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Friday, June 21, 2024

Bello and Enenche: A tale of two lions

By Tunde Odesola

If charisma was a commodity, Pope John Paul II would have been the producer of its purest form. It wasn’t for nothing that the Pope survived an assassination attempt in 1981 and forgave his assailant, Mehmet Ali Agca, an escaped Turkish prisoner.

In his time, Pope John Paul II was the global ambassador of Christ. When he spoke, the world listened. He was the leader of 1.345 billion Catholics worldwide. He was also the first non-Italian Pope in 455 years. The Pope, a Pole, once said, “Stupidity is a gift from God, but one mustn’t misuse it.”

But I disagree.

In boxing, the epigram of Pope John Paul is akin to the cross jab, a combination of a straight left jab, followed by a straight right-hand punch – if you’re orthodox, a boxing term for the right-handed – different from the left-handed alias southpaw.

In respect for Catholicism, I won’t catcall the Pope’s straight left jab on stupidity but I’ll root for his straight right-hand punch that warns against misusing stupidity.

In his view on stupidity, Juju music superstar, King Sunny Ade, riddles stupidity as a fellow sent to buy the head of a viper for nine pence. On getting to the market, the fellow approaches the Elewe Omo herb seller, who fetches seven bead-like objects called itun, seven alligator peppers called atare and seven fruits called abere. Before handing the items to the fellow, the herbal(ist) seller pours all three items into a mortal, grinds them with a black soap and hands the product to the chap. Tell me, who buys the head of a viper for ‘nain’ pittance with all the three potent ingredients but ‘Padi Odensin’, the fool?

Untying the knots in KSA’s àdìtù, culture aficionado, Chief Sulaimon Ayilara, popularly known as Ajobiewe, who said the combination of the ingredients Padi Odensin was sent to get is a powerful African medicine used for cursing and binding, explained the meanings of itun and abere to me. He located the potency of the ingredients Padi Odensin was sent to fetch, in the deadliness of the viper, saying, “Ase mónámóná ni n be lenu oka,” an assertion of the viper’s swift poison.

No parents give their child a bad name. But when a child gives himself a bad name, what can the parents do? This is the riddle of the White Lion. Wildlife researchers believe white lions are a rare colour mutation of the African lion. Though they’re not albino, white lions are leucistic, meaning they lack dark pigmentation. Their rare genetic mutation (leucism) causes their fur to be white. Thesaurus defines ‘mutation’ as alteration, anomaly, or variation. Did Oduduwa, the leader of the Yoruba, have ‘mutation’ in mind when he described the fake as ‘àmúlùmálà’?

Suppose the white lion in the wild had a choice to maintain its natural tawny yellow colour, it won’t hesitate because the mutation in its life is causing him to be easily spotted by poachers and his prey, making survival near hopeless. But colour complex blinded Padi Odensin of Kogi State, who adopted the name White Lion, thinking whiteness was synonymous with supremacy, holiness and godliness. Wasn’t it this fleeing White Lion who roared fiercely in the Den of Immunity just some months ago? The White Lion is no different from hordes of black African women who bleach their skins blotchy white to fan their inferiority complex.

Mr Olanipekun Olukoyede is the fifth Executive Chairman of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, Nigeria’s foremost anti-graft agency hunting financial fifth columnists. Olukoyede may be wondering why Nigerians aren’t applauding the orchestra of his agency’s financial recoveries. It’s because Nigerians are amazed at the billions of naira (re)looted under the nose of APC’s anti-corruption god, Muhammadu Buhari, and they look at everyone in President Bola Tinubu’s government as an EFCC suspect waiting to unravel. Nigerians also snigger behind your back, Ogbeni Olukoyede EFCC; they say, “Eni a le mu la nle’di mo,” pointing at the fat files of Betta Edu dripping with the oil of corruption.

Shortly, I shall return to the terrified White Lion. Now, I head up to confront the roaring Lion of Dunamis. Remember, I’m the Hunter with a whistle and a calling, I fear no evil for the lord is my shepherd.

I call Pastor Paul Enenche a lion because of the way he roared in his over 100,000-capacity church in Abuja, on Sunday. Enenche won’t frown if I call him the son of the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Enenche is the son of God. Or, maybe I should call him a lionet, yes, a lionet – the pikin of a lion because the Lion of the tribe of Judah, Jesus Christ, won’t throw worshipper Veronica Nnenna Anyim into the lake of condemnation.

Anyim had attained a milestone nobody in her lineage ever reached; she had got a law degree from the National Open University of Nigeria, Abuja. She wasn’t going to be discouraged by her poor English and obscure background, she was ready to show the world what the Lord had done.

On the day of her testimony, Anyim must have been led by the spirit. She got a yellow attire, the same colour as the suit her father in the Lord, Enenche, wore; the same as the colour of the lion. She must have done many rehearsals at home with her family, fancying herself on the church’s big stage and the thoughts of her testimony going viral – for good. Though Anyim is a policewoman, the thought of climbing the stage and facing the capacity crowd would’ve made her struggle with sleep till daybreak.

On stage, Anyim was shaking with joy and fear, she felt like fleeing the stage, like bolting to where her father in the lord was sitting, grabbing his feet and crying and saying, “Daddy, I brought home the degree!” Anyin wanted her tears to soak the shiny shoes of her daddy, ready to polish them with her dress, like Mary Magdalene. If Daddy Paul listened well enough, he could have heard the joyous melody of her heart. Anyim had hoped for a handshake at the end of her testimony, with Pastor Paul congratulating her, saying, “Well done, the good labourer,” but a roar shattered her dreams, inflicting her with heartache.

I congratulate Pastor Paul Enenche because Anyim didn’t commit suicide on the night of her resounding disgrace. If she did, Dunamis would have been under fire and unbelievers would have rolled out the drums, singing, “Many are called but few are chosen.”

It was all over Anyim, fear. Every word was uttered with a quake. She trembled, yet the Man of God filled with the Holy Spirit didn’t see it. How did the medical doctor cum Man of God, who opened his church to worshippers while COVID ravaged in 2020, despite the Federal Government’s counter warning, not see that Anyim was telling the truth?

When she fluffed her lines, the church interpreter showed kindness and understanding, helping Anyim rephrase her testimony. And Anyim must have been shocked when Papa came after her, booming, “Give her the phone!!” “What Law!?” “What’s the name of the degree called, Medicine is MBBS?”

Anyim panicked further and said, “BSc in Law.” Papa roared, “It’s a lie!! BSc Law! Is that how lawyers speak English?” Hoping to be given a second chance, Anyim recovered a little and said, “LLB Law, sir” but Papa was done with her, Anyim was already on her way to the lake. I wonder how Anyim made it till daybreak.

Me, I went to school and I got an LLB in English Language and Literature o. Sorry, jare, I meant a B.A degree. Writing fatigue is setting in. I’ll round off shortly, please.

As an English Language and Literature student, I was involved in many drama productions. The accomplished literary giant, Professor Udenta O. Udenta, taught me drama. To situate the Anyim saga in perspective, I called my friend and one-year senior during my undergraduate days, Azubuike Erinugha. I asked Erinugha, who now has a doctorate, the name of his classmate, who fled to backstage during a drama presentation, thinking he had severed his manhood. Zooby, that’s the alias of Erinugha, recalled the name of our co-actor. I can still see Ralph, grabbing his crotch with his left hand as he ran backstage with a knife in his right hand. “I thought I had cut it…” Ralph said at the backstage. Zooby, a filmmaker based in Germany and Belgium, teaches participatory filmmaking for community development.

Ralph came back on stage later, the audience didn’t know what was amiss. They laughed when he fled, thinking it was all part of the comedy. But, like the tale of Anyim, Ralph’s stage fright wasn’t a laughing matter.

Do you remember a top Nigerian musician who performed at the Nelson Mandela concert in London around 2008? When he got on stage, he opened his mouth, but nothing came out. Stage fright is not NICE. Please, let’s give a clap offering for Anyim for tumbling through her lines. E no easy.

Email: tundeodes2003@yahoo.com

Facebook: @Tunde Odesola

X: @Tunde_Odesola

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