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Story :The Fiery Priest

EPISODE one

As early as 8am, many  mourners, many relatives and well wishers had already been seated patiently waiting for the arrival of the motorcade. Many who were at the Wake the previous night had retired to their respective homes to take a deserved rest before returning for the interment. The few who stayed back looked as drowsy as could be imagined, that one of them nearly fell off his seat.
The death of Sir. Louis Ukaudu shook the entire Ikendu Village and its environs. A lot of people were yet to come to reality that the renowned philanthropist was no more. “Father Christmas” as he was popularly known, Sir. Ukandu was a money bag personified, whose generosity rubbed off on people from all walks of life. The Roman Catholic Church were the most beneficial . Singlehandedly, he erected the new church building in his home parish, St. Romanus Church Ikendu. Rumous also had it that he determined the particular priest to be posted or transferred from the parish. Therefore, he became the toast of every priest in the diocese. Unconfirmed reports was also viral that his house became a “Mecca” as priests thronged his abode lobbying to be posted to St. Romanus Church, which a lot of parishioners had come to name, “the parish flowing with milk and honey” because of the abundance of comfort if offered. From a magnificent parish house to the enviable church building plus “huge financial returns, " it became the dream parish of every priest. Like one mischievous parishioners had said, “it is only when you eat to your satisfaction that you can praise the Lord.”
Sir. Ukandu has no visible means of livelihood except that he was once a local government chairman. Thus, a lot of people believed that his wealth was questionable. His tenure as the Executive Chairman of Nkesu Local Government Area was a disaster as feelers were of the opinion that he looted virtually every penny accrued to the council throughout his tenure. Salaries were owed, Community Health Centres became death traps, to mention but a few. He has had to battle a high dosage of criticism from all and sundry especially the religious, who surprisingly are the huge beneficiaries of the “stolen wealth”.
As an “active” member of the Knight of Saint Cyril, his burial attracted the crème dela crème of the Catholic Church in the Parish and beyond. The newly appointed Parish Priest of St. Romanus Parish, Reverend Father Augustus Izueme led the Catholic Faithfull to the ceremony.
The body of Late Sir Ukandu eventually arrived his compound in a convoy of about thirty flashy vehicles. All was set for the final mass and interment. Everyone present looked with awe as the golden casket was ferried down from the “executive” ambulance. The business inclined began to make a mental calculation of what the casket would have cost. Various “mourners” clad in different types of “akwa uju” (1) began to let out rhythmic cries as the presiding priest, sandwiched between about twenty clergymen, seminarians and mass servants called for tranquility, as the mass proceeded.
An hour later after the mass, sequel to the plethora of orations and tribute at the graveside, the priest began to the invite family members to pay the "last respect” by pouring gravel into the grave of the deceased before it will be finally filled with sand. The children of the deceased, seven in number, took their turns in the act. It was now the turn of the widow to do hers. She had hardly bent to scoup gravel when there was commotion.
“Stop! Stop! Don’t try it!” numerous voices screamed and before anyone could fathom what was happening, strokes of the cane landed indiscriminately on people’s heads, backs, legs, etc. Everyone ran for dear lives... To be continued

The Fiery Priest (Episode 2)

“Catholic Priest, other flogged at a funeral” read the front page of the Daily Rain newspaper of 10th June, 1990.
Father Augustus passed on a copy of the Daily Rain Newspaper to the Vice-Chairman of the Parish Council, Chief Oduefi Ntioke.
 “You see what I am saying. These people want to ride on the church!"
 “God forbid!” exclaimed Chief Ntioke fondling the newspaper, “Ndi (2) uchu. Only God knows who is sponsoring them. ”
“Not in my administration, never!” Father Augustus exclaimed barging his fists on his desk.
“Easy Father….. Easy, ” said Chief Ntioke gesturing towards the priest to calm down.
“Do you know what it means to flog a Reverend Father?.... No no no, I don’t think you know…” sang the priest still livid.
“Remember that I was also flogged. If I pull off my shirt, you will run away. Even Maazi Udo here was whipped. I know how much we spent yesterday at the pharmacy. Our photos are everywhere. What do I tell my children?" He asked rhetorically.
“The Bishop is so angry that he has refused to see me, ” began the priest, “and worse still, the policemen could not effect a single arrest."
 “Odi egwu, (3)O buro so arrest, ” interjected Mr. Udo, the secretary of the Laity Council who had been quiet all along, still finding it difficult to discern the event of the previous day. The scar on the neck of the priest was too little compared to the conspicuous “artistic designs” on his arms and legs,
 “Who will they arrest? You should be ready to arrest every person in Ikendu Village and its envirous.
“What do you mean?” asked the priest.
“I remember advising you to be cautious. This is Ikendu. You are new here and you should understand that every village has peculiar customs and traditions. Respect is reciprocal. Other Parish Priests before you had no problem with the community because there was mutual respect between the church and the people. In Ikendu, a widow does not pour sand into the grave of her late husband. It is a taboo…"
“Mr. Udo, you are making me believe you had a hand in what happened. The scar on your body is perhaps an alibi to deceive us. The era of impunity is gone. The people of Ikendu have been in the dark, but now they shall see the light. I can’t be subjected to intimidation. If you die in the church, you must be buried in the church. We don’t be pagan worship here," the priest enthused.
“Sorry to cut you off father. I stand for the truth. Though I am not a priest, but I don’t think there is need making a mountain out of a mole hill. Let us allow the people practise their culture and traditions.
“You still surprise me Mr. Udo. On whose side are you, the village or the church?” asked the priest.
“The truth, Father. I am on the side of the truth, " answered Mr. Udo still picking the wound on his arm.
 “Chief Ntioke and Mr. Udo, you may both now leave, ” said father Augustus.
...........................................   ......................



.

“Papa, as I was saying, the girl is very hardworking, and she has the fear of God,” said Achike smiling.
“So, when are you bringing her to see us, ” asked Mr. Abogu.
“As soon as you want, ” Aduke smiled again.
“By the way, ” Mr. Abogu clears his throat, “which church dose she attend?”
 “She is  Pentecostal, dad, ” Achike responded.
“Pente what?” screamed Mr. Abogu.
“costal dad,  why are you sounding like that?” he asked.
“You and I know that you cannot marry outside the catholic church. Your mother, if she were still alive would also not have give you her nod."
“Why dad?” queried Achike.
“simple, ” began Mr. Abogu, “Catholics do not marry from other denominations. ”
“But dad, mummy was never a catholic before you got married to her, ” insisted Achike.
“Yes, that was then. Now, you have to come to terms with the reality on ground. ”
“So, what happens to my happiness?” asked Achike, not believing his ears. He was quite aware of the animosity among the different church denominations, but he had never thought it would affect him one day. He had grown to love Akwaeke, and they had courted for many years. Now that the time had come for them to walk down the Aisle, such a snag threatened to put a clog in the wheel of their union. What surprised him was that despite his father’s level of education and exposure, he still harbored such ‘myopic’ thoughts. “There is always a clear difference between education and religion. The church does not want you to derail in your faith, that’s why she insists that you marry someone that shares the same ideology with you, " his father would always say.
“And remember my status in the church. I am one of those who recommend sanctions against defaulters. How can my own son now default?”
“Dad, I don’t understand. What has all these have to do with my happiness?”
“A lot. What an elder sees while sitting, a child, even if he climbs an iroko tree would not see it”, said Mr. Abogu.
“Leave that papa, we are deceiving ourselves. That is why I hate going to church. They have deviated from the teachings of Christ. Instead of engendering unity and oneness, the church now sows seeds of discord among members…”
“Bia nwokem, I know you are very educated. Onye nkuzi odo akpu(4). The fact is that you cannot marry her. So you had better face the fact and do the needful. There are a lot of marriageable girls in the catholic church.” Arguing further with him would be fruitless, so Achike decided to keep his cards to his chest.
“If you have nothing else to say, let me go and sleep, ” Mr. Abogu said and made for his room without waiting for a response from his son

The Fiery Priest (Episode three)



As he drove in his land cruiser jeep, he noticed a huge traffic gridlock along utanze bus stop.
“I notice that every Thursday, there is always huge traffic flow along this road,” said Father Augustus as he observed both human and vehicular movements as he managed to maneovre his vehicle pass the bus stop.
“Yes Father,” answered Seminarian Peter, who sat on the passenger’s side of the vehicle. “Every Thursday, people, especially our parishioners attend Brother Jude’s prayer and deliverance.”
“Who is the so called Brother Jude?” asked Father Augustus, lowering the volume on his car radio.
“He organizes prayers and prophecies for people. Some say he performs miracles," answered Peter.
“Tell me something!” exclaimed Father Augustus, “A lot ‘s happening in this town. I hope you haven’t gone there…”
“No Father, but those that have gone testified that he is indeed a prophet of God…”
“Shut your mouth seminarian Peter. I don’t expect such words from you. All snakes crawl on their belies, that it is always difficult to identify the ones with stomach aches."
“But Father," interjected Peter….”
‘Don’t but me Peter, when I launch full investigation into this, any parishioner seen patronizing such fake prophets would be severely death with, including you.” Without giving Peter any opportunity to talk, he ordered, “come down from the car and open the gate. These security men have fallen asleep again!.

Brother Jude, a catholic faithful parades himself as the head of Children of the Kingdom Prayer Ministry (CKPM). The title “Brother” added to his name was put there by his adherents. Usually, any staunch member of the church, who is seen as dedicated and committed to spiritual affairs is addressed as “Brother” by all. Stories had it that he was once a seminarian, but was excommunicated by the church before his supposed priestly ordination because of what people had termed “possession of the evil spirit”. Some said his colleagues were jealous because he had the gifts of healing and miracle. Well, he had taken it in good faith, and not wanting to let such “spiritual gifts” waste, he set up CKPM in a make-shift structure in his father’s compound. Thus, people throng CKPM seeking miracle, counselling and other spiritual needs. As the membership of the ministry which cut across various denominations grew astronomically, his pocket also grew. A lot of religious leaders felt threatened by the popularity of CKPM, that they kept on doing everything possible to discourage members from attending CKPM. With the coming of Revered Father Augustus, the die was cast!.
To be continued... 

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