THE PLACE OF A CHRISTIAN QUEEN IN A NON-CHRISTIAN CULTURAL SETTING

by
Babatunde Fagoyinbo

INTRODUCTION

In the World of Traditional Religion

Ife, the Origin of Yoruba Culture

It fell on us to evangelise one elderly man one of those days in Teachers’ College. It was a sunny morning and the Baba was reclining on his easy chair under a strangler fig tree (ǫdan). The way we met hm made us believe that he was a well-to-do man. His house was moderate; a four-room, two-parlour, face-me-I-face you bungalow. It must have been built with sandcrete blocks. It has a balcony with well-designed handrest made of burnt clay bricks.

“Good morning, Baba.” We greeted, prostrating.

“Welcome, my children.” He responded and called on one of the children around to bring us chairs to sit on. We declined the chairs but he insisted. “You are from St Andrew’s, Abi?”

“Yes, Baba.”

“Some of you, school children, don’t prostrate to greet old babas like me. You only nod your heads. But you came in and greeted me as if I’m your father.”

“Baba, you are our father. We can even that believe you are our grandfather. You’re definitely older than our fathers.”

“What can I do for you, my children?”

“We bring good news to you, Baba.”

“Is the government sending me to Cuba?”

“Better news than that, Baba.”

“I know then, the Gospel!” He declared.

“Yes, Baba. The good news of salvation.”

“Jesus loves me! I know that He does. All my children are Christians. All of them.”

“Baba. Salvation is a personal matter. Your children’s faith cannot save you!”

“I’m an Ifa priest. I cannot change at this age. I’ve gone too far. I shall not disappoint my disciples.”

“Baba. Save yourself and save them too.”

“My children. Ifa is a belief in one God, Olodumare, Olodumare is the Creator of the heaven and the earth. Ęla is His grand Orişa, Ęla. Ęla had no earthly father. He was sent by Olodumare to correct our negative attitudes and reconcile us with Him. The people hated Ęla because he would not compromise their behaviour and conspired against him. He was slain. The life history of Ęla is identical to that of JEşus. We must have been part of the Jews. The Jews wrote their history but our own is oral history. And you know that in oral history there would be omissions and additions.

“Orunmila is the common name but His real name is Ela. He is the Father of wisdom the Witness to creation. When Olodumare created the universe, Orunmila was the only Orisa allowed to witness all of creation. Orunmila is the father of divination, our only guide through life. Orunmila is Ifa. Those who possess the wisdom of Ifa and have been consecrated are known as Babalawo. A Babalawo would be compared to a priest or a reverend.”

“But Baba, you believe in other gods.”

“Yes. They are His errand staff. You see the population of our land and how many countries there are. We approach Him through those other gods.”

“Baba, you are limiting God.”

“You believe that God uses angels. Don’t you?”

“Yes, Baba.”

“The problem with you children of today is that you see things only through your own angle. Don’t you see that you are also guilty of your accusation against people of traditional religions? You are limiting Him too.

“Since you know He is capable of doing all things by Himself He shouldn’t have angels. You see, these gods have their respective roles. Şango is in charge of thunder and lightning, Ǫsun takes care of Ǫşun River, Ǫya takes care of Ǫya River, Ogun is in charge of metals. He ordained Şǫnpǫna in charge of infectious diseases.”

“Baba. Our concern is your salvation.”

“Don’t worry about that. All my children are Christians. I raised no objection to their accepting JEşus. They have their lives to lead”

“Salvation is a personal matter, Baba!”

“I know. You think that God is wicked!. If I’m in the wrong, God knows. The fact that I raised no objection to their accepting JEşus is enough credit for me to His presence. If my Ifa worship is acceptable to Him, then I’ll have double honours.”

“Baba, please consider submission to Christ. Can we ask a question before we leave?”

“Even if your question will lead to others, I’m all ears.”

“Why do you worship Satan?”

“We worship Eşu, not Satan. Satan is Elenini, not Eşu. Elenini is even a coined name. The English language does not have a name for EŞU, just as the Yoruba language doesn’t have a name for Satan. EŞU is one of the Yoruba Orisa that was a great confidant of Orunmila. Eşu Odara is who travels between heaven and earth not only reporting our deeds but delivering our wishes, fears, prayers, offerings and sacrifices. Whoever made the error has done the worst for the Yoruba race. Just write down this oriki (Praise names). Please, my children, I’m not evangelising Orunmila to you. But please, don’t be ignorant of any religion around you

Eşu laalu
Ogiri oko
Onile OritaBakere ǫdada
Afęyinju legun lǫAyigbin !
Ǫba nilę Ketu
Egbe leyin ęlębǫ
Enini lęyin ęni-o-kǫrǫ-Odumare
Eşu ma şe mi
Ǫta mi ni ki o şe
Eşu, the honor of the city
The big and strong stone
Whose residence is road junctionBakere, the instigator
He who possesses eyes that are capable of chasing away bad forces
Ayigbin!
King in the city of Ketu
The support behind those who make sacrifice
The devil behind those who refuse God’s messageEşu, please, do not turn against me
It is my enemy you should turn against

In the Palace

In Yoruba traditional practice, an Oba is not a Christian, not a Muslim, not a Sango worshiper, not an Ogun worshiper, not….not….not. He belongs to all religions in his domain because he is expected to take part in every festival and has his own roles to play. However, within him he knows what faith he holds.

In this era of Christianity and its injunction, what should a Christian Oba do?

There are two possibilities, which are having accepted Christ before ascending the throne and ascending to the throne before accepting Christ.

Let’s look at the first two anointed kings of Israel. They have some things in common. They went through Judaic schools, were kings over the United Kingdom of Israel, they first started ruling over their respective clans and they were both anointed by Samuel. However, the thing that they did not have in common is crucial to kingship; trust

They were not chosen using the same criteria. Saul was given to them as a result of their rebellion against God. “…when Samuel was old… he made his sons judges …his sons walked not in his ways… took bribes, and perverted judgment. Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ramah, And said unto him, Behold, thou art old, and thy sons walk not in thy ways: now make us a king to judge us like all the nations’ (1 Sam 8:1-5). They asked for a king that would judge them like other nations and God gave them “Saul, a choice young man, and a goodly: and there was not among the children of Israel a goodlier person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people” (1 Sam 9:2, KJV). That was the pattern of their kings among their neighbours. In the case of David God cared less of a man’s countenance “… the Lord said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature…ruddy, and withal of a beautiful countenance, and goodly to look to. And the Lord said, Arise, anoint him: for this is he…” (1 Sam 16:7-12, KJV).

King Saul was anointed by the God he could not fully obey (1 Sam 15:3-9, 22) and did not trust (1 Sam 28:7) while David had absolute trust in the God of Israel (1 Sam 17:37-46) and would ask Him for direction (1 Sam 23:1-2).

Darius (Dan 5:31-6:3; Dan 9:1-2) and Cyrus 2 Chron 36:22-23 () did not know the God of Israel but they did His will and God counted it for righteousness with Darius trusting in the power of the almighty (Dan 6:27-28)

Olori Şilękunǫla Moronkę Naomi Ogunwusi

Call to Responsibility

Queen Mothers are the epitome of power. They are women who have reached one of the highest positions of power. In Yorubaland, Olori Şilękunǫla  has been highly esteemed. Who would ever have believed that one day she would become the mother of all Yoruba? But God works His purposes out.

The call she has is a call to responsibility:

  1. To move Yoruba race back to the original place of honor;
  2. To take Christ to all palaces across the whole of Nigeria and the entire coverage of Ife and Oyo Empires;
  • To wake up mothers to the responsibility of establishing families in Christ; and
  1. To promote the unity of the entire Yoruba race.

Moremi did it and the Lord, our God, will equip her to accomplish the responsibility He has entrusted to her.

MARRIAGES IN THE BIBLE

The first recorded marriage in the Bible which was detailed is that of Isaac and Rebekah except for that of Adam and Eve which was by direct extraction of Eve from Adam’s body

Isaac Weds Rebekah

“But thou shalt go unto my country, and to my kindred, and take a wife unto my son Isaac. …And he said, O Lord God of my master Abraham, I pray thee, send me good speed this day, and shew kindness unto my master Abraham…Behold, I stand here by the well of water; and the daughters of the men of the city come out to draw water… And let it comes to pass, that the damsel to whom I shall say, Let down thy pitcher, I pray thee, that I may drink; and she shall say, Drink, and I will give thy camels drink also: let the same be she that thou hast appointed for thy servant Isaac; and thereby shall I know that thou hast shewed kindness unto my master… And it came to pass, as the camels had done drinking, that the man took a golden earring of half a shekel weight, and two bracelets for her hands of ten shekels weight of gold… And he said, Blessed be the Lord God of my master Abraham, who hath not left destitute my master of his mercy and his truth: I being in the way, the Lord led me to the house of my master’s brethren… And the Lord hath blessed my master greatly; and he is become great: and he hath given him flocks, and herds, and silver, and gold, and menservants, and maidservants, and camels, and asses… And it came to pass, that, when Abraham’s servant heard their words, he worshipped the Lord, bowing himself to the earth. And the servant brought forth jewels of silver, and jewels of gold, and raiment, and gave them to Rebekah: he gave also to her brother and to her mother precious things. And they did eat and drink, he and the men that were with him, and tarried all night; and they rose up in the morning, and he said, Send me away unto my master” (Gen 24:4-54, KJV)

Jacob Weds Leah, Rachel, Zilpah and Bilhah

“And Isaac called Jacob, and blessed him, and charged him, and said unto him, Thou shalt not take a wife of the daughters of Canaan…And Jacob loved Rachel; and said, I will serve thee seven years for Rachel thy younger daughter. And Laban said, It is better that I give her to thee, than that I should give her to another man: abide with me. And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her… And it came to pass in the evening, that he took Leah his daughter, and brought her to him; and he went in unto her. And Laban gave unto his daughter Leah Zilpah his maid for an handmaid. And it came to pass, that in the morning, behold, it was Leah: and he said to Laban, What is this thou hast done unto me? did not I serve with thee for Rachel? wherefore then hast thou beguiled me? And Laban said, It must not be so done in our country, to give the younger before the firstborn. Fulfil her week, and we will give thee this also for the service which thou shalt serve with me yet seven other years. And Jacob did so, and fulfilled her week: and he gave him Rachel his daughter to wife also. And Laban gave to Rachel his daughter Bilhah his handmaid to be her maid” (Gen 28:1-29:29, KJV).

Can you notice that Laban was instrumental in all the marriages? When parents desire that their children should marry into wealthy homes, don’t begrudge them. It has been like that for ages. Abraham stocked his servants to show that the wife was not coming into prosperity.

Ishmael Weds ‘an Egyptian’

“And he dwelt in the wilderness of Paran: and his mother took him a wife out of the land of Egypt” (Gen 21:21, KJV).

Samson Weds ‘a Philistine”

“And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. And he came up, and told his father and his mother, and said, I have seen a woman in Timnath of the daughters of the Philistines: now therefore get her for me to wife. Then his father and his mother said unto him, Is there never a woman among the daughters of thy brethren, or among all my people, that thou goest to take a wife of the uncircumcised Philistines? And Samson said unto his father, Get her for me; for she pleaseth me well. But his father and his mother knew not that it was of the Lord, that he sought an occasion against the Philistines: for at that time the Philistines had dominion over Israel…So his father went down unto the woman: and Samson made there a feast; for so used the young men to do” (Judg 14:2-10, KJV).

Boaz Weds Ruth

“When she saw that she was steadfastly minded to go with her, then she left speaking unto her…And Naomi had a kinsman of her husband’s, a mighty man of wealth, of the family of Elimelech; and his name was Boaz…My daughter, shall I not seek rest for thee, that it may be well with thee?…the man will not be in rest, until he have finished the thing this day…And the kinsman said, I cannot redeem it for myself, lest I mar mine own inheritance: redeem thou my right to thyself; for I cannot redeem it…And Boaz said unto the elders, and unto all the people, Ye are witnesses this day, that I have bought all that was Elimelech’s, and all that was Chilion’s and Mahlon’s, of the hand of Naomi. Moreover Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife, to raise up the name of the dead upon his inheritance, that the name of the dead be not cut off from among his brethren, and from the gate of his place: ye are witnesses this day…So Boaz took Ruth, and she was his wife: and when he went in unto her, the Lord gave her conception, and she bare a son…and they called his name Obed: he is the father of Jesse, the father of David” ( Ruth 1:1’ 4:17, KJV).

We can see connectivity and divine intervention in this matter.

Harvesting of Deeds

  1. Isaac reaped from his father’s righteousness. Even Eliezer, Abraham’s servant reaped from it
  2. Jacob’s deceitful nature was visited on him. There are more such visitations waiting for him ahead.
  • Samson did not keep to God’s injunction. He handled dead bodies, even of rotten dead animals and even ate from its product, took alcohol, married storage women, was fornicating, etc. God sill used him but he missed the benefits
  1. Ruth’s righteousness was repaid with absorption into the lineage of Jesus

QUEENS THAT BLESSED THEIR HOMES

Esther

Queen Vashti disobeyed the orders of drunken King Ahasuerus, her husband, and got divorced on the advice of the princes and for deterrence to women (Est 1:1-22). He sought a new queen, the most beautiful woman in the land. A young Jewish orphan, Esther, was chosen (Est 2:1-18).  She kept her Jewish identity secret under the instruction of her foster father, her cousin Mordecai (Est 2:19-20). Mordecai, a servant of the king, overheard an assassination plot and warned his master through Esther (Est 2:21-23). Haman, a descendant of Agag the king of the Amalekites, was promoted after the plotters were executed (Est 3:1)

Haman sought to kill not only Mordecai but all the Jews in the Persian Empire when he observed that Mordecai paid him no respect (Est 3:2-15). Mordecai informed Esther of the plot and together they fashioned a fasting prayer programme to avert the disaster (Est 4:1-5:14).

Ahasuerus remembered the source of the assassination attempt and sought to reward the informant. Haman recommended the award and was instructed to carry it out. It was a great humiliation for him to herald his arch enemy around the city of Shushan (Est 6:1-13).

Esther turned the tables on Mordecai through two banquets she gave, and Haman, being invited to the banquets committed grievous errors that led to his execution on the gallows that he prepared to hand Mordecai on (Est 6:14-7:10). Haman’s estates were given to Esther and his position given to Mordecai (Est 8:1-2)

King Ahasuerus mandated Esther to issue a decree that allowed the Jews to defend themselves against any attack in his name (Est 8:3-8)

Letters were sent throughout the kingdom repealing the decree and the Jewish people in Persia were saved.. There was great rejoicing, and an annual festival was celebrated to commemorate the courage of Esther and the deliverance of the Jews. This festival was called Purim Est 8:9-9:32). And “Mordecai the Jew was next unto king Ahasuerus, and great among the Jews, and accepted of the multitude of his brethren, seeking the wealth of his people, and speaking peace to all his seed” (Est 10:3, KJV).

Esther is described as beautiful (Est 2:7) and obedient (Est 2:10), and she appears to be pliant and cooperative. When she first learned of Haman’s plot and the threat to the Jews, her reaction was one of helplessness. She could not approach the king without being summoned and the king had not summoned her in thirty days, implying that she has fallen out of favour (Est 4:11) but in obedience to Mordecai’s persistent prodding, she resolved to do what she could to save her people,; staking her life “and so will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish” (Est 4:16, KJV). The pliant and obedient Esther had been transformed into a woman of action.

Abijah

“Hezekiah began to reign when he was five and twenty years old, and he reigned nine and twenty years in Jerusalem. And his mother’s name was Abijah, the daughter of Zechariah” (2 Chron 29:1, KJV). Hezekiah was born of an idolatrous father “Ahaz was twenty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned sixteen years in Jerusalem: but he did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord, like David his father: For he walked in the ways of the kings of Israel, and made also molten images for Baalim. Moreover he burnt incense in the valley of the son of Hinnom, and burnt his children in the fire, after the abominations of the heathen whom the Lord had cast out before the children of Israel” (2 Chron 28:1-3. KJV). From above passages, we will see that Abijah lived with wicked Ahaz for at least twenty-six years.

Lessons to Olori Şilękunǫla

Esther

When the king was sufficiently beguiled by her charms, she revealed her true purpose: the unmasking of Haman and his plot and her identity as a Jew and accused Haman of the plot to destroy her and her people. The volatile king sprang to the defence of the woman to whom he was indifferent to thirty-three days earlier; the power of prayer is demonstrated here.

Christian and Judaist scholars are troubled by Esther’s failure to live as a Jew: had sexual intercourse with and married a Gentile, lived in the Persian court and did not follow Jewish dietary laws. In addition, Esther has been taken to task by both female and male commentators for her apparent willingness to participate in Persian harem customs, and by Christian commentators for her evident bloodthirstiness in destroying Gentiles (Est 9:1–15).

I chose the Book of Esther to demonstrate to Christians (not only Olori Şilękunǫla but also males and females in a position that are subordinate) in a relationship with unbelievers in power that it is possible to achieve success in such positions without giving up one’s identity as a Christian. The Books of Ezra, Daniel and Nehemiah also demonstrated this.

Women are essentially powerless and marginalised members of society; notwithstanding the status of their culture, they cannot simply reach out and grasp power, as a man can; whatever power they can obtain is earned through the manipulation of the public holders of power. In this sense the exiled Jew could identify with the woman: he or she too was essentially powerless and marginalized, and power could be obtained only through one’s wits and talents. But, as the actions of Esther demonstrate, this can be done. By her faith, prayers, astutely using her beauty, charm, and political intelligence and by taking one strategised risk, Esther saved her people, brought about the downfall of their enemy, and elevated her kinsman to the highest position in the kingdom. Esther becomes the model for the mother of the Yorubas, Her Imperial Majesty Queen Evangelist Prophetess Olori Şilękunǫla Moronkę Naomi Ogunwusi.

“In the first year of Darius the son of Ahasuerus, of the seed of the Medes, which was made king over the realm of the Chaldeans” (Dan 9:1, KJV). Darius is believed to be the son born to Ahasuerus by Queen Esther and so shall the Lord give you sons and daughters who will function for the upholding of the glory of God in Yorubaland.

Abijah

Abijah was married for at least, 26 years to a very powerful man who lived his life as described in 2 Chronicles 28 as summarised below:

  • He completely rejected the Lord and worshipped idols of all kinds (v1-2, v22)
  • He burned his own sons as sacrifices to idols (v3)
  • He was a complete loser as a leader (v5)
  • He was humiliated (v9-15)
  • He instigated everybody around him to all kinds of sin and crime (v19)
  • He shut down the Temple and prohibited everybody to worship God (v24)
  • He had obvious demonic anger outbursts, destroyed anything that had to do with God and completely submitted himself to demonic practices. (v24-25)
  • When he died, he was buried with no due respect or no regret outside the city cemetery (v27)

“And he did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father had done” (2 Chr 29:2). He reconciled the people with God “He in the first year of his reign, in the first month, opened the doors of the house of the Lord, and repaired them. And he brought in the priests and the Levites, and gathered them together into the east street, And said unto them, Hear me, ye Levites, sanctify now yourselves, and sanctify the house of the Lord God of your fathers, and carry forth the filthiness out of the holy place” (2 Chr 29:3-5, KJV). And appeased God for the people“Now it is in mine heart to make a covenant with the Lord God of Israel, that his fierce wrath may turn away from us” (2 Chr 29:10, KJV)

Our Olori Şilękunǫla “ be not now negligent: for the Lord hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense” (2 Chron 29:11, KJV).  As your name depicts, she is destined to restore the Yoruba race to honour and the Lord our God, by the power of the Holy Spirit will grant her that favour.

REQUIRED ACTIONS

As the Grand-Mother or Grand-Queen of Yoruba, the responsibility is enormous on Olori. Remember that Queen Esther “has not been called to come in unto the king these thirty days” (Est 4:11, KJV) implies that she had lost favour with king Ahasuerus. But with prayer and fasting, God granted her favour. God will grant our Grand Olori favour in the name of Jesus. Esther knew what to obey, what secrets to keep when to appear, what to ask for, etc. not of her wisdom but of God’s guidance.

Olori should remember that “Ǫpa t’a fi na iyale wa l’ori aja fuo iyawo” (Young, 2018) but we pray that that whip on the rafter will not touch her. The whip that was used for Vashti did not touch Esther because she laid her problems at the feet of her God; so will it be for Olori Şilękunǫla. However, she must know that while Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi is the Baba of all Yoruba, she Olori Şilękunǫla is the custodian of his heart, his wife, his sister, his confidant and above all his mother. He is ever her last baby; irrespective of the number of births.

With her, God will reopen the door of honour to the Yoruba race> However she needs to:

Establish a regular meeting of all the Olori of all crowned Obas to be known as Council of Oloris;

Establish a League of QueenMothers which will be made up of mothers of proven characters, accomplishments and who would be known to have mentored younger women, irrespective of religion;

Establish a regular praying team that will focus on the restoration of the status of Yoruba in the nation, unity within the Yoruba race, understanding of our problems, restoration of productivity habits of the Yoruba race;

REFERENCES

Young  (2017). What Led to Olori Wuraola and Ooni of Ife’s Marriage Crash – Report. Accessed 26 Oct 2018. http://www.informationng.com/2017/08/led-olori-wuraola-ooni-ifes-marriage-crash-report.html

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