

As soon as Major Labode stepped down from the bus in his new clothes and looking well and clean shaven, a loud noise rented the air. A woman from the crowd broke through the human wall and jumped at Major Labudanu. She began to cry most pathetically as she clung to Major Olabode on the neck.

“Who is she?” Morakinyo whispered to Eebudola who stood beside him. She had followed the bus from the church to the parsonage to assist in the welfare of Major Labode.

“Ah, Pastor, that is his wife… Ever since the misfortune befell her husband she had refused to abandon him. Many times, she cooks food and goes to give it to him wherever he is…She is a good woman” Eebudola told Morakinyo.

“I see” said Morakinyo looking at the woman with pity as she clung to her husband. She wept and continued to hug her husband as she burst into a local song using her deep Oyo ascent. Before long, the whole crowd joined her, turning the Mission House into another crusade and revival ground of some sort.

When the team set to leave Onigba-Iwofa on Sunday afternoon, another huge crowd gathered to bid them farewell. Prominent amongst them was Major Olabode and his wife who joined the throng of people to wish the team journey mercies back to Ibadan. Pastor Joju Dairo and his wife stayed behind to continue the work.

As the vehicles eased their way out of the parsonage, a loud noise of “Hallelujah” rented the air. Children and adults alike waved frantically at the buses. They had lined up along the road leading to the parsonage. Major Labode stood beside Pastor Joju Dairo and his wife, waving at the team as the buses carried them out of the Mission House and moved slowly towards the palace en-route Ibadan. Some children ran after the buses still shouting “Hallelujah” as they gathered speed. Soon, the children began to return one after the other towards the Mission House. It had become obvious they were on a wild goose chase.

Major Labode turned his gaze at Pastor Joju Dairo again and burst into tears. Pastor Joju Dairo quickly drew him closer and embraced him tightly. Mrs. Labode too was weeping freely. She recalled the day her husband was brought into Onigba-Iwofa by his colleagues in the army after he had been discharged from the Military Hospital in Oshodi, Lagos on the grounds that his case was beyond medical science.

The four officers, who brought him, led him from the military jeep into the house where his wife, mother and a few other family members were waiting to receive him. He smiled sheepishly at everyone including his aged mother who wept throughout. The military men left almost immediately after dropping a few drugs and a cheque for #16,287.50k, the total sum of his severance package from the military. As the men stepped out of the house, Major Olabode stood up and gave salutes to them. He did not stop the salutes until an hour after they had left.

The struggle to get him back started immediately. Fortunately, the cheque was written in the name of his wife. The Army Paymaster General had graciously waived all protocols in respect of the cheque and asked that it be written immediately in the name of his next of kin from army records.

The money was spent within three months on the health of Major Olabode.

The first to be consulted was Baba Jamolaya-bi-Eru who boasted he would heal Olabode in a matter of days. He requested for several sacrificial items including a cow. By the time the family concluded the sacrifices, more than nine thousand naira had been spent, yet his condition grew worse. Thereafter, Jamolaya requested that Olabode be moved into his compound for proper monitoring. Completely confused and unsure of what to do next, the family agreed and moved the young Major into Jamolaya’s house.

Unknown to the family, Jamolaya had merely turned Olabode into a slave of some sort, using him to pound his several medicinal concoctions while he remained under lock and chains. The situation came to an ugly climax when a maternal uncle insisted on seeing Olabode at Jamolaya’s enclosure within his compound.

The uncle, who came from Ibadan found Labode in the most despicable condition. He looked emaciated and lean. From all indications he was poorly fed, yet Jamolaya collected a monthly stipend of five hundred naira for his upkeep! Uncle Fadele got angry and removed Labode from Jamolaya’s house that same day to the bewilderment of Jamolaya!

Enraged, the old man cursed and threatened fire and brimstone. He pronounced that Labode will never be healed except upon his dead body!!! From then, Labode’s condition grew worse, he became uncontrollable and violent. From the long sheepish and blank smiles, he began shrieking loud laughters and completely awkward behaviours.

Two days after he was returned from Jamolaya’s enclave, he broke from the family house and never came back!!!

As Mrs. Labode recalled the past, she cried the more and increased the torrent of tears!!! She remembered that Jamolaya had said her husband will never be healed except at his death! About six months ago, Jamolaya passed on!!!


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