Dove-like gentle mien. Calm bass voice. Predictable romantic physique; An octogenarian that hardly looked his age. One hardly thought Papa Enoch Adejare Adeboye could ever lose his cool and get angry. But he was of recent.
The attack on St. Jude’s Catholic Church, Owo by some unknown gunmen that left scores, mainly children and women dead, and other deadly and kidnapping attacks targeted at the Churches in the country really riled the Preacher’s intestines. He could not stomach the maddening killings and kidnappings of Priests any longer. He spoke out. And when he speaks, it comes as a curse.
This is unlike Papa. His teachings and sermons were majorly on inner peace, the need to live a Holy Spirit driven-life, and working towards eternal life in full salvation of the Soul. But those children of perdition ruffled the man of peace feathers. They made him angry.
Yes, Papa was angry, yet he did not sin. He only had to rise and give the distressed Church of God a voice. A strong and reassuring voice that will torment the evil-doers for the rest of their lives.
The gruesome gun attack and sheer numbers of lifeless bodies laying on the floor of St. Jude’s Catholic Church, Owo a few weeks ago, perhaps were the most distasteful dinner that can ever be served to a race, people, or faith. The Christian community, both within and outside Owo, Ondo State was aghast when the hails of the hand grenade and bullets died down. Conflicting reports gave different numbers of casualties. But it was in multiple dozens. Children and women were mowed down recklessly. It was a gory sight.
Right from the spot of the incident, people around, even those who managed to escape the holocaust were seen and heard on viral video and audio, invoking various deities and calling ‘gods of anger’ to intervene and bring back the perpetrators of the dastardly act to instant justice. Some days after the killings, Owo women were shown in another viral video pouring libations to invoke “Ogun, the god of iron” to rise up and push out the masterminds and perpetrators.
The locals, including the paramount ruler, the Olowo of Owo Kingdom, Oba Ajibade Gbadegesin Ogunoye, did not look like they needed the orthodox security investigations to apprehend those behind this dastardly massacre, but the instant justice that “Ogun, god of Iron” or “Sango, god of Thunder/fire” could be wrought. No blasphemy in this. It was the exigencies of the time. The land had been violated, and various conspiratorial theories were been bandied about. The Fulani herdsmen angle palpably could be genuine. But profiling the Fulani herdsmen as the killers may take the searchlight off the real perpetrators. The Federal Government had irresponsibility and hastily, jumped to the conclusion that the dreaded Islamic State for West Africa Province (ISWAP), a satellite of the fatalistic Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), was responsible for the attack.
This claim can not stand any logical test of reasoning. Could it be the handwork of local disgruntled persons, working in cahoot with insiders within the Church? All these theories have no meaning to an average Owo man who had been hit badly by the blind shootings inside a parked Church. They decided to take matters into their hands. They went for the ones they trusted may do the job without investigations and with automatic fiat. They went to visit various shrines and grooves in the Kingdom.
Amidst the euphoria and hullabaloo that followed the dastardly massacre, emotions did run high. But while the invocations of Sango, Ogun, and others ‘Oniles’ (gods of the land) were vociferously ongoing, Papa Enoch Adeboye, General Overseer of the nightly expansive Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG) Worldwide, mounted the pulpit. He cried to the Lord of Hosts, the Owner of the Universe about the persecutions and tribulations Christians were passing through in the country. He did not limit his invocations of heavenly fire to the masterminds, sponsors, and perpetrators of the Owo massacre alone, he looked further to the kidnappings and killings of the other Priests in Benin, Edo State, the killings of Priests and worshippers in the various States of the South East, Benue State, and some Northern states. He implored the Almighty, urging since He is the Consuming Fire, that all persecutors of Christians and Churches in Nigeria be consumed by eternal fire. The shout of amen by the entire congregation was thunderous.
The walls of Jericho had earlier been pulled down then by the Israelites led by the Biblical Joshua, rafter shouting seven thunderous Hallelujah, otherwise, the shouts would have pulled the mighty wall down again. But metaphorically, those killing Priests and burning church buildings are the modern-day walls of Jericho. The Christendom needed such violent prayers to pull the walls down. After all, right from the days of John the Baptist, the Kingdom of God had suffered violence and only the violent overtaken it violence. More of such violent prayers are still needed to finally and permanently overtake the violent gunmen.
Owo people could be said to have been pushed to the wall. They were left with very little other option, other than to react. They can not start carrying AK-47s and start mowing down just any strange person in sight. They have no clue about the identities, movements, and even motives of the attackers. Could they still come back? Would it turn into serial attacks? No one knows. The lessons of Boko Haram’s unusual beginning and the metamorphosis into a terror group that carries out serial attacks non-stop in the North-Eastern part of the country are enough to put the people on the alert. If one considers the reaction of the larger Yoruba people, he would understand better why the Owo people towed that line. The larger Yoruba people did not take the incident lightly. To an average Yoruba man, it was a crude affront; an attack on all Yoruba people They want it resisted, as quickly as they can.
Yorubaland is peculiar in a lot of ways. When religion interfaces with culture, culture most always have it. Not many put religion above culture. So running to Ogun, Sango and other gods of the land is of little worry to many of them. They could easily understand the need, the process, and the moves. But it is not likely Papa GO was in agreement with this. He must have been pained seriously in private, he could do nothing to stop them. This must-have further infuriated the octogenarian. He reacted angrily too.
Now relevant appeasements have been made. Papa too had laced biblical curses on those targeting the Church and its Priests for deadly attacks for whatever reasons, the men of the darkness would have realized Yorubaland is not a safe haven for criminals and criminality.
Afolayan Adebiyi writes from Lagos, Nigeria
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