Every last Friday of the month was always the most productive in the Local Government headquarter town of Ayegbaju, especially for the motorists and the commercial motorcyclists (Okada Riders). A very hardworking motorist in Ayegbaju on a daily basis would make at least 500naira after several shuttlings from one point to the other, but for the last Friday, most of the road workers would prefer to go rest during the early hours of the day and would definitely cover-up for the daily income when they resume back to work the time that the sunset would have become dusky. It was the time when people from the neighboring towns trooped in en-masse for the monthly encounter. Just shuttling twice from ‘community’ to ‘Aniyikaye Junction,’ a cab driver would have made a double of what was regular in his save in days other than the last Friday of the month.
‘Community’ which was named after Ayegbaju Community Bank, the only bank in the town was situated at the commercial hub. ‘Community’ therefore was the most populated area of the town. Commuters and travelers going out or coming in from and to Ayegbaju would have to first alight or board at ‘community’ where the NURTW Garage was. Every five days interval would be the Ayegbaju market day and the ‘community’ area gets busier. The palace of his royal highness, the Alayegbaju of Ayegbaju was also located at the populated ‘community’ area. If the Community Bank were to quote daily business activities on a stock chart, then the bar against every last Friday of the month would be the tallest because of the foreign investors from other towns that came visiting. Aniyikaye Junction was where the tarred road linking ‘community’ and the town exit intersects with Aniyikaye Street.
About 50km from the business hub, Aniyikaye Street perhaps would be the less populated but was the most popular area in the town. A few metres father from the junction was a concrete signpost directly opposite anybody coming from the ‘community’ road; the signpost height would be from ground to the shoulder level and displayed the picture of two wrestlers at battle, the symbol of Ayegbaju’s coat of arms, also on the lower end of the signpost was written “Farewell to Ayegbaju.” This obviously depicts that Aniyikaye Street would be the last area on the town’s exit.
On the other side, at the entrance of Aniyikaye Street, was where a wooden signpost was erected. The flat weakened plywood rested across a strong and short bamboo, making it look like a sign of the cross. What was written on it wasn’t visible enough until you move closer; the piece written with chalk I guess was almost fading off, but becomes pellucid when you bend to bring your face downward with your brow furrowed in a concentration at the signpost that has a height of ground to the knee level. Reading on it was “+++Welcome to the Holy Order of Eli-Wakuku, aka Sanctuary of the Prophetic Night+++”
As small as Aniyikaye Street was, it has empowered some young men in the area who now earn a living in the motorcyclist business, especially how much they’d make every last Friday of the month conveying passengers from the junction through the swampy un-tarred road to the venue of the monthly encounter. 20 km from the Eli-Wakuku signboard was the last bus stop for every passengers going to Aniyikaye Street.
The palatial church building of the Holy Order sitting on a dried-up river bed was constructed with aluminum zinc and had been beautified with white gloss paint. The church floor had been filled with the clay sand withdrawn from the bank of the small river flowing behind the church building, so there was no need for concrete flooring because the clay had already solidified and had automatically cemented the church floor.
The church altar was a bay curved out in front and was raised a bit above the ground by a wooden rostrum. On it was the largest size frame displaying the picture of Jesus Christ and was carefully rested vertically against the altar backdrop decorated with yellow and blue satin materials facing the church. Beside it was a medium size Quartz wall clock. One foot step forward from the backdrop was a flat-top wooden pulpit that had been decorated with different sizes of bells with most of them having their handles bent towards one side. On the pulpit was also a bottle of goya prayer oil standing in-between the bells. In front of the pulpit was a metal candelabrum of several branches holding twenty one candles. Seven were white, another seven were red and the last seven were blue, and they all illuminated the altar.
The church lightnings were produced from the candle sticks fastened to the bamboo pillars that was holding the building. The capacious church room however would only contain a congregation of one hundred worshipers, but for the sake of the august meeting where worshipers come in double fold, the church had made provisions for an over-flow for those who arrive late for the Prophetic Night. The tarpaulin’s rope was fastened to the two edges of the church roof and the two bamboo rods making it stand opposite the window where the awufa speakers were hung. The official church flag always busy outside waving sinusoidally above the bamboo pole that raised it, and of course the tang of turari remained a default one amidst several other perfumes in an air congestion inside and outside the church premises.
It was no news about the many testimony reports from people who had come from far and near for the previous meetings; yokes of barrenness had been broken, people wrapped in satanic bondage had been set free, long term sicknesses and diseases had been cured, and the news of what God had been doing in Ayegbaju had reached all the neighboring towns and villages. This would make nobody wanting to risk the slightest hesitation of not attending the monthly encounter. The most significant thing was the prophecy for each new month that would be proclaimed by God’s servant, the most senior Prophet and Spiritual Head Hezekiah Aniyikaye, assisted by Prophet Nathaniel Ekundayo who helps to translate the heavenly language as released by the Superior Prophet.
Any Ayegbaju residence who does not know Prophet Hezekiah would probably be a JJC. The thick dread-lock and multicolored unkept beard Prophet was well known and well respected by Kings, Chiefs and other high dignitaries of the society because of his non-failing and must-come-to-pass prophesies. Going about on his bare feet, in his flamboyant white sultana with a red band fastened across his waist. Woli Agbaye as popularly called would never be caught anywhere without his metallic golden rod, the one he brought home when he returned from the Jerusalem pilgrimage sponsored by the Local Government council many years ago and on his other hand he held his back-page-less Yoruba Bible.
Prophet Hezekiah merely looking at your face would accurately tell what you ate last night and also give an omen of what tomorrow beholds. Nobody jokes with whatever he’d foretold, for it shall surely happen.
Iya Dada the Prophet’s wife was the Iya-Ijo at Eli-Wakuku and supported his husband’s ministry by selling spiritual materials at the church entrance. She resides with her husband and their son Dada in the two room apartment turned mission house, just opposite the Church.
Prophet Nathaniel, another dread-lock Prophet portrays every characteristic of the old Prophet Elisha who served his master Prophet Elijah with all generosity. Woli kekere as he’s popularly referred to was always on standby to interpret into people’s understanding whatever message coming from God through his servant, the Superior Prophet. Eight months ago, he had just gotten married to Sister Olabisi who was the spiritual song leader at Eli-Wakuku. The pregnant sister Olabisi lives with his husband in their one room apartment, an extension of the mission house opposite the Church.
Another last Friday of the month had come, and as usual the whole town of Ayegbaju had been busy especially the motorists conveying people who had just arrived at the NURTW park in the ‘community’ area down to Aniyikaye Junction where the motorcyclists had been waiting to take their passengers to their final destination.
Sister Olabisi though heavy, had grabbed the microphone and had started rendering chorus of praise blending with the beats coming from a well mixed sound of local percussions, the acuba and the conga drums. While the congregation, as they were dancing didn’t forget to often hit their palms together, thereby resulting in a thunderous clapping that was sequential, “pamm pammu.” The awufa speakers outside transmitted the production of what was happening inside to those who were at the overflow and perhaps those who were passing by which would be a minority, because missing a Prophetic Night wasn’t a good idea.
All the preceding activities had been done, and the most senior Prophet mounted the altar with his Assistant. This time the whole church had remained calm and had bowed their heads, it was 12am time for the prophetic proclamation.
The Prophets would first poise and then start to make their bodies vibrate like a silencer of a bike in motion!
The prophecy began and the heavenly languages and the interpretations were as follows:
“oh shirimamam shirimamaa”
“God said He is already in our midst”
“shirimama shirimam shi”
“God said again that He is here”
“masunda basunda lekabosha”
“God said you should open your hears and listen carefully”
“O shirin rin”
“listen and listen good”
“hei! God said nobody should go out on the last market day of next month, not even a step outside of your house”
“hmmm hmmm, Mushukurumu mushukuramo”
“oh yes! God said nobody should miss the next Prophetic Night”
“raila Mushukurumu mushukuramo”
“Eli! Aduba! Listen, God said warning o! If anybody fails to hearken to what He’s said, such people’s life is on a verge of dangerous disaster”
“Mushukurumu mushukuramo repanto”
“God said I repeat again, nobody should go out on the last market day of next month, and nobody should miss the next Prophetic Night”
“Eli-Wakuku jandor lehi”
“I am the Lord your God, peace be unto you.”
The service ended and everybody left.
Not the King of Ayegbaju would ever doubt the prophecy of Prophet Hezekiah, so he gave an order for the cancellation of the last market day of next month, and also decreed that no one goes out.
The last market day of the next month came and was unlike the other days; everywhere was so quite like a grave yard and a father would pull up the ears of his son in a resounding warning for him not to go play even on the field in front of their house. In the early tick-tock of that day, Sister Olabisi’s pregnancy seemed to have been due for delivery; her groaning in pains woke up her husband. Prophet Nathaniel wouldn’t want to risk taking his wife to the Hospital at community, infact he wouldn’t have seen any bike to take him to the junction talk-less of a cab to community, all movements had been restricted because of the prophecy that was foretold.
Still in the same early tick-tock of the same day, Iya Dada woke up first to wake her husband who was snoring heavily beside her. She’d woken him to come see through the window, a darkish flame making the Church rooftop smoky. The candelabrum had fallen and the twenty one lighted candles had penetrated its fire through the wooden rostrum while the satin backdrop materials aided a speedy burning! Prophet Hezekiah would not take a step outside and go against what God said; he faced the wall of his room sobbing in tears until when his tears had soaked the only calendar in his room which was hung on the wall side where he leaned against, that he cleared his eyes when he saw that the last Friday of the month on his calendar was coinciding with the last market day of the month, the day which they were already in.
Will Prophet Nathaniel watch his wife die in pains trying to birth their first issue?
Will the Most-Senior-Prophet Hezekiah Aniyikaye continue to sob and peep through his window watching the Holy Order of Eli-Wakuku burn to ashes?
And what becomes of the Church congregation who had been warned not go out that day and also not to miss the Prophetic Night on that same day too?