if witches were horses

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

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!!!

Gbayike had become a complete shadow of her former self after the whole incident of Oyinkan’s death and Morakinyo’s suspension from the pastorate of the church. She took a casual leave from work for three days. Her biggest worry was the death of Oyinkan.

“Did I cause her death…” She asked Wonuola for the umpteenth time.

“Sister Gbayike, stop doing this to yourself” Wonuola almost charged at her, wondering what has suddenly come over her friend and roommate since the incident of Oyinkan’s death.

“You are not responsible for her death. You did not wish her dead in the first place, so how can you accuse yourself of causing her death…Even if you ever wished her dead, your wish is still subject to God’s discretion…So you see, nothing happens without God’s knowledge” Wonuola counseled again.

Gbayike sighed and looked straight into Wonuola’s eyes again. Tears had flooded her eye sockets.

“But…Sister Wonuola, don’t you think God killed her because of me?”

“Oh no!!!…Why all these Sister Gbayike, God did what He considered right, it was not…it is not and will not be any of your business…The Bible says ‘God rules in the affairs of men and He directs them whichever way He wants…’ Please stop being childish. I expect you to understand much more than this!!!” Wonuola was getting angry, her voice was already rising.

“Okay…I understand…Please don’t get angry at me” Gbayike said, her voice shaking as she spoke “Am just scared and confused…I really don’t know what to do!” She started sobbing. Wonuola drew her close and embraced her. Her body quivered as Wonuola held her tightly to herself. She held on to Wonuola as if her whole existence depended on the embrace.

“Sister Gbayike, you did not kill anyone. You did not wish anyone dead. You only made a simple mistake and God is not going to crucify you for that…You only need to ask for His forgiveness and direction and He will lead you” Wonuola spoke assuredly.

Gbayike was silent. Her head rested on Wonuola’s bosom. She felt secured in her embrace and slept off.

Resumption for a new semester at The University of Ife was fast approaching. Students’ Union officials usually arrive a week ahead of all other students to put things in order to welcome fresh students particularly. For the Students’ Union, it was also the best of times to make huge income from union fees recommended by the school authorities.

Although voluntary, most students pay the union fees without complaining. Freshmen usually look forward to participating in union activities, so parting with a few nairas for the opportunity to participate in a union they have always longed to be part of was usually no headache.

Seven years ago, precisely in 1978; Students’ Unionism had taken a different dimension on Nigerian Campuses with the dynamism introduced by the confrontation with the military regime of General Olusegun Obasanjo. The National Union of Nigerian Students (NUNS) led by its President, the heavily bearded Comrade Segun Okeowo had led a popular protest against the commercialization of education.

The nationwide protest code named “Ali Must Go” was occasioned by the attempt made by the Federal Commissioner for Education, Col. Ahmadu Alli to increase the cost of meal tickets in Universities across the country.

Eating at students’ cafeteria of the universities was fun before the crisis. Students need not spend more than 20 kobo for breakfast, 25 kobo for lunch and 25 kobo for dinner. According to Col. Ahmadu Alli, the government was finding it difficult to continue to subsidize the feeding arrangement and opted to increase the price from 70 kobo per day to #150.00 per day.

That argument was a no sell for the students’ body who argued that since the Government was able to spend millions of naira on an international jamboree called Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC 77) it had no business saying there were problems sustaining meal subsidy in the universities. The students therefore came together nationally and decided that the Federal Commissioner for Education, Col. Ahmadu Alli must resign!

On the 18th of April 1978, Akintunde Ojo a 300 level student of Environmental Science was murdered at Abule Oja, a suburb of The University of Lagos. He and a few other students, including Gbenga Daniel a 400 Level Engineering student were discussing the protest in groups when suddenly a bullet hit him on the knee. He was immediately rushed to the Igbobi Orthopaedic Hospital and by six O’ clock in the evening, word had gone round that 23-year-old Akintunde Ojo was dead.

Three days later when Akintunde Ojo’s burial was to be conducted, the students, joined by other sympathizers went on rampage and anything that belonged to the government was taken out including vehicles. Vice Chancellor of the University, Professor Ade Ajayi was later to be sacked by the Federal Government for daring to join the students during the burial of Akintunde Ojo. National President of the NUNS; Comrade Segun Okeowo was arrested and detained for 43 days in solitary confinement. A Lagos High Court however set him free afterwards, following the intervention of Lagos lawyer and human rights activist, Chief Gani Fawehinmi.

The aftermath of the crisis awoke an unusual sense of nationalism in students from primary to secondary schools and tertiary institution as they all participated in the protest.

Lanre and the other members of the Students’ Union Exco had arrived the campus ahead of others to prepare the ground. As Lanre drove into the Campus in the Union official vehicle, he felt a new lease of life. The Dean of Students Affairs, Prof. Barrakkah had approved the release of the Union vehicle for him only a few days ago. He was returning to the campus a completely new creature. He smiled at the security men at the gate who saluted him as he drove in.

“Larry Bee Odjidga!!” They shouted!!!

He smiled lavishly and stopped to exchange pleasantries with them and only moved when a few horns started blaring from his back urging him to give way. The campus was gradually becoming a beehive of activities.

At the first meeting of the Students Union Exco, Lanre had arranged with Femi, President of The Christian Union to pray for the leadership of the Students’ Union and share the word of God with them.

Femi was brief in his exhortation, he reminded the Students’ Union leaders that their influence and tenure were transient and only their positive impacts will remain indelible. He charged them to stand with Lanre the President just like the men of David stood with him. He also reminded Lanre to treat his lieutenants with much dignity.

He showed them from verses 15 to 17 of Chapter 21, in the book of Samuel in the Bible how David almost lost his life when he encountered a giant and could not withstand him.

“David would have been killed but for Abishai the son of Zeruiah who rose on his behalf to kill the giant…Imagine what would have happened had Abishai not been in good terms with his master David…The King would have been slaughtered in cold blood” Femi explained further.

“Stand together, stand as one!!! There are battles you will soon fight that only unity will be your sole weapon of war!!!”

The words of Femi came heavy on everyone at the meeting. There were sighs and emotions as he spoke. He rounded up the sermon in ten minutes and prayed for them before stepping out of the Students’ Union Building.

As soon as Femi and his team stepped out of the building, Lanre called for a recess. The PRO, Alani Poroye walked up to him and challenged his decision to bring a Pastor in to the SUG Exco meeting.

“Mr. President, with due respects, I think you misfired by inviting a Pastor to this meeting. For crying out loud, some of us are not Christians, so I think you should respect our sensibilities too”

Lanre had expected that. He simply smiled as Alani spoke, then he touched his shoulder and addressed him.

“Alani, I’m sorry if I offended your sensibilities, but I brought Femi here not as a Pastor but as a Preacher of God’s word. You do agree with me that we surely need God to survive the turbulent times ahead of this administration?” Lanre explained.

“But Pastors are not the only preachers of God’s word” Alani queried.

“Perfectly correct! That’s why our next meeting will be proceeded by words of God from an Imam…The Director of Socials already have my instructions to arrange for the Imam of the Campus Central mosque to speak with us” Lanre said. He was ready for Alani. He noticed his displeasure while the meeting was going on and had directed the Director of Social to make the arrangements.

“So what about the third religion? The 1963 constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria recognizes three religions, Christianity, Islam and Traditional Religion” The Assistant General Secretary, Oluwole Faranpojo walked into the discussion and interrupted.

“Oh, that’s true…No problem…Bring your anointed Ogun or Sango Priest from your shrine to preach at our next meet. We shall listen to him” They all burst into laughter and returned to the meeting.

The meeting lasted till the wee hours of the night. Two policemen a few Man O’ War Operatives and Cadet Officers provided security while the meeting lasted. Strategies were put in place to curb any attempt by cultists to infiltrate the campus especially during the first few weeks when freshmen are expected to resume for registrations and matriculation.

As the meeting rounded up, Cadet Commander Bosun Aladeyelu walked in and spoke to Lanre privately. He immediately stepped out.

“Ladies and gentlemen, we need to prepare for the worst. A highly confidential security report just reaching me now confirms that…”

George Sewanu, General Secretary of the Students Union who sat next to Lanre pressed his foot. Lanre got the signal and quickly put a hold on the information he was about to reveal.

He paused and said “Ladies and gentlemen…permit me to hold on with this information until I have a clearer picture so I can give a well-informed opinion. I ask The PRO to close the meeting with prayers for us” Lanre said to a sheepishly smiling Alani.

Preparations for Morakinyo’s resumption at the Bible College in Ikeji Arakeji had begun less than a month after his suspension commenced. Pastor Kalejaye had made a special request to the Pastoral Board to reduce the suspension order to only a month having seen complete remorse and soberness in Morakinyo.

Although he was barred from any leadership and ministerial assignment, he religiously and punctually attended all activities of the church. Morakinyo constantly recalled the words of Pastor Kalejaye as he reeled out the decisions of The Board to him. “During the period of the suspension, the church will continue to pay your allowances but you are required to report to my office on daily basis”

Not only did he report at Pastor Kalejaye’s office daily, he followed him to all his ministerial engagements, carrying his Bible and listening to him with rapt attention as the Senior Pastor ministered.

In one of such ministrations, Pastor Kalejaye had been invited to a big Church in Osogbo to speak on the topic: WHEN GOD SEEMS SILENT. The man of God had started by saying God answers prayers, He can do all things and with God nothing is impossible. He explained that on the contrary, there are situations that tend to prove these wrong.

“To the immature Christians, this may cause the heart to faint and weaken the faith. We have seen believers pray and get no response. Christians die in accidents and we have believers who have no child. Yes, bad things happen to Christians too” He said.

“In all of these, God is faithful, but why is he quiet when these happen?” He asked.

Pastor Kalejaye went ahead to explain why God allow ugly situations to happen to his children. According to him, these include; test of faith, increase of our dependence on Him, keeping us in check, helping us to appreciate him when he is not silent. Finally, Pastor Kalejaye said God may be speaking but we are not listening.

As he ministered, the words were dropping like bombs and hitting Morakinyo hard where he sat amongst the congregation. It was as if The Senior Pastor was speaking to him directly. He was already weeping. Tears gushed out of his eyes as he listened to the Pastor. The message was for him…he knew!!!

As Pastor Kalejaiye rounded of the message, he listed the things a believer must do when God seems silent.

“Be patient and consult His word. Godly counsels can help if you seek it. Do what He has spoken about before and worship Him”

The words reeled out hitting Morakinyo like the jabs of a sharp knife. Each of the points spoke about him. He clearly saw all the blunders he committed at Onigba-Iwofa enumerated in the 60-minute sermon preached by Pastor Kalejaye.

“I was not patient enough to consult His word. I did not pursue Godly counsels” He said to himself as he listened with rapt attention.

“Even if God had delayed in speaking about my marriage, I should have buried myself in doing what He has spoken about before and worship Him. I was in a hurry” He felt like hitting himself.

“God does not deny. Delay is not denial. When He appears to delay, He is waiting for the right and appropriate time” Pastor Kalejaye’s voice rang out again! “Wait for His time!!! Wait for His time” He shouted as he sweated!!! “Don’t hurry ahead of Him” He sounded emotional as he made altar.

The tears flowed uncontrollably from Morakinyo. There was dead silence as the car drove them back to Ibadan. The journey from Osogbo to Ibadan seemed like minutes to Morakinyo. The contents of the message preached by the Senior Pastor was worth ruminating about. As the 504 Station Wagon car eased its way into the traffic at the Iwo Road end, Morakinyo spoke for the first time since they left Osogbo.

“Daddy…More of His Grace Sir. That message was directly for me Sir. I appreciate you Sir”

“Ah…to God be the glory. I am happy you were blessed” Pastor Kalejaye smiled broadly.

“It was as if the message was directed at me alone” Morakinyo said grinning.

“That is the power of the word of God. You know God has specific words for different people at specific time times” Pastor Kalejaiye went on to explain more about waiting and the consequences of doing otherwise. He gave the example of the damage done by Abraham in going to sleep with Hagar, his wife’s maid and the terrible consequences of the hasty decision on contemporary times.

“The child produced by Hagar; Ishmael is the ancestor of the Arabs while Isaac’s seeds are the Jewish people. Imagine how peaceful the whole world would have been especially in the Middle East today if not for that hasty and ill-conceived decision of Abraham” Morakinyo sighed.

Many of such outings drew Morakinyo closer to the Senior Pastor and gave him ample opportunity to learn at his feet. Pastor Kalejaye also seized the opportunity to sow several seeds of God’s word, encourage and deep understanding of ministry ethics and etiquettes into the life of the young minister.

Less than a week to the end of the first month into his suspension, Pastor Kalejaye got the Pastoral Board to pardon Morakinyo.

“The initial arrangement was that following the expiration of your three-month suspension, you will immediately proceed to The Bible College in Ikeji-Arakeji for a special three month course in Missions, however the Pastoral Board has reviewed your case and it is the opinion of the Board that your suspension be reduced to one month and lifted immediately” Pastor Kalejaye explained to Morakinyo who remained on his knees as the Senior Pastor addressed him.

The trip to Ikeji-Arakeji was immediate. He had only two days to plan and bade his relations goodbye. He was to spend three months at Ikeji-Arakeji. Morakinyo drew a list of people to visit before his travel to Ikeji- Arakeji. Gbayike was first on his list!!!

2 thoughts on “IF WITCHES WERE HORSES – Episode 45

  1. KSO, thanks for taking me back to my university days in 1978. I was just a young girl in my second year at the university during this ‘Ali Must Go’ matter. Segun Okeowo was our hero then.
    IWWH is not merely a work of fiction but faction (a narrative that falls between history with facts and fiction from imagination) as well, just like Kole Omotoso’s   Just Before Dawn (Ibadan, Spectrum Books, 1988).
    Well done KSO and Happy 50th birthday. We are anxiously waiting to read the next episode.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: