His real name is not King. But his lifestyle was. He snagged the name to match the majesty of his position. His real name is Chukwuemeka Ezeugo. He had a regal life until he thought everything he did was legal.
Silence had drowned his drama of about a decade ago until the Supreme Court’s gavel fell. Death by hanging to the king. Some are rejoicing. Others are mourning. But most of these emotions are alive for the wrong reasons.
Those who are rejoicing are thinking revenge, or revenge as justice. Those who are mourning are his followers, although some of them think that he will never die. Did Jesus not say, “some of you will never taste of death?”
Those who are thinking revenge as justice miss the point. The man deserves to be punished, but it has nothing to do with the future. A hanged king will not wipe out the sort of followers of the Christian Praying Assembly. He will die, but the gullible will crave for and believe in the coming of another king. In fact, the dying of a king will only pave the way for another.
It is like the endless yearning for a hero. We seek them. They materialise and answer our material needs. It does not matter that their lifestyles and preaching contradict each other. They are human when they sin, but they are divine when they preach. For their followers, the dichotomy is easy. They put the men of God in context and they are at peace with God.
Reverend King was one of such lucky fellows. Until last week, that is. He was like the rich man in the story of Lazarus. He was on the table that flourished with the opulent cuisine, and wine, and fruits. Lazarus is not angry. He is grateful for a place on the floor. In his benevolent plenty, the rich man tolerates him in spite of his ruffian’s appearance and ulcerous sores. Crumbs drop from the rich man’s table and sustain the humble mendicant.
Reverend King was not only a preacher of the word. He was a lecher of the world. He combined the flesh and spirit to win over the people for God. For those who say he was a lecher and a fake, his followers will point to examples of miracles, of their changed lives, of his spiritual gifts. Some will say he healed them of cancer. He made them rich. They found love, they found family. They found joy. So, argue with them, and you fail against the evidence of their eyes.
Men like King combine what Dostoyevsky, in his Brothers Karamazov, sees as the trifecta of control: authority, mystery and miracle. Hence the Russian novelist writes, “anyone who can appease a man’s conscience can take his freedom.”
Such anecdotes lift the man on the throne. Everything he says becomes everything God says. Mysticism overthrows materiality. He lived the glamour life. Mansion. Food. Limousines. Women. Wine. The blessing of the Lord maketh rich. Who can argue with that? If you tell the adherents that God that made you rich does not condone a pastor that makes you a fool. They will say they are no fools. They believe in God and his prophet, so their lives are established. And, a God that says thou shall not kill would not condone a servant who burns a person alive, pouring petrol on the flesh and his eyes still light up with righteous indignation. They will say the Lord works in a mysterious way. It is wrong to question the servant of God.
Then you quote Prophet Jeremiah: “A wonderful and horrible thing is committed in the land. The prophets prophesy falsely and the priests bear rule by their means, and my people love to have it so.” Or you quote Jesus: “They be blind leaders of the blind. If the blind lead the blind, both shall fall into the dish.” Or Isaiah: “The leaders of these people cause them to err, and they that are led of them are destroyed.”
They will merely respond that you quote the Bible upside down. So the solution is not in hanging the leaders like King and others who mislead.
Around the world we have such groups, and they have not stopped erupting. We had Jim Jones and we have many around. A few years ago, some students in Obafemi Awolowo University waxed into a suicidal group. In Colorado, a cult leader, Warren Jeff, led his cult from prison. The evisceration of one group does not destroy its rebirth.
Such leaders have special gifts, which for lack of a better word, we call charisma. They have, what the Bible calls appearance of holiness. They have smooth tongue, vast knowledge pool, suave manners, intuition, street wisdom, and they are clever risk takers. Those who are not suave have the façade of noble rascals, strong, aggressive but strategically kind.
Such pastors are still around, and it only takes the wise to discern the word from the sword of rascals. It is about religion, but it is not about religion alone. It is the people’s search for identity, for a place on earth. Once they meet that leader who can flatter their secret hopes, they yield. Like a smart Alec as suitor. The fair lady falls.
Did we not see men of God ape Jonathan and even campaign for him? If they had vision, why did they not warn us about the filth in Jonathan’s cupboards, the billions stolen, the reckless fascination with filthy lucre? Were they asking us to vote in another season of kleptomania?
Since the flood of revelations, none of the clerics has explained to their adherents how they led them to vote for thieves when the good books says, thou shall not steal. In spite of how bad things are, imagine if we would have Nigeria today if Jonathan got re-elected?
I believe all the clerics who roared gospels to support Jonathan’s re-election owe everyone an explanation, or an apology! They have misquoted Romans Chapter 13 and distorted the term higher powers to mean all adherents should be subject to the government of the day when it means the church authority that does right.
Many died. Families fell out of joint because of Jonathan-era thieving. Many followed apishly. They are not different from all the King’s brethren.
And the solution is education? Not necessarily book education. I swear that Reverend King had well-read people as followers. Just like Jesus of Oyingbo who married mothers and daughters and their daughters of his own flesh. His incestuous holiness!
The Islamic world has the same hobgoblin. An expert said some Western girls flocking to ISIS are merely sex-starved, seeking a romp with the “spirit.” King is no better than Yusuf who birthed Boko Haram.
We need emotional education, psychological education. Jack was sent to school to learn to be a fool. Book education is not adequate. And it is not about religion alone. Our politics is full of it. People rally behind men who appeal to tribe and faith.
We sometimes kid ourselves that because we are in a democratic era, men like King cannot con us. History tells us that moments of democratic impulse yield to the eruption of monarchs. In his great study, Michael Scott captured this in his book, From Democrats to Kings, where he tracks the downfall of Athens to the “epic rise of Alexander the Great.” Napoleon also prospered on mass movement.
Whether King dies or lives, the king reigneth in the eyes of his followers.