World Ablaze

by Lakunle Jaiyesimi

The examinations had begun. This was readily signified by the obvious absence of the bats. It was the season of the rain. The bats have become symbolic with the atmosphere of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife. It should be the Rain Semester examinations, but it was the Harmattan Semester’s. This distortion of the academic calendar was caused by the months’ strike embarked upon by the Academic Staff Union of University nationally; coupled with the internal problems of the OAU Campus.

Of note are the changes that have taken place across board during the period of the closure. That is to say the physical changes on the campus, pertaining to the conversion of previous market spaces into parking lots; and physical desertion of paths. These and more were due to the burning down of the markets by the careless intrusion, which certain quarters prefer to term intervention, of the Mobile Police Force and fueled by the evident absence of students on the premises.

The overwhelming behavioural changes of the students had also been widely reported. Average students have generally lost interest in pursuing their academic career to a logical conclusion; and have hopped into demeanours they deem more beneficial to their success in life, less concerned about the ‘sane’ opinions of many other seemingly and decently ethical populace. On a lighter note, one observes the interesting figures of belly-full pregnant young ladies pacing towards their exam centres. They probably would be said to be too much in a hurry to have their kids.

Of a rather more worrisome note is the fledging of a religious body of right-thinking young individuals. Students were hoarsely warned not to be subjected to their ‘strange’ indoctrination. One begins to wonder what might be strange in free association, particularly when it is a religious body – Christian, as is in this case – particularly so, that it is a coming together of ‘right-thinking’ students.

What may be wrong with the body that has the tag – World Ablaze? It had been accused of falsehood; of wrong influence on members and maybe sacrilege by all. It is obvious that members of the group had remorselessly evaded their examinations with a ‘call to higher ground, seeking Christ’. It sounds ridiculous considering this, and many other harsh decisions made by the unassuming members of the group.

There was the case of a focused Pharmacy finalist, who had been a student for the past nine or so years and who occupied an esteemed office in one other fellowship, decamping from his fellowship to join the World Ablaze. He was also the President of the Christian Pharmacy Students. He decided to go to the ‘Higher ground’ being a priority over his academics. There was another, who was said to be the Head of the group and a Medical graduate, who only decided to evade his one-year Housemanship programme, which is compulsory for those who would work as Doctors. There were other cases needing no mention.

As expected, these decisions – particularly the evasion of examinations – were roundly castigated by all-and-sundry. It was said to be out of ignorance of the truth, laziness to study, irresponsibility and ingratitude to relatives and friends. It was overtly condemned by all observers; even the University Administration was not left out in active intervention to ‘save’ the students from the peril to their academics.

What is most surprising and should form the crux of this piece is that those who profess the Christian faith with a puff of the chest, were the direct culprits who threw the stones at the members of World Ablaze. They were the ones who were quick to libel the Christ Seekers as being ignorant of the truth. They actually vilified the innocent ‘Holy Renaissance’ pioneers. One wonders what the truth of Christianity is therefore.

Was it not Christ, who hammered it on occasions that no one can serve two gods at the same time? Did he not say that the dead should be left to bury the dead? To follow him, did he not state the standard that all moneys be given out along with properties? How come an examination becomes an important obstacle to seeking God? How come it comes before Christ?

Shall we say then that many religionists today live a double life; professing a faith they dare not practice in its fullness? Shall we say that? Shall we be rambunctious about our ‘salvation’ and condemn those who try to seek it the right way? Or shall we say that it is not all of Christ’s teachings and statements that should be followed?

Since I empathize with the members of World Ablaze in their search for Christ the true way;

Since I share their enthusiasm to sacrifice their convenience for salvation, which Peter and many other disciples did for Christ;

Since I sympathize with their clannish torture of being misunderstood;

And since I am fully aware of the horrors Christ’s followers must have undergone in his days;

I seek answers to certain prodding questions that is it rather safe

To be as manly strange and wrong but introspectively right as the World Ablaze members? a situation farfetched.

Or to be midway, lukewarm and a convenient claimant of the faith? as many ones do

Or finally, to be detached completely from the bloc of faith-seekers? as is being done by many when the situation warrants.

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