WHAT is news? That is one big question I try to answer in this wonderful career of mine where every day, every time, every moment, I train my mind, my heart, my soul to look at everything from the angle of news.
For me as a newsman and a Bible scholar, nothing can beat the definition of news as an event of miraculous proportion. Yes, every miracle is news even though every news item doesn’t necessarily have to be miraculous. But the more miraculous, the bigger the news.
The Bible for me is the “Good News,” a book filled with timeless, relevant and often questionable and controversial news items. Even though the events reported are sometimes strange and fantastic, even though they are situated in the foggy past, they are still fresh, newsy and timelessly topical. Each time they are retold, they give us hope, faith, love, strength and trust in the Almighty Father who created the universe and is still in charge of our fates. The Old and New Testaments are still credible stories, carried on the wings of faith and belief that they actually happened. Without faith and belief, some of these biblical stories sound mythical and fictional. So, it all depends on your faith—whether you believe them or not. As for me, I am a believer in the Bible and I believe the fact that God from the beginning is a journalist and journalism is one profession practised in heaven. I believe God is the Supreme Editor who is the word, a wordsmith who edits our lives and everything in this world.
As a journalist, I have this grand idea of one day rewriting the Bible, reporting and featurizing stories from a journalistic perspective and giving them today’s punchy tabloid headlines and quotable quotes. This definitely is a herculean task. May God help me. There are too many stories, too many events to report, too many headlines to cast, so much wahala, enough to break the camel’s back. For example, how do you start to write this human angle story and how do you cast the headline for the sexually aroused King David who from the commanding height of his palace balcony spotted a beautiful woman bathing konko below—as Lagbaja would say? Then he lost his mind, then invited the woman, then took over the woman, then sent the poor husband to the battlefront to die. The Bible is for both saints and sinners alike. I mean God is for us all— saints and sinners.
Long before the invention of newspapers and the media in general, plus today’s social media, sex-related scandals have been there and will continue to be here as big news. Of course today in Nigeria, the biggest scandal now is the story of three Nigerian legislators who went to America and found themselves in a sexual mess that blew into the open. News is sometimes affected by location. If this had happened in Nigeria, perhaps, it won’t even be news. For some women, it would have been a great honour to be invited to sleep with the “honourable” men who control the fate of our nation and who have dollars to spend. For some, it would even have been answered prayers. But this is not Nigeria. This is America, God’s Own Country, where there are different rules of engagement. So this is big news which has to blow in the open—what my brother Steve Nwosu, describes as “legislative rascality of the loin, and what lawmakers do with all the free money at their disposal.”
I wish I can elaborate on this, but this is not my topic for today. Today, I simply want to go spiritual, giving thanks and praises to the miracle working God, the evergreen God who is still in the business of performing miracles today, just as He did in the days of old.
As a kid, I was fascinated by stories in the Bible. One story that has continued to capture my imagination is the leadership story in Exodus about God sending Moses to Pharaoh and asking Pharaoh to “let my people go.” It is one story that had formed a song in Negro spirituals which we sung at school in those good old days now gone. God sent Moses to Pharaoh to “free my people” so that they would come and serve Him, but Pharaoh was adamant, his heart was hardened. He would not free his captives. So, there followed all kinds of plagues and tribulations leading to the firstborns in the land of Egypt all dying, “from the firstborn of Pharaoh” to “all the firstborn of beasts.” You know the story. If you have forgotten them, you can go back to the Book of Exodus to reboot your mind. In the end, Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, pursued by the armies and chariots of Pharaoh. Right there in the wilderness, Moses learnt that it is not easy to lead. The people started complaining as they always do: “Is it not better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in this wilderness?” But Moses strengthened them with words of faith: “Fear not, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will show you today: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more.”
That is the same prayer, I am praying for Nigeria today. The recession that you see, you shall see them no more, O, Nigeria. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. Just as God, through Moses, urged the children of Israel to move forward, so shall our nation move forward, in spite of the darkness, the bombings and the hopelessness surrounding us right now. The Lord said to Moses: “Lift up your rod and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it: and the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea.” The children of Nigeria too will go on dry ground through this sea of trouble.
If you go to Exodus Chapter 14, you will read the whole story there. I don’t want to labour you here. Just like the armies and chariots of Pharaoh were swallowed in the sea, so shall all the enemies and the problems confronting Nigeria be swallowed up for us to march into our Promised Land of peace and prosperity. Can I hear your Amen?
There is a song we used to sing in the heat of battle: He is a miracle working God. He is the Alpha and Omega. He is a miracle-working God. That is the song we know so well, the song our bandsmen and trumpeters sing on the field of play, each time Nigeria is on the losing side and we are praying and looking forward to victory. Today, you will sing a song of victory, O Nigeria! The avengers that ye see, ye shall see them no more. All the weapons of war shall turn into ploughshare to help our economic diversification. Peace and prosperity shall reign in our land once again.
Now, for those who think the story of the Red Sea turning into land is mere fiction, the miracle-working God revealed a bit of Himself right here in Lagos under a bridge, where a part of Ogun River flowing through the Kara cattle market turned from a river to dry land overnight. The people woke up suddenly to see the wonders of God. They could not believe their eyes. Suddenly, water had turned into solid land filled with evergreen plants of the evergreen God. They marveled, they danced, they took selfies and some even worshipped on the miracle ground, believing that this is the hand of God in Lagos. Some even plucked leaves for their spiritual healing. Today, the whole place has turned into a spiritual wonderland, attracting pilgrims— Christians, Muslims and pagans alike. Let the scientists say whatever they like, we the people believe this is a miracle. And only God works miracle.
On their part, the Lagos State government is concerned that like the original Red Sea miracle, the defeated water may turn back overnight, swallowing all, like it did to Pharaoh’s armies and chariots. And that definitely would be bad news. Not just for Nigeria. May God forbid. And may God deliver us from all evil!