if witches were horses

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

Morakinyo could not wait again, he was completely convinced now that the woman he was hearing her voice was not only familiar but someone very close to her. He turned from his seat in the front beside the driver and looked directly at the woman’s face for the first time since she joined them at the park.

Seated comfortably and preaching confidently on the back seat close to the right window and directly behind him was Mrs. Aarinola Paseda, Secretary to the Head, Department of Engineering Physics, University of Ibadan.

Morakinyo could not miss the face. He had met Aarinola as a young staff of the department of Engineering Physics when he took up appointment as a Lecturer 1 in the department. That was the year she lost her husband. It was indeed a tragic loss and the whole department joined to commiserate and sympathize with her. Even when it was announced that the corpse would be buried in faraway Etioro-Supare in the Akoko area of Ondo State, Morakinyo was one of the few members of staff and students of the department who offered to travel in the bus provided by the university to witness the burial.

That incident had brought Morakinyo close to Mrs. Paseda. Although not intimate or emotional, Morakinyo remained friendly with Aarinola after she resumed work following the burial of her late husband. He recalled how he had met her at the corridor on the day he got the final conviction about the Onigba-Iwofa mission. He also remembered the roles she played at the Teaching Hospital when Oyinkan had the fatal accident that claimed her life.

“So what brings you home to Onigba-Iwofa this weekend, a family function?” Morakinyo asked as soon as they boarded the wagon en route Onigba-Iwofa from Shaki.

Aarinola smiled. She knew Morakinyo was not aware of the extent of her current involvement in the mission work going on at Onigba-Iwofa church. She knew Morakinyo was in the Bible College and was expected back in a few weeks’ time.

“Not really Doctor. I have no family function. It’s the church. For some months now, I have been visiting Onigba-Iwofa consistently fortnightly on weekends to join the church. The harvest is plenteous but the labourers are few” Aarinola explained between smiles.

“That’s serious!!! You mean you have joined Pastor Joju and his wife to work at the Onigba-Iwofa Church !!!”
“To the Glory of God Sir”
“Ah thank you Jesus!!!”

A brief silence reigned between them as the wagon sped through the dusty road sending occasional hails of dust into the vehicle.

“God works in mysterious ways. He led me to Onigba-Iwofa, your home town and sent the same dream to the two of us at the same time” Morakinyo broke the silence.

“Funny enough, I didn’t stop having the same dream until recently when I made up my mind to join Pastor Joju and his wife on this mission. I believe God was speaking to me at that time but I wrongly interpreted it to me He sent me to you” Aarinola said, smiling again.

“No, you did not. He actually sent you to me and I am glad you delivered the message at the right time. That dream you had was simply a pointer to where God would have me serve. I would have wasted precious time in confusion and guess games if not for that specific and timely revelation that came as a dream…” Morakinyo took time to explain.

“Yes Doctor. I agree with you. What I am yet to understand is the consistency and constancy of the dream even after you had left Ibadan for Onigba-Iwofa…I don’t understand” Aarinola said squeezing her face. For the first time, the smiles disappeared since the discussion in the Onigba-Iwofa bound wagon started.

“We know in parts and we prophesy in parts…The word of God and His revelations are precepts upon precepts, lines upon lines…We will understand by and by” Morakinyo spoke convincingly.

“Just like the song” Aarinola said and started a song.

“By and by, when the morning comes
When the Saints of God are gathered home
We will tell the story…
How we overcame
We will understand it better by and by”

Morakinyo swung his head and joined as Aarinola sang the song silently; her voice almost subsumed by the loud noise from the engine and the rickety body of the wooden wagon as it made its way painfully towards the town.

Pastor Joju and wife were very excited and pleasantly surprised to see Morakinyo. They were not expecting him but deeply happy that he came. Morakinyo wasted no time in explaining to them that he managed to finish his stay at the Bible College as his spirit and soul had become attached to the church in Onigba-Iwofa.

Before he settled down at the Mission House, word had gone round in some quarters of the town that Pastor Morakinyo was back. Although the vehicle, arrived late, some people identified him when he alighted at the motor park with Aarinola.

Accompanied by Pastor Joju and his wife, Morakinyo visited the palace to say hello to Oba Folagbade. Only the Queen was met at the palace, His Royal Highness was said to have travelled to Ibadan to attend a meeting of the Oyo State Council of Obas. He was not expected back in town until Tuesday.

“Kabiyesi wants to use the opportunity of travelling for the meeting of Obas to settle some issues concerning his pension at the Ministry of Justice on Monday before coming back on Tuesday” The Queen explained.

“Thank you so much Your Highness Ma. God will bring him safely and cause him to find favour in all he went to do at Ibadan” Morakinyo prayed.

“Amen” They all chorused.

Morakinyo went round on Saturday to visit members of the church, especially the old ones. He was joined by Pastor Joju, his wife and Mrs. Paseda. When they got to Major Labode’s house, he joined the entourage and followed them to houses of more members. Odewole and Eebudola did the same as they also accompanied Morakinyo to the house of other notable members of the church. By the time they rounded off the visitation session, the entourage had increased to nine persons.

The last place they visited was the home of Labinjo, Aarinola’s father who had become a member of the church. They spent the largest portion of the time with him as he took time to relieve old memories of his evil occult past.

“Thank you Pastor for teaching me about Jesus. The peace I have now is not comparable to anything else. Even if I die today, I am already a happy man” Labinjo started another round of testimonies. Ever since he gave his life to Christ, he had become a regular testifier in the church. He had something to say every time testifiers are called to speak.

“I was born to be a leader of the Awo Opa Cult. As the eldest son, I was expected to follow my grandfather and father into the cult. As part of my training, I saw how my father dealt with the community problems that were brought to him and how even snakes could be called to do his bidding. He was revered in our Afotamodi village near Onigba-Iwofa and I wanted the same for myself. This led me to seek deeper into the world of occultism beyond my father and grandfather” Labinjo began again. He had forgotten he had shared the same testimony more than twice in the church.

“Heeeh… How many times are you going to say these things, Pastor and his wife have heard these stories from you before” Labinjos wife said to caution him

“Don’t worry Mummy, the Bible says, we overcome by the blood of Jesus and the word of our testimonies. We cannot testify too much. The more he says it, the more his faith in The Lord grows” Pastor Joju explained to Mama Aarinola.

“Besides, I am new to these testimonies. I am hearing them for the first time, so allow Baba to share the goodness of the Lord with us” Morakinyo added his voice.

“Thank you Pastors, don’t mind her, she doesn’t know…
The clanging cymbals can never be silenced
The beaded gourd does not go to quiet ceremonies.
The King’s trumpet is never blown in secrecy
The base drum will never suffer silence
Taciturnity is never the portion of the Canary bird
When the lion roars in the forest
All animals must listen with awe !!!”

Labinjo had veered into another world of incantations, leaving his guest bewildered and sprawling with laughter!!!

“Baba, you are chanting incantations!!!” Pastor Joju cautioned playfully.

“Incantations, those are no incantations but mere words…If I should say incantations, terrible things may happen here. Incantations? I dare not chant incantations here” Labinjo explained, smiling mischievously as he did.

Morakinyo preached on Sunday. Pastor Joju had introduced him to the congregation as the father of the church and asked the entire congregation to rise in order to honour him. He also announced to them that Morakinyo will soon return as their Pastor since he had finished the course he went for at the Bible College. Wild jubilation greeted the announcement, especially from old members who had known Morakinyo before. New members, who only heard about him and his exploits during the “Olomoro” saga simply clapped when he was introduced.

His ministration was short, very impactful and touchy. He started by profusely thanking Pastor Joju and his wife for standing in gap and ensuring that the work moved forward in leaps and bounds. He asked the church to also rise and celebrate their pastor.

For his sermon, he spoke on the Power of God. He espoused to the congregation the mighty works of God and His capacity to deliver from troubles. He used the story of the children of Israel at the Red Sea and how God delivered them to illustrate further. He also told them the story of David and Goliath and explained that God can use the small to defeat the mighty.

He invited a small boy and an adult male to dramatise the story of David and Goliath. That caught the attention of the congregation the more and generated deep interest and rapt attention from them. He thereafter made altar call and prayed for those who stepped out. He promised to return fully the following month.

Morakinyo was highly elated at what he saw in the church. Attendance had increased almost four times! The new church building had gone past the lintel level and was already at the roofing stage. According to Pastor Joju, the men in the church had volunteered to set aside a week for the cutting of all the wood needed to roof the church. They were to be led by a chainsaw operator from Shaki whose brother was a member of the church.

By the time he returned to Ibadan Monday afternoon, Morakinyo was in high spirits for two major reasons. The growth of the church at Onigba-Iwofa was a major reason for his happiness. His meeting with Aarinola at Onigba-Iwofa was another cause for joy. The weekend he spent at Onigba-Iwofa in company of The Dairos and Aarinola had afforded him a first time close range with her. In the department on campus, he only related with her from the professional and academic angle. This time around, he saw a different “Mrs Paseda”

Aarinola was not only good in evangelism and counseling, she was also committed and highly gifted in communication. Morakinyo had watched her minister to newcomers after the service and how she related well with locals as they went round on Saturday, visiting old members. He recalled the sermon in the Station Wagon as they travelled from Ibadan to Shaki, especially the ability to warm herself into the hearts of the passengers despite the ugly episode they had just passed through, via the careless driver and the grammar-blowing old man.

Morakinyo laid on his bed and began to ruminate about Aarinola and the mission to Onigba-Iwofa.

‘If I am to return in a months’ time, is it not wise that I settle this issue of marriage before I go back there…Pastor Joju went with his wife, I shouldn’t lower the standard’ He said to himself.

‘Sister Aarinola…? Sister Aarinola…? Sister Aarinola…? Lord, what are you saying concerning her?’ He sat and walked round his room in Mrs. Durotoye’s house. He must have walked round the room for the umpteenth time. He shuddered as he recalled the events that led to his ill-fated marriage with Oyinkan and sat gently on the bed. His heart missed a bit and began to beat fast. Suddenly, he recalled the words of Pastor Adeboye as he prayed for him at Ikeji-Arakeji.

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

Morakinyo screamed “Amen” again and jumped to his feet. He spoke in tongues and began to pray.

“The siege of failure is over!!!
I receive grace to see right and do right in the name of Jesus…
The siege of failure is over!!!
I receive grace to see right and do right in the name of Jesus…
The siege of failure is over!!!
I receive grace to see right and do right in the name of Jesus”
He continued the prayer till late in the night.

Reverend Kalejaye took a walk round the church compound that night. It was more of a prayer walk than exercise. He walked and prayed silently. He had developed that habit and consistently prayed that way especially whenever he was troubled and confused. That night, he was troubled. He had prayed over the issue of Morakinyo and his marital life and he seemed not making a headway. Ever since Morakinyo began the course at the Bible College, he had started to pray for him concerning his marital life and hope that he would receive a definite direction to give the young missionary.

The return of Morakinyo to the mission base in a months’ time was his greatest concern now. He knew he made a mistake to have allowed Morakinyo go on full time mission work without settling the issue of marriage first.

‘If it was a mistake the first time, the second will never be a mistake but a deliberate error. Affliction shall not rise a second time’

As he walked towards the parsonage, he rested on a stump and heard His voice clearly; “The siege of failure is over!!! I have given him grace to see right and do right”

Pastor Kalejaye smiled and lifted his hands to worship the Lord. He knelt and sang praises to god for another ten minutes before he walked back home.

The time was 12:45am.

The chauffeur-driven Mercedes Benz S-Class 1979 model, popularly called Shagari style drove smoothly into the premises of a high brow and thickly populated private school. The famous Shagari Style Mercedes Benz was the official model of Nigeria’s Head, Alhaji Shehu Shagari in 1979 when he became president. The car had remained popular amongst the rich in Nigeria since then. Gbayike stepped down from the owner’s corner of car and walked towards the imposing building clearly marked “Administrative Building”

She walked straight to the front of the building where the students had converged for the usual morning devotion and assembly. The teachers greeted her promptly as she walked past them to the podium and addressed the students who numbered about one thousand.

“What holds us back from our goals is fear. It is common among us. When too much fear gets in the way we end up doing nothing. Fear stems from the lack of confidence and irrational thinking. You have to understand that fear of what might come out down your way does not increase your chances at succeeding” The voice of Gbayike sounded loud cymbals across the length and breadth of the school as the student listened carefully to her as she spoke.

“Sometimes we are afraid to take risks because we think the odds are against us. We become so consumed by fear to the degree that we become irrational. To break out of your comfort zone is to have courage. Courage, you must remember, is not the absence of fear but acting despite your fears” A loud round of applause greeted that portion of her speech.

“While we cannot dismiss fear totally, we can increase our chances of winning by being rational in dealing with our circumstances as they are in the present moment. They say it is all in the mind.…David killed Goliath because he believed in a big God and saw Goliath as a small problem… Moses led the Israelites to cross the Red Sea because he heard a big God speak… Esther said if I perish I perish because she had great faith in a big God…She never perished!!! The door of success opens only to those who push hardest… Give your life a push, strive for success…Who is the next Success Story?” All the over one thousand Students raised their hands and screamed “Meeeeeeeee!!!!!”

Gbayike prayed passionately for them!!!

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