Mr Oluwemimo Ogunde, a Senior Advocate of Nigeria and former Attorney General of Ogun State, has revealed how his late father, Chief Hubert Ogunde, combined Christianity with Ogun worshipping.
In an interview with The PUNCH’s EMMANUEL OJO, Oluwemimo revealed that the theatre maestro had a chapel and Ogun shrine in their home.
Your dad was a strong force in the Nigerian theatre art space. How will you describe him?
Uhmmm….. let me say it this way, I don’t want to mention names, but I want to let you know that the founder of the Ogboni confraternity was also an Anglican bishop. So that should tell you the mentality of that time that they really did not see any conflict between practising their tradition and also going to church. Don’t forget that what we now call African church today was established as a result of the protest of the African Anglican priest in the Anglican Communion against the fact that one cannot be an Anglican priest if he’s a polygamist. So, many of those who actually believed in that are the ones that established what is now called the African church today. We had an Ogun shrine in our house but we also had a chapel upstairs.
Earlier records also have it that he was a choir master and organist of the church at some point…..
How did he blend in on all that at once?
He didn’t see any conflict in them all (laughs)…. and that’s the point I’m trying to make. You have to, first of all, persuade him that there’s a conflict between the two. He didn’t see any conflict between the two. His belief was always the fact that God is so great that He is actually the creator of all religions, the only thing is that that religion must not propagate the devil. If the religion propagates the devil, then it’s definitely against God. God can permit, but it’s actually a creation of the devil. But if that religion also promotes good, promotes holiness, promotes righteousness and good deeds instead of evil deeds, then there shouldn’t be a contradiction between the two.
To a large extent, if you look at old testament Christianity, you will see people always testifying to the fact that Solomon was a polygamist, David was a polygamist and so on and they use that to justify polygamy but there are some of us, and I am one of them, who believe in evangelical Christianity; the Christianity that is rooted in Jesus Christ. Maybe some who fall into that doesn’t see how we can combine Ogun worship with Christianity but I still want to tell you that it’s still not the universal view even among Christians. It is still a view that is confined to some Christians, not to all. There are those who believe that they are Christians, who see no reason why they shouldn’t have more than one wife, drink beer or wine. They don’t see any reason why they shouldn’t. The thing is that my father fell into that category. He didn’t see any conflict between the two. Like I said, he was a good man, very good man. At the time my father died, you wouldn’t see anyone who said that my father did harm to them and he taught us his way of life.
It was in my father’s house where we were worshipping Ogun that I knew that Ogun frowns on fornication, for instance. You don’t mess with someone you have not married. Don’t touch her. That’s where I learnt it. It wasn’t like I didn’t fornicate but even when I was doing it, it went into my conscience that what I was doing was wrong, even though I wasn’t a Christian then. What I want to say is that in the case of good deeds, it is wrong for one to say that just because you are an Ogun worshipper, you wouldn’t live a lifestyle that many Christians claim they live today. You still find Christians who cheat their bosses and they go to church, not seeing any contradiction between the two. You still find those who sit down, calculate and say that they are leaving a job at the end of the month and they will calculate that they will collect their salary on the 28th of the month, then will drop their resignation letter on the 30th and vanish without any notice to their employer and on Sunday, they will rejoice in church and give glory to God for getting another job. Ogun won’t teach you that. Ogun will tell you that that’s wrong.
The thing is that my father was on that view that that was the tradition of his fathers and that’s what he learnt. He still saw Christianity as the introduction of the white man. He couldn’t divorce his mind from the fact that these people who brought Christianity to us were white missionaries. That was why he didn’t see any contradiction between the two, so, we had a chapel in our house and we had an Ogun shrine but my father was really not an Anglican. He belonged to the church of the Lord (Aladura) founded by Reverend Ositelu. So he was an Aladura man with their headquarters in Ogere.