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A man who puts aside his religion because

he is going into society, is like one taking off

his shoes because he is about to walk upon thorns. –Cecil


“Anetor, Anetor, Anetor,” the Ovia High Priest voice

reverberated above the din of the town people who trooped

into the town centre to watch the town elders emergency

court in session.

The High Priest pointed a finger with a dirty looking

fingernail at me. “You, you you,” he shook like a banana

leaf in a violet whirlwind. His knife-like eyes the colour

of ember ran over my body from head to toe. I shivered,

not from cold but from the penetrating stare of those eyes.

“How many times did I call you?”

“Three times sir,” I answered, my eyes fixed on my

shoes. “God give me strength. Fortify my spirit. Let not

these unbelievers intimidate me with their ridiculous

costumes,” I prayed under my breath. I shook my body to

calm my frail nerves.

Dressed in the full regalia reminiscence of the yearly

Ovia festival sat the Ovia High Priest on a high backed

chair facing the town people. Eight senior chiefs sat by

his sides dressed in their festival traditional attire.

They glared at me with red eyes that rolled in their

sockets. The High Priest festival day dress, starched and

bedecked in native decorations, could intimidate mortals

and non-mortals alike.

I faced them with my hand held behind my back. Nested

firmly in the cup of my fingers, my big worn out bible gave

me comfort and confidence.

Cool breeze caressed my face as leaves dried by the

harmattan dropped from the big Iroko tree on my hair.

I shook them out of my hair. The High Priest looked at me

with disapproval in his eyes.

Underneath the big iroko tree, the rest of the chiefs

sat in semi-circle behind the eight senior chiefs. They

looked too ready to pass judgment on those who by their

action or inaction offended the gods of the land. That day,

only one culprit stood before them.

I looked at the placid faces of the town people. I

shrugged. I will show these people I worship a living God.

I will open their eyes to the reality that Ovia-a beautiful

ornamental bonze, carved in the image of the devil by

itself; lack the power to punish any man.

“What the devil made you disobey the elder’s

instruction?” The High priest asked. His bright face bored

into mine.
I stared right back at him. “I did not sir,” I shifted

from one tired leg to the other. I waited for their pre-

determined ‘justice.’ This they dispensed with gusto on

behalf of a god that cannot defend itself.

“You mean you were part of the team that cleared the

market road and the road to Ovia shrine?”

“No sir,” I would love to kick the stupid face of the

High priest in, stuff the blood into his monkey mouth and

watch him beg for mercy. The thought warmed my spirit.

“I told you he is stubborn,” the most senior elder

said, his voice replete with satisfaction. He clenched his

fist. He would love nothing better than hit the stupid boy

who became a Christian only yesterday, who now thinks he

could disregard the instruction of the elders with


“Sir, how could you say such a thing about me? You

know I am a law abiding citizen of this town who would

never disobey the elders without cogent reasons.”

“Why then did you refuse to take part in clearing of

the two roads,” the elder asked. He nodded at the other

elders as if for confirmation or approval, “please tell


“Because today is Sunday.”

“Tuah,” the High Priest spat, “but you do eat on

Sundays, don’t you?”

“That is different sir,” I opened my bible. I browsed

for an appropriate quotation to back me up. “It said here

that we should honour the Sabbath and keep it holy,” I

cleared my throat.

A bright light hit me. A man dressed in snow-white

apparel stood before me. He tapped me lightly on my

shoulder. He pointed at the High Priest and laughed. The

man vanished. I closed my eyes. When I opened them, I saw

the High Priest in a new light. I choked inside with

suppressed laughter at his ridiculous outfit.

“My fathers,” I continued. I picked my words, as one

would talk to little children, “you all know I am a pastor

and a founder of my own denomination, as such, I cannot be

seen doing any work on a Sunday.”

“May thunder break your head,” one of the elders

I could not remember his name kicked the empty keg of palm

wine before him. He looked at the broken gourd, his face a

mask of fury. He glared at me as if somehow, I broke the

gourd myself. “Is it not just yesterday you went to pastor

school? Is it what has gone into your head now?”

I covered my face with my palms. The man’s head

reminded me of a big cocoyam. To call anyone a cocoyam head

is to say the person is a dunce. People knew the chief as

not too brilliant, which makes cocoyam head, suits him


Laughter built up from the bottom of my stomach ready

to explode. I turned my face away from him and held my

sides. I placed the two palms of my hands on my face.

I held my lips together with my fingers. If I released my

lips by mistake, the laughter would come out in torrents.

I brought my bible to my face to prevent the elders seeing

my merry face.

“Will you put that stupid book down!” the High Priest

shouted with venom in his voice. “You dare tell us you

cannot work on Sunday. Does that bible of yours not said

something about obedience to your elders and giving unto

Caesar what is Caesar and unto God what is God?”

His perfect quote of that biblical passage did not

surprise me. Even the devil quoted the bible.

“Anyway,” the High Priest continued, “we have killed a

fowl and prepared it, but the fowl belongs to Ovia. You

know what that means.”

Ovia is the most powerful god in the town. Everybody

dreaded the god. No one swear falsely by Ovia for fear of

retribution. The god literally rewrote its own code of

crime and punishment. The god meted out automatic

punishment to those who goes against its principle.

The custom of the town forbade any man to turn down

the elder’s invitation to clear the market road. No one in

his right sense would dare turn down invitation to clear

Ovia road. People struggle to do it. Why my absence

offended the elders baffled me.

Whosoever refused invitation to clear the market road

must buy a goat or a fowl for the elders. In anticipation

that I would buy one as a fine, the elders grabbed the next

available fowl. This fowl, someone already dedicated as a

sacrifice to the god Ovia.

“My elders, I don’t know ‘what that means’, but it is

said in this bible,” I lifted it up for all of them to see.

“‘Thou shall not steal.’ You elders grabbed a fowl that

does not belong to you and roasted it. This is contrary to

the law of God and the teachings of the bible. You elders

expected me to replace this fowl. I cannot do this because

my bible also said, ‘thou shall worship no other God but

me.’ If I replace the fowl, it would amount to providing a

sacrifice to your god, which my bible forbids. I am sorry

my elders, I cannot do this.”

The eyes of the elders changed from red to something

terrible. Some opened their mouth unable to close them.

This could not be our own Noah. Noah could not utter those

words. Who is Noah? They shook with murderous rage. If they

had the power or if it were to be in those bygone days,

they would sacrifice me there and then to their gods.

“You dare call us thieves and insulted the gods of our

father’s land?” One of the elders asked, his face

registered his unbelief. “If a child says his mother will

not sleep, he too will not know peace. Elders, let us go.

The gods he insulted would deal with him.”

Their threat did not move me. The gods did not scare

me. By themselves, the gods are powerless. The course of

action of the elders scared me a little. They would go to

any length to prove that the gods dealt with me.

The elders left one by one, shaking their fist in my

face to indicate I was in trouble. I prayed in silence.

The people in the town believed anybody cursed by the

High Priest dies after three days. No one could remember

since the inception of the town, one incidence of

disobedience to the elders.

No one would dare refused to buy a fowl for the elders

on demand. I not only refused to buy the elders a fowl,

I refused to replace the one dedicate to Ovia which the

elders killed. The whole town discussed in hush tones the

imminent death of Noah before seven days. It was not a

question of if Noah would die but how and when.

They waited for my demise. The elders visited me in

the night in all kinds of forms. Masquerades appeared in my

dream with cutlasses to harm me. I fought them and defeated

them. Sometime, they appeared to me not in my dreams but in

daytime. I still defeated them. Twice I opened my wardrobe

to find black mamba-an African deadly snake- coiled inside.

I would dip my hand into my pocket and came out with

snakes. When I called Holy Ghost fire, they disappeared.

Fire ignited on my bed a couple of times. I invoked the

blood of the lamb and it dies.

To counter the antics of the elders, I embarked on

three days dry fasting. I asked the living God to throw

confusion into the midst of the elders.

When I lived the life of sin back in 1992, something

happened that kindled my hope in a loving God who is ready

to grant all my wishes.

I became a Christian at an early age because my father

practiced the religion. My father believed Christianity

does not compel one to abandon his tradition. He sacrificed

a goat once in a year to his personal god in his room.

One Sunday, I came back from church as usual and

prayed. That day, I prayed as I never prayed before. I did

not know why, but something kept urging me on.

In a vision that night, a man appeared to me. He told

me to stop smoking. He slapped me several times.

“Stop your life of sin and give your life to Jesus


“How do I do that?” I asked.

He slapped me again, “Just give your life to Christ.”

When I woke up, I became a changed person. I became

born again.

A big timber tree demarcated my landlord’s land and

the High Priest. My landlord cut down the tree. He claimed

its ownership. This act infuriated the High Priest who

summoned a meeting of the elders to call my landlord to


The elders instead of doing that declared that the

timber belonged to my landlord. The High Chief shot at my

landlord when he saw him on the land the second day. He

vowed to deal with the elders one by one.

Many of the elders took side with my landlord because

of his wealth while a few took side with the High priest.

This incident created confusion among the elders. They

forgot about my case while they tried to settle the rift my

powerful prayers created among them.

When I did not die after three days, I became the talk

of the town. Many people trooped to my house to see me. The

church I started in my house with only my relatives no

longer contained the people that came for worship and


The night after Sunday’s service, I knelt down and

thanked God for His miracles.

An incidence that happened in my own village few years

back after my pastoral training confirmed me as a man with

great anointing.

There lived a paralytic woman of many years of

suffering her disability in my village. One day in my

dream, I found myself in the woman’s house. Many demons

with horns surrounded her. They bowed down and parted way

for me to pass on my way to the woman’s bed. I prayed for

her and healed her.

The next day I informed my brother that God wanted me

to go and cure the paralytic woman. When we got there, I

said to the woman, “Madam God sent me to you to pray for

you so that you could receive your miracles. Do you believe

Jesus can heal you?”

“I believe,” replied the woman.

I prayed and commanded the woman to walk. As I

prayed, the woman fell down. She cried as soon as I touched

her. She screamed I should stop cutting her legs with razor

blade. I prayed until sweat covered me all over.

I commanded the woman in the name of Jesus to walk. The

woman stood up and walked.

The following Sunday, twenty-five souls converted to

Christ in my church. The room we used as church could not

contain all the people that turned up for service. Many

stood outside the windows to listen to the sermon.

The following day, I rented a six-room apartment in

the town, which I converted to my church. Less than six

months after, three Pastors came under my tutelage.

Everything went without ugly incident until the event that

made me fled the town for Lagos happened.

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