His name is Folorunso Emmanuel Bamiduro. Many believed I am a pagan. Yes. I am an African traditionalist. A boy who will receive Holy Communion on Sunday at St Joseph’s Catholic Church, Usi Ekiti or SS Peter and Paul’s Catholic Church, Adatan, Abeokuta, where my father retired as a Catechist and the Friday dancing with masquerade in Okemesi or celebrating a birthday at Ogun shrine in Ire Ekiti, the town of my friend, Congressman Bimbo Daramola.
The next week, I may be sitting on the apoti (stool) of the greatest Sheikh in Africa, Ibn Niyass in Senegal with great respect to the late Al-Ilory. The present Araba Agbaye in Ife is my brother, friend and confidant. I may spend hours on Ifa Temple in Oke Tase, Ife or visit the voodoo city of Whydah in the Benin Republic hanging on my neck the royal pythons. But I believed in the Almighty Jesus Christ according to the Bible which was introduced to us by the colonialists and indoctrinated into our subconsciousness through various faiths and dogmas.
However, upon all this, I have a friend, a man of God who I have saddled with the task of praying constantly for me. And he has not faltered. Fez Bamiduro crossed my path at AUD Grammar School, Ikare Akoko, Info State, in 1978. He first disliked me for being ‘too social’. He could not believe that an ‘ero Usha’, someone from the bush (a word which in Ikare language depicts a non-native ) could be the most fashionable one, the one who was best in dressing. And who was so psychedelic! But after he learnt that I was someone bred in Osogbo, Abeokuta, Lagos, Ibadan, Ilesha, Ibokun, he dumped the Ikare superiority concept and fell in love with me. But not totally.
Sometimes, he would deliberately lure me to an impromptu contest in the use of English and the Dictionary. Bolu Afolalu, Waliyu, Bola Ogunlayi, the late TB Joshua, Aliyu, Adesuyi, Rufai Alonge, were always present. Each of the times, I would trash him. He was never satisfied. He took it to the football pitch. And that was where he agreed that khaki is different from leather.
That day, he deliberately played against my side. I noticed him rushing to tackle me whenever I held a ball. As soon as I realised this, I deliberately set my leg before him and he foolishly thought I was a butter boy. He missed it. As he kicked my leg, he fell. Kindly check his right leg. There is a scar there. He got a wound, carried out of the pitch and could not play again. I smiled in victory. However, 10 minutes when he was out, I was in a collision with another player, I fell, my right hand was dislocated. I too could not finish the game. I ended up at Dr Oke’s clinic in Ugbe. Dr Oke is from Ikole, he is an uncle to Sunday Diamond. Since that day, it was ‘saba dey saba’ until we went our separate ways. He went to Lagos. I proceeded to OSCAS, Ikare.
I never heard of him until the day I dropped my last paper as a BA Ed History Education graduate at Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo. He was in Ondo for something else and came to my mother’s Cafe 6 Cafeteria Centre at Adeyemi College of Education, Ondo to eat with some friends. Immediately he saw my mama, he shouted: “Madam Cook, Iye Sayee”. My mother knew him very well because he was a co-beneficiary of my mum’s pleasantness in the kitchen as a friend to ‘omo mama cook’. “Sayee too is here,” my mother told him. “Mi ye mo ri” ( I want to see him).
I was not at the Cafe. But my friend, Wole Oladimeji, was with my mum. He was saddled with the function of fishing me out. Samanja, as Wole was known, rushed to Kent Village, a BQ, where Ayo Ademilua, the High Chief of Ikogosi, lived and where we used to do a lot of rubbish. Samanja informed me that mum had a visitor who would like to meet me. Whoever knows Adeyemi College of Education would know the distance from the back of the library to the cafeteria centre.
Within minutes. I got to Cafe 6 and saw him with his friends waiting for me. “Sayee”, he shouted. “Folinco!” I responded. He then started to say what I termed to be rubbish then but every part of it has come to pass and is still streaming alive to the glory of God: “You will be posted to Bendel State. You will lead a riot in the camp. You will trek to your primary post town at night…” He just started talking about what I considered to be rubbish. He talked so accurate about the type of profession or job which I would do. “Look, you are going to work in an establishment planted by one of the leaders of Nigeria.” He was so sure and detailed. All that he said has come to pass and some are still passing.
I told my mum, “see, Folly, prophesying. Yeye person. Is he now a prophet?” Iya Wale now informed me that he told her that God has called him and that those friends of his were those he came to pray for. My mum said “I know you would not believe him.” I said “e gbadun tun” (he was not serious) And lo and behold! When NYSC posting came. It was Bendel straight. I got to the camp at Abraka and I led a protest which led to my arrest and detention as foretold by Bamiduro!
And to confirm it all, by the time we were mobilized to our post of primary responsibility, I trekked to Ikakumo, Akoko Edo from Ayanran junction on Isua-Ibillo road because there was no vehicle when I arrived at the junction at 9 pm!
Since that, Fez Bamiduro has been my Pastor. Not sensational. Divine. Not materialistic. The Lord is using him. Yes. Yes. I can vouch for him. The problem is that he will not tax you or task you. And stupidly, some of us who he prayed for unceasingly have proved that we are ingrate monsters. I am one of them.
Pastor Bamiduro, I am sorry to expose all these. It is my testimony about the glory of God in your life. I am using this opportunity to thank God for using you for me. You remember I used to taunt you that “God will sustain his divine visitation on you that we the hopeless sinners would continue to drink wine and ogogoro while you our prayer warrior will continue to fast and pray for us.”
Fe Bamiduro is spectacular when it seems to prayer efficacy and spectacular future tendering. I vouch for the grace of the Lord in him. He is not a fake Pastor. He is not one of them. Fe Bamiduro is divinely called. He is a true man of God in whom God is pleased.
-Ojo-Lanre is Director-General, Ekiti State Council for Arts and Culture