By Ahmed Yahaya Joe
The construction of Hagia Sophia church with its characteristic pendative dome was completed in the year 537. The project started in the year 360. Hagia Sophia which means – Holy Wisdom in Greek was the Constantinople seat of Byzantine Orthodoxy which had severed relationship with Roman Catholicism. When the ancient city where Hagia Sophia is located was captured by the Papacy during the Fourth Crusade in 1204 the church was converted to Rome.
In 1261, the Byzantines recaptured their city and church. Constantinople was named after Constantine the Great (227-337 AD) the first Roman emperor to convert to Christianity. However by 1453 the city became Istanbul and Hagia Sophia, a mosque under the Ottoman Turk, Mehmed the Conqueror. That was when its minarets were added and the crosses, icons removed with the images within plastered over with various Arabesque features.
In 1923, the historic edifice was converted into a secular museum by the founder of modern Turkey, General Kemal Atatürk. Most of its original imagery were then restored. The United Nations would eventually declare it as a World Heritage Site.
By July 24, 2020, Hagia Sophia would revert back to a mosque again. The Turkish presidential order has already been signed. Many in Christendom are worried, others concerned. I am neither for 2 main reasons. First,
I totally subscribe to the Solomonic axiom – “The race is not for the swift, Nor the battle to the strong, Nor bread to the wise, Nor riches to men of understanding, Nor favor to the men of skill; But time and chance happen to them all” Second, I remain an acolyte of Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu who told the story n 1989; “of a drunk who crossed the street and accosted a pedestrian, asking him, “I shay, which ish the other shide of the shtreet?” The pedestrian, somewhat nonplussed, replied, “That side, of course!” The drunk said, “Shtrange. When I wash on that shide, they shaid it wash thish shide.”
His Grace Tutu went on; “Where the other side of the street is depends on where we are. Our perspective differs with our context, the things that have helped to form us; and religion is one of the most potent of these formative influences, helping to determine how and what we apprehend of reality and how we operate in our own specific context.” The Nobel laureate eventually rested his argument; “My first point seems overwhelmingly simple: that the accidents of birth and geography determine to a very large extent to what faith we belong. The chances are very great that if you were born in Pakistan you are a Muslim, or a Hindu if you happened to be born in India, or a Shintoist if it is Japan, and a Christian if you were born in Italy. I don’t know what significant fact can be drawn from this — perhaps that we should not succumb too easily to the temptation to exclusiveness and dogmatic claims to a monopoly of the truth of our particular faith. You could so easily have been an adherent of the faith that you are now denigrating, but for the fact that you were born here rather than there.
My second point is this: not to insult the adherents of other faiths by suggesting, as sometimes has happened, that for instance when you are a Christian the adherents of other faiths are really Christians without knowing it. We must acknowledge them for who they are in all their integrity, with their conscientiously held beliefs; we must welcome them and respect them as who they are and walk reverently on what is their holy ground, taking off our shoes, metaphorically and literally. We must hold to our particular and peculiar beliefs tenaciously, not pretending that all religions are the same, for they are patently not the same. We must be ready to learn from one another, not claiming that we alone possess all truth and that somehow we have a corner on God.”
Tutu concluded; “God is not a Christian, Nor a Jew, Muslim, Hindu…: God Dwells with Us, in Us, Around Us, as Us”
In the 1567 year history of the existence of Hagia Sophia it has withstood massive earthquakes in years 553, 558, 869 and 1344. This UN World Heritage Site has outlived wars, famines, plagues and indeed dictators, emperors and kings including presidents. It has been a constantly recurring decimal in the politicization of religion in Constantinople, now Istanbul at that crucial junction in modern-day Turkey where Europe meets the Middle East. Simply put the issue is beyond religion, it is another chess game in the “Clash of Civilizations”
Hagia Sophia will therefore outlive President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey and return to its origin status as a church one day. Whether or not it happens during our lifetime is beside the point. So why bother? As the ancients wisely put it; “Only 3 things cannot remain hidden for long, the Sun, the Moon and the Truth”
Tick, tock, tick, tock…………
By Ahmed Yahaya Joe
The best way to contextualize the growth and transformation of Lagos is by looking at the same southeastern view of the Marina towards the Lagos Yacht Club across the strait separating Lagos and Victoria Islands centuries apart up to Wilmot Point and beyond.
I am surprised and disappointed that Lagosians have also been caught up in the crossfire of identity politics in Nigeria. I have always assumed the “Center of Excellence” was immune to the kind of xenophobic indigenes-settler dichotomy that has bedeviled the rest of our nation, Nigeria. This post is therefore inspired by the recent intervention of Omo Eko Pataki, a forum for “Original Lagosians” entitled; Lagos – The Imperative of Cultural Renaissance. I thankfully became aware of it courtesy of the esteemed Taiwo Ogunbote of Center for Human Capital and Democratic Development, an old Gregorian of Obalende and former officer of the New York Police Department (NYPD).
Anybody who is familiar with the history of Lagos would admit that the entrepôt has always been a culmination of external factors revolving around trade and commerce from its obscure days as an Awori fishing settlement to its hostile takeover by the forces of Oba of Benin that named it Eko (which means war camp), which the Portuguese seafarer renamed Lago de Curamo in 1472.
However, it was not until Royal Navy officer, John Beecroft in 1849 who became the British consul to the Bights of Benin and Biafra based in what was now anglicanized to Lagos; which became a major hub for the present South West hinterland, which had to bombarded to military submission by Her Majesty’s warships in 1851.
For Lagos to stabilize itself amidst the incessant crisis between the Akitoye and Kosoko ruling houses and transform the strategically located “swamps and lakes” port to the Atlantic into a commercial hub order had to be restored and a semblance of authority must be established. Simply put the Union Jack had to be hoisted. To pull that off 2 persons were crucial – Samuel Ajayi Crowther, who took up the matter at the British parliament through his fellow Anglican bishops and abolitionists at the House of Lords and Madam Tinubu who impressed upon the local elite the need to transit from slave trading to a more lucrative and less hazardous legitimate trade.
Bishop Crowther was from Osoogun in present-day Oyo state and Madam Tinubu actually Efunporoye Osuntinubu, an Egba of Owu ancestry from Ojokodo in present-day Ogun state. Arguably, without their intervention we probably wouldn’t know Lagos as it is today.
What has also been perhaps deliberately neglected in the history of the evolution of Lagos is the role of the amalgam of Hausa speaking people. The Male Revolt was a slave rebellion that took place in January 1835 during Ramadan in the city of Salvador da Bahia in Brazil. In Bahia, the Hausas were primarily identified with practicing Islam because they adopted the religion before coming over to Brazil. Over time however, with the Nago slaves they united to revolt. Some of the key figures important in planning the uprising were: Ahuna, Pacífico, and Manoel Calafate.
“The word Nago derives from the word Anago, a term that the Fon-speaking people used to describe Yoruba-speaking people residing in the kingdom of Ketu now in the present-day Benin Republic.”
The aftermath of the Male Revolt led to emancipation of slaves in Brazil many of which opted to return to Africa. In 1851, a pioneer group of 60 freed slaves chartered a ship for the then equivalent of $4000 to return to Badagry. These returnees became known as Aguda which by the 1880s constituted almost 10% of the population of Lagos. Others eventually joined the return to Lagos; the Amaro from Cuba and Saro from the Caribbean via Sierra Leone.
“On 21 April 1863, John Hawley Glover was appointed administrator of the government of Lagos Colony, he remained there till 1872. Glover formed the nucleus of present-day Nigeria’s Army and Police with 10 Hausa runaway slaves on 1 June 1863. The group was known as Glover’s Hausas or ‘Glover’s Forty Thieves’. Glover went to great lengths to develop bonds of personal loyalty with the Armed Hausas. He personally trained, commanded, and chose his successors, ensuring their loyalty. In return for their loyalty, Glover rewarded his troops with land and dwellings. He raised their pay and provided them with smart uniforms that broadcast their status of free men and agents of the British colonial government.”
Who are then the original Lagosians?
The Aworis or Binis or even the descendants of Glover’s Hausas, Agudas, Amaros or even Saros?
How do we situate the millions of Igbos in Lagos that arguably constitute one third of the population of Lagos? What about the Ago Awusa that were located between Epe and Itokin from where Madam Tinubu’s fifth husband Momoh Bukar hailed from before that Hausa camp was resettled in Alausa in present-day Ikeja?
Anyway the main grouse of Omo Eko Pataki is that; “the Governor of Lagos State, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu; his deputy, Dr Obafemi Hamzat, and many top political office holders in the state are not natives of Lagos State”.
They further contend that ”the senators representing the state at the National Assembly – Oluremi Tinubu and Solomon Adeola; Speaker of the state House of Assembly, Mudashiru Obasa; the Secretary to the State Government, Mrs Folasade Jaji; and the Head of Service, Hakeem Muri-Okunola, are also not from the state” also that the “legendary accommodating openness” that Lagos State is known for was becoming a curse, noting however that they would no longer watch the state become “a no-man’s-land” The forum also claims “Lagosians are now reduced to almost “second-class citizens on their native soil”
For me the fundamental issue at stake is; The Tragedy of the Commons which is described by Garrett Hardin in 1968 as “All human relationships involve give and take, all such relationships breakdown when one or more parties do too much taking and not giving” Apologies to the Gbaygi of FCT.
“Isale Eko translates to ‘bottom of Eko’, was so named because of its location south of the area called ‘Eko’ (later called Lagos). Isale Eko started as the home of Aromire, a pepper farmer who was one of the sons of Olofin, an Awori settler, who was the chief of Iddo Island and the first Idejo (landowner) of Lagos Island. Aromire’s farm settlement, which was the first home of the inhabitants of Isale Eko, is today known as ‘Iga Idunganran’ (The Pepper Palace), the palace of the Oba of Lagos.” It was from this palatial surroundings the Oba of Lagos in 2015 threatened to sink the Igbo if they voted contrary to his political preference.
Unfortunately the joke is now on him as the Omo Eko Pataki under his royal nose are today poking their fingers at “the abberation which emerged since 1999”
In conclusion; Who build this Gada (Bridge)? This for me is a fitting metaphor for who built Lagos, a question asked by “Acksion Governor” Brigadier General Raji Alagbe Rasaki, the military administrator in Lagos 1988-1991 while inspecting a poorly constructed culvert over a flood channel. The Omo Eko Pataki needs to understand politics is a numbers game and must therefore skillfully negotiate their relevance even in their own domain by way of an issues based engagement. The 1999 Constitution is clear and unequivocal on the eligibility for public office and the right to residency anywhere in Nigeria. “Indigene-ship” is a colonial legacy for divide and rule.
Come October 1, it will be 60 years after national independence, so we shouldn’t be having this kind of conversation in our nation.
Eko o ni baje o!
By Evon Benson Idahosa
I remember falling asleep at a Tuesday evening church service as a 9 year old child. I had a tambourine on my lap and as I fell to the floor, it reverberated thunderously throughout the hall, drawing the attention of everyone who had been attentively listening to the dynamic preacher-man.
I awakened to piercing stares and side eyes- particularly from my father- whose message I had disrupted. Every Nigerian child knows that stare, that glare that silently speaks a thousand words, cloaks you in debilitating fear and assures your quivering being that there will be consequences.
Needless to say, it was a quiet ride home and for the rest of the revival week, I was ushered to the front row where I forced my eyes open, humming tunes to myself to stay awake.
Saying that I literally grew up in church would be an understatement. Week long revival services, such as the one I reference above, were customary. I was also in the choir, went to Sunday school before church services on Sunday, Agape Force Children’s meetings on Saturdays, mid-week services and the occasional 6:30 am morning prayer services, followed by our home bible study with Auntie B. And because my father was Archbishop Benson Idahosa, there were no negotiations. It just was.
At the age of 10, shortly after the infamous “tambourine experience,” the truth of those messages became real and I earnestly became a follower of The Way. And so, as news began to sweep the globe of the novel Corona virus and its import, I found myself immediately turning to my faith as a source of comfort and peace. I also called my mother, who now heads CGMI, the global ministry my father left when he passed away 22 years ago. Her words of encouragement and the tone of her voice assured me that, as we like to say in Nigeria, ‘it is well.’ And it will be!
But for now, the pandemic continues to rage, as thousands succumb to its will. First China. Then South Korea. Japan. An epidemic. Then Italy, the UK, the US. Thousands upon thousands of cases were being reported and every day brought the reality closer to home. Then it became a global pandemic and as it stands, the WHO estimates that there are 719,700 confirmed cases globally, with almost 34,000 deaths.
On February 28th, Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation, confirmed its index case of the Corona virus which arrived the country via an Italian businessman.
As I write, Nigeria’s centre for Disease Control is reporting a total of 135 confirmed cases and two deaths, having conducted just several hundred tests, even though thousands of passengers have arrived from varying countries since the index. Self isolation has been deemed an advisory, not mandatory.
Nigeria has taken what some would consider drastic, yet in this writer’s opinion, insufficient and strikingly Western style measures to address what is likely to come in the absence of a miracle. In addition to finally closing her borders from international travelers, including Nigerians, schools have been shut down, civil servants are being asked to work from home, “social distancing” policies are being enacted and several states, including my home state of Edo, have prohibited religious, social and public gatherings of more than 20 persons.
In a country where over 90% of her citizens profess to be religious, most Nigerians are accustomed to turning to their faith in times of crisis. The corona virus pandemic is no exception. Many who had strayed from God are now repenting of their sins and brandishing the sign of the cross as they leave their homes. Others are praying for a “Passover,” as CNN and other news outlets flood us with “end of the world,” doomsday messaging. As a result, many of us are yearning to collectively gather to pray.
Whether the desire to collectively gather is buttressed by denial (“coronavirus is not here” — “the spirit of corona virus is dead in Nigeria”) or stems from a deep seeded longing for God to show mercy to a healthcare system that is wholly unprepared to handle the worst case scenario, the fact remains that Nigeria’s religious faithfuls are unaccustomed to missing gatherings for anything. Services are considered sacred times to commune with God and to be encouraged by the brethren. Others hang on to every word of their clerics who, in some cases, insist on serving as a religious crutch- intermediaries between their congregants and God.
Many believers who engage with God on a transactional basis come bearing tithes and/or offerings in the hopes that God will hear their prayers. (He hears them regardless).
As such, the prohibition on religious gatherings of more than 20 (which essentially translates to a prohibition of services in general) has resulted in many Nigerian believers losing their ‘religion,’ i.e., left bewildered as to how to make the adjustment to a God who potentially exists outside the four walls of their churches; to a God who speaks directly to them in God’s long forgotten voice. Who, precisely, are Nigerian believers without our religions and religious houses of worship?
Could it be that for the first time in a long time, Nigerian believers are being presented with a church-less opportunity to develop even more meaningful personal relationships with their God; to ‘lay hands’ on themselves and speak words of healing into their children from a God who has always heard them? Could this pandemic serve as an opportunity for believers to be what Murray Bowen describes as a ‘non-anxious presence’ to those who may be paralyzed by fear?
To this end, some larger churches are offering their services online. However, for the working poor who faithfully make up the backbone of most Nigerian churches, internet connectivity and/or live streaming of an entire service make that option impractical and/or unaffordable. They are the ones, who because they live day to day, cannot afford to practice social distancing, “stay at home” and for some, even “wash your hands,” because soap becomes a luxury when one’s ‘daily bread’ is devoid of the ‘daily.’ If our government does not step up to courageously seek support that is tailored to our unique realities and then provide that support to those on the margins, the import of the corona virus in our beloved Nigeria could be felt by generations to come.
As such, could this pandemic present an opportunity for churches to fill the glaring gaps and practically serve the last and the least in a manner that reveals who we profess to be as followers of The Way? Might this be an opportunity for the church to put our egos aside and creatively heed Jesus’ instructions to ‘feed my sheep’, to apply the Balm of Gilead, by serving those who will be most physically, mentally and economically impacted?
Practically speaking, could we convert our sanctuaries to temporary hospitals or food pantries where those in need can obtain essentials? Can we use the funds of those who have faithfully donated over the years to buy ventilators and personal protective gear for our hospitals and health workers on the front lines? Can we purchase hygiene products and distribute them to those who may be confined to their homes? This, I believe, is our mandate.
At the end of the day, my faith in God runs deep. It has guided my life since I was 10 and I prayerfully trust that we will get through this. But as the Nigerian Church temporarily loses her ‘religion’ and her faith is unveiled in the face of COVID-19, she is presented with an opportunity to reverberate thunderously and rise up to be who she professes for such a novel time as this. After all, in the words of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, ‘the church is the church only when it exists for others…not dominating, but helping and serving’.
Courtesy Ahmed Yahaya Joe
That Friday night, I was supposed to be in the vigil leading the worship song but there I was in Fred’s bed moaning in painful pleasure as he cuddled and caressed me.
Being the choir mistress, I was the one to take the worship songs that night but I manoeuvred my way to his home.
“Can we go another round?” Fred asked teasingly.
“You don’t get tired? Oliver Twist,” I said staring at the wall clock. It was few minutes before 1 a.m.
“I need to join them in the church,” I said uncovering myself from the bedsheets and hurriedly picked up my dress from the floor.
“It’s already late and dangerous out there. Just pass the night here again please.”
“Akuna! It’s better late than never. Don’t forget, I’m the one taking the worship.”
“Do you want to get raped out there? The one I gave you is not enough for you, right?” he asked mockingly as he sat upright on his bed placing a pillow on his laps to hide his erected stuff.
“I won’t get raped because we are going together. Dress up please.”
“Have you gone insane?” he giggled. “I just finished feasting with the devil and you expect me to go to the presence of God? Come on babe, I still have conscience.”
“What are you insinuating? Are you saying I don’t have conscience? Thank you for reminding me that I’m Jezebel.” I said trying to ease the guilt.
I hurriedly picked my Bible and my scarf from the floor and dashed out of the room.
“Onyeche, wait let me see you off,” I heard his voice from a distance.
That was not the first night I spent in his house in the name of vigil, neither was it the second nor third.
You may think that was the worst thing I have done. No, I did worse than that. I aborted two babies for Fred, the assistant prayer band leader who was always leading the prayer section.
My father who was a well thought of elder in the church was glad that her daughter was burning for God.
I was not just deceiving my father, I was deceiving the members of the church, I was deceiving the pastor whose favourite I was.
Never had he ministered without me acting as the backup singer. He trusted and believed so much in me. And above all, I was deceiving myself as my self-worth was dwindling.
When I got to the church, Agnes was still leading the praise section.
It seemed she was stylishly waiting for my arrival to take the worship section as I was considered to be the most fire-branded member of the church.
As the choir mistress, I was supposed to be seated at the front seat, but I sat behind so that my incoming would not be noticed.
I glanced through the pulpit, the pastor’s gaze was on me and I trembled within as he signaled an invitation.
“Onyeche, what happened?” he asked affectionately.
“Daddy I slept off,” I lied kneeling beside him without any iota of the fear of God.
“I wanted to rest before time but when I woke up, it was already very late. I told myself that it’s better late than never.”
“I know you ‘ll come regardless what. Thank you,” he said smiling and patting me on my shoulder. “Hope you are prepared.”
“I’m always prepared daddy.”
Right at the pulpit I was confidently lying to the man of God. Yet, unlike the days of Peter, there was no discernment, I would have fallen dead like Ananias and Sapphira but there, I was being praised.
Like the pastor’s praise was not enough, when I climbed the podium, I was welcomed with a standing ovation by the congregation. They yelled and shouted my name. Others jumped to their feet shouting and clapping. My head was becoming larger like I was sharing the glory of God with him, that’s if I did not steal it all. Had they known that I just left Delilah’s lap, or maybe I was even the Delilah. Had they known I just left the dungeon of sin, just like the lady of Magdalene, they would have picked up stone.
I struck the mic with a finger and the sound was pleasant to my hearing.
“Alleluuuuuuuia!” I shouted into the mic, stressing my word and the crowd yelled even louder.
“Can we just compose ourselves as we worship the El shaddai, the Elohim, The King of kings, the Lord of lords, the I am that I am, mandalekatushaldaba,” I burst into tongue. “The Bible says, God is a Spirit and they that must worship God must worship Him in spirit and in truth.”
As I was trying to elate the crowd, I saw Fred enter the church. Well built, muscular and light in complexion. Like the Biblical Joseph, very handsome and good to behold. I still doubt if I were the only one in the church he was having an affair with. Many of those young girls flopped around him calling him papa and M.O.G.
He was also very much adored and loved in the church because of his activeness yet, my partner in sin.
“Close your eyes and lift up your hands unto the Lord as we worship him.”
As I began to sing deeper, those emotional tears began to pour from my eyes.
Some of the people were also singing and crying while others were blasting in tongues.
I glanced at Fred, with hands akimbo, he was shaking and nodding his head in all direction as though he was translated to another realm.
His voice was louder than every other person. It seemed he was trying to tell them that he prayed in tongue more than any of them as he seldom pray in the language of men.
It may surprise you to know that Fred was not the only person I was sleeping with.
I did those abominable acts outside the church too. I was scared that my evil deeds would one day be exposed if I involve other members. So, whenever those decent boys in my church asked my out, even for a serious relationship, I will politely turn them down preaching the gospel to them. Telling them how it’s going to affect our relationship with God but there was never a no from me to the outsiders: the fallen brethren as they will never be in my church to see me pray or sing.
You see eh! You would want to blame me for this hypocrisy of the highest order. Go ahead. Judge me, condemn me. Cast the first stone but remember, you didn’t die for me. It is Christ that died. Yes, it is God that justifies.
You may think I did not feel sad for myself. You may think I loved what I was doing.
No, to me, it was also disgusting. It made me look so dirty like a pig. It made feel like I did not belong to the family of the true children of Jesus Christ.
I have judged myself enough, so you don’t have to judge me again. If there’s anything to do, it’s to pray for me because secretly, I was dying.
Just like the church of Sardis, I had the reputation of being alive but I was dead. Yes, I had the reputation of being vibrant and burning for God but I was on my way to hell.
You may think I was not born again. Well, I was genuinely born again.
I spoke in the tongues of angels, I’ve received the gift of the Holy Spirit, yet, I was swimming in sin.
On Facebook and other social media, I was an apostle of holiness as I never ceased preaching and posting scriptures on my wall. My WhatsApp status was always preaching Christ but my lifestyle was contrary to the faith.
Apostle Paul said that he’s the worst of all sinners. I don’t want to drag that position with Elder Paul but one thing is certain, nobody can drag the second slot with me.
My situation became critical when I became addicted to sex. Sex became my driving force.
I was always happy during weekly fellowship as it was the only opportunity to visit Fred before heading to church together.
After fellowship, we’d return to his home for more fun before he would see me off.
When I could not make it to Fred’s home, I resorted to masturbation.
There was no single day passed by without me masturbating as I began to find it more pleasurable than sex.
Even on Sunday morning, before service, I would masturbate at home before handling the microphone on the pulpit to lead the praise and worship.
Don’t think I ever felt comfortable at the pulpit.
I hated myself for what I was doing. I only needed a way out of my predicament.
I was always kneeling at the front of the altar for every altar call. But that same evening, I would be in my room thrusting myself with cucumber.
I have gone days without food and water in the name of fasting but to no avail.
You see! Haven’t I tried?
You that want to judge me, how many days have you gone fasting and praying for your own secret sin? Or do you want to tell me that you’re not battling with any private sin?
Man may not be watching you but God watches everything that happens even in the most secret place.
So, please don’t judge me. I understand hypocrisy already. Or have you not read that you should get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye?
Oh young minister, put yourself right with God first and then we can sit down and talk judgment.
There was this day I rounded off my seven days fasting and prayer. I made up my mind never to see Fred again, never to masturbate again and never to see any guy again.
My determination worked perfectly well for weeks but after a month, I found myself in Fred’s bed again.
Pathetic, right? Very pathetic indeed. Fred shouted at me with rage and almost hit me for keeping him for a whole month without sex.
He threatened to quit the relationship but I begged with tears. The only thing that calmed him down was when I promised to spend the night with him instead of going to the vigil.
When it was dawn, I carried my Bible and went home. I did not just return to Fred, I returned to my old way of life.
For years, I continued living such a wayward and bitter life until one particular night.
After satisfying my inordinate desire, I picked up my Bible as usual and began to flip through its pages just to fulfill all righteousness and ease the guilt I was feeling.
I read several pages randomly. The urge to study that night was stronger than the urge for masturbation, even stronger than the urge for sex.
I continued reading carelessly until I came across Psalm 145:18-19.
I read it over and over, then over and over and over and over. For more than a dozen time, I was reading just these two verses.
I read it until it sank so deeply to my innermost being.
As I continued reading, tears began to well up in my eyes.
These were not the emotional tears I used to shed at the pulpit. These were tears I even tried to control but couldn’t.
When my Bible was getting soaked, I closed it and dropped it on my bed.
The next thing that happened was mysterious. I found myself on the floor, rolling, crying and praying.
“Lord, it’s either now or never. I die here tonight.
“Tonight, I bring into captivity every thought and fleshly pleasure to the obedience of Christ.
“My strength, my ability, my will, my wisdom, everything has failed me. It’s just you now oh Lord.
“Lord, may I never see the rising of the sun again until I’m delivered from every devourer.
“Lord Jesus, except you want me to die in my sin, you will deliver me tonight.”
I knew I was disturbing my parents and probably, neighbours but my problem was bigger than one sleepless night.
I thought I was disturbing my parents, but it didn’t take much time before I heard them blasting in tongues from their room.
That night, I didn’t sleep. Even when I wanted to sleep, I could not. I prayed till dawn then slept off.
When I woke up, it was around 9 a.m. I switched on my phone and it was Fred’s message that came in.
Gud mrning lov,
D tot of U cudn’t allow
me sleep last 9t.
I mesmerized ova ur
beauty & ur magical
touch till dawn.
Wherever U ar is
exactly where I wnt 2 b
I’ve wasted too much
I dnt wnt 2 waste
anoda single day
without U & I’m ready 2
make it up 4 d lost
Baby do U mind
comin ova later in d
I no U wudnt mind.
I love U. Expecting U
I stared at my phone a bit confused if to reply or not. After a second thought, I pulled off my sim card and broke it into pieces.
“I’m starting afresh,” I murmured. And as if pushed by an external force, I opened my drawer. I stared at the cucumbers and the toys I bought and shame overwhelmed me. Slowly, I began to break everything. “I’m done with you,” I spoke to the toy as though it could hear. “I’m done with sin,” I continued talking to myself.
As I searched my room thoroughly for all the instruments of sin, a song came to my lips.
I’m no longer a slave
To sin (fear),
I am a child of God.
I sang only the chorus for hours reminding myself who I’ve become.
Days rolled into weeks and weeks into months, I did not go to Fred’s home neither did I do anything stupid.
I thought of Fred several times and the urge came powerfully sometimes. Of course, I’m human.
The urge was there but the power and grace to overcome was stronger.
I would stare at the mirror and applaud myself for not going back to the way it used to be.
I would use my right hand to shake my left hand in jubilation congratulating myself.
I still remember when I took myself out on a date. Funny, isn’t it? That’s what we called self-crush.
You may think I over acted. I don’t really mind.
You will never know what it is like to be free until you have found freedom in Christ Jesus. I am sure you will celebrate more than I did.
One of the mistakes the devil made was that he still allowed me to fellowship with the brethren even in my sin.
He still allowed me to pray and study even after committing those evil acts.
If he was wise, he would have cut me off from the gathering of the brethren.
Had he known, he would have sealed my lips from praying to God who was actually waiting for me to call upon Him.
And because he was not all knowing, he couldn’t stop me from praying and he couldn’t have ever stopped God from answering my prayer.
After three months, I found myself in Fred’s house again.
I was surprised too because I thought I’d never go there again but it’s like I was compelled.
No! It’s not what you are thinking. Haba na! I did not go alone. I went with the Most High. I went to offer him Christ.
I stood at the door feeling reluctant to knock. After a while, I did.
He opened the door and was surprised to see me. He stood at the door confused whether to let me in or not. We stood in total silence staring at each other.
After awhile, I broke the silence, “Fred, I’m….”
“No! No! No!” he cut in. “You don’t need to be sorry,” he said emphatically. I should be the one apologising.
“Onyeche, I’m sorry, it’s over between us.”
“Over?” I asked faking the surprise just to hear more.
“Please forgive me Onyeche, you’re now my past.”
“Fred, what happened? Did I do anything wrong?” The woman in me wouldn’t tell him the reason I visited. I wanted to feed my curiosity.
“No Onye, you didn’t do anything wrong. It’s just that I have found true love.”
“Fred will never change,” I chuckled. “Is that why you couldn’t even welcome me in? Is she inside?”
“Nobody is in,” he said paving the curtain to give me a better view of the room.
“You mean your love for me was never true? Where did I get it wrong Fred?” I enquired just to hear his opinion because from onset, I knew we were into an illicit love affair that will lead to nowhere except hell.
“Onyeche, I must confess, you were not my first love. I left my first love for you. I thought I could hold on to both of you at a time but it’s never possible. I’ve decided to return and start all over again with my first love.”
“Hmm! Who could that be Fred? You told me you love me and promised never to let me go.”
“This love is different from what I felt for you then,” he said confidently exuding great joy.
“This love is genuine. This love is pure. This love doesn’t fail. This love has covered my past and given a future. This love is shed abroad in my heart.” He was nodding his head as he spoke with total peace.
“Onyeche,” he called placing his hands on my shoulders. “I HAVE FOUND TRUE LOVE IN CHRIST JESUS. I have returned to my first love. Onyeche, there is no better love than the love of Christ. There is no love outside Christ. What have we gained from the sin we called love? What has fornication added to our lives? Why not give this love a chance to find its expression in your life?”
The joy I felt in my spirit knew no bounds when I heard those words from Fred.
“Fred, this love is what brought me here. This love found me some months back. I came here just to offer you this love but I’m overwhelmed with joy to know that this love has found you too. This is miraculous.”
“It is the Lord’s doing,” he said. “Do you mind coming in?” he added leading the way.
“No, I don’t mind,” I replied as I followed from behind.
This time around, I was not on his bed. We knelt beside his bed in prayer thanking God for His unfailing love, amazing grace and His undeserved mercy.
I was dead, and now alive again; I was lost, and found.
I am Onyeche, I only exist in
To all those in the church of God but still struggling with one sin or the other.
Don’t just relax in that sin. Hold on to Christ for a little while.
He is more interested in helping you than you are interested in helpinghelping yourself. Just one more prayer and you will see the handiwork of God.
Remain blessed. See a good follow up to that choir mistress story. Thank God that she repented, anyway.
We can speak in tongues and miss heaven.
We can win souls and miss heaven.
We can see vision and miss heaven.
We can prophesy and still miss heaven.
We can cast out devil and miss heaven.
We can perform miracles and still miss heaven.
We can read the whole Bible and miss heaven.
We can attend all church services, fellowship activities and camp meetings and miss heaven.
We can have anointing and miss heaven.
We can have all spiritual gifts and miss heaven.
We can be rich, prosperous and wealthy and still miss heaven.
We can give and sow seeds and still miss heaven.
We can wield power and be influential and still miss heaven.
We can have a powerful voice to sing and miss heaven.
we can also have fame and popularity and miss heaven.
•••But we cannot LIVE A HOLY LIFE and miss heaven•••
HOLINESS IS THE REAL DEAL!
Without holiness through salvation in Christ, one will not make heaven.
Forwarding this is Evangelism.
Let us win a soul for Christ.
Written by Jacob Ibrag There used to be a world that lived in my mind which I used to visit when I’d close my eyes. As the months gave birth to years, it became increasingly harder to remember how to get there. Upon the final day of my arrival, all that was left were tired trees […]
Life is not everything, a shadow of me, exists out there somewhere in the sea. Breath is not everything, a slight tense, is making the waking dream come sense. Light is not everything, the new dark comes, for the lonely soul who think he has won. Dark is not everything, light burns the night away […]
One strange thing about the drunkenness of power is that it leaves no trace of a hangover because it never really intoxicates in the first place, instead it infects like an ailment. What it does is put the mind in a state of make believe stupor. It lies to the person, telling him he is indeed invincible and that he can walk naked on a busy road without being seen by the ever present pretentious crowd. When a mad man walks around naked, it is only because he doesn’t logically know he is naked until he is healed. This is quite unlike the drunk man who is always fully aware of what happens to him, if he is still consciously awake while drunk. Then by all intent of purpose, the powerful man lives in that state sandwiched in the mystical void between insanity and drunkenness, while actually being neither of them. So when this borderless state concludes its hazy mazy course, it still leaves behind a lot to rationally reflect on, unlike madness which leaves nothing of its past or drunkenness which leaves no immediate memories or vivid perspective of the past.
Power’s negativity leaves regrets, shame and disgrace, because it can be remembered as it was. In its selfish ways, power has an impulsive mind which with steady time has the tendency to become unwaveringly firm in its will to pursue a course it had lashed on to by its proud faith in its perceived abilities. It takes up a nature rightly construed to be initially foreign to its natural one and summarily makes it its own. Power denies its perilous positions because it doesn’t see it clearly like it ought to. It is an enigma that inserts a conjecturable attitude in itself.
Power is an attitude with an enticement induced with dubious intentions as the cost of most of its decisions are usually more than less not what it is personally prepared to pay for. The potentials of power are commonly not fully tapped and when applied unwisely, never really realized in its entirety. They almost never get fully achieved. The dubious craft of making power create wealth is thus never fully achieved when it is considered that wealth isn’t the attraction in itself, but what the wealth represents always is the absolute objective. It is predominantly such an overpowering desire.
Power craves wealth for the power it gives.
Fever: The Appetite of Fever (Book III)
The Poet in the Poem
Many years ago I wrote “THE MASTER’S BILL”; I concluded my mutterings about the lonesomeness of human existence with wondering on how patient and tolerant the good lord is & reasoned that it is a price He must pay.
How alone can one be?
Looking around, one can only see.
Life is one big school,
Lectures are missed by the fool.
Indeed the friend is in need,
Wisdom in the foe only bid.
The whole world could be wrong
And not hear a word in your song.
For fear hasn’t a say
Where bare hands cut hay.
The master’s wishes are His will
And only He writes down the Bill.
Religious conflict has a perception of sincere truth and righteousness that doesn’t circumvent its warring parties’ hypocritical egocentric desire to be perceived as simply being neighbourly. It instead forcibly and bluntly thrust the reality of the parties’ lustful differences on their pretentious faces, enforcing it on their neighbours in a manner that shows off what each faith wants as against what they claim to profess. It should be obvious that a religion that advocates peace needs to suffer for its submissive principle. It must pay a humiliating price it can’t even humbly mention. When a religion’s ideals and principles aren’t as principally evident as it advocates, it is actually only openly good natured for the sake of achieving its quest to be dominant.
Then it would have to result to violence to stress its misgivings or show off its disliked for other opposing religions that seek to be themselves and exist alongside it. Religions must co-exist because no religion ever exists alone, on its own. A religion that hides under the guise of peaceful co-existence to impose itself is thus quite superficial and only yearning for communal peace ahead of lasting personal inner peace that would ordinarily precede first.
Such a religion has not yet made a wraith of human trans-religious harmony feasible. It has instead rendered the most sacred personality of its loud attitudinal faiths nebulous. It turns each and every one of them to be more of wholesome fact-less histories, that can never be elucidated than the proven faiths that they each aspire to be accepted as. The fact that there is only one shared common principle the two main contesting religions of Islam and Christianity sensibly have in common, makes them ever more incompatible than compatible, and pushes rather than pulls them apart. Their common principle is expressed as a common faith in the existence of a single supreme deity.
Supremacy makes it a contestable divide and not an undeniable bond. The people argue and fight over their diverse beliefs in the archaic fate of a quite varied interpretation of the same original scriptural text and thereby murder the very essence of their religions’ being in doing so. They both miss the very point of having the single attribute they each ironically lay the most loudly admitted claim to.
It is so ludicrous and incongruous that the same dog barking aggressively is actually only chasing after its own tail in circles and not really going anywhere but racing against it own self.
Fever: The Appetite of Fever (Book III)
The Poet in the Poem
“Through eventful years the sticks ever pile,
Hopes with the trunk that vomits emptiness.”
The recent loudly revisited agitation for a Biafran state from Nigeria calls for another look at my poem “Fever” and excerpts from my Fever Series (Books I-V), where I told a somewhat fictional historical tale of the Nigerian state. I am currently rewriting the series and almost done.
The Poet in the Poem
Through eventful years the sticks ever pile,
Hopes with the trunk that vomits emptiness.
The mighty broom swept so long a mile,
Still dirt abounds as its proud fruitfulness.
Mourning tears leave this feeling of numbness.
Eras of evolution has not changed the egg,
The needs of man same and ever will be so.
Maybe a broom will kill lizards on a clay keg
And not break it too like the stick did before.
In this concoction only soluble particles’ temperatures soar.
Promise of the lands are all pointing,
Yet the future is hot food in the mouth.
Bodies buried and alive, had and are, waited and waiting,
For the joy in swallowing and satisfaction they sought.
Over hard filled years waiters without appetite rot.
The dogs in this story are the traitorous pigs,
Their patriotism is fake like sweeping grains with a rake.
Locusts that plunder the field leaving tiny dry twigs,
Their determined whispers stir reasoning ideally fake;
These dishonourable gentle heads that ache.
The locusts ate the grains, the rake wasted the rest.
The broom was left so little in its fold.
In this farm, pigs serve dogs for it’s their best.
The egg will likely shatter in hands that shouldn’t hold.
They chest indifferently the agony of the rest in the cold
Excerpts from Fever Series Books I
“Through eventful years the sticks of time ever pile, just like the people, what they represent and what represents them. The people have become a loose fitting collection that isn’t a strapped up and bonded broom, just like their land that is rich and rife with such inspirational promise.
“Nigerians are willing to be bonded up as one unit but they couldn’t possibly give an ear to the assumed wisdom in the words and experiences of their past. The people have since learnt the hard way that the sweets they have are actually sour and the sour taste is soon made bitter by their refusal to swallow their constant rejection of dependence on any sort of bonding.
“Though Nigerians are reflectively one and their historical past the same, the people can only remonstrate together over trivial issues, reminiscent of their ancestors and their quaint past that they endlessly repeat in their infantile present.”
Fever: The Origins of Fever (Book I)
Fever: Rising Temperature of Fever (Book II)
Fever: The Appetite of Fever (Book III)
Fever: Gentle Aching Fever (Book IV)
Fever: The Coldness of Fever (Book V)