- Day a wicked woman seized Muyideen Ajani Bello’s voice
In 1950, something happened in the life of the cleric that many people fondly call Aafaa (Alfa) Muyideen Bello that he will never forget. Largely, it was a sad occurrence, but it sparked an element of blessing in disguise. It was the death of his mother. She had gone to join her Creator after a brief illness.
His father, Alhaji Ajani Bello, had moved to Ofa then. The Ofa here is not the one in Kwara State. It is the one that gave birth to the name, ‘Iyana Ofa’, along Iwo Road, in the Lalupon area of Ibadan, Oyo State. So, naturally, young Muyideen had to attend his mother’s burial. His presence and the loss of the mum are not the biggest stories here. Rather, it was a statement made by his father when he (Muyideen) was about to leave Ofa, after the funeral rites had been concluded.
The old man called his boy, Muyideen, and said, “Bi o se n pada lo s’odo oga re yii, se jeje o. S’oo mo pe oo niya mo.” This means, “As you are going back to your master, exercise a lot of care and caution. You know you don’t have any mother again.
The admonition really touched Muyideen. It meant a lot to him and it guarded most of the steps he would take from that moment. Incidentally, most of the boys with his master, Alhaji Yayi, were not comporting themselves well. They were neither ambitious nor responsive to the training the man was giving them. In the words of Alfa Muyideen Bello, they were lackadaisical.
He says, “Baba (Alhaji Yayi) was a good Alfa, a good cleric who wanted all of us to do well and exhibit the change that he wanted to effect in the people he was preaching to. But the boys were not responsive. I always heard the Baba admonish them. So, I had an option to either join the bandwagon or follow the right path. Apart from the fact that I had always wanted to learn and grow, I remembered my father’s words: ‘Se jeje o. S’oo mo pe oo niya mo.’ Then, I said to myself, ‘In this place, I must face the task squarely and do well.’ All the tasks I was not participating in before, I started doing so. I started participating in waasi – delivering of sermons – and I started engaging in janasi – complementing my master’s sermons’ or explanations with emphatic comments.”
But in the janasi adventure, a big shock awaited young Muyideen. And it was not going to be long before he got what some people would call the baptism of fire. One day in Ofa, he was well on top of the game even as a starter. His voice rang out loud as he engaged in janasi, while also reciting verses from the Holy Quran. The first time he did so, a big cheer greeted his effort. The second time, there was a loud ovation. But when he made the third attempt, his voice got seized, meaning that he could not speak again. Or, if he spoke, no sound came out of his mouth. It was like a chameleon opening its mouth without any sound coming out of it. Everybody was more than shocked. What was the matter? What could be happening? Everyone asked questions that no one had any answer to.
But, all of a sudden, a woman shouted, “E gba mi o!”, meaning “Help! Help me!” The woman, who was a member of the Ajani Bello family, yelled again and fell flat on her face. The development was so dramatic that it was the cry that awoke Muyideen and jerked him back to life.
Then they carried the woman back into their house. When they got there, they urged Muyideen’s father to intervene and explore whatever he could do to bring her back to life. As it was the case with old men of those days, there must be one form of first aid or the other for that sort of emergency, especially for the sake of their children. Alhaji Ajani Bello reached out for a pot of agbo (herbal drink) and gave to the woman who soon came back to life. As of that time, Muyideen too had regained his voice. The climax – or anti-climax – of the whole drama, however, was that the mother of the affected woman, who was a Sango worshipper alongside the daughter, confessed that she was the one behind the seizure of Muyideen’s voice. Well, she asked for forgiveness and the rest, as they say, is history.
From Sheikh Muyideen Ajani Bello’s biography-in-the-making, Missioner of Truth, by Akeem Lasisi