What Wole Soyinka Stands For -By Seun Sobola

In the year 1984, Evangelist James gave his life to Christ in an unusual assembly. It was in an unsolicited love feast. You may laugh because he was not invited but he was touched by the pastor’s sermons which hit him as bright as a new day and he came to the understanding that genuine salvation is born out of self-determination and feebleness. His testimony transcends a descending dove from nowhere to a merry heart as if using saliva to shine a cricket ball. You may ask: How many times have the vision of rapture burst at his sight?

Evangelist James’ colleagues left little no room for laxity; they convinced him to have his name changed because it had a label of a Deity of which her mother was a venerator. Jenju is the Deity. From Jentola, he became James, and subsequently added “evangelist” to run a lively commentary on the nugatory toga of those who were yet to identify themselves with sweet-Jesus.

Unstructured in his thoughts, Evangelist James was on his way to a village with molded houses. Morning mists fell on his path. Winds sighed and leaves rustled. He was not shaken since he had read Psalm one hundred and twenty-five, verse one before leaving. That, together with his inner courage, he made forward to a house, inscribed, IFA THE WAY TO HEAVEN.

At the top of the house’s plank, an empty snail’s shell was hung and on the floor, two-live tortoises were seen crawling around like playful kittens. “Wonder shall never end!” He said. Beyond any stretch of imagination, his Bible had quickly found resort on his chest. He called out, “Peace be unto this house”. Nobody answered. But faintly, he could hear a voice as if someone was reciting morning divinatory incantations:

The merciful one, the benefactor, the supporter, He who never fails to give support, He who shakes off envy, He who covers wealth, Eroko, the awo of the water front, Is the one who gave birth to Larogbe, Mother of Oyibo, The merciful one is the name of Ifa, Ifa, please show me and my family your Mercy.

After some minutes, he saw an old, tall and six-feet man coming out of a room. Evangelist James forecast the man to be a diviner and, the aftermath engulfed him.

“You’re welcome my son. Ifa already told me that you were coming. He told me to prepare an esoteric lesson for you. So, sit down, let’s talk.”

Evangelist James gave a blind smile. He did not want to look a gift-horse in the mouse and was convinced that he had nothing to tell him.

“Old man, yes, I know you have those crude dealings and phenomena to tell me but I have brought an important Word to you. So, let me share the Living Word with you.”

“My son, that which you call crude underpins my existence. It is interesting that you’ve not realised that it’s because our religion does not proselytise. We are not menace socially or politically. Even when many of your members come here for healings and go to give testimonies in your place of worships, we are so accommodating that we have not for once alienated any section of the society, unlike Christianity, Islam. We are not interested in persuading others to join or engage in our cosmological essentials. We do not turn our back against progress. We are symbolic explanations of the society we live in because our religion accepts the multi facets of human enlightenments and developments. Our dance, music and other functionalities open a gateway between the this world and the world of the spirits. That is who we are; that is what we are. But I should ask you: Is there anything that furnishes the evidence of peaceful cohabitation, respect for the celebration of worldviews of others, their celebration, their humanity and values other than such religion?

Evangelist James was astonished, perhaps lost in labyrinth complexities. He could not make out a word as the old man continued.

“Everything is clear because the handwriting is on the wall. If we were to be more cynical, we would have wondered why the same translator of the Bible you’re holding saw nothing wrong with equating Satan with Èṣù but could not find a near equivalent Yoruba deity for Jesus Christ, instead of Yorubanising his name to Jesu Kristi? Yes, not in lifetime! I can’t have a child that I would not be able to teach wisely to live a better life. There is no paganism anywhere. The problem is the medium through which it is used like any other religion. We can accomplish anything when we accept responsibilities together. It is only in togetherness that we can stand against the reign of evil. That is my stand!”


Seun Sobola is a first class graduate of English, Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ago-Iwoye, Ogun State, Nigeria. And can be reached @ seun.tobi101@gmail.com

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