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Feb 16, 2021

Coming of Age Christian Adventure

It was a way of life of people called igbo's in olden days, and over here, olden days means from 1970 backwards. 90 percent of the population was concentrated in rural areas and their life was a routine, the same things, the same process everyday. You woke up in the morning, you sweep your compound, tidy your kitchen, fetch water water, go to farm return around 5 and 4 pm, prepare night food and then go for 'Tale by Moonlight' at the village square or any other minor gathering square in your kindred. 

One interesting thing was that, it is interesting life style and it was never boring. The night gatherings were where the young men view their future wives in action and where the young ladies choose partners too. It is where things happen. Young girls dance their age grade dances and the boys show case their skills in traditional wrestling.

Most of these people were Christians and pagans at the same time, during that era, one local government area comprising of about 12 towns usually has only one church and other towns attends service at times once in a month due to distance and none existence of road.

Gab Akaja was seven years old when he became mass servant by luck. It will be recalled that Anglican Church had been in existence for twenty-five years before Roman Catholic Church came, most of the families that are Catholic today was actually Anglican before Roman Catholic came with their carrot system that pushed population to their side. Akaja's family was Anglican family.

One sunday, Gab followed their neighbours children to service and you will pass Anglican Church before getting to the Catholic Church. He passed saint peters anglican church and followed the family to Catholic Church.

As faith will have it, that very sunday, white priest came from Lagos to join the black central American priest that manages Madonna Catholic Church.

   The white priest couldn't understand why they were only one mass servant in the alter when many five years kids were in the church there. He ordered all the five years and above that were in the church to move to the alter. Gab followed the group to the alter, he wasn't only mesmerized by what he witnessed, the sermons and activities were easy to follow too.

He never saw a white man in his life, what was surprising to him was that the man touched him and snapped pictures with them after the service and they later practiced for one hour and ate food in father's house later. He was was hooked not only by the food and the man but by the transformation that happened inside him under hours.

  That was in 1952.

Back home, his parents were waiting for him to come back home, when they heard that he was with church coordinator from their town, they relaxed for many parents were planning to go for their wards.

When he finally returned, he was grabbed by his parents.

"What is the meaning of this nonsense?"

"What nonsense?".

"Where are you coming from?"

"Church"

"Church, which church?"

"Catholic Church"

"Catho what?, you are looking for who there?"

"I followed chiedu to there and sat sat at the alter"

"Doing what at the alter?"

He told them all that happened, how he snapped pictures with the white man, how they did practice, how they ate food at the father's house and how he will go to Rome to see pope when he grows up. The narration ended the quarrel and the whole family were eagerly awaiting next Sunday to come around, Not only to see their son st the alter, but to see the whiteman too.

Cynthia Okoro was about five years in 1957 when her parents joined bandwagon to cross over to Catholic Church in Umuogu community. It was the period Vatican decided to produce the first set of local priest and Reverend sisters in Igbo land. Many of the families turned to Catholic Church for advencement of their families and their wards in particular.

Many that don't understand what was happening followed others to the church and just sat there like others, all they knew was that along the way, something will benefits them and what they expect to happen, they don't know.

Now, the white priest had added fully what they heard queen Elizabeth came with, but they never experienced at close range. It was called  'school', now, the parents were being told that their children won't be following them to the farms as usual only on Saturdays. They will now be going to school to learn how to talk to the white man and God. That was where Gab saw Cynthia for the first time, she came to learn how to talk to white man and God too.

It seems that the priorities of Gab changed abit on setting eyes on Cynthia for he spent three years preparing on how to learn how to talk to her too.

Some parents were apprehensive of what the white priest were introducing in their midst, they decided to take precautions. They shared their male wards into two, sent half to white man and kept the other. Most of the females were handed over to the white man.

True to his vow, Gab entered seminary school and Cynthia entered convent. Gab had learnt how to talk to Cynthia them and whatever it was that they said that led to both entering convent and seminary, no one knows. After five years, both dropped out and entered colleges of education. They spent two years there and came out with level six. Reasons for their actions, no one knows. It seems that they had coded language only both understand without opening their mouths. 

They found works at the local government Secretariat. Two years later, they got married and started raising kids. Soon, civil war started and Gab enrolled into Biafran army and was made chaplain there. After the war, he was made director in department of education at the Secretariat and Cynthia went into teaching. Meanwhile, the five kids they had were growing up too. In 1993, their first daughter got married, ten months later, Mr and Mrs Gab Ajaja became grandparents and both went to Madonna Catholic Church to give thanks. Two years later, the same daughter became qualified doctor, Mr and Mrs Gab went to madonna to give thanks. Not minding that Madonna was in another town and their town Umuogu has about six Catholic churches now. Why both dropped from religious schools, people can guess, why both spent two years in college of education instead of four, no one knows that, why both always go to Madonna to give thanks, no one knows. Soon, they will be heading there again for thanks giving for their son will become qualified lawyer in a year time.

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