BISHOP SHANAHAN OF TODAY
Bishop Shanahan would have found it difficult as it stands today to move around in the hinterlands of Igboland. He would have been kidnapped somewhere between Ihiala and Orlu, with his abductors happy with the capture of missionary wines and amulets, thumping their noses at evangelical materials meant to bring succor and peace in the land, probably using the leaflets of his bible as stoke for fires for their weed, damning the consequences from a God who answereth by fire. He would have reminded his host of his missionary obligation, one that had set up schools in Onitsha, one that was on its way to set up similar schools along the Orlu axis. He would have been shocked at the rude interruptions by these youngsters, high on ephedrine and meth, pointing out to him “who education help”, reminding him that the clergy and the masses were now in the same business. They would probably keep him till the next “Nkwo-ihiala” or so, just to prove a point, showing him our clergy and religious leaders who have made the building material sections of the markets in Igbo-land a second home, who would be missing in church offices and chaplaincy, not lending an ear to the needy. They will remind him that there was nothing missionary anymore in our land, rather a congregate of hustlers and contractors, who jostled to build houses of God without the masses in mind. They will show him the “Lexus and Toyota Camry” dotting our roads, a competition among the evangels to wrap themselves with ornaments of the world, with clear movements away from the downtrodden who were the meek and of the lord’s.
The youngsters, on hearing the name “Orlu” might have fallen head over heels in laughter, this I presume would have eased an already tensed situation. They would beg the bishop to recant developments that the “Dennis memorial grammar school” brought to Onitsha and its environs, making sure the bishop knew that Obi-cubana schooled there. The bishop would have relaxed in his comfort zone, having heard a familiar name, one that resonated with wealth and prosperity, but not a good choice for ministry. The bishop might then throw in the stories of “holy nweje” — that extreme righteous and humble priest who shared with the poor and less privileged; who made sure that winning souls was a primary assignment; a true embodiment of missionary work — bettering the host community in grace and face. They would have shocked the bishop with the presence of seventeen churches on a two-kilometer road, a similar one that exists in Orodo, that had little or no input in the welfare of the people. They would have told him of the dwindling number of new converts, who have abandoned the faith, having lost trust in help and ease coming from today's laity. They would tell him of the frustrations of a building and church construction levy, year in year out, without any investments in the downtrodden — the meek and poor.
Bishop Shanahan would have cried while in captivity, wondering why the clergy and church faithful had turned a blind eye to this plight. He would have been wondering in his quiet times, what had become of the church, the same ones that had brought light to Nsukka and Onitsha, same ones that brought the savior closer to us forgotten ones, same ones that brought salvation. He would have been shocked to the marrow to learn that the clergy of today were busy issuing divination that would protect drug pushers, fraudsters, criminals, and dirty businessmen but yet ignore the low-lives. He would shed a tear, hearing that they were now everything but fishers of men. Bishop might be convinced while in this captivity, that they might have risked it all coming this far to save us, nodding his head in agreement as these dare-devils reel out their grievances. He might not believe most of them, especially that one about “sermons in churches not longer about souls of men nor hope for the dejected, but rather some scheme to exploit and empty pockets of the faithful”. I am certain he would plug his ears hearing that while they preached the gospel of contentment amongst the clergy in his days, encouraged chastity and charity, today was worse off, with the religious leaders now singing praises in honor of money, building edifices for money, making cash king and a yardstick for measuring blessings. The youths might shock the bishop further, showing him traditional priests who doubled as conduits between men and spirits, who now prepared “oke-ite”; a “mixkogbuo” of get-rich-quick charms, ones that bridged the gap between poverty on earth. They might show him scores of young men who had amassed wealth, who had mortgaged their lives with the devil for mere succor, for heaven on earth — one that would have been assured by God’s representatives on earth — a dream that had eluded them forever.
Walahi, if they release the bishop, he would head back to Ireland with a resolve not to come back to Igboland — — “ala ajoola njo” he would say in total resignation.