RIVERS NEW DAWN – By Sotonye Ijuye-Dagogo

I heard the voice loud and clear. I wasn’t sleeping or dreaming. It was in Yoruba language. It said to me “imọlẹ”.

I just heard a voice, I said to myself. Yes! It’s a ‘New Dawn’. That’s the meaning of “imọlẹ”, I shouted gently. Yoruba was my first language even before I spoke a word in Kalabari.

I have occupied my mind, for months and months, with the current state of unpleasant affairs in my country and my state. Yes! I shouted again in excitement “Rivers State is about to witness a New Dawn”.

I picked my phone, googled the meaning of “imọlẹ” in Yoruba language. I wanted to be sure that I didn’t misinterpret it. What I saw made me sad. “Imọlẹ” means “light”. It means to “illuminate”. A feeling of discomfiture swept throughout my body.

I remembered what my wife told me few months ago. She had a dream that her husband will be an international luminary. I felt large lumps of sweat rolling down my back. “Why me?” I asked.

I checked the meaning of “luminary” and it’s “a person who inspires others, especially one prominent in a particular sphere “. A leading light, guiding light. “Why me?” I asked again.

I have been in the business of using my writings as social activism yet I have not inspired even my hometown to action. How do I become an international luminary? Not even a local, state or national luminary but international?

No! No! Not again, I have suffered so much doing this thankless job. I have lost positions in society. My children are being victimised. Nobody in public office wants to be seen with me in public. Political appointees don’t associate with me because I criticise their principals. They don’t want to lose their jobs.

Why did I even check the meaning of “imọlẹ”. I should have stayed with my initial translation of a “New Dawn” and allow God to bring His will to pass Himself. There is no difference, after all, between “imọlẹ” and “New Dawn”.

“You can’t run away from yourself” I mumbled unconsciously, repeating the immortal words of the legend, Bob Marley. “Even if you escaped like Jonah, the Whale will return you to your duty post”. I managed a dry smile. It wasn’t funny.

I remembered in a flash, what Apostle Zilly Aggrey said to me in a handwritten letter after reading my article in the Port Harcourt Telegraph on 29/10/2003. He said “Dear Sotonye, you are gifted, talented and called. I pray that God will cause His Spirit visit you mightily and help you do more beyond limits”.

I battled with the thought that mine is a calling. Even so, must I do it until I die? Shouldn’t I retire? I am advanced in age.

I felt a strong grip on my shoulders. I went into a stream of thoughts that raced through my unhappy mind. I remembered the words of Ella Baker “Give light, and people will find the way?”. God is about to bring a New Dawn in Rivers State and He needs foot soldiers on earth to show the light. “I agree but must I be involved?” “Haven’t I done enough?”

I got deeper in my thoughts “Is it why I am neither in the PDP or APC?” “Is it why I am a free agent?” “Was I not once in those parties and even in Accord party?” “How do I begin?” “How do I survive?” “Would I be believed?” “Won’t I be labelled fake?” “Won’t I be seen as having a secret agenda?” “Will Rivers people take the message and throw away the messenger?” … Why? Why? Why?

Then I heard a voice, like a great clap of thunder, admonishing me: “Who has told you that prophecy is yours alone, to keep to yourself? Why are you furnishing yourself with empty excuses? If you do that, you will never be free of tears and pleading cries”.

The moment the voice fell silent, I cried out:
I accept!
I accept!

It is said “where there is a vision, there is provision”.

It is written “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God”.

It is written “If My people that are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My Face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land”.

How can God’s people since 1999, be set against themselves by politicians every election season?

How can God’s own people be engaged in a directionless jamboree every four years, wherein the political elite jostle and hustle for political power, only to be abandoned at the end of elections?

I accept!
Here I am, send me!

There is a new Dawn in the horizon. A rebirth, a renaissance – Rivers Renaissance.

I accept to be one of those that will show the light so that the people can find their way to this New Dawn.

May God bring together all the factors both physical and spiritual to actualise His will. May God, all by Himself, assemble his soldiers for the battle ahead and take all the glory. May God not allow those that He has earmarked for this assignment to rest until they all stand up to be counted.

My narrative changes from this moment and I will focus only on showing the light so that the people can find the way.

“On the ruins of the old, a greater story be told” – Ken Saro Wiwa

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