Hello Yarners, it feels great to be back!
Did you miss us?
Yea… we missed you too –
Let me start by wishing a huge supporter of the Team – @Mz Eluanza – who celebrates her birthday tomorrow – a happy birthday from the house – Enjoy your new age!
We’ll be dropping a couple of announcements in the coming weeks – so please do stay with us – for now, do enjoy our feature post by our very own Banjo Sijuade and don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments box.
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“This is your cross, Bishop, you have to bear it.” The one with the shotgun advised you in a gruffly voice you found oddly familiar.
You took a look around. The hitherto boisterous motor park had suddenly gone into grave mode. Not a single soul within view except the lady in the red dress you’d been flirting with as you waited for the bus to fill up. While every other passenger trampled over each other to escape the scene from hell that was playing out right in front of them, she was too shocked and scared to run. She simply curled up between the seats, head in shaky hands, and started weeping. She could hear the conversation between you and your attackers but she dared not look up.
“Guys, let’s not do this please…”
That was when the first shot rang out. You screamed in pains as the bullet felled you. You clutched your left kneecap and whimpered in pains.
“Did you give Akeem the Dream Scorpion a chance before you shot him right in front of his family at his brother’s wedding?” The familiar voice shouted at you, his anger threatening to explode.
You remembered Akeem just then. He was the strike man of the rival Scorpions Confraternity. He had been the Best Man at his brother’s wedding. You had led a team of five to the Registry and had shot him twice in the chest in front of family and friends as he appended his signature to the marriage certificate. His blood had splattered all over the place, drenching the entire registry marriage booklet in blood and matter.
“Did you give Drogba any breather when you ambushed him at Spicy’s and shot him in the head?” The voice asked again, refreshing your memory.
Drogba. That was the number 2 man of the Scorpions. You had shot him in cold blood as he watched his beloved Chelsea seek an equaliser against Bayern Munich at that year’s UEFA Champions League final. The Scorpion Drogba never lived long enough to see Chelsea’s Drogba win the elusive trophy for Chelsea at the sudden death.
“Now you don’t want us to do this abi? Bastard.” He hissed in derision and stepped back. The time had come. No more small talk.
You groaned in pains as the guys closed in on the circle they had formed. You resigned yourself to the inevitable. You were surrounded by 7 guys whose every muscle screamed for action, for your blood.
You wondered how you got here.
“Ranti omo eni ti iwo n se…”
“Ranti omo eni ti iwo n se,” that was your mum telling you for the umpteenth time to remember the son of whom you are. “Ma ba won ko egbe kegbe o. Ma ba won se egbe okunkun o…” she went on and on about the evils of campus gangsterism. You had just been admitted to study Mass Communication at the State Polytechnic and you were packing your things to go to school.
“Mo gbo mummy,” you answered with a smile. Of course you were always going to remember the son of whom you were.
Your father was the Curate of the local Anglican Parish in and your mum was the leader of the Women’s Guild. While your playmates grew up on Nintendo and later SNES, your own spare moments were spent in the church. You were at various times an Altar Boy, where you and the other boy delighted in guzzling the sweet red wine that remained after communion; a chorister, where you learnt the basics of music and could play three musical instruments; and finally the church’s cross bearer, a position you held all your adult life. The Anglican doctrine literally ruled your everyday life. From the Nicene Creed to the Grace, you were a moving and living catechism. You knew the God you served and was not going to embarrass Him by consorting with evil people.
“Mummy, e ma worry. E sha mo iru omo te bi?” You answered her. Of course, she knew her son like she knew the 23rd psalm, she trusted you with her life.
“Oluwa mi a wa pelu e. Just like He was with Abraham, He will go ahead of you and give you peace…” The prayer lasted another thirteen minutes.
When she was done, you went to see your dad in the living room where he was seated on his favourite settee, the Holy Bible opened on his laps.
“I am ready sir,” you said as you got there. He looked you up and down, lingered his gaze on your two boxes, before he addressed you.
“I am sure your mummy must have spoken to you at length. Please OlaOluwa, remember all the things we have taught you growing up. This is the time to be a man. Evil association corrupts good manners. Ranti omo eni ti iwo n se o.”
“Yes sir,” you answered, head bowed. You never looked him in the eye when he addressed you. That was the proper way of showing respect. You were well brought up.
“Ok. Have this.” He handed over an envelope. “That’s for your monthly upkeep. I have told Rev’d Dosunmu you would be resuming today. Go see him at the vicarage as soon as you are settled. My God will be with you,” he concluded.
You took the envelope and read the amount written on it. Your dad always labelled envelopes so you didn’t have to count the money.
“Thank you sir,” you said and prostrated as flat as you could.
“Ade a lo drop e.”
You nodded. Ade had been the family driver since you were born. He was technically family.
Being the only child of the Ven. and Mrs. Adeolu Alakija came with loads of perks. Like the several packs of provision you had in your bag. Like the sum of 25 thousand naira from different church members in your account and the 5 new pairs of jeans and tees from the wife of the Baba Ijo. And you were going to stay in the Anglican Students’ Fellowship Hostel, free of charge.
Everything was good. You lived well and had nothing else to do but to focus on your studies.
Then Nike happened.
“I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible. And in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds; God of God, light of light, very God of very God; begotten not made…” In your pains, you found yourself reciting the Nicene Creed. The Scorpions gave you no heed as they started a song and jogged round you in a circle. They had started their deathly ritual, the very one every cultist dreaded. It was like their closing prayer at a funeral. No matter how tight the timing is, the ritual must be carried out.
Your end had come.
“Is this seat taken?”
You turned round to see a dark beauty: oval face decorated with dimples you felt like dipping your finger into, natural hair at the early stages of a dreadlock, simple make up that seemed to breathe more life into a face already full of life and an impressive bossom you could feel in spite of the halter-neck cardigan she wore on a knee-length skirt.
“No, please. No one is there, please sit.” You forgot you had reserved the seat for Tonye, your closest friend who sang in the choir with you and had gotten admission into the same school.
The lecture was two hours long but you wished it was four instead. Thankfully, when Tonye arrived, he knew better than to ask you about the space he asked you to keep. In two hours, you had known the girl’s name was Nike, an Accounting student who had come to take MAT 101 classes alongside other Social Science students. And she was a Christian. That last bit was as important to you as her good looks. You took her number and promised to keep in touch.
That was the beginning of a friendship that became popular all over the campus. A lot swore you were dating even when you had nothing romantic going on. Thrice in one session, you guys were nominated for Best Couple and won once. The one being the Awards organised by the Joint Campus Christian Fellowship. The one win that pushed you guys into a relationship.
“I guess this will be the beginning of a lifetime for us,” you told her as you walked her home that night, hand in hand. She giggled and smiled at you.
“I guess so too. Maybe this night will mark a turning point in our lives.” She responded as you guys strolled down the path that led to the bus stop where she will get a bike to take her to her hostel.
Both of you never knew she was being prophetic.
She later told you the tale of how on her way home that evening, her bike was flagged down by another guy who was going her route. She had shifted further on the bike to accommodate the new guy and they proceeded on the journey. It was when the bike changed course that the first pang of fear hit her.
“Bike, na Akinsode hall I dey go o,” she had said in a shaky voice.
“I hear,” came the cold reply.
Before she could say anything further, she felt a wet hanky across her mouth and then nausea swept her to sleep.
You were at her bedside when she woke up the following morning. She had been dumped by the roadside after a night-long rape session. Everyone said it was the Scorpions; the dreaded brutal confraternity on campus that was renowned for kidnapping ladies for their monthly assembly where they initiated new members. The ladies were supposed to be the new initiates’ welcome treat into the cult.
The thoughts of it swelled an anger you never knew you had. You desperately wished you had a gun. This was something you could kill for. And you eventually did kill, not once, but twice for it.
“Are you sure you want to do this?” It was Bruce, your course mate asking you for the umpteenth time about your decision.
You had approached him when you found out he belonged to the Leopards, a rival campus cult group to the Scorpions.
“Guy, they raped my girlfriend. All through the night. She was a virgin. I am very sure I want to do this. I cannot let them go scot free, man.”
You were initiated into the Leopards Confraternity one moonless Friday night three weeks after Nike was released from the hospital. While members of your fellowship knelt to the most High at vigil, you and 4 others were kneeling down, blindfolded, before the one they called Sammie, the number one man of the Leopards, and other members of the confraternity, in a clearing deep inside the forest that surrounded your campus. A bonfire provided the light needed for the ceremony.
“I am sure you have heard that the leopard cannot change its spots.” Sammie began in a deep, baritone voice you eventually grew to admire. “So today, your life is permanently changed. Wherever you go, whatever you do, you shall remain true to the constitution of the Leopards Confraternity. Now, say after me…” he then proceeded to reel out the oath of the leopards.
Silence pervaded the atmosphere. Even the crickets and birds that had kept the gathering company all night went mute as if they knew the importance of the moment.
When they all finished the oath, a long metal was retrieved from the raging bonfire. At the tip was the insignia of the Leopards: a tiny, circular cut-out the size of a coin with a large dot at its centre joined by a thin strip of metal to the circumference.
“With this seal, I brand you a member of the Leopards Confraternity,” Sammy pronounced as he branded each of them in turns, in the small of their back. The screams that greeted each branding could be heard all through the forest. Birds were startled out of their nests while the other members of the cult burst into songs:
A bowl of some abominable drink was passed around. Part of it was poured on the fresh wounds while they gave you and the others the rest to drink. The pain shot through you with each sip. You could feel your eyes closing in resignation. But the thought of Nike kept you awake and alive. You must avenge her honour. For love. For life.
As part of the rituals of initiation, you were required to get an alias, a name you would feel at home with. When they asked you what you desired to be called; you whispered as loudly as you could: Bishop. They were not surprised.
“…who for us men and for our salvation, came down from heaven and was incarnate of the virgin Mary, and was made man; and was crucified also for us under Pontius Pilate; He suffered and was buried and on the third day he rose again according to the scriptures and ascended into heaven, and sits on the right hand of the Father; and he shall come again to judge the living and the dead…”
Nike’s parents withdrew her from the polytechnic immediately she left hospital. The pains of not having her around fuelled your anger. You became aggressive and generally irritated. The only activity you still did was your cross bearing duties at church every Sunday: one of the positives to schooling in the same city as your home church.
You grew stronger in the ways of the Leopards. Every outing, you went. From campus to campus, you joined the others to cause trouble. Lecturers were kidnapped and forced to change results, ladies were stripped naked in public for refusing to date a leopard, guys were beaten for stepping out of bounds, rival cultists were maimed just because. Within a semester, the legend of the Bishop had grown. Many people heard about you but could never put a face to you for you still kept yourself active in fellowship and church. You were even appointed the Head Usher at the start of your second year in the polytechnic. You were the ultimate leopard.
Your chance came exactly one year after your initiation.
Another friend, this time a member of your fellowship, had been raped in the same manner as Nike. She was (un)lucky to be barely conscious as they took turns on her and she was able to identify one of them but she was too scarred and scared to rat him out; she was only able to confide in the fellowship’s hierarchy.
You knew who she described. It was Akeem the Dream Scorpion.
Weeks of tailing Akeem brought his brother’s wedding to your attention. You told the confraternity your plans. They felt it was ingenious and daring. They gave their blessings. And you executed with satisfying recklessness.
Still you were not satisfied.
Drogba was Akeem’s partner in crime. You did not need a soothsayer to tell you he must have been part of the rapists.
Everyone knew Drogba’s love for Chelsea football club. You only chose the best moment to get to him as he was a very careful gangster. You had hung around the Viewing Centre that Wednesday night as Chelsea played Bayern Munich in the Champions’ League finals. While you waited, you deliberated on the best way to strike. You knew it had to be while he was lost in the match. As the match stretched to a close with Bayern scoring a late goal, you knew he would be deeply engrossed in the possibility of a late equalizer. You stormed the Viewing Centre with 3 others. As soon as you sighted him, you had shot him straight in the forehead. His gang was too stunned to react. By the time they did and amidst the melee that followed, you and your boys had escaped. The news had quickly spread through campus and there were rumours the Scorpions were regrouping. Their number 2 could not be executed just like that.
By daybreak, the Scorpions had gone on rampage. Several leopards were targeted and forced to leave the campus, their girlfriends beaten and raped at will. The school authorities shut down the school indefinitely as the crisis escalated.
You escaped from campus and made your way to the motor park. The city could not hide you long enough: everyone now knew the infamous Bishop.
The bus conductor was screaming for four more passengers when you got there. The lady in bright red dress struck you with her dimples and in spite of your situation, you started flirting with her.
“So what’s your name?” you asked her after complimenting her dress.
“Riyike,” she answered. You found it oddly satisfying that her name rhymed with Nike. You sat beside her, your backpack on your laps, and asked for her number. She had just collected your phone ostensibly to punch in her digits when the stampede happened.
“…whose kingdom shall have no end. And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son…”
The first stab of the knife cut short your recitation. You felt something deflate in you as the knife was removed. Your breaths became rapid and painful. You could feel your life begin to seep out of the hole the knife had made in your stomach. You flicked open your eyes, hoping to look your assailants in the face. But they were all masked.
“So this is how it feels to die.” You said to yourself as strength began to leave you.
The last images you remembered as darkness closed in on you was of your phone with the lady in red.
“Call mummy,” you said as if she were bent over you, listening to you. “Mummy will pray for me…”
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