if witches were horses

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

Pastor Adeboye saw the tears in Morakinyo’s eyes and smiled. He saw sincerity in the eyes of the young man and had compassion on him. That morning as he travelled to Ikeji-Arakeji for the programee, he silently meditated on the topic of the sermon. Just as the car entered the compound of the Bible College, he heard the Lord speak to him distinctly. The Lord said “The siege of failure is over”

Although, he said “Amen” and was happy, Adeboye was not sure if the message was for him or someone else. However, when Morakinyo knelt before him and asked to be prayed for, Adeboye looked up and said “Thank you My Daddy” He instantly knew the message was for the young man kneeling before him.

“The siege of failure is over!!! Receive grace to see right and do right in the name of Jesus”

Morakinyo screamed “Amen” as Pastor Adeboye laid hands on him and prayed further for him.

Aarinola travelled to Onigba-Iwofa every fortnight to join the mission work. She arrived on Friday evenings and returned to Ibadan on Sunday afternoons. She took over as the leader of counselling and follow-up team in the mission. Being an indigene, she played a major role in establishing majority of the new converts from the three-day drama crusade. She knew everywhere in Onigba-Iwofa. She grew up and attended primary school there before she travelled to Ibadan for her secondary education.

She and Eebudola, wife of Odewole led Pastor Mrs. Folasasde Joju to the homes of all the market women leaders in Onigba-Iwofa to appreciate the support and massive turn out of market women during the three-day crusade. Anyone who visited Onigba-Iwofa during the three day of drama crusade would have assumed there was a public holiday.

From around four in the evening, the markets were practically shut down and deserted. The head of the market women, a very close friend of Eebudola had sent an appeal to all market women to attend the programme. Madam Abegbe Gboyerumi was not only popular amongst the market women, she was unanimously chosen by all the sections of the market. Her appeal was more like a commandment.

Aarinola, through her mother pulled a large following of former egungun cult women to the church. The women were so many that the first few Sunday services of the church after the drama crusade was more like a carnival of some sorts. The egungun cult women, dressed in their cult robes appeared for the service. Initially, the duo of Major Labode and Odewole wanted to prevent them from entering the church, but on the advice of Pastor Joju, they were permitted to enter the church with their robes.

One of the new converts actually came to the church wearing his egungun costumes. Pastor Joju merely smiled and also gave instruction for the “masquerade” to be allowed a space to sit in the church. While the service was going on, the young man in the egungun costumes, stepped outsideon his volition and removed the sacred garment in the full glare of all. He returned to the church and listened with rapt attention as Pastor Joju preached. After the service, he went outside the church, fetched the masquerade costume and asked Pastor Joju to help him burn it. The clergyman gladly obliged.

Each time Aarinola visited, Mrs. Joju was always relieved. Not only for her versatility and agile nature, but she was a ready companion for the pastor’s wife. Staying alone in the mission house in the remote town of Onigba-Iwofa takes a toll on her emotional psyche sometimes.

Sade and Joju had been waiting upon the Lord for the fruit of the womb since they got married in 1978. Different medical consultations had proved that both husband and wife are healthy, fertile and capable of re-production. However, the situation has remained the same for eight years.

Although, neither Joju nor Sade had ever complained or showed signs of weariness; once in a while, she becomes disturbed by the situation and whispers it to her husband. Joju had always been responsive and comforting by assuring Sade that the heavenly Baby Store has not been and can never be depleted.

Although, she had made friends with the women like Eebudola and Mrs. Labode, none of them could give her intellectual companionship like Aarinola. After visitations and counselling sessions, she and Aarinola will met to pray, study the word together and have all manners of women gist.

Aarinola also contributed immensely, as the construction of the church progressed. She sold a Volkswagen Passat car which her late husband used to drive. The car was almost new and had been parked in her quarters on the campus since the death of her husband. He barely used the car before he got involved in the ghastly motor accident in a commercial vehicle. She sold the car for two thousand seven hundred naira and brought the entire sum to Onigba-Iwofa to support the construction of the new church.  

The money came at the right time. Work had reached the lintel stage within the first month and was about to stop due to the non-availability of funds to buy iron rods for the lintel works. As soon as Aarinola brought the money, Major Labode travelled to Shaki to get all the iron rods needed for the lintel stage.

As soon as Morakinyo graduated from the Bible College at Ikeji Arakeji, he headed for Ibadan and went straight to the church to meet Pastor Kalejaiye. The Senior Pastor stood immediately Morakinyo entered his office and gave him a passionate hug that lasted a whole minute. Tears swelled in Morakinyo eyes as he felt the fatherly warmth of the Senior Pastor in the embrace.

“Thank you Jesus…Am glad!!! Am happy…Thank you Jesus…How as the experience at the Bible College” They had barely sat when Pastor Kalejaiye threw the question excitedly.

“Ahhh daddy, it was humbling, deeply revealing and an effective eye opener…” Morakinyo exclaimed.

The father-son discussion continued for another one hour. Morakinyo shared all his experiences with his father-in-the-Lord. Pastor Kalejaye simply smiled as Morakinyo relayed the good, the bad and the ugly about the Bible College at Ikeji-Arakeji. Being an alumnus of the college himself, Kalejaye was no stranger to all the stories Morakinyo told him about the school. He simply listened, shook his head and smiled.

“Sir, when should I return to Onigba-Iwofa?” Morakinyo asked eagerly.

Pastor Kalejaiye smiled again. He looked at the young man lovingly and thanked God for planting such a genuine zeal for His work in his heart.

“You will return to Onigba-Iwofa at the appointed time. However, you must allow Pastor Joju to complete the tenure of his assignment and return to Ibadan before you take over from him. He is billed to spend six months there. This is the fourth month. He has two months to go” Pastor Kalejaye explained.

“You remember the original plan was for you to spend three months on suspension before proceeding to the Bible College. The pardon granted you by the Board of the Church made it possible or you to proceed to Ikeji-Arakeji after only one month of suspension”

“I understand Sir…I will wait Sir”

“Good…continue to lift up Pastor Joju in prayers as you must have been doing. God is helping him to do a fantastic job in Onigba-Iwofa. No doubt, God had helped you to lay a solid foundation in the town before you left, it was easy for Joju and his wife to build on that foundation”

“Thank God Sir” Morakinyo smiled and blushed.

Labinjo Oderinde fell sick exactly two months after the drama crusade. He was said to have gone to his farm one morning and fell while strolling around to supervise the work done by some of his children and workmen. Before any of the workmen could get to him, he had started foaming in his mouth. One of the workmen, an Igalla man who understood the use of herbs jumped into the bush and got some leaves. He quickly squeezed the leaves to get a paste and applied same across his forehead. The mixture worked a bit as Labinjo became partially revived. However, by the time Labinjo was returned home, he had become half paralysed.

As they laid him on the floor of his living-room, word got to his wife who had gone to the market to sell beni-seed. She rushed home to meet her husband in a sorry state. A section of his tongue had become twisted and he was drooling. The woman screamed and rushed out again intuitively.  A crowd was already gathering outside their home. Her noise had attracted some neighbours who wondered what could have happened to Olabinjo.

Labinjo tried to speak to one of the men who brought him home but he could not. He wanted to give him instructions, but as much as he tried, no one understood what he was trying to say. Frustrated, he laid on the floor, angry and bitter by the sudden turn of events. Suddenly, he felt a flow of hot urine down his manhood. The liquid flowed freely and he could not stop the flow. He was paralysed !!!

It was a Friday, Aarinola would soon return from Ibadan but she normally returned at evenings.

Soon, Labinjos wife was back, she had gone to the Mission House to bring Pastor Joju and his wife. As soon as the man of God and his wife stepped into the house, the countenance of Labinjo changed drastically. He began to grumble and mumble some words in protest. He struggled to leave where he slept in defiance but he could not find the strength to do it.

He saw the Pastor and his wife as they entered. He knew what they came for. His brilliant intuition knew his wife had gone to call them to come and pray for him. He hated the idea, he would rather die than allow the Pastor pray for him. He tried again to kick his legs in frustration and anger, but the legs would not move. He felt like he was kicking empty air. He grumbled and mumbled words again, but the words that managed to escape from his goiter were incomprehensible though audible.

“See, this is not the time to grumble and complain. When one gets to a point of no return in life, one does not claim manliness; you call for help…Labinjo Oderinde, the son of Odewehinwa, you have got to that point!!!, ask for help…Labinjo…ask for help” Labinjo’s wife was becoming emotional as she screamed to the hearing of her husband. She knelt beside her husband and began to rub his hair. Gradually, she veered into a chant of local praise song and cognomen of her husband.   

“Olabinjo oooo…Oderinde OOO!!!

It is you my husband that I salute

Mighty as the Iroko tree

Valiant as the Baobab

Descendant of Onikoyi

Onikoyi, the warrior who never received an arrow in his back.

Child of the water lily, son of the squirrel.

The bird’s foot shall never touch the water.

The river shall never be at rest.

Onikoyi, the warrior

Who frightens death himself.

Child of the vulture perching on the baobab tree;

Child of the eagle sitting on the silk cotton tree;

Child of the hawk waiting on the camwood tree.

When the vulture flaps down

He will eat the intestines of a brave warrior;

When the eagle glides down

He will eat the liver of a brave warrior;

When the hawk pounces down

He will eat the eyes of a brave warrior.  

Onikoyi loves nothing but war:

When others drink wine, he drinks blood;

When others plant yams, he is planting heads;

When others reap fruit, he is reaping dead warriors.

One day Onikoyi went out to rob.

Then a thief broke into his own house.

Onikoyi met the thief on the road.

The thief said, ‘Ha — is that not Onikoyo?’

Onikoyi said, ‘Ha — is that not the thief?’

They pounce on each other:

Onikoyi cuts off the thief’s head.

The thief cries, ‘Oshun, Sonponna, help me!’  

Onikoyi replies, ‘Whether you call Oshun or whether you call Sonponna,

I am the one who cuts off the heads;

For every warrior is a bit of a thief

Onikoyi….I hail !!!”

As she does the chanting, Labinjo relaxed. His frayed nerves became calmed and he relaxed completely. The woman signaled to Pastor Joju who immediately stepped in, laid hands on him and began to pray for him.

“Father, we thank you for what you have already done…You want to glorify yourself again, please go ahead and do so…. In Jesus name we have prayed”

As soon as Pastor Joju finished the short prayer, Labinjo sat up. A loud noise from his wife, children and his workmen in the house erupted. The noise received additional volume from the crowd already gathered outside eagerly awaiting the miracle since they heard the Pastor had gone in. Odewole and his wife Eebudola arrived just in time to meet the loud noise. They quickly joined the noise of victory and ran into the inner courts of the building to the living room where Labinjo sat on the floor. His clothes were drenched with the volume of water poured on him while the ordeal lasted.

“What happened brother…?” Odewole asked as he moved close to him holding him across the shoulder. Labinjo could not utter a word. He kept battling his eyelids, unsure of what to say!!!

“The worst is over Bro Odewole, the devil made attempt to take him away but God proved Himself mighty” Pastor Joju explained.

“Hallellujayh” Odewole and Eebudola chorused.

Labinjo’s wife smiled again and knelt, thanking the pastor and his wife. Thereafter, she faced Labinjo again and began another round of praises…

“Behold my husband…the concubine of some other women

Permit me to take a brief journey to your mother’s lineage…

Your mother was a descendant of Alaafin Ladigbolu

Ladigbolu the fashionable Alaafin of Oyo

Oyo, descendant of the Alaafin

Rain must not beat the sekere

Child of Atiba

You urge the creditor to demand his pay

Yet you also urge the hireling debtor to repudiate his debt

So that conflict may ensue

For the benefit of the Prince/Princess

Oyo plants the ‘corn of trouble’

In another man’s backyard

That one must not harvest it

Neither must he weed it off

Child of death who cannot die

Child of pestilence who cannot be tied down by sickness

Child of calamity whom calamity cannot afflict….

Olambinjo, son of Odewehinwa OOOOO!!!!”

Smiling, Labinjo stood, shook his buttocks and walked to the Pastor and his wife. He greeted them for the first time since the couple arrived Onigba-Iwofa.

Another loud noise erupted again.

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