PASTOR GHANDI WORSHIPS ORISHA—Francis Ojo
Reigning gloriously for 48 remarkable years, one of the longest serving monarchs on the Yoruba throne, Soun of Ogbomoso, Oba Jimoh Oyewusi Ajagungbade III died at the age of 95 on 12 December 2021 almost two years ago. Ajagungbade was a man of deep wisdom, carrying out his traditional duties with passion and keeping his personal faith tucked deep in his heart. Two other monarchs also went with that season; the Alafin Lamidi Adeyemi III died at 83 on 22 April 2022 and Oba Saliu Adetunji, Olubadan of Ibadan, January 2, 2022, aged of 93. They departed gracefully after a gift of longevity and peace. Ibadan was never designed to bow to politics or bend under the poverty and greed of any Afobaje. The linear file of Mogajis is a public document so the next monarch is just waiting for the current one to shift, translate and render the house free. Not so others in Oyo State. For Afobajes, it is a season of ‘egunje’ and prosperity and for the Governor, one to render his powerful pen in favour of the best political and social lobby. This is perhaps, where the power of Daddy G.O. Adeboye is manifestly demonstrated. Who can say no to the General Overseer? Finally, the negative effect of prolonged begging, haggling and politics berthed the announcement of Prince Afolabi Ghandi Laoye, Senior serving pastor of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Nigeria, Germany and lately the United States of America where he is recently the coordinator in charge of convention and special projects for North America. A court has been dragged into the matter but Government quickly and defiantly sent him to ‘Ipebi’ yesterday.
PASTOR GHANDI GOES TO THE SHRINE
Upon his appointment, Afolabi Ghandi Laoye spoke to the press of a revelation he had encountered and an order from above, compelling him against his reluctance to match over to Ogbomosho, climb the stool and wave ‘Irunkere’ at his subjects. His confidential conversation with Daddy G.O., the general Overseer, Adeboye kicked into the press interaction too. Overseer urged him to go forth and fulfil the mandate he was born for. Prince Laoye, a tested, trusted and reliable disciple with meritorious service in Nigeria, Germany and the United States was, at retirement last week, the senior pastor of the Jesus House parish in Washington and overall coordinator of convention and special projects in all of North America.
Smooth, good looking, tall with remarkable regal bearing, Ghandi Laoye, a man with royal blood flowing in his veins and artery has a piercing constantly searching eye and a presence only especially skilful royal can command. His father had, in the past contested the stool but failed, but a compensation awaited his line. Ghandi is especially talented public speaker with arresting voice and undiluted charisma too, going by the experience of past members of his Lagos Parish.
PROCESSES AND INITIATIONS
Migrating from Prince to King is a tricky and peculiar process of teaching, initiation, conversion and indoctrination in a royal seclusion called ‘Ipebi.’ A promise to hold the throne in trust, a pledge to guard the shrine with fidelity and a commitment to the spirits of the various Orishas and his forefathers Is a must. Rumour has it that there are special concussions and morbid predecessor tissue to add to the new Kings system through his alimentary canal. The Prince will swear in front of the deities to preserve, protect and defend the religion and cultures of his forebears. He will have to join all the traditional cults and societies over which he will preside, for, the new king will supervise all rituals, sacrifices, new membership and initiations into different cult groups, while swearing to abide by age old rules, conventions and practices of the Yorùbá.
And this is where the paradox becomes interesting and intriguing. Gandhi is a very senior pastor in the redeemed household of Christianity, where he presided over a congregation devoted to Judaeo-Christian ideas, ideals and practices. This obviously is diagonally if not diametrically opposite to our traditional spiritual beliefs, norms and practises. Yet this is what Gandhi must quickly promise and swear to before ascension to the throne in the extended household of Oduduwa.
IS GHANDI QUALIFIED FOR THIS THRONE?
Is Prince Laoye qualified? Technically, 100%. Is he ready to be faithful to a new spiritual philosophy? He said yes. Can he manage the different ideas, doctrines and practices without conflict? That is the one million Naira question. I am told he has promised to be everything an Ogbomoso King should be. Yet, I saw a viral picture of the new king elect, kneeling down submissively and two pastors lay hands on his royal head while handing over his American parish to a new pastor. If he thinks he can go to Ogbomosho with a Judaeo-Christian mace to swing at the spirits of the ancients to join him in hymn singing, if he goes with a mindset to convert the Palace orishas; Ogun, Obatala or Sango to face Jerusalem instead of leaving their face where he meets them, fully facing Ile Ife, and if he refuses to let traditional culture survive, then he must trouble . How will Gandhi handle the ubiquitous behemoth in his new bedroom that has now, like a big octopus, spread its tentacles far and wide around the world? For, Ifa divination is no longer limited to the geography of the southwest of Nigeria. Every King on a Yoruba throne is representing everything the Yoruba must be, stand by everything the Culture dictates and perform as his forebears did within the bounds of decency and the law. In the religion of the Yorùbá, worship of Orisha is the nucleus. The King is head of the Egungun cult and all others including the Ogboni as well as the Babalawo and Aborisas. He is custodian of the deities, the preserving and presiding head of all myths, sacrifices, traditional worships and rituals. ‘Oba ba lori ohungbogbo.’ All these make Ghandi’s position and ambition questionable and deserving of suspicion.
People are worried because they see horrifying anomalous appearances like that of an imbecilic moron, constantly under the influence of psychotropic impurities in the ancient kingdom of Iwo. The Oluwo, who now calls himself Emir, bows and bends sheepishly to the Emir of Ilorin, humiliates the history of the Yoruba, has turned insanity to comedy and people can only look on helplessly.
WHAT IS ADEBOYE’S GRAND AGENDA?
Five Pastors have dumped the collar to wear crowns in recent spiritual migratory history. Ghandi is the fifth of these adventurers. They are Pastor Kehinde Gbadewole Olugbenle, Olu of Ilaro and pastor of Redeem Christian Church, Pastor Gabriel Ayodele Adejuwon of Isan Ekiti, Kayode Fayemi’s home town and pastor of Redeem also. Pastor Matthew Jegede, Alahan of Ahan Ekiti and now pastor Ghandi Laoye. Curious observers wonder silently, why Adeboye is not only ready but eager to throw such senior subordinates at the shrine unless he too has his own agenda. Or is he saying in codes that they are born to invite Sango and Obatala to come follow Jesus? Yoruba elders must keep vigil on Daddy G.O. Adeboye to understand his mission.
I know many people will tell us that the revered Lamidi Adeyemi Alafin of blessed memory was a Muslim. Sure, but he was never an Ustaz or Imam. He navigated spiritualism with the dexterity of a practiced acrobat. Adeyemi was a quintessential Oba, who practised Islam deep inside his prayer room, recited his incantations with his Babalawo and demonstrated his mastery of Ifa and customs in full view of the public. There will be some who will say that it does not matter. Haba! It matters mana! I will ask them a few questions: Can a Catholic priest, prince of England covet a crown in the house of Windsor where he is custodian and defender of the Anglican faith? Can you imagine a worshiper of Obatala angling for the Sultanate of Sokoto because he was a blood descendant of Uthman Dan Fodio or a converted Arabian Prince to Hindu looking to rule over the house of Saud in the Arabian kingdom? The Yoruba is not inferior to these comparisons. Think about that. Finally, for those of an intellectual disposition, who want to know what religion has to do with leadership. I say to them; go ask why Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister of Great Britain makes a show of his Hindu faith by kneeling down for a photoshoot on a Hindu Diwali Day.
MYTHS AND FICTION
Religion is not just only an objective subject but has component in social and spiritual sense. It is deeply inter-subjective too. There is a meaning to culture of which religion is a subset beyond appearances at Egungun festivals or ogboni outings. A Yoruba King is not about flywhisks and walking sticks, if so, nobility and wealth would not bother to prostrate flat in submission and greetings. He belongs in the membership of myths. The glue that holds societies together are grounded in fiction, myths, symbolisms and elaborate cultural ceremonies and rituals rather than facts. Surely, when the bible tells you Adam and Eve were naked but a smarter and more deceptive snake persuaded them to eat a fruit, you do not take that literarily. You know it is fictitious but the bible needs a riveting fiction to bind you to the bigger picture. Same goes for the stories of Sango and ogun and the fictitious exploits that are woven around them. Think of what binds the Redeemer together too. When pastor promises heaven for members, criminal and killer who bring heavy donation to Sunday worship, is that a fact the pastor needs to prove? Is he even sure of his own post-life destination? The prosperity he offers should not attract payments in form of tithes if it is going to the Lord, members know this and they see pastors riding high in private jets that was bought with the Lord’s tithe, yet they still come back to pay. They are not stupid; they are bound by myths and fictional promises. Everything is fiction, and it works effectively as a tool to bring members to come to church and hear the words of the bible. The big picture is what counts but a fictitious narrative is necessary to cement man to faith.
And when you examine why some Brazilians identify themselves as Yoruba without having set their boots on the ground of Yorubaland, why some Cubans consult the Babalawo, and Haitians worship orishas like us, you find the source in the power of fictitious ancestral stories handed down through the generations by their forebears kidnapped into slavery over a hundred years ago. This makes people co-identify as members of a family without the rigour of genetic tests. The various Yoruba religious practises culture, rules and traditions which have incubated in the palaces of our kings have, like viruses, spread to South America, to Cuba, to many West African countries, Brazil and beyond. It is therefore important to understand that reality, fiction and myth cement and bond people socially and enable them to share a congruent identity and fight off predators who threaten.
Ghandi’s entry into the Ogbomoso palace must be keenly watched. So too, the mission of G.O. Adeboye.