ORI OKE IKOYI: A Refuge In The Mountain Of God
IT was twilight at the foot of Ikoyi Mountain, which towered several feet high in shimmery gold when I arrived. A lot of cars and buses were parked indiscriminately, waiting for their owners to descend from the mountaintop. The car park was a good base for exploring the holy ground, especially, with the songs that made me feel, as if I’d been pummeled into spiritual frenzy, as they ricocheted at rock concert level. The beats resounded, as I walked into the holy enclave.
The mountain is open to anyone from any denomination. It is a place where men of God come to regularly to receive power before holding special programmes in their respective churches. Also, individuals with various spiritual problems come for deliverance. A lot of men converge on the place, because that was where the idea of visiting mountain for prayer started.
Ori Oke Ikoyi may not sound like the most thrilling of tourists attractions, but its rural landscape surrounded by open fields and farmlands, is ideal for scenic interrogation of nature. It is hidden in a forest with large meadows and beautiful views. It provides a beautiful escape from urban life. You don’t need to break banks to embark on spiritual pilgrimage to Ori Oke Ikoyi, Osun State.
The village can be reached from the Ibadan/Ile-Ife Expressway. Visitors from Ibadan need to take the first turn on the right, that is approximated to be about 2 kilometres after crossing the bridge (Asejire Dam), while those approaching from Ile-Ife have to take the turn on the left about 5 kilometres, from Ikire junction.
Getting to the mountain is easy from both directions. You cannot miss the location, as everybody around knows the place. All you needed is to ask, and the direction would be provided. There is always motley of people heading to the mountain or getting out of the town, waiting for a ride at the junction leading to Ikire, in addition to a signpost with CAC Ori Oke Ikoyi to aid visitors.
From that junction, there are a lot of motorcycle riders ready to take you to the foot of the mountain, which is now very visible as soon as you enter the town.
One of the bike riders, who gave his name as Lanre, said, “business is always lucrative during weekends and month ends. But during the week, only few people patronise us.”
Another bike rider said, “the beginning of the year is always very busy and also during the ember months.”
Pastor Chidi Maduako of New Creature Assembly, Lagos, said, “I visit this mountain regularly to pray. It is more like period of revival — time for you to be very close to your God in worship.”
Maduakor revealed, “most of the people you see around are from Lagos churches. So, if you did not come with your vehicle and you want to go back, you cannot wait for 10 minutes before a bus comes to pick you.”
Ikoyi town is small, with a population running into a few hundreds. It is, however, welcoming. Little wonder the number of pilgrims is growing by the day. Most of the social facilities enjoyed here such as, borehole, road and drainage are all the result of the pilgrimage.
With a few hotels and restaurants springing up between the crumbling apartment and roadside markets, the town is gradually growing by the day. Provision stores dot the neighbourhood and one common item sold everywhere is anointing oil. There are equally business centres, where GSM calls and recharge cards could be purchased.
FOLLOWING a footpath, I saw what looked like a security post, where I registered. There was no special rule for admission, only that I needed to concentrate on what brought me.
Details regarding name, mission, the time of arrival, phone number and other information were taken down. After registration, I began the journey into the mountain.
To show that it is a holy ground, no visitor is allowed to wear his or her shoes, be that person the president, governor or a traditional ruler.
As I completed registration, extreme cold was biting and stinging. I had donned three layers of T-shirt, sweatshirt and jacket. My sweatshirt was hooded and my thick socks proved to be valuable. Since I didn’t want my feet to have blisters, because of walking barefoot on the rocky terrain, I made sure that the socks were double and thick enough.
Overlooking a gorgeous valley on the other side are plenty of routes to trek up the mountain. Climbing up the rocky path to reach the peak of the mountain was a special experience, especially, under a starry night sky, while following a lit trail of worshippers, as they marched up or down.
Up and up and up, each step was an achievement, as I climbed. The wind howled and the stars shone. I concentrated on planting each foot on the mountain. As I climbed, I saw a whole lot of people lying down and silently talking to God. Some were moving around the different areas in supplication, while a host of others slept on the rugged terrain of the mountain. An elderly woman was alone in pensive mood in the Land of Mercy.
Amid the sea of heads and kneeling worshippers, a small girl clung to her mother’s dress. The small girl seemed scared of being abandoned. A woman, who was dressed like an Eskimo, suddenly knelt down and started supplicating in a place called Mountain of Separation. She knelt in the space between the two rocks, with two pictures in her hand.
The image cast was that of a worried woman. As she prayed in low tone, like Hannah in Shiloh, she was busy waving two pictures. After prayer, she put the two pictures separately on the ground, faced down.
Was she speaking in tongues? Was she sane or drunk? My thought went on. Probably, she might have read my mind eye, when she suddenly shouted aloud: “In Jesus name, your union is broken… you’re both separated. Holy Ghost Fire!! Holy Ghost Fire!!!”
As I watched the ritual, almost regurgitating, I concluded the woman must have been wronged.
And you know what? The fury of a scorned woman burn like flared gas.
“Your union is broken. You are separated,” she kept saying, as I moved to another part of the mountain.
Mind you, don’t be sure to see the same group in a place for too long. It is not a camp, so, prayerfully, every group moves around for designated spots to pray, depending on why you have come. Prayers go on 24 hours (everyday) here; either individually, group or general inter-denominational service.
PEOPLE visit these mountains known in local parlance as ori oke for various reasons — Breakthrough, mercy of God and to spend moment with God. Some go there to spend days, while others spend weeks. In fact, some even stay for months on the mountaintop, claiming they are there either for spiritual rejuvenation, soul purification, re-awakening, resuscitation and healing.
A lot of people, who ordinarily, do not have any business being at the mountain also find their way there. These characters, probably, far outnumber those with genuine intentions and sincerity of purpose.
Maduakor said though the place is supposed to be a holy ground, many people with ulterior motives are violating the place. “Only recently, a young man tried to rape a lady on the mountain. Another was struck by thunder of God, because he violated the sanctity of the place,” he said.
The man of God said, “there are testimonies too numerous about what God has done for various individuals, who have made it to the covenant mountain.
“At the beginning of the year, I encourage members of my church to come and share moment with God on the mountain.”
A member of the church, Favour Osawe, said, “whenever I face any challenge, I come here and have never been disappointed.”
Another visitor to the mountain said the first time he came, six of his containers were seized, but after several days of prayer, he received his breakthrough, as his containers were released without him paying demurrage.
For Patrick Iduh, a member of The Christ Redeemer Ministry, Lagos, “the first time I visited, I opened my heart to God, and today, I have breakthrough in my finances. There is nothing you ask from God that you won’t get.”
He added, “I was living in an occult house, and suddenly, my Christian faith went cold. I no longer went to church. It took the pastor a lot of preaching to get me here, and since 2013, I have not missed coming at least a year.”
According to a young lady, Adunola Omoniyi, who sells recharge card at the junction, “you will be surprised to see the kind of people, who visit. There is nobody that comes to the mountain that does not receive answers to his or her prayer. You will see wealthy and important people in the society. Everybody wants prayer.”
THERE are two prayer mountains in Ikoyi. The Christ Apostolic Church (CAC) uses the Ori Oke Ikoyi, which is the most popular, and the other is Higher Mountain of Deborah. For many, a trip to Ikoyi ends at the CAC ground. Formerly called Mososi, which means don’t throw dirty things on it, the only thing that was done then on the mountain was to dry yam or cassava flakes on it. People believed it harboured some spirits, which they didn’t see, but needed to be respected.
The late Apostle Joseph Ayodele Babalola established it, in 1935, at a time when idol worship, rituals, black magic, witchcraft and so many devilish acts were at their peak in the continent.
During this period, Apostle Babalola established several prayer mountain, where he went with his followers to fast and pray and seek the face of God before going for revivals.
After descending the mountain, he would go for revivals and crusades all over Nigeria. Ori-Oke Ikoyi was his favourite mountain and he chose a particular spot on the mountain where he would spend days praying before going for crusades. After his demise, in 1959, because of the covenant of God on the mountain, people from all over the world still visit the place to pray.
The CAC section is well organised. It is not high compared with Higher Mountain of Deborah, however, with clean bathrooms and toilets. The church is a modern construction. And if you’ve made up your mind to stay here, know that your interaction will be only with men. Ladies are not allowed in that section.
For the Higher Mountain of Deborah, It is worth mentioning that there are two ways to reach the peak of Higher Mountain of Deborah, one of which is to follow a narrow path from the Land of Mercy. It is preferable to follow this trail for the climb and to use the stairs route that was built for the descent.
At the Land of Mercy, there are weathered houses of wood and other cheap materials, where visitors could take turns to bath or eat and fellowship. The church is currently undergoing reconstruction.
No matter your denomination, there is a time for general fellowship and special programmes in the Land of Mercy. General inter-denominational service is compulsory. And the services are two times a day: Morning service at 10am to 1pm and an evening service at 10pm to 1am.
ON both sides, almost the same rules obtain. Bring your tithes, offerings and pay your vows, remove your shoes, sandals and slippers before climbing the mountain, everybody must participate in all the activities of this mountain (No separate or private prayers during this period) and nobody or group is allowed to build any separate altar or structure on this mountain.
Others include, no burning of candles, incense, clothes or anything burnable on this mountain, perfume is not accepted, if you are to stay more than three or seven days, you are required to see the management (mama ori-oke or pastor-in-charge for details, direction and registration), this is sacred place, so, do not steal other persons’ properties not to invoke the anger of God on you, keep this mountain clean all the time. Do not eat anything pepper and oil on the rock. Do not spit, litter, defecate, deconsecrate or wash anything on the rock; discussion on politics, religion or tribalism is totally prohibited; do not disturb others with your radio, handset music or other electronic gadgets and prayer should only be in the name of Jesus Christ.
The rules also include, only water, olive oil can be brought to this mountain for blessing, don’t mess up the toilet and bathroom, while using foul language, fighting and quarreling are not allowed on this mountain and don’t go to the extreme part of the mountain to pray.
For the Higher Mountain of Deborah, you can see these additional rules: Women must not wear men’s clothes, and they must not sleep together on the same mat or with the same wrapper on this mountain.