Osaele, Abraham Osuam
Abraham Osaele, Godwin Okeriaka’s lieutenant, was a man of prayer and evangelism, with a strong faith and given to spirituality. He was accused of having infringed a certain divinity’s taboo but his faith was so strong that he refused to appease the divinity even though he remained bedridden for twenty years. He was known to often say, “If I perish, I perish.” He preferred to die rather than compromise even in trivial issues.
Abraham Osaele was from the Ikosa quarters of Emu Uno. He was a tall and handsome man with a calm disposition. It was said that he led a life of self-sacrifice even to the detriment of his household in order to benefit the church. He used his time and his food to cater to head teachers. He went from house to house compelling parents to send their children and wards to school. He was in charge of recruiting teachers and even trekked to Atamah in Akwa to secure one.
Abraham Osaele was a fiery preacher and the chorus leader. Osaele led evangelistic procession as they danced from one street to another. He often sang of the victory of Jesus Christ over the gods and divinities of the land. He campaigned strenuously against idolatry, witchcraft, magic, and other social vices. He condemned polygamy, the mmawu and awushi cults (awushi is similar to Igbe cult in Urhobo and Isoko lands), and the ukwata festival during which there are moral lapses. In all these he demonstrated the power of God over the forces of darkness.
Abraham emphasized and preached the power of God to heal and he practiced faith healing. Most of the people he prayed for were reported healed. For this reason, when he was bedridden for twenty years because of a stroke, the non-Christians mocked him saying, “Healer, heal yourself.” But his faith in God sustained him and after twenty years he was miraculously healed.
He was also patriotic. To him religion and society are inseparable. The one must promote the other. On one occasion he was said to have found an Abbi man who had lost his way in the forest. Rather than behead him, as was customary, to obtain an honour as a great man, he brought the man to Emu and helped him find his way home. This surprised the people as being quite unusual.
His eldest son, Chukwuka Osuam Osaele, put Abraham Osaele’s death at about 1956 at the age of ninety-three, five years after his recovery from the twenty years ailment. The Okpara Uku said of Mr. Abraham Osuam Osaele, “[He] had abilities far surpassing any I have met before and he appeared to be truly pious. He was a man of uncommon abilities, steady in conduct and an indefatigable evangelist.”
Such was the life of a man who superintended the building of the first church in the Emu clan at Ogbe Ndiom. He and Godwin Okeriaka often traveled weekly to Amai, Uzionum, Abraka, Abbi, and other places to attend church meetings and to receive instructions on the faith.
In addition to being a man of prayer and healing Abraham Osaele was also a man of praises. The Okpara Uku had so much confidence in him that both he and his council of Onotu could vividly recall one of the songs sung by Abraham Osuam Osaele.
*Jaya mrna, Jaya mrna, Jaya mrna ofunni
Jesus Jaya mrna*
Praise him, praise him, praise him who ever sees
Jesus should praise him.
Jones Ugochukwu Odili
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This story, received in 2003, was reprinted with permission from “The Role of Indigenous Agents in the Advent and Growth of the Anglican Church in Emu Clan of Delta State 1911 - 2002,” a Masters thesis (Department of Religious and Cultural Studies, University of Port Harcourt, Choba, Rivers State, Nigeria) by Mr. Jones Ugochukwu Odili.