It was a busy time inside the living room with my friends, as we undergo the last rehearsal of our Valentine Day’s love drama slated for presentation that afternoon at the school auditorium.
Mummy’s distinct voice was heard as she walked through the gate and the entrance into the living room, heading for the backyard. As I concentrated on the play, I could not look her way. But, somehow and suddenly everyone started to jump and scamper for safety. I still did not get the reason because my back was turned to mummy. I turned to greet her, and then I noticed a bent figure right behind her with face and top covered by a scarf. Startled, it was difficult to greet or hold myself together. Mummy was embarrassed and clearly disappointed.
“Never mind them Auntie, just keep following me”. She whispered unto the bent woman as she led her to the living apartments at the back of our main building within the compound.
After their departure, we gathered ourselves together, bewildered and disturbed about what my mother could be doing with such a clown and bent figure of a woman.
Who was she?
Where did she come from?
What has she got to do with mother?
Why should she come to our home?
I was not impressed or proud of whatever must lead mother to this sort of woman, and neither were any of my friends.
Our drama presentation was well attended and generously applauded. My script and role were the main characters, and I received warm ovations from the audience. It was a great and fun-filled Valentine presentation with many young lovers and adults in attendance. Lost in the euphoria of the celebrations and the positive turn-out of our drama presentations, I headed back home in company of school-mates and neighbors, completely forgotten about the case of the bent woman.
As I arrived home, mummy was waiting to get the report of how the Valentine celebration went. She was glad it all went agog, and everybody was happy. She then opened up to me about the stranger in our compound.
Ms. Kuku was a pretty young woman married to a farmer in a distant village. They had three children – a son and two daughters. She was afflicted with a strange illness that defied medical treatment three and a half years ago. Gradually it became difficult for her to stand upright and walk up straight. Her condition kept getting worse and was abandoned by family and relatives.
Her husband ran away out of fear and lack of funds to treat his wife. The children were sent to foster homes of distant relatives and others went into child labor. As her condition deteriorated, the villagers alerted her parents and siblings who arranged occultist treatment at the shrine of a popular herbalist not far from our street.
Rather than get better, Ms. Kuku’s condition got more complicated and precarious, but she could not do anything about it as she had neither visitations nor support from her people. Occasional support only came through visitors and strangers that usually visited the herbalist for treatment.
Three weeks ago the traditional healer died, and was buried last week. Other patients in the healing home were collected by their people, but there was nobody to receive Ms. Kuku. Her parents and siblings believed it was a serious taboo to allow her live with them, so they kept away from her.
Great-grandfather, Pa Jonathan, was a “foremost” Christian Yoruba gentleman in his days. Grandfather Emmanuel was a wealthy Anglican community leader and close adviser to the king. He had a close encounter with the preachers of the Cherubim & Seraphim Movement of Moses Orimolade later in his life that he left family and property, and embarked on a missionary journey of northern Yoruba lands of Nigeria. He later died on this missionary journey and was buried in the church yard of one of the missions he helped to set up.
Dad was privileged to be trained in locomotive transport management and administration by the Americans. While training abroad, he took up the Catholic faith of his mentors and became a devoted Roman Catholic, “more catholic than the Pope”. He would have been knighted by the Pope had he lived a bit longer. Thus, we were Roman Catholics, schooled and trained under the close tutelage of Jesuit priests and sisters.
Antonia, my elder sister traveled to Northern Nigeria, and got born again into an evangelical church movement that sprang up in Nigeria in 1973. Her attempt to introduce the new-found faith into the locality upon her return was rebuffed by the priests and laity of the orthodox faith. She was grossly persecuted by family, friends and foes, nevertheless, she refused to buckle. She set up a house caring prayer cell in our compound where people of various faith meet regularly during the week to pray and listen to Bible teachings.
While my mother would not discourage my sister from the new-found faith, she remain dedicated to her church activities and religious duties in the Church, scheming to become a Parish Woman Leader. As a respected women leader in the community and known trader, the family of the deceased traditional herbalist approached her to find a sanctuary for Ms. Kuku, saying she could “probably find healing and be delivered of her illness by the evangelical prayer cell”. It was rather out of concern and support, and not out of faith, that mother stretched out her hand of fellowship of the “good Samaritan” to Ms. Kuku.
Upon her acceptance into the ‘boy’s quarters’ of our house, the prayer cell’s Prayer Warriors, Bible Teachers and Evangelists descended upon her and the compound at regular intervals. Over time, Ms. Kuku, who were a chronic pagan and stark illiterate began to confess her acceptance of the gospel message, openly confessed and repented of her sins and sinfulness, denounced and renounced all her pagan and idolatrous life-styles and practices, and miraculously began reading the bible in the vernacular, while confessing Jesus Christ in their congregations.
By and by, the radiance of her color began to blossom and show. She was getting healthier by the day while most of her ailments and sicknesses started to give way and abate. Visits by her children and a couple of family member became regular.
About three months after her fellowship with the prayer group, Ms. Kuku was able to stand erect and walk straight up! She was able to stand up, bend down, and get up! It was a great miracle. Our compound became a Mecca of sort, with people from far and near coming around to witness the bizarre wonder.
The prayer cell grew. Mother and her children soon became regular devotees. A patch of land was ceded to the group within the family estates, upon which they erected a district church of the evangelical movement.
February 14th of the following year saw the opening ceremony of that district church which drew prominent members from the orthodox churches, Muslims, and pagans unto Christ. My mother and I, threw away our pride and self-righteousness, met Christ without hesitations, and became born-again Christians that day.
It has since been wonderful Christian experience with assurance of salvation and genuine hope of Heaven. Kindness to a pagan has led nominal Christians unto true and genuine salvation. What a surprise guest at Valentine!