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From Wole Balogun, Ado-Ekiti
the bumpy, rough and bushy road that leads to the popular prayer mountain called Oke Agelu (Agelu Mountain), stretched over three kilometres on the Iseyin-Ibadan highway in Ado-Awaye, a community near Iseyin in Oyo State.
If your car is not good enough or has its shock absorber raised so much as to escape the bumps on the deplorable road, you would have yourself to blame for venturing on the religious pilgrimage as the organisers of the event, AgboJesu Cherubim and Seraphim Church, Nigeria, tagged it.
Commercial motorbike riders, otherwise christened Okada men who run daily business of conveying religious pilgrims to Oke Agelu, have a perfect grasp of how to ride onto the mountain in spite of the bumpy and muddy path. Hence, many of the callers on the mount, rely on these rather skillful riders.
A major challenge in Oke Agelu is human traffic. There were just too many souls searching for salvation on the mountain as witnessed by Daily Sun: The very aged, middle-aged, young, kids and even tots strapped to their mothers’ backs with heavy wrappers to prevent the chilly weather from harming them.
But a much bigger challenge, apart from the poor nature of infra structural provision there, is the network problem. You simply could not make a call on your cell phone once you have managed to find your way among the sea of heads including market women, to the mount.
With the curiosity of a reporter and having got there by mere chance of joining a cleric friend on an outing, the reporter matched his faith with a quest for probing the religious devotion of other attendees displayed in a rather gullible manner.
First point of call was the burial site of the founder of the mount, late Alfred Ajayi Akintobi, also christened by his followers as Arobijikah 1. It is a white painted bungalow-like building in which the late Akintobi was buried in 1964. There is a strange story about Akintobi’s death as claimed by his followers. His firstborn, Samuel Ajayi Akintobi, who is now Arobijikah 11, having succeeded his father as leader of the church lent credence to this.
Arobijikah 11 told the story: “The Oke-Agelu started in 1933 about 84 years ago. Our father, Alfred Ajayi Akintobi, widely known as Agbojesu, who founded this mount was a staff of the Nigerian Railways Corporation (NRC). He was working with white men when God called him through Prophet Moses OrimoladeTiolase. God inspired him to proceed to the mount in Agelu here in Iseyin. God had told him that he would rise to become a success and a great cleric here and that his glory would shine here, so he obeyed.
“We have many great signs to tell you that God is with our father who founded this mount. One of the signs is what happened when he was going to leave this earth. He had prophesied before 1964, the year he slept in the Lord that he would like the Biblical Elijah, not sleep inside the earth and that was fulfilled. What happened was that our general secretary then who was called Abegunde was eulogising him, while he was being laid in state. Suddenly there was a thunderstorm and Baba’s corpse disappeared from the coffin.
“In 1990, Baba returned in human form. He did a 21-day vigil with us. He said God had asked him to return so as to right some wrongs he had done during his first coming, so that his works would be acceptable and glorious.”
Today, the burial site of Akintobi on the mountain is called Ile Anu (House of Mercy). Worshippers knee there to ask for forgiveness and mercy from heaven. The building is “sandwiched” with all sorts of prayer objects. These rang from bottled water, oil, soaps, bottles of honey, candles of different colours, sponges and clothing materials.
The worshippers on this mount are very zealous. They wear various kinds of white, red, yellow, purple and green garments even though the public refer to them generally as white garment church members. They pray at various spots on the mountain, on the road, by the roadside, beside some uncompleted buildings (there are many uncompleted buildings on the mountain), under the trees and on the crusade ground. While some form a group, holding one another’s hands during the prayer session, others hold prayer objects.
A side attraction is the presence of many market women, youths and kids who have wares such as yam, cassava flours, fruits, herbs, clothing materials, Bibles and shoes. Their population I almost half of the people on the mountain who actually come there for prayers.
Prophet Akintobi added: “We hold our programme every July 24-26 here on this mountain. God gives many in attendance miracles and answers their prayers. On every July 24, we usually have vigil till 25 when we climb the Holy mount for very seriously prayers. God has since 1933 been very faithful to His words. He has been healing the sick, raising the dead and performing many miracles. That is why you see many people of all classes, the high and the low and even from abroad such as America and UK come here every year for prayers.”
He also spoke about the current situation in the country: “We pray that God ends war of attrition, and disunity. We don’t want this, we don’t want Nigeria to break up because God dwells where there is love. We are praying as well as advising our leaders to work towards making Nigeria one. We pray that God will help them,”
A blind cleric, Prophet Muyideen Kasali, who is General Overseer of Mountain of Mercy Church, Ibadan, Oyo State, was invited for honour at the mountain. He was alongside with other awardees, garlanded with Ogo Agbojesu of the church, which meant glory of the C and S church.
He spoke with Daily Sun: I don’t discriminate as a cleric. It was when the Agelu event was three days to come that God instructed that I should take the next flight back to Nigeria from America where I had gone for holiday. He wanted me to be there for a purpose.
That was 2015. And that was on a Friday vigil on Agelu mount. I was humbled by the feel of the huge crowd that attended Agelu mount every year when I got to this mount. You know I cannot see but I felt a human and gridlock that I have never felt before anywhere.
“I have a friend who lives in Atlanta Georgia. He once told me that he attends Agelu mount every year for prayers. I received God’s mercy in Agelu because He spoke to me instructing me to see the leader of Agelu mount for prayers that would renew His anointing in my life. I count myself highly privileged to be on this mountain and to meet the leader of Agelu mount.
“God showed me three very tall angels before whom I appeared like a dwarf. These three angels who appeared like bouncers, could deal with a hundred humans at once. This made me to respect God’s awesomeness in this place. I went before the elderly man of God who leads here and he prayed for me and as is usual with me, I bless him with a gift.
“God has also instructed me to ensure that I give all my support to those who manage the mountain all my life and this I will continue to do. I have come today with my first son and he has described this place as another world entirely. I have come here in obedience to God’s leading.”
Kasali said God revealed to him that President Muhammadu Buhari may have completed his assignment as Nigeria’ s leader on January, 2017:
“Let us just return to God. If we do so and know who God really is, He would solve the challenges surrounding the president’s health. Buhari meant well for Nigeria but the devil has got hold of the country through many sins we committed. It is only in Nigeria that you would hear somebody burying money like he is burying a dead body.”
Kasali entertained worshippers with some secular songs as he mimicked late Fuji maestro, Skiru Ayinde Barriser; Apala singer, Odolaye Aremu; Afro-high life singer, late Orlando Owoh and Juju maestro King Sunny Ade.
Kasali advised clerics to shun acts that portray them as herbalists instead of pastors of God. He said they do not need to make rituals or prepare any concoctions with soaps, candles and coconuts for their prayers to be answered. He told them that being truly born again and working in the ways of Jesus Christ as laid down by the Holy Bible would guaranteed them the anointing without stress:
“All you need is God’s anointing which comes with a price to pay. That price is total submission to God’s will and the leading of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. You don’t need any ritual with any prayer objects.
“Before the Almighty touched me and anointed me for His works, I suffered rejection from friends, siblings and even my parent. It was only my mother who believed in me. My father had dismissed me as a child who would never make anything out of his life.
“All this is because I am blind. I was later abandoned in the bush and from the bush I was fetching firewood and coming to the village market nearby to sell so as to feed myself. I got infected with serious ailments, which many thought were incurable.
“But one day, the Almighty touched me, healed me and gave me an anointing far greater than my knowledge, understanding and imagination. Here I am today, I have many houses and great cars. A blindman. I even give cars worth millions to friends as God directed me.”