I thought Alfa Bisiriyu Apalara had long been dead and buried or burnt to ashes by his killers, or whatever, until about three weeks ago when some brutish religious fanatics thought it was their turn to exhume the body of Apalara and reenact the gory tale of his murder with the brutal butchering of a Christian cleric.
Apalara’s most sensational story is over six decades old and the retelling may not ring any bell in the ears of most of my readers who were not born 60 years ago. Technology has however come to my rescue and Wikipedia is helping to put the story in a fresh narrative.
Alfa Bisiriyu Apalara (1918 -1953) was a Nigerian Muslim cleric from Lagos. In the early 1950s, he held a series of crusades and Dawah in Ebute Metta and Mushin with a common theme of speaking out against traditional Yoruba cults such as Oro [the Yoruba Supreme Secret Police] and Egungun [the Shrouded Spirits] and drawing more adherents of traditional African religion to Islam. He was murdered on January 3, 1953, and his body was never found.
Apalara was born in Itoko, a town on the outskirts of Abeokuta, he had Quranic studies and elementary education before he went to Lagos to work as a carpenter. In Lagos, he lived in Mushin, a settlement that had a reputation as the home of street urchins.
In 1950, Apalara launched a crusade. The crusades were usually held in Ebute Metta and Mushin, usually on a street or at an intersection of two or three streets. Apalara was an articulate preacher and soon had a large following, a majority of whom were women. His preaching focused on condemning unrighteous acts, lukewarm Muslims and traditional cults. He earned respect from some in the Muslim community and he was turbaned as the foremost preacher of a mosque in mainland Muslims. He was also vicious in his preaching against the traditional cults.
In January 1953, Apalara was invited to come and preach in Oko Baba, a neighbourhood in Ebute Metta and a stronghold of cultists. Apalara took the threats to his life seriously and paid for the services of a policeman for his crusade in Oko Baba. On January 3, 1953, during his sermon in Oko Baba, Apalara was abducted by a group of cultists, the policeman and most of his congregation ran away. He was struck by an object and was initially dragged into a nearby house. The dragging of Apalara’s body to the house was the last time Apalara was seen by someone not connected to his murder.
In October 1953, a jury delivered a verdict of death by hanging to 11 people who were found culpable in the murder.
That is the précis of the Apalara saga, a story that dominated newspaper headlines throughout the trial which brought to limelight the notorious Jegede and two siblings.
In a twist of irony, while it was an Islamic cleric that was murdered by traditional religious fanatics, it was a Christian cleric and preacher that alleged Islamic fanatics butchered in the wee hours of the morning of the fateful day. According to Fred Itua’s report in the Sun newspaper of July 10, 2016:A forty-two-year-old mother of seven and an assistant pastor with the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Mrs Eunice Elisha, was in the early hours of Saturday murdered by assailants, while preaching around Gbazango-West area of Kubwa in the Bwari Area Council of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).
Eunice, an indigene of Ekiti State, was a Deaconess at the Divine Touch Parish of the Redeemed Christian Church of God (RCCG), Old NEPA Road, Phase 4, Kubwa, Abuja. Speaking to newsmen, the husband of the slain woman, Mr Olawale Elisha, said his wife had gone out to preach in the neighbourhood in her usual practice at about 5am on a fateful day only for him to hear the report of her murder.
Narrating the incident, he said: “My wife always goes out early in the morning on ‘Morning Cry’ to preach.
There was a particular day she went out and she told me that there is a mosque at the back where they commented about what she said. So, I just warned. This morning, she went around 5am and I was still in bed because we did night vigil which she participated for a while before she went to sleep because of the Morning Cry. Two of my boys are footballers;; so, they went to the field to play. When they came back, they told me that they heard some footballers saying that they butchered a woman preaching early this morning.”
This wicked incident highlights once again the extreme fanaticism which imported religions to Africa have plagued the once tolerant and peace-loving continent with. It has been repeatedly said by this columnist that since the Jews and Arabs, the so-called Semitic peoples of the same ancestral root highjacked Monotheism from the Nubians they had inflicted their extreme possessiveness and jealousy on the Belief. Psychologists and Psychiatrists are of one accord that the Jews and Arabs are about the most intolerant peoples on the surface of the Earth and this ugly trait and unforgiving spirit is well recorded in their faith.
The Semites are the people who ignorantly hold to the view that there is only one way to the Supreme Intelligence and that that only ONE Way is their way! It is they and them alone of all religionists in the world of over two thousand religions who say their Creator is a JEALOUS one and one that exerts a pound of flesh for every crime. They alone know of some strange Hell fire! And it is their Stone-Age possessiveness that made adultery an offence punishable with STONING to death!
Why on earth should anyone be murdered for preaching? It is the height of primitivism and arrant ignorance of the most uncultured order. Africans must get out of their mental enslavement and free themselves from the yoke of severely colonised minds.
I must warn though that to call Prophet Mohammed a ‘rapist’ or ‘pedophile’ or call Jesus a ‘bastard’ and ‘homosexual’ or Sango a ‘magician’ is the height of provocation and overzealous preachers should avoid inflammatory statements.
Religion is a purely personal matter and no one should be killed for holding to a different faith from yours. And I strongly recommend that all the mad men and mad women in extreme religious toga should visit Ago-Iwoye and behold the Sango Shrine standing majestically in front of that ancient city’s Central Mosque and the Agemo Grove standing behind the same Central Mosque while the Ojubo Esu, the Esu Shrine is a stone throw to the St Paul’s Anglican Church.
Muslims and Christians and all the plethora of traditionalists in Ago-Iwoye, Ijebu, as in all Yoruba towns and villages share and enjoy one another’s festivities with glee.
Those who murdered Elisha should be hanged without delay.