CHURCH IN VERSE: A Tale Of Four Days (by Kolawole Oluwanifemi)

I was alive
Until the struggle to remain ended
Then I slipped into nothingness
Death has pangs
Never believed until my soul bore them

The tussle begun
Light and darkness contended
To have a bargain with my soul 
How I prayed for a halt
So my spirit could rest in peace

Continue reading

Power Nap

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(Author’s Note: The set of paragraphs you are about to read is a narration of true events that took place in the early hours of June 30th, 2015.)

9.00pm.

Lagos, Nigeria.

“Hey, good evening, what’s the name?”

I’d seen her, light-complexioned and long umbrella in hand, come out of a house at the other side of the street. There was something
about her cheeks, something that made you want to stroke them for 25 hours. It was cold, she was
covered in a dark blue sweater, and for a moment
I wished she was all wrapped up beneath my
blanket. I decided to find out who she was, but
she uttered no response, and as a matter of fact she switched lanes. As it turned out, we were
going the same direction, so i caught up with her
and repeated the question.

“What’s the name?”

“Excellence”, she replied.

A younger me would have resorted to chuckling as my first reaction, but I smiled, and then we got
talking about how I had not seen her before, and how PHCN had improved its services since the
new administration took over. There is something about the weather that has it always come up as
a subject of conversation, and in a matter of
minutes we were talking about the rainy season.

“This rain sha. Everywhere gets flooded, and
moving around becomes ‘difficant’.”

Difficant?! I wondered if that was a new word in the dictionary. Well there was always a chance
that I had heard wrongly, so i lured her into
repeating the statement.

“I didnt get you”, I said.

“I said that movement becomes difficant”, she repeated.

A red flag flew at full mast in my mind’s eye. I
told myself that I would definitely not have sustained interactions with the lady after that
evening, but our feet were still pointing in the same direction, so we kept walking.

It was pretty windy when I stepped out, but at least it was dry. Excellence’s decision to step out
with an umbrella proved to be one borne out of
foresight, as it soon began to drizzle. She could have continued walking, afterall, she was sufficiently
protected, but she chose to run with me beneath
the zinc roof of a kiosk which had closed for the
day, in a bid to find shelter. Then without
warning, she drew herself closer and leaned
forward to take up my lips into hers. For some
reason I couldnt explain, i shifted backwards,
declining a taste of her lip gloss.

The winds intensified, and for the first time I looked in the direction of her legs. I noticed she
had been wearing a short gown beneath that
sweater all along. The breeze did a good job of raising the gown to reveal her smooth thighs, and
I began to feel that I had pulled away too soon.
My hormones had been triggered, and I literally reached for the lower end of her gown. This time
it was her turn to shift backwards, but she added
a little something extra: she let out a cackling
laugh.

It wasnt just any kind of laughter. It was the kind
you hear in those marine kingdom scenes from
Nollywood movies. The goosebumps on my skin
took perfect shape. Her hair was responding appropriately to the wind, and she wouldnt stop
laughing as she stared at me…..

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“A girl I’d never seen
Lay next to me with golden skin
I sprung up to my feet
She asked me what was wrong
I began to scream
‘I dont think this is me,
Is this just a dream
Or really happening?’ ”

***********
4.15am.

I was back in my apartment, jolted back to
reality, but Excellence’s laughter had seeped in
from my dreams and into my world. I then tried
to open my eyes and get up, but found myself
unable to. I knew what was happening. It was
another of those nights.

Yes, someone (or something) had come to ‘press’
me in my sleep yet again, and as was often the
case, I couldnt see who or what it was. I knew
the drill: get pinned, lose my ability to move any
part of my body for a number of minutes, then
struggle in my sub-conscious. This time the
malevolent force had chosen to fix my head and
neck in a chokehold. It was an annoying situation,
but I had a new day to begin, and ‘he’ wouldnt
negotiate, so the fight began.

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I forcefully tried to open my eyes, but they felt like
they were stuck with glue. My spirit then kicked
and dug an elbow into my assailant’s sides. He
wouldnt budge, so my spirit kicked again, all the
while barely able to churn out cries of “Jesus,
Jesus”. We rolled along the wall, and even found
ourselves mid-air, before my spirit sunk its teeth
into my attacker’s form. I struggled to break free,
kicking again, before the force finally let go.

“I want to wake up kicking and screaming
I want to wake up kicking and screaming
I want to know that my heart’s still beating
Still beating, I’m pleading”

The fight had lasted for two ‘Dreamland’ hours,
which would transIate to about twenty ‘Earth
minutes’. I was able to open my eyes at last,
finding that I had fallen off the bed. I knew that
this was by no means the last visit from whatever
had attacked me, but I also knew that the
weapons of warfare were not carnal in nature.
The issues of superstition and excessive belief in
the metaphysical were topics for a future
discussion, but I loved to think that a lot of
battles go on in the spiritual realm, and that my
spirit had lived to fight another night.

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Sermon From The Window Pane

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It’s another Sunday in that time of the year. The overflow in the Kainji Dam accounts for the improvement in nationwide electricity supply, contrary to belief in the effect of a new political administration. Yea, the rainy season is well and truly upon us in this part of the world (sorry, no Winter or Spring here), and movement would ordinarily be restricted, but not on this day of the week. It’s the day of the Lord, the day people (should) rest from their day jobs and spend two (or three, or seven) hours communing with the Creator. Continue reading

Bars & Jergens

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Forward. Backward. Forward again. Backward yet again. Towards the tip slowly.  There was friction of skin against skin, a little lubrication added for smoother gliding. Joe was at it again, finding solace in his hands as his member hardened, his eyes fixed on the screen of his smartphone as he went through scene after scene of “Racially Motivated”, a new adult movie clip which he had recently downloaded. Continue reading

Helper & Meddler

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“Brethren, open your Bibles to……scratch that, go to the Bible App on your Galaxy tab, click Search, type ‘expectation’, you’ll probably find that portion which says ‘the expectation of the righteous shall never be cut short’. I can’t quite remember the exact verse. Just take a look at it. By His Grace and by your Faith, you are made righteous, and your expectations this season cannot and will not be cut short. Amen?” Continue reading

Sabbath Flow

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“Brethren, turn to your neighbour and say, ‘you are blessed’ !“

No, he didn’t just say that. Well, he couldn’t be blamed. This man of God was not exactly omniscient, so he couldn’t possibly have known that you have been holding your breath at intervals for extended periods because the brother who is seated to your left possesses a breath similar to the “aroma” of soaked cassava. Yes, it’s Sunday morning at “Password To Heaven Ministries”. Truth is, it’s your first time in a Christian gathering this year. Church is not particularly where you get to be found on Sundays, yes, age and education have ensured that you no longer subscribe to organized religion. Well you are here on this day much thanks to your friend Damian, who convinces you by saying that most pretty ladies in the city attend that particular church, and furthermore that the finale of the Singles’ Weekend is scheduled for that day. Continue reading

Ati: Gospel Music’s Newest Pitch

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It is said that he who sings well (to God), prays twice, but in the not-so-distant past, one couldn’t say for sure how well Nigerians who represented the gospel music genre did well in that regard. Gospel songs were monotonous, the lyrics were one dimensional, the melody was lacking, and there just wasn’t that artistic element to please the ear, never mind that it was God they sang to. (Who says God doesn’t like melodious, well-created music? As a matter of fact he deserves the best of our artistic and musical talent.)

By the turn of the century however, things had changed. Gospel artistes began to put more effort in the music they created, the voices became more refined, the instruments began to have their use, and the videos (yes, the videos) became more TV-worthy. Over the years, persons like Sammie Okposo, Kefee, Iyke Onka, Sinach, Kore, Jahdiel, Soulsnatcha and Sokleva (of the Rooftop Mcs), Cobhams Asuquo, Buchi, Samsong and of course, Frank Edwards, have positively changed the face of gospel music in Nigeria, and things can only get better.

Joining this revolution in the gospel music genre is a young lady who prefers to be called “Ati” in music circles. Ati (born Emmanuella Agbegha) lends her soft voice to make sure we do well in “praying twice”. In her debut single “Okaka”, she does well to maintain the solemn atmosphere as Chinyere Udoma would like, while adding that melody and sound aesthetic to the mix, as well as a little “danceability”. With an ability to effectively combine Soprano and Alto, Ati holds nothing back as “Okaka” sees her giving that heartfelt rendition in appreciation of God’s love and awesome wonder.  Alright, no more spoilers, click on the link below to download.

http://getgrip.mywapblog.com/uniben-emmanuella-agbegha-release-new-ho.xhtml

 

Trivia: When Ati is not at the studio expressing her love for her Maker, she attends lectures as a student of the Faculty of Pharmacy at the prestigious University of Benin. A bit of a prankster, Ati is also good with the guitar, and is fondly remembered by her colleagues back in school for composing the anthem of her faculty’s student association. 

Communion

You can’t provide yourself with an explanation as to why you are there, or even how you got there in the first place. You even begin to feel that somehow you don’t deserve to be here, as there is something about this place that should put it out of your reach. Minutes ago you were sitting on the sofa in your living room, tuned in to MTV Base and fixing your eyes on one of Rihanna’s raunchy videos before dozing off, and now you find yourself somewhere so beautiful. It’s everything the Scriptures said it is, everything you read about. Yes, this is Heaven, the place believers aspire to get to. It’s not a state of mind, not that feeling you get when you win a lottery, nor what Jane feels when Frank works his way inside her. The gates are twelve in number, the streets are made of gold, and the city walls are garnished with all manner of precious stones.

A creature resembling a man, with two pairs of wings, golden hair and clad in easily the purest white cloak you have seen introduces himself to you as your tour guide, and you just figure out that it’s Angel Gabriel. You don’t know how, there is no preconceived image in your awestruck mind, but you just get to be aware of who is who around here. He beckons to the direction in front of you, and you follow him willingly. Your mind is in no frame to ask questions yet, you just follow his lead in a manner the Lord would appreciate back on Earth.

As Gabriel takes you around, you find that there is no need for the Sun, or candles, or streetlights. The whole city is lit up with the glory of He Who Runs Things. You also don’t get to see any toilets, for the people here have perfect systems, and nothing they take in is imperfect. You follow your tour guide into a large mansion and spot David cleaning his harp (somehow you get to know who is who), and he tells you how much he would love to have Don Moen sing here.

“Yea, we could use some vocal adjustments here and there, you know”, Elijah cuts in, “David gets to go off-key sometimes.”

Somewhere around one of the many balconies you find Peter asking Paul a question. Paul responds in words which he doesn’t quite grasp, and he makes his feelings known.

“Why, why can’t you ever simplify things? Even in your epistles! Why won’t people misinterprete you”, Peter reacts.

Not too far off, Noah slips from his chair, and three other residents of this glorious city immediately come around to help him up. Everyone here looks out for one another, there is no giggling over the other person’s mistake. Samuel wishes to move a table from one corner of the mansion to another, and you find Jeremiah hurrying to give him a hand.

You take a look around and you see Manasseh bowed in deep thought. No, not Manasseh the son of Joseph, it’s the other one who ruled very wickedly as king of Judah and only repented at the end of his reign. You pause to think about how one could do so much wrong and at the end of it all, make Heaven just by changing course at the very end.

“It’s not His will for an evil man to perish, on the contrary He wants such a man to change his ways and live”, Gabriel says, patting your shoulder in a way which suggests that all your thoughts are audible round here. “Then again, he who confesses his sins and forsakes them shall obtain……”

He stares at you, waiting for you to complete that passage of Scripture, and after fifteen seconds in which you know no sign of remembering that part of the book of Proverbs, he adds “mercy”, smiling at you in a manner which suggests the words “Look who has not been reading his Bible”.

Looking at Gabriel’s opposite direction for a bit, you spot Esther, Mary Magdalene, Ruth and a few other virtuous women you read about when you still burned with zeal for His Word. They are busy with tablecloths and napkins. They do what they do with so much joy, and beyond that, you can’t help but feel an aura of pure beauty around them, the Proverbs 31 kind, nothing like what you have seen on Earth, a beauty not even the best makeup can bring about. You absorb the purity of what is around you, think of the way you have lustfully viewed other girls you know, and you feel ashamed of yourself.

You accompany Gabriel to the next part of the mansion, and you find the “hundred and forty-four thousand”, mouthing a special song to The Landlord which only they know. These are the ones who refused to taste the lips or thighs of women. “How did they do it?”,you wonder. They did not resort to soap either, you tell yourself, and you remember your friend Max who always says that every celibate man has a rapidly shortening cream jar.

In a matter of minutes, the table is set; you are just in time for lunch. The table is wide enough to accommodate every saint and angel in the mansion, and the glory of God is all around. It’s genuine glory, different from what you try to assume during Sunday service. The menu is unleavened cakes and broth (like what Gideon entertained the angel with), with that “Wedding at Cana” variety wine. You feel that sense of Communion like never before. It’s the real “Nni Nso”, of an even higher grade than that one which easily dissolves in the mouth, and which you often show reluctance to partake in because you are never sure of your “sanctity”. You get to “interview” some of the saints on how they overcame the sinful world you live in, and you notice that Faith and Grace are the common denominators in each response.

While at table seated next to John the Beloved Apostle, your mind gets into pendulum motion with all the questions you have for the Lord. You want to know which pastors are doing it right, whether praying in unknown languages is superior to praying on beads, whether the books of the Bible are 66 or 73 or even more. You want to ask if it’s ok to twerk or do the Azonto so long as it’s in His name, whether it’s fine to have “God Will Make A Way” and “Oliver Twist” on the same music player, or whether there is somewhere in between Heaven and Hell where the torment is only temporary. You feel like asking if rap and rock music are admissible in this place, or whether people like Lecrae and Da Truth were missing the point. You feel the need to find out if it matters whether you approach Him on your knees, if it’s really wrong to kiss and touch your sweetheart until wedding night, and whether 20 naira offering really means “20 naira blessing”. Yea, you want to ask Him whether Grace overrides the essence of Karma, whether full immersion is a truer form of baptism than sprinkling, and whether the notion of “Once Saved Always Saved” really holds true.

Everyone at table seems to hear your thoughts, and a collective sigh slowly rings across.

“Leave doctrines, search and meditate on Scripture, and strive unto perfection”, Moses says to you. “When the time comes, all you seek to find out shall be revealed.”

“Fix your thoughts on Him and don’t let your questions stand in the way of absorbing his glory”, Angel Michael joins in.

All the while, you show hesitation in touching your meal, feeling so unworthy to partake in this communion of saints. Your mind digs out memories of how you tricked you uncle into giving you money for “legal field trip” when the cash was actually used to get Vivian’s handbag, as well as the night when you used your hands to explore Funmi after just 30 minutes of getting acquainted with her, and you want to make a run for it, away from this holy place.

“I know just how you feel”, Isaiah reassures you. “It’s that ‘I’m a man of unclean lips’ moment yet again, but never forget that when sin abounds, grace abounds even more.”

“It’s not he who commends himself that is approved, but he whom the Lord commends”, James adds. “He chooses the unqualified and qualifies them.”

After lunch Gabriel takes you to a corner of the wall, and with a flap of his wings something in the form of a projector opens up. The next thing you see triggers a combined feeling of horror and pity. On the screen you see people wailing, their souls up in smoke and worms having a field day with them. You need no guessing where this is, and the time frame within which their pain will subsist. Your eyes pop up with shock however when in the midst of the flames you spot someone who was venerated as a man of God in his lifetime, and who is still being celebrated as a saint today. Gabriel responds to your thoughts with the words “The Lord knows those who are his” and “Not all who call him Lord will get into this city”.

Your tour guide takes you away from all that and taking you back outside on these golden streets, shows you a row of the most magnificent houses you’d ever come across. He points to one made of blue ruby walls, holds out a key, and says, “That, dear friend, is yours…..but whether you will be getting in there is entirely up to you”.

As he pulls back his arm, you wish you could get a chance to take a short peep and find out what treasure has been stored for you in that blue ruby apartment of yours. A crazy thought comes to your head, and when you think Gabriel is a little less watchful, you make an attempt to snatch the key…….

You are back on that sofa in your living room, your legs spread and the DSTV remote control nestling in your loose grip. It’s Wande Cole’s  video “The Kick” on air, and you instinctively change the channel to TBN, which you haven’t tuned to in three years. After trying so hard to absorb John Hagee and Rod Parsley’s sermons (each for thirty minutes), your stomach gives a signal and you head to the kitchen to source for earthly lunch, your mind all the while re-echoing the words “If you want that key, you know what to do”.

 

(Follow this writer on Twitter @Le_Bouquineur)