The Priestess of Onuma


Once upon a time,

I was the priestess of Onuma, the god of Vengeance

Onuma was a deity greatly feared by men.

Not him alone, but his worshippers also

For he was known to uphold justice

And mete out harsh punishment to deserving culprits.

His anger was like roaring thunders

He ruled his subjects with an iron fist.

Mercy was never known with him,

Compassion was an outlaw.

People feared him more than they respected.

His name and shrine was avoided like a plague.

The sacrifices they brought to me, his priestess

Were more like bribes than love offerings.

Two kinds of people frequented the shrine of Onuma

The deeply hurt and the cruelly pervert

The former were people who had been wronged.

Men and women suffering from a broken heart

And desiring that their offenders’ be broken too.

Onuma did as they asked

But I, the priestess often wondered

If a potter ever mended a broken pot by shattering more pottery

“Blood for blood, sword for sword”, they snarled

Onuma, typically stirred, obliged them.

The cruelly pervert also sought justice at our shrine

Or would you rather, in-just-ice.

For they came, looking innocent and naïve

And told tales that sounded rather juicy and inciting

They too spelt judgment on their fellow men

And not a few fell victim of their lies and Onuma’s wrath

For Onuma, with all his good intentions

Yet lacked discernment

Of the true nature of man’s heart.

Perhaps I was the only loyal follower of the god Onuma

For many a mornings,

My voice was heard crying out his adulations

And late night watchers could easily spot my footprints

As they trailed into the deep bushes.

Until I observed that the wicked was blessed by Onuma

And he never did heal any heart or home.

Until I observed a striking contrast

Between the countenance of Onuma’s worshipers

And those who served only Chi-ukwu, the Almighty.

The former were pissed, anxious and grim

The latter; free, generous and in bliss.

I wondered and sought and learned

And what I learned tore me bare.

Chi-ukwu seemed to me like a paradox, a mystery:

How could One uphold rightness and love

Recompense and forgiveness

Justice and mercy

And never leave anyone unsatisfied?

How could a deity be equally revered and loved?

How could a king be a shepherd, a judge and a father?

He punished the wicked

But none of his followers demanded vengeance of themselves.

In fact, they forgave in advance

And repaid evil with good.

They gave a cup of water to strangers

And never required repay for the good they did.

My discoveries astonished me greatly

But they also drew me in…

I crept into his temple in the shadows

In fear that anyone else will see me, a disloyal priestess.

But no one seemed to notice or judge me

For they all seemed captivated in adoration.

I waited, I listened till the tears dropped

And I knew that there was no going back for me.

However, I was told with a pat

That I could not serve two masters at a time;

“If you are in, you will have to be all in”

That same night,

I took the toughest decision ever with great ease.

Talk about paradoxes.

I ran back with sprinting feet and light weight

I pulled down the altar of Onuma

Broke the pots of herbs and roots

Gathered cowries and priestly costumes

And with a match-stick, set all ablaze.

As they burned and villagers stared,

Something deep stirred in my belly

I fell to my knees and wept:

Tears of relief that a stronghold had been broken.

Tears of sorrow that I had represented an error for so long.

Tears of resolve that henceforth, I will follow only Chi-ukwu.

Bent over in ashes, people’s drowning voices and my own grief

I didn’t see but felt

Two pairs of hands draw me up into warm embrace

And cover me with some blanket.

I sniffed, I looked and recognized

They were followers of Chi-ukwu

Apparently, they had seen me in the temple earlier

And had come to stand by me now.

I managed to signal towards the temple,

They nodded in understanding.

Together we made our way away from Onuma to Chi-ukwu

Followed by a handful of spectators,

Some merely curious, some deeply affected.

This time around,

I enter into his courts through the door

With deliberate, decisive steps.

I make my way to the altar and kneel

I begin to feel forgiven and relieved

I am caught up in the wonder of His love

Something in my guts tells me

That this is a good thing.

I will follow Chi-ukwu all my days

I will be His priestess

I will sing His praises

I will be just

I will be loving

I will be forgiving

I will be happy

I will be free.





(In the past you were spiritually dead because of your disobedience and sins. At that time you followed the world’s evil way; you obeyed the ruler of the spiritual powers in space, the spirit who now controls the people who disobey God. Actually all of us were like them and lived according to our natural desires, doing whatever suited the wishes of our own bodies and minds. In our natural condition we, like everyone else, were destined to suffer God’s anger.  But God’s mercy is so abundant, and his love for us is so great, that while we were spiritually dead in our disobedience he brought us to life with Christ. It is by God’s grace that you have been saved. In our union with Christ Jesus he raised us up with him to rule with him in the heavenly world. He did this to demonstrate for all time to come the extraordinary greatness of his grace in the love he showed us in Christ Jesus. For it is by God’s grace that you have been saved through faith. It is not the result of your own efforts, but God’s gift, so that no one can boast about it. God has made us what we are, and in our union with Christ Jesus he has created us for a life of good deeds, which he has already prepared for us to do. Ephesians 2:1‭-‬10 GNB)

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