She is now a royal. But for some who share her original faith, she has dumped one royalty for new loyalty. An ethereal damsel now earthbound. She has parlayed Zion for an earthly palace. I refer, of course, to the new queen on the Ife throne. Her picture, now viral, portrays her stepping on a map of blood spill as part of her wedding rites.
It signals her transition to a Yoruba regal. The blood could have emanated from any mammal or bird. But those who cherish her as a Christian evangelist are griping away over why she has abandoned the blood of Christ for the body waste of a mere beast. For them, she degraded the entrails of the highest. She disintegrated from a royal priesthood. She is no longer heavenly by stepping up to a lesser deity, less commanding than her former grandeur.
But traditionalists see her as a convert. Secularists see her as a realist. Some may say she is assimilated but not converted. Or vice versa. A few see her as a mere hybrid of faith, one who has seen her rite as a glorious nexus of two worlds: a marriage within a marriage. By being the wife of the Ooni of Ife, Naomi is trying to wed Jesus to Orunmila, in the spirit of the Yoruba ancestors.
For some Yoruba, this is nothing novel. History has shown the Yoruba nation to be inevitably syncretic, a soul where faiths conjoin in peace and harmony. Hence, it was easy for the Yoruba to embrace Islam and Christianity without rancour or philosophical remorse. Where some others saw a breach, the Yoruba felt at ease. Some Christian sects display this paradox of worship in the southwest in their modes and rituals.
Those who have read Wole Soyinka’s translation of Fagunwa’s A Forest of A thousand Daemons, see how Christian and Yoruba worldviews segue. But many have failed to understand that Naomi, the evangelist Yoruba queen, only reflects how, as a people, we have not crested the 21st century’s materialist wave. We have first to look at our political elite to grasp this.
It is the power of pastors, marabouts, babalawos, dibias, etc. In the last PDP presidential primaries, some contestants relied less on what they saw than on the eyes of their seers. To one aspirant, a marabout fleshed out the vision. He saw the aspirant smothered in his voluminous babaringa swearing in ministers.
The first was a man awash in ceremonial glory; the other in a grand grind of presidential duty.
Nor is it restricted to marabouts. Pastors con many with rose-tinted visions. A few years ago, one politician bucked crystal-clear evidence by insisting a sitting governor would hand over to him because his prophetess saw the vision. An older politician counselled him, half in derision, to return to the prophetess for clarity. A few years ago, a prophetess could not foresee the assassination of a politician barely an hour after he left the woman of God in wee hours.
Are they gullible or desperate? It reflects an underrated market that flatters ambitions. They invest politicians with hope. Hope emboldens them to action. After paying the seers, they move into the battle fray. All but they can see they have no chance. But they pooh-pooh advisers, pundits, the robust mockery of hard reality. They hear, like Joan of Arc in Bernard Shaw’s play, the mellifluous falseness of their voices. The seer at work.
They are men of faith. They yield to the destiny of heaven. They already know their foot soldiers. They craft their path to power. They develop a sense of their human uniqueness. They are, like Queen Naomi, royals set apart by the Almighty. The flatterers who gulp their money also wonder. But they follow the candidate because it is bread and butter. Sometimes, the candidate infects them with his confidence because the candidate is fired by a celestial vision. His veins rise. His eyes shine. God glows over them. He walks on high winds. His belief cows any doubt. Everyone is on board the train to the presidential, gubernatorial, senatorial saddle.
These candidates don’t have to wait for the miracles first or else they won’t contest. They hope for miracles. They are believers as risk takers. The marabouts and co. know that. As Dostoyevsky noted, seers possess three qualities that enthral people: miracle, mystery and authority. For the candidates, they wield authority with their sense of mystery, and so miracle must come. For other believers, miracles affirm their mystery and authority. Not like Jesus who said, blessed are those who believe even if they don’t see.
It is the power of faith. Faith is the best friend of destiny. Some people want miracles before they have faith. Those are the worst of believers. Even Jesus did not like people who wait for miracles before believing. Hence he poured woe on some followers: “You wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign. But I shall not show you any sign except that of prophet Jonah.” Paul mocked the Jews for seeking signs. Paul defined faith as hope without evidence.
Jesus did not yield to the miracle of the Satan, who wanted to give him the world. Rather, in his fleshly status, he endured for heaven’s command and succumbed to a shameful death. Our pastors and mallams these days want our people to believe them only if they perform miracles, even though the scriptures show that the devil also performs miracles. In his massive novel, The Brothers Karamazov, Dostoyevsky writes, “Faith does not, in a realist, spring from the miracle but the miracle from faith.”
These candidates are not waiting for the miracles first. Hence some people believed in Father Mbaka and others of his ilk. Miracles are prophecies that happen only if you want them. Prophet Habakkuk says to run with the vision. To fulfil, you must act. Apostle Paul confirms it. You can derail prophesies like Macbeth. Or fall into woe like Oedipus. Prophecies are not cast in stone, even Jesus’ birth was about prophecies reinforced by prophecies of persecution.
These faithful politicians exhaust their faiths before getting into power. When they get there, there is little faith left to fix roads, feed the poor or furnish schools to enlighten us and hospitals to heal us. With faith gone, no morality is left. They lose the fear of God. And as Dostoyevsky noted, “when there is no God, everything is permitted,” including and especially bad governance
From error to a new era
Governor John Kayode Fayemi soared into office with one of the best speeches ever delivered in our democratic experience. In rhythm, diction, evocations and content, Fayemi blended poetry with rage to rouse a people from an era he characterised as an error. My only complaint was in his “never again” part of the speech. It should have replaced “should” with “shall” to match the grandeur and intensity of the hour. No matter. He promises to bring back a governance of high principles and high dreams against Fayose’s cynically grovelling stomach infrastructure.
But the new governor must blend that with a “common touch,” a charge that may have been exaggerated about his first coming but nonetheless a potent counsel as he recharges his people to cancel an error. He must note that he won with a thin margin, and he has to bind the wounds of the followers of the stomach. It is no mean task. He will have to elevate a people of PHD to a realm of ideas from a pedestrian mentality. I wish him the best.
Bukola “Eleyinmi” Saraki came back to another storm. This time, he did the last thing first and first thing last. Rather than ask the Senate Clerk whether he granted Godswill Akpabio a permit to sit, Saraki asked him to change his seat. Again, he knew new sitting arrangement had not been resolved, so what seat was he asking Akpabio to take? Eventually the former Akwa Ibom governor spoke, and Saraki only created a convulsion in a healthy body. Was it an effect of his presidential snafu in Port Harcourt? He did not act presidential in the Senate.