if witches were horses

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

Mojoyin hissed and spat Which godsor you wanted to say idols. Powerless idolsIf nothing happens here today, nobody will pull me out of this church again. Not even my late mother will convince me otherwise

“Yes the gods of Onigba-Iwofa are dead today finally Ilelomia said shaking her fist at the fire!

Yes!!! Dead Forever!!! Mojoyin echoed.

Ilelomia stared blankly at her friend and burst into laughter.

You know, its kind of strangeMojoyin and Ilelomia are speaking with the same voice for the first timeThis Jesus is doing something ooo” Mojoyin said falling on her friend as the two of them laughed heartily again.

Suddenly, they heard a loud noise as everyone looked towards the direction of the palace!!! Coming from the palace was the King Oba Folagbade himself accompanied by a retinue of his chiefs. Word had reached him about the events at the church and he had decided to see things for himself. As the entourage moved closer to the church, someone started a chorus, hailing His Royal Highness, Oba Folagbade Lagooku (Ogajafowomeke II) The Adigbaare of Onigba-Iwofa.

Ki le n fOba pe
Oba O Oba Alase Oba
Oba to de ade owo
Oba O Oba Alase Oba
Oba to wo ewu ileke
Oba O Oba Alase Oba

Who dares the King!!!
The KingThe all-powerful King!!!
The one who wears a crown of cowries!!!
The KingThe all-powerful King!!!
The one who is decked in a beaded robe!!!

The drama crusade continued on the second and third day with more massive results. On the final day, as the altar call was being made by Brother Mike, a woman suddenly screamed from the audience and landed heavily on the ground. She began to roll violently on the ground and screamed at the top of her voice. She scattered a few rows of humans standing close to the rostrum. She spoke some gibberish and was directing attention to herself and causing commotion.

From where he sat, Pastor Joju rose angrily and moved menacingly towards the woman. As if she saw Pastor Joju, she stood up impulsively and began to run through the crowd, pushing those she met on her way. Her strength was difficult to explain as she pushed hefty men from her way as if they were brooms! Others began to give way when they saw the way she pushed heavily-built men before them. The attention of the whole crusade ground was directed to her.

Angered, Pastor Joju ordered some brothers to go after her. He sensed in his sprit that the demon operating inside her wanted to prevent the successful conduct of the altar call on the final day. The crowd on the third day had exceeded the first and the second. Since it was Christmas period, more sons and daughters of Onigba-Iwofa had arrived from Ibadan, Lagos, Ilorin and other major cities to celebrate the yuletide at home. Most of them had joined the teeming crowd at the Palace Grounds when they got information about the drama programme. Apart from that, several natives who stayed more in the adjoining hamlets and villages to practice farming had returned home for Christmas and New Year celebrations only to meet the town agog.

Within seconds, the rampaging woman had been caught and returned to the altar where Pastor Joju quickly laid hands on her and spoke in tongues. She immediately went limp and silent.

A loud and deafening shout of “Hallelujah” filled the air as soon as the woman became quiet. Thereafter, Bamiloye continued with the altar call which he successfully made, leading to another huge harvest of souls. The number of converts on the last day was more than the first and second day put together.

The Mount Zion Team did not leave until Monday morning. They willingly accepted to join the Onigba-Iwofa church for Sunday service. The attendance was overflowing. Wooden benches and chairs were collected from the only rental service in the town to contain the large crowd who sat outside the church despite the scorching sun.

Pastor, no doubt, the construction of anther church building has become necessary. This auditorium can no longer contain this converts, let alone the regular members” Brother Bamiloye opined as they moved out of the auditorium after the service.

“You are very correct Sir. Work will start as soon as the Lord provides. We are deeply convinced that the Lord who has made this possible will also make provision for the work to commence soon Pastor Joju responded.

That Sunday, Pastor Joju was heavily burdened as he battled with himself on the honourarium to give the visiting drama team when they take their leave the following morning. He had just rounded off a meeting with the planning committee where all that the committee could raise; four hundred and fifty naira only was handed over to him. Although, he appreciated the committee because he knew they had brought their best. Moreover, the economy was not at its best. The new military government of General Ibrahim Badamasi Babangida had just introduced the Structural Adjustment Programme which was taking its toll on the economy everywhere. Dollar had sharply risen to N4.99k equivalent which was a terrible and sharp increase from what it used to be.

Before 1984, the Nigerian currency was one of the strongest in the world. In 1981, the naira was equal to $0.61 after it was at its peak at N1 to $0.550 in 1980. Within the span of eleven years after its creation in 1973, the naira competed well with the American dollar making it almost as strong as the dollar. In 1979 and 1980, the naira was at its strongest as it was $0.596 and $0.550 respectively. Between 1974 and 1985, the naira had rocked from $0.63 to $0.894.

The sharp increase of the value dollar-naira from $0.894 to one unit exchanging for N4.99k had become responsible for the sharp rise in the process of commodities and services. In 1984, a brand new Peugeot 504 car sold from #9,999.00k. By December 1985, the price of the same vehicle had jumped to #38,950.00k. Although shielded from the massive effects of the national economy due to its remote location, Onigba-Iwofa was not completely immune from the unfortunate vicissitudes of the Naira/Dollar saga.

“You dont have to be downcast because of that Sade walked up to her husband in the dimly lit bedroom. There had been a power outage. In the last two months, power supply in the town had become epileptic and erratic unlike what it used to be before.

I know I shouldnt be. However, am concerned that we are going to give nine hundred and fifty naira as honourarium to guest ministers who came all the way from Ile-Ife down here. I doubt if the money will take care of their transport back home Pastor Joju stood from the bed and walked to the window. He gazed briefly at the full moon outside as if seeking advice from it. He walked back to the bed, dragging his feet as he went.

“The planning committee raised only four hundred and fifty naira only. That is the best they can do. The five hundred naira I added is from the envelope Kabiyesi gave as his personal support in addition to the accommodation at Gbelegun Guest House He explained further.

“How much do we have remaining from the six thousand naira with you?” He asked staring at Sade pleadingly.

Sade smiled and sighed. She knew he husband was coming to ask about the six thousand naira. Deep in her heart, she had given up the six thousand naira for the work of the mission. Her intention was to travel to Ibadan and get some additional cash so that she could purchase a small Liteace bus for the use of the church at Onigba-Iwofa. The last time she enquired on the price, the bus was selling for #7,500. When the vision of the drama crusade came, she had committed one thousand five hundred naira to the feeding of the Guest ministers and other logistics.

My Dear, what do you want us to do. The money belongs to God. Speak the word and consider it done Sade said jokingly and smiled again. We have spent one thousand five hundred naira only.

Thank you DearCan we add two thousand and fifty naira to the money so we can give the guest ministers three thousand naira. That looks a little presentable. I would have loved that we give them five thousand naira, but, am thinking of other things we have to do”

My dear, if five thousand naira is what the Lord is laying in your heart, please lets go ahead. I dont mind. I recognise it as a seed of faith from us. I am ready to release allI mean all. The Lord will provide as He has done before. I should go to Ibadan next week. I trust God that He will raise more help for this work. Lets give them five thousand naira!!!

Pastor Joju stared at his wife and smiled. He thanked God again for the kind of woman God gave to him. He stood from the bed and walked to the window again. The brightness of the moon had reduced, so he barely could see like before. He quickly walked back to the bed and knelt beside his wife who sat on the it, holding her lovingly to himself.

Sade, thank God I married you. Thank you again and again for being my friend and backbone. But for God and you, this mission would not have been a success!!! Sade smiled and blushed again.

“We cannot thank you enough for the great thing the Lord has used you to do for us and the entire community of Onigba-Iwofa and environs” Pastor Joju started to address the leader of Mount Zion Drama Team as they set to leave for Ile-Ife via Ibadan that Monday morning. The bus was already warming up outside the Gbelegun Guest House. The brethren were already in the bus waiting. Pastor Joju, his wife, Major Labode and Brother Bamiloye were in the living room of the Guest House. Major Labode had joined Joju and his wife to bid the team farewell on behalf of the church.

Major Labode had proved himself to be more than capable of being the Chairman of the Planning Committee. On Sunday afternoon, he and Odewole, accompanied by their wives had joined Pastor and Mrs. Joju Dairo to lead the team to the palace of Oba Folagbade on a “thank you” visit and to bid the King farewell. Major Labode alone donated more than half of the four hundred and fifty naira gathered by church leaders to support the honourarium of the guest ministers. But for the financial strain occasioned by his seven-year psychiatric ordeal, Major Labode would have single-handedly sponsored the whole programme.

On Sunday evening, after they left the palace following the “thank you” visit to the king, Major Labode had led the bus to AP filling station in the town to fill up the tank with fuel in preparation for the following days journey. He ordered the 80-litre tank to be filled with sixteen-naira worth of petrol. He immediately counted thirty-two pieces of fifty kobo notes and paid the attendant without telling Pastor Joju.

The fruits of your ministration has already started to emerge right from the first day of the programme Major Labode added. He felt highly honoured to have been invited by the Pastor to join him to see off the guest ministers at their hotel.

He grinned happily when Pastor Joju handed over the envelope containing the honorarium meant for the guests and asked him to present it to the at the appropriate time. Major Labode felt the weight of the envelope and exchanged glances with Pastor Joju and his wife. Sade had smiled and looked away. Pastor Joju explained what happened to him. Major Labode stared blankly at the couple unsure of what to say. He quietly used the side of his palm to clean off the string of tears already forming in his eyes.

We cannot pay you, neither can we reward your services. Only God who has called you into this glorious ministry is capable of rewarding and He will reward you in Jesus name Pastor Joju prayed for the drama team leader.

Amen chorused everyone.

On behalf of the entire church, please accept from us this token in support of your coming to Onigba-Iwofa” Major Labode handed over the envelope to Bro. Mike Bamiloye who smiled and collected the envelope from Major. Labode grinned again, he felt his two legs floating in the air as he proudly presented the envelope to the leader of the team.

“We thank you Pastor. We thank you Mummy. Major, thank you so much Sir Bamiloye began what turned out to be a very short thank you speech.

Thank you for the honour and priviledge of inviting us to partake of what the Lord is doing here in Onigba-Iwofa. We also thank you for your kind hospitality and wonderful welfare arrangements. We cannot thank you enough Major Labode grinned again as Bamiloye spoke.

We also thank you for this heavy honorarium, we are grateful indeed. We accept it with the whole of our heart and from the bottom of our hearts, we pray that the Lord will increase you and increase His work in your hands in Jesus name Bamiloye prayed again.

Amen chorused everyone again.

Since we have accepted this huge token from the bottom of our herats, I guess we are free to do anything we like with it Bamiloye asked smilling.

Yes They chorused reluctantly, unsure of what Bamiloye was trying to do.

Goodin that case, Pastor, please kindly accept from us, this token as our own seed towards the commencement of the new auditorium for this mission work. Please use it to start the church building Bamiloye said as he stretched the envelope to the Pastor, smiling heartily as he did.

Noooo!!! Noooo!!! Brother MikeYou shouldnt do thisWe invited you and kept you here for three days. We should do this, not you…You deserve to n-be honoured. You did not ask us for a pennyy, that is more than enoughPease dont do this Pastor Joju pleaded.

But you just said now that the money belongs to us and we are free to do anything we like with itHave you changed your mind? Mike Bamiloye asked, laughing as he spoke.

Mrs. Sade Dairo sighed for the umpteenth time and spoke. Brother Mike, are you annoyed with us? Is the money too small?”

Exactly, that is what I wanted to say. Please dont mind us, just accept us as we are. We promise to do much more than this when next we invite you Major Labode joined in the pleas to the drama leader.

Mike Bamiloye laughed heartily again and said: No. We have not even counted the money inside the envelope so we dont know what is inside, but you see, the Lord had already spoken to us on what to do if and when you give us this honourarium. Pastor, please permit us to obey HimPlease use it to kick start the construction of another church for this mission. Please help us to obey God

Haa!!! This is serious Major Labode exclaimed.

Jesus!!! Jesus!!! I dont know what to say Bro Mike. This is a shock!!! Pastor Joju said as he collected the envelope from Bamiloye and handed it over to mar Labode.

Brother MikeThe Lord will raise men for you. He will cause this vision that He has given you to take you beyond the shores of this continent and make provisions available for you. He will remove obstacles from your ways. He will announce you by Himself. The Lord will open for you, doors that no man can shut and Pastor Joju continued the prayers for another five minutes, pouring his heart out in prayers for the Mount Zion Team. Bamiloye went on his knees as Pastor Joju prayed.

Aarinola remained in Onigba-Iwofa until after the new year celebrations. She had determined to spend the entire period of her annual leave which coincided with the yuletide to stay with her parents and mend fences with them; especially her father. Her mission had succeeded and met little resistance from her mother whom she was able to convince to attend the second day of the drama crusade. The old woman watched the drama and became one of the many who stepped out to give their lives to Jesus as soon as the altar call was made.

Her initial claims of being a leader in the Egungun cult had given way when she saw other members of the Egungun cult stepping out at the drama crusade to give their lives to Jesus. News had gone round town about what happened at the church during the counselling and new converts’ class on the first day where many ritual and fetish objects were burnt without any repercussion.

The news emboldened several other fetish and idol worshippers to attend the two other days of crusade and the new converts class. One of the paraphernalia burnt at the church was the costume of a dreaded masquerade called Gbonkuka brought by its custodian; Eleku Gbonkuka to the church. The costume of Gbonkuka and other of its paraphernalia were burnt with no repercussions.

All these added to the strength and conviction of the old woman and aided her smooth conversion to Christ. Although, she attended the new converts class the following days, Aarinola became her major post-conversion teacher, explaining the word of God to her step by step.

Her father, Labinjo Oderinde a leader in the local Awo-Opa fraternity was however the hard nut to crack. When news got to him that his younger brother Odewole had carried a load of powerful charms to the church for destruction, he became enraged!!!

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