Searching for God on Ori Oke Ikoyi, by Taju Tijani


Two things always make indelible imprint on my imagination. They help fortify my picture of the Almighty God as incomprehensibly awesome, unquestionably perfect and audaciously creative. I am thinking of the reverence I harbour for huge mountains and the open seas. These two natural beauties often project God’s own frontier spirit and his mysterious way to mystify lesser mortals into stupefying silence. God’s immortal hands coupled with his immortal ingenuity give us awesome natural wonders to explore, enjoy and experience.

Sometimes, life could bore you to the point of extremity. I was thrown into it by the sheer paradox of life and that questing spirit for solitude and monastic silence. Sometimes, I am pummelled by fear and doubt concerning my we-are-all-alone experience, but within, the audacity to remain strong and unmoved gives me my robust resilience. In the depressing limbo of self-exile, the initial exilic euphoria soon gives way to a moment of self-reproach. Once that early sign of depression sets in, it is time to turn nomadic and begin to comb the mountains and ride boats on open seas. My period of monastic quiet has to be punctuated by outdoor activities that took me to Ikoyi in Osun State and Langbata in Lagos State. These outdoor physical rigours happen to be the neatest solution to my excited appetites that had been repressed for years.

Where then is my pleasure island? Late November in Nigeria is a dry month. The pre-harmattan weather was first noticeable around my house where most of the recently trimmed grasses and long stalk weeds had gone dry under the scorching African sun. The airless night could be stuffy. I long romantically for the chilly night air of my rural retreat that reminds me of those cold, dreary wintry nights in London. Stories of mountain retreat for the spiritually discerning had filled me with foreboding and Pentecostal preparedness. Mountain stories populated the Bible. God especially loves his sinning children to seek him barefooted on high mountains and cry to him for forgiveness and repentance. He prefers us to escape to the mountains to regurgitate our shortcomings as a means of warding off his judgment and punishment. Sadly, we are all manacled to one sin or the other from anger to various indiscretions.

The Almighty God’s unseen camera registers our Christian sins and social sins with such terrifying exactitude that nobody could escape the clock-like efficiency of God’s zooming lens. Aware of our sins and their burden on our consciences, we then troop out around Nov/Dec to the mountains for a temporary and sobering quietude of our yearly disobedience to God’s enacted commandments. That Friday morning was unlike the others. I made my daily spiritual exercise of hymn humming, praise, worship and availing in prayer. The Holy Spirit in his comforting generosity kept hitting at my Christian conscience to wander off to the far country in search of a mountain where I could dramatize the loudness of my availing cry. I called three mountain-rugged, mountain-loving and mountain-wearied friends and one after another the winner happened to be the Higher Mountain of Ikoyi, Osun State. Deborah, the universally known angel of the mountain has creatively christened the spiritual essence of her higher mountain, Takuology. In English, Takuology could be described as the spiritual act of prevailing in prayer and not letting go. A similar description could be found in the acronym PUSH-pray until something happens.

Jacob in Genesis 32v24-30 was the stubborn, resisting and prevailing prayer warrior who wrestled with God until blessing was pronounced on him by the Almighty God. He was the universal hero who ‘taku si olorun lorun’ until Baba said, yeah, you are the champ. Jacob groaning under God’s arm lock said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me”. For his audaciousness, he was crippled. Mountain Takuology has been encouraging pilgrims to its peak for years. The Takuology mountain of Ikoyi is huge and intimidating. The awesomeness of God is written all over the high mountain. Climbing to the peak of the mountain presented its own arduous task. It was an exercise in sheer physical fitness. Barefooted, I began to climb courageously until I got to the summit. I heaved a sigh of relief. When I walked round the summit with other pilgrims, I could not but remain breathless at the hugeness of God’s glory in all its dizzying wonder and at a dizzying height.

There is a small church tucked cleverly on the mountaintop. Pilgrims went about with a sobering look and mumbling Jesus all around. In the evening the small church was jammed for the Friday night vigil. I was among those blessed by mama Deborah who, in her white flowing dress and white cap, was truly angelic. At the morning light, I travelled round the whole mountain to discover more hidden wonders like the wall of separation and mama Deborah’s power house where she communes with God in the true and finest tradition of a Takuology grand devotee.

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