I never kept a diary. Life’s events kept gushing in mighty torrents, my pen couldn’t just keep up. This is a short memoir however. My story:
We were just smarting from hell.
Hell was a bloody junta, heralded by a gory coup d’état. It was of summary executions, and routine killings. The khaki was on rampage. The sages were on exile. Activism silenced. Gatherings in hushed tones, muttered dirgeful lines at our republic’s grave. It was the reign of terror. The economy in a dangerous recessive dive. The times were hard. Yet just another dictatorship regime. The dark googled general. Abacha.
The masses saw doom, and smelt hades. The skies read Jesus was set for his return. He never showed up.
Prayer houses and churches littered Nairaland. We spoke in tongues, off the soldiers’ whiplash. Then came Baba Iyabo, in the famous Agbada, veiling the stench of a timeout in Kirikiri. And then we had relief. Some relief.
October 26, 1999.
It was a delightful evening on the Lord’s day. I was lolling on the Parsonage’s verandah. The trees gave breeze, coming in caressing strokes and soothe. My wife -Mummy, was getting dinner ready. My twin girls were helping out.
It was one of those rare evenings I got to be alone. Those memories of times and moments come flooding, with the aches and the ace tides. Mine had been a turbulent and dynamic life. I was just 10 years in ministry at this time.
I had a much troubled childhood, with an irresponsible dad and a promiscuous mum. I ran errands for her boyfriends. 10 shillings was my ‘shut-up’ price. I was the only surviving child, being an Abiku alleged to have troubled my mother 10 times before choosing to stay. I wished I never stayed though. I hated liquor and the spirit in spirits. It wrecked my father.
Bums not booze was my thing. I would pay the uttermost farthing to get down with a fleshy backside.
I first tasted of the forbidden fruit at 14. And by 17 I had lost count of how many bites I’d taken at it.
I was determined to break the family jinx by attaining a School leaving certificate. But the powers that be from my father’s ancestry almost ruined it. At Form 4, I was almost roped into claiming a pregnancy not mine. My maker was never asleep. I graduated albeit a certificate ridden with a host of F9’s smoking pipes and screaming wild.
I got converted mysteriously a month before my 23rd birthday. I had had a terrible nightmare that sent me running to the Baptist mission house the next morning. The elderly Pastor’s wife led me to God. The rest they say is history.
I had a burning desire and zeal for mission work and reformatory ministry among the youths especially.
My Spiritual parents counseled I followed up my passion to take up a Pastoral course at the Theological seminary in Ogbomoso, in the old Oyo state. I did take to their counsel after making my WASCE papers on a third attempt. I bagged my degree in the late 1980s, and started my church work back in my hometown in Ondo.
I started out as the assistant pastor in what was the church of my birth. I couldn’t last long there. A prophet would never be acknowledged in his home country you know.
I was Josefu the toddler of yesterday, who ran the streets of Ondo town naked, wheeling used tires. Josefu, the son of Timo -the town’s tailor, clown and drunk.
It was the height of absurdity to demand the respect of a Pastor, from the women that handled the turning sticks for the Amala served on your christening.
Moreover you don’t have a Ph.D. like the presiding Revd. Kalejaiye, nor his gray hair. And to demand that these men depart from the green and brown bottles they knew too well, long before your father’s birth was madman‘s talk.
I couldn’t do much as to live out my ministerial dreams. I left after 3 frustrating years.
Earlier before resuming to my final station as a Baptist pastor in Osogbo on new year eve 1997, I had unsettled the ground and left a trail of dust in a prominent Baptist assembly in Oyo town.
I got into trouble often. Being dynamic, charismatic and fierce, a staunch student of the puritans, I was the atypical resident Pastor. I wasn’t cut out for partisan church politics and the tact of religious diplomacy either.
A couple of months I took up the job as presiding pastor, the ugly trends in church had come to a head. The latest was the case of the Youth Pastor’s daughter who had gotten impregnated by a Muslim cleric in town. The girl herself a leader in the Girls’ Auxiliary.
We were at the time also still handling the case of two love birds in the Youth church who had eloped. Then there were the allegations and counter-allegations of looting the church purse among the deaconry.
I prepared a sermon series that would span 4 weeks to address the mess. It bordered on righteousness and judgment. The take-off message was to be preached that fateful Sunday, when a foremost politician in the 2nd republic breezed in. It was a surprise.
He did only come to church once in a blue moon, on special occasions, with advance notice. This was much of a surprise visit.
He had been a benefactor of many of the church elders. He was popular among the congregation too. His generous donations had swollen our church purse in a terrible economy. His coming was sure to mean something big that Sunday.
The elders were very much expectant they would benefit much from such gesture of his. I could see through their knowing smiles. The least favor I could do them was to arrange a mild and befitting Sunday sermon for the politician who they couldn’t afford to offend.
It was their unlucky day though.
My Homily came unaltered and fierce. The politician was shifting uncomfortably on his seat directly in front of me. He wasn’t used to such treat.
The seat was looking more like the electric chair to the poor man. I pitied the poor man, or so I thought. But no, I didn’t. For my tirade of words only got hotter. The final third climaxing into a powerful call to action. It was an action-packed 90 minutes. A few hands responded to the altar call that followed.
The money bag had stormed out furiously, leaving his cap on seat. He was followed by his entourage, and the retinue of beggarly elements called my elders hopping after him.
The damage was done already. But it was an unrepentant Pastor against a rebellious flock.
The months that followed were controversy-filled, the church was divided, allegations were cooked up. The council of elders didn’t want me anymore, I was forced to resign….(to be continued)