NB: One of the major goals of Naijarchives is to document personalities and events in Nigerian history in the most factual manner possible. This is not a piece to promote or criticize any faith, creed or belief. Thank you.
She will be in her sixties now. A very charismatic widow, she was (and remains) a very good family friend of ours. In the neighborhood, she is quite popular and very well loved because of her kindness, straight talk and incredible willingness to assist others, even to her own detriment. We love her and still care a great deal about her. She is indeed a very nice woman who oozed so much love and as I am writing this, I actually miss her. A very close pal of my Mum, there is but one but. This charming woman I am talking of worships a human being as God Almighty. With all the spirit and energy in her, she tells us that Olumba Olumba Obu is not just God Himself but that he performs all kinds of spectacular miracles, miracles that even CERN-based professors of subatomic physics cannot fathom.
She was not like that before. She never worshipped any human. Until she lost her grown-up son after whom everyone addressed her. She was totally shattered and we were all affected in my house with the sudden loss of a promising, young graduate that we all admired. We still share the grief with her and try our best to calm her. With a face made stoic with an eerie mix of sadness and hope, she would tell my Mum with fearless conviction that it was the same ‘enemies’ from her late husband’s family who spiritually engineered the death of her late lover were also the same people who snuffed life out of her dear son. It was sheer agony for me to watch her lament but from the description of the deaths in both cases, a precise medical explanation would have been given in a nation with a functional health system. But you know na, make I no talk too much.
Although she had other children, she blamed herself and fervently believed that she was not serious enough in giving her kids proper spiritual protection following the demise of her caring husband and that was why the ‘enemies’ could take out her son so easily and that if she just watched, others will be metaphysically assassinated too. She believed conventional religion failed her and it was time for her to seek real spiritual fortification especially as one of her daughters was preparing to get married. That daughter of hers remains a darling of ours till date.
An exemplary mother in search of what she believed was the best to protect her family, she scurried round various places and eventually, she found succour in the hands of a 95-year-old man from Biakpan, Cross River State, a man she would truly believe was God, Olumba! You know, it is really amazing the length some Abiyamos(mothers) would go just to protect their children from real evils and even supposed or imaginary threats. Whenever she and my Mum got deep in their gist, she would tell her with every atom of seriousness: ‘Call upon Olumba, that is the new name. Call upon him and you will be saved.’ For her, Olumba was the source of all solutions, the panacea to all of life’s troubles. Trust me na, I was never far away from their gist, using style to either bring water they did not send me or clear the table because my parents believe that whenever adults were converged, children should not be present, just imagine! As if pikins no get freedom of movement guaranteed in the Nigerian Constitution o. Mtschew. Anyways that was then. In this adherent of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, I got to know some of their teachings but that is not even the point.
I noticed at a close range, the extreme pliability of the human mind and how superbly easy it is to bend the will of others, especially when the mind is already in a subdued or weakened state. While not promoting any creed, there is one thing I must emphasize about this woman, she remains one of the kindest and loving humans I have ever met. Very few people, even many of the followers of the mainstream religions are as kind, compassionate and really humane. I know her reaction when she reads this. She will smile and say: ‘O serious o! Shey emi lon fi she yeye, ma gbadura fun e lodo Olumba’ (You are not serious o! You are making fun of me, right? Never mind, I will pray for you before Olumba) after which she will rain prayers upon prayers and maybe some gifts.
Yes, she is that warm and generous. The truth is that many of us do not really care about her creed, not because we are hungry alatenujes (she is not even wealthy in that sense as she is a retired civil servant) but she is extremely rich in her kindness, and that aura naturally draws people to her. But who was this old man who subjugated this very intelligent woman and over one million others to his will from hundreds of kilometers away? How can a man you have never even met have so much control over your life and destiny? Dear Reader, this is the story of Olumba Olumba Obu, OOO, one of the most controversial figures in Nigerian history. Enjoy it.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION ON THE AREA
Although there is no doubt that Calabar is a very beautiful city and rightly described as the Paradise City, this is one area of West Africa that has a long history of belief in witchcraft, sorcery and various forms of esoteric African magic. Many may believe that Akwa Ibom is notorious for the menace of child witchcraft but Calabar has its own tale too. In 1978, there was a popular campaign led by a man named Edet Edem Akpan (better known as Akpan Ekwong) and his aim was to eradicate witchcraft from all of Ibibioland in Akwa Ibom State (then the Uyo part). Later, he would make attempts to spread his campaign to the heart of Calabar even though if he would not succeed and nothing less than 20 people died in the mayhem. Many yearned for a ‘cleansing’ of Calabar and it was in this atmosphere thick with juju and voodoo that Olumba Olumba Obu arose. In Calabar, religious worship and evangelism of all kinds are the norm observed in numerous churches of different denominations and traditional healing homes which were very prominent in the people’s lives.
When the missionaries came and landed on the Bight of Bonny, they made Calabar their first base for expanding their goals of proselytization of the African peoples. But before then, Efikland was already immersed in various forms of traditional worship and African syncretism producing over time, a unique blend manifesting in various evangelical groups, one of which is the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star. As at 1850, human sacrifices were still carried out in the area until a new Ekpe society law banned the practice although some others flouted it. These people were called the nka iyip or Blood Associates who went clearly against the new rule after taking a blood oath to protect one another. The wives of dead kings and titled chiefs were buried with them in the belief that they would accompany them to obio ekpo, the Hereafter while other widows were to stay in confinement for up to seven years or more.
Many of the Efik and Ibibio residents in the area were adherents of various gods and goddesses such as Anwakang, Atakpo, Anansa Ikang, Ekpenyong Ekpeyong, Isunko Monko and the rest.
BIRTH AND EARLY DAYS
It was December 1918 and the planet was plagued with one of the deadliest natural disasters in the history of humanity. Half a billion people across the globe were infected with the H1N1 influenza virus, 100 million people had already died and the world was confused as to how to tackle the pandemic. In the tiny compound of Ano-Obu, Unorowenze in Biakpan Village, Biase Local Government Area of Cross River State, a new baby arrived at the home of two peasant farmers (his father, Olumba Obu was a minister in the Presbyterian Church while his mother would later be referred to as Queen Mother Ibum Olumba and is greatly revered in the BCS). A baby, that would later grow up to have followers, some of whom would claim his birth during the flu pandemic was not a coincidence.
Olumba himself would later describe the event as the cleansing movement of the spirit. Over time, various strange events would be attributed to this boy who would later morph into OOO. By the year 1956, Olumba Olumba Obu left his village of Biakpan and headed to the main capital city of Calabar in search of the much-famed greener pasture. He had left Biakpan in 1942 when he was just 24. While in Calabar, he took to trading of where he gained a reputation as a very honest businessman and it did not take long before he was chosen to become the leader of a local prayer team.
OOO said he received his first revelation when he was just five and then he started preaching to his playmates to love one another and leading prayers. Olumba Olumba Obu had little formal education (estimated at about just four years of elementary formal education while some others like Apostle EK Ukpai, his first cousin, BCS Secretary-Treasurer who grew up with the Obu family claim he never even attended any school) but by the time he entered his youth, he was already respected for being a teacher and healer. Olumba Olumba Obu did not have any formal theological training. It was said that before his birth, Prophetess Otemegan Otumesin had already prophesized his coming. Same with Prophet Enu Enu Nkpa who also said he saw a prophecy that his mother would be the daughter of Onowon Obazie, Ibum Mba, would be his mother.
There are numerous legends about Olumba, of how he prayed for a woman who died during childbirth and had her resurrected, of how he stopped a hunter who had killed an animal, removed the carcass from the hunter’s pouch, flung it into the bush and the animal sprang back to life, scampering off into the bush. Olumba then told the hunter that the resurrection of the animal meant that the life of a man about to die has been saved. In another narration, he was on his way to the now holy stream in Biakpan when he met an old lady along the way, and asked for water to quench his thirst. The lady gave him some of the water she got from the stream and he was so moved by her kindness. He then asked for her child but she responded that she was not able to give birth upon which Olumba prophesized she would become a mother and it came to pass. Of course, there is really no way to independently verify these claims and I had to rely on oral accounts at this stage. Quite unscientific I’d say but it will give us an insight as to how he came to be revered as a miraculous healer in Biakpan.
THE BEGINNING OF THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE CROSS AND STAR
The first ministry and prayer point of OOO and his friends was the home of a follower on 35, Wilki Street in Calabar. OOO took part in various developmental projects in his hometown of Biakpan but he was subjected to energetic opposition from the locals and had to shift somewhere else. He left the place in January 1956 for Calabar and reportedly did not set foot there again. Olumba Olumba Obu would later preach that a prophet is not honoured in his own land.
He would soon settle down and become a trader of drapery and other fabrics and later became well-known for his honesty, willingness to help others and his warm disposition. Later, people came to him to pray for them and to deliver them from evils, leading him to set up a small building to work as a prayer house in Calabar, which he called a ‘bethel’. History tells us that he later left his business to become an itinerant preacher and after a while, his people from Biakpan who were also living in Calabar rallied round him and looked up to him as a source of inspiration and pride.
In 1956, the prayer team that Olumba Olumba Obu was leading met two times a week, on Fridays and Sunday. At that time, he was staying on Eton Street and that was where the prayer meetings were held. With time, OOO became very popular and renowned for his charisma, with many claiming he was blessed with unrivalled powers of healing and prophecy. Over time, he would be known for blessing people as thus:
‘Go, I have solved all your problems.’
By 1958, the little prayer team had become oedematous and had around sixty members. Olumba’s house could not contain all of them anymore and they had to move to a new structure located along Mbukpa Road. In 1964, the prayer team had become so huge that Olumba had to register it officially as Christ’s Universal School of Practical Christianity. He was granted a certificate of incorporation by the Federal Government of Nigeria and had the name of the organization later changed to the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star (BCS). An enigmatic star was born. With their organization formed, they outlined their simple aims and objectives as follows according to Religion in Calabar by Rosalind Hackett:
- To advance Christian Religion by spreading the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ to all parts of the world.
- To carry out Practical Christianity of healing the sick , helping the poor, and relieving the distressed.
- To establish Christian schools and colleges from time to time which shall be non-profit making, and shall be in accordance with the Education policies of the Government concerned.
In a few years, the body grew rapidly and the success was so dumbfounding that they acquired a larger area within the proximity of the now-famous 34, Ambo Street, Calabar as the site of their international headquarters which remains so till date. However, not too long after they purchased their new site, something dramatic and doubly tragic happened in Nigeria. A civil war broke out in 1967 when the Governor of the Eastern Region announced a secession from Nigeria. Calabar was located in the eastern part of the country and by the time the war ended in 1970, many Nigerians were really battered psychologically and were desperately searching for anything they could cling on as a source of hope and many of them eventually ran into the open hands of the evangelistic groups and movements like the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star. It will uncharitable of me not to mention that around 1969, Olumba Olumba Obu was one of those who rallied round and brought together almost 30 other church leaders and fashioned a way to assist war victims, an exercise that was very successful and continued even after the war ended in 1970. On the 6th of August, 1980, they moved to their global headquarters at 34, Ambo Street in Calabar. 34, Ambo Street is now very synonymous with the body.
WHEN AND HOW DID MAN BECOME GOD?
At other times, he would say that ‘I and my Father are one’, thus creating more vocabulary-based discombobulation. At another point, he would refer to himself as ‘the Way, the Truth and the Life.’ But that was in the 1980s. Over the following decade, his divinity was taken as a fact by his teeming followers. Today, the teaching has changed and Olumba Olumba Obu is regarded as occupying the Highest Office of Rulership in the entire Universe and thus, according to Bishop Bassey Effiong Orok:
‘…all creations of the Almighty God, including man, spirits, angels, souls, destinies, animals, fish, insects, birds, vegetation, Sun, moon, stars, sand, hills, mountains, water, fire, rain, thunder, lightning and Air must bow to Him (OOO). This is a compulsory task that all creations must follow irrespective of grade, status or world of existence.’
THE WORDS OF OLUMBA OLUMBA OBU
“In Biakpan there are no cathedrals, nothing attractive, no educated people, no roads, no social amenities, no prominent people, no zinc houses, no light, no pipe borne water, not even a dispensary let alone a hospital. That is where God chose to be born and to reveal Himself. The people in Biakpan do not believe in God. They still go about their fetish practices. Can you then begin to understand how God does His things? If you do not listen carefully to His words you will be misled.”
–There are many teachings I have brought to mankind. Most of them are yet to be touched. That is the reason why it is disadvantageous for one to be absent from here for even one day. The members of the Brotherhood of the Cross and the Star are now flying like birds in the air. Every member of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star has been exposed to all the secrets of the world. These are yet the elementary teachings of the Holy Spirit which are only getting you set for the main teaching ahead. And when the advanced teachings are brought to you, you will always yearn for more.
-My name is the Word of God.
-I did not come for Nigeria, Africa or the Western world but all the world. I did not come for this church or that church, I don’t know what church means because church has no meaning.
-Man is a spirit and cannot die.
-I have never been to America physically but everything there I know and I can tell you. America, London, everywhere, I know.
-The Lord Jesus Christ was crucified on Thursday and not Friday.
-How do you feel coming in contact and shaking hands with the one called God? But the thing with you journalists is that you come into this place and later write falsehood. My son, have you seen the ocean they say I have at the door of the vestry? Feel free to search everywhere for the Beelzebub pot, the blood bank, the candles and the incenses they accuse me of having here. You may look under the bed. Feel the walls. I do not want money, power or position yet they say Father Obu is bad. All I have been preaching is love, peace, tolerance, righteousness and repentance.
-I am being blackmailed because I am a rebel, because I refuse to conform to the world.
-I am neither God nor our Lord Jesus Christ. I am Olumba Olumba Obu. I am on a special mission to the world and I have always taught you to love one another. I am not of this world for I do not speak of what the Spirit does not direct me to say. My major assignment is to reform a sinner and return him to the standard required by God. About being called God, it is true that many of them make such pronouncements because of the wonders that have been recorded here. Numerous diseases have been cured, hope has been given to the hopeless while the desolate have been showered with love. But it is the Father who has been doing all these works. The entire world is my witness, even the angels, I have never said that I am God. And I have never denied that it is the Father who has been doing all the works here on earth. –Olumba Olumba Obu during a world press conference.
-Heaven and hell are here. They are spiritual states.
-I am not an apostle, pastor or prophet. I am Olumba Olumba Obu. And I have not called myself God or Jesus.
-Up till today, a great many of us still believe in witchcraft. Others believe in mermaids, apparitions or even concoctions. Why do you continue to believe these diabolical things? It is because you do not listen to the Word of God. But any person who listens to the Word of God will come to the realization that neither witchery (witchraft) nor mermaid, nor apparition, nor concoction exists.
-The world vilified the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star calling us various names ranging from vampire organization, worshippers of Mammon, a group of infidels and anti-Christs. But today, the truth has uncovered that the Brotherhood is the only source of salvation. God himself being all-knowing and powerful has known the rebellious nature of man to the truth, all we need to do now is to believe in Him for our salvation.
-….commendation if they say you are hardworking? So if they say I am God, what do want me to say? It has been written in the Bible that by their fruits you shall know them.
-It is believed in BCS that in 1921, when Olumba Olumba Obu was just three years, he said the following words:
‘Call me Teacher, Master, Etubom’. “I am the universal Teacher I have come to reveal my Father to the world”. In his native Biakpan language, it went thus: Tene ne na ukep ono. Anim medubo ukep ono aneyen gut, oneto, Mvu se mve ndem aneyen gut ashin asasa gim.
LOVE, MARRIAGE AND FAMILY
Contrary to some sayings that adherents of OOO do not marry and marriage is a taboo in the creed, Olumba Olumba Obu was married and had children. His son, Roland, is known for not been serious with the ministry and in 2001, he was accused of leading a faction to cause trouble. His thugs were said to have driven a six-inch nail into the head of one of the members of the other party. His daughter, Ibum, surely had a cherished place in his heart even if they did have times of clashing. On the 13th of October, 2001, Olumba had a special dedication service for her in appreciation of her 20 years of meritorious service to the BCS.
CRITICISM OF THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE CROSS AND STAR
In a country like Nigeria where a vast majority of the populace are adherents of mainstream Christianity and Islam, it is not surprising that vitriolic attacks and criticism are directed at ‘fringe’ sects the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star. Others in this category also are the Jehovah Witnesses, Baha’i faith followers (been in Nigeria since 1955), Eckankar, Sat Guru Maharaji followers and the rest. The BCS has been accused of incorporating teachings of the occult, mysticism and metaphysics such as the secret handshakes of Freemasonry in addition to also twisting the teachings of Christianity and leading the people astray.
Of course, the BCS has periodically denied all the accusations, vigourously defending itself and stating the even when Jesus Christ was alive, he was persecuted and not all believed in him. Well, that is religion and it remains a very sensitive issue in Nigeria. I wish science and technology will take the frontburner one day in Nigeria. The truth of the matter on ground here is that the freedom of worship and religion is guaranteed in the Nigerian Constitution. But as it happens all over the world, minority religious sects are usually at the mercy of the ‘big giants’ and are subjected to constant media bashing and various forms of persecution. That, is definitely not the purpose of this piece.
INTERESTING THINGS ABOUT OLUMBA OLUMBA OBU
NB: All references to Olumba Olumba Obu here is to the original founder of the BCS and not the current head, who is also called Olumba Olumba Obu, unless otherwise stated.
One of the spiritual songs in the BCS goes thus:
The Gospel of Olumba is a consuming fire, so beware, it is a consuming fire.
-Olumba Olumba Obu (OOO) has a set of various outlandish titles. He is primarily referred to as the Sole Spiritual Head of the Universe with absolute powers over the forces of good and evil. He is also called the Eternal Icon, the Mystery Man from Biakpan, The Word of God, Leader, The Supernatural Teacher, the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. It does not end there. He is also seen as the Physical Representation of the Holy Spirit and the Second Reincarnation of Christ, and ultimately, he is addressed as Father and God Almighty, The Conqueror and the Vanisher, the Creator of All.
-Why was he always on red? The dressing in red robes by Olumba Olumba Obu has its basis in the scriptures:
Who is this that cometh from Edom, with deep-red garments from Bozrah, this that is glorious in his apparel, travelling in the greatness of his strength? I that speak in righteousness, mighty to save. –Isaiah 63:1, Darby Bible Translation.
-Some of the members of the BCS have their own pilgrimage which they perform to the village of Biakpan where Olumba Olumba Obu was born. In the village, there is a stream there that is considered holy and they bathe in it.
– Some people fervently believe that Olumba Olumba Obu is an agent of Satan and practices all forms of witchcraft deceiving millions of people. Well, the point of this piece is not to sort that out but to document events and narrate what happened between the various concerned parties. On the 23rd of December, 1978, Olumba Olumba Obu, in his capacity as the Sole Spiritual Leader of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star released a press statement in the Nigerian Chronicle. He also took time out in the publication to blast those who accused him of procuring ekpenoi, a type of witchcraft that can be bought. Olumba, in the statement denied having any association with, or belief in, witchcraft.
-OOO was born in Biakpan and today, the village is designated as a holy city and the spiritual headquarters by his worshippers who now refer to it as the New Jerusalem of God, Bethlehem, Mecca of the New World, The Promised Land, The Nativity of the Fullness of the Godhead or The Holy City Biakpan. Biakpan is about 150 kilometres to the north of Calabar. Access to Biakpan is difficult and involves a combination of inland and water travel. Concerning Biakpan, Olumba Olumba Obu said:
“Your going to Jerusalem for pilgrimage is void. Apart from Biakpan, there is no other Jerusalem in existence. All those in spirit know the New Jerusalem. I had earlier given a mandate that in all what the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star does, the starting point should be Biakpan. Most members of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star have neglected Biakpan and claimed 34 Ambo Street to be the headquarters whereas to God, Biakpan is the home, mother, and cradle of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star. If you call 34 Ambo, Calabar, the headquarters of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star, would you say that Biakpan is the sub-headquarter?”
-Worshippers do not wear shoes in the bethels. Take a look at the videos and you will notice this.
-While preaching, Olumba Olumba Obu centered on two things: love (ima) and power (odudu). Power of the Holy Spirit. Obu preached against polygamy, joining secret cults and traditional institutions.
-Obu is accused of preaching existential millennialism, epoch-based messianism and even a complicated form of pantheism that some have interpreted to be polytheism. One of Obu’s most controversial teachings is that in taking the sins of humanity, Christ himself had in essence become a sinner. He gave an example of the turning of water into wine as an example since wine can cause intoxication. Teachings as these have earned him seriously acidic criticism.
-There are numerous accounts from various people of Olumba Olumba Obu appearing to them in their homes even when they were in different time zones and thousands of kilometers apart. For those in this category, they strongly believe that that was a demonstration of the omnipresence of Olumba.
-Olumba Olumba Obu never travelled anywhere outside his town and on very rare occasions when he did leave his base, he went on foot and it was to the original bethel (BCS worship centers are called bethels) located on 26 Mbukpa Road where his wife stayed and it was not far at all.
-Although he was not schooled, Olumba Olumba Obu had a vastly impressive knowledge of the Bible and he dazzled not a few with his ability to endlessly quote verses to support his points. On the 11th of January 1981, Rosalind Hackett was conducting a two-hour interview with Olumba Olumba Obu at his 34, Ambo Street, Calabar (PO Box 49) headquarters and he made over 30 different quotations to buttress his points.
-Rosalind Hackett stated that on the 23rd of January, 1983, an anonymous informant revealed to her that a delegation from the Brotherhood of the Cross and the Star arrived the headquarters of the Ancient and Mystical Order Rosae Crucis (also called AMORC or the Rosicrucian Order) in San Jose, California, United States in 1981. She also stated that there were secret moves made to have Olumba Olumba Obu become a full member of AMORC. The body is a global fraternal association dedicated to studying the most elusive mysteries of life and the Universe.
-His critics derisively referred to him as the ‘Jesus of Calabar.’
-He predicted that soldiers would never rule Nigeria again and that all coup attempts will be crushed.
-He taught that theocracy is the only way to solve all of the world’s problems that democracy is a manmade project that cannot work out any lasting solutions.
-Followers take him to be the Messiah and the eighth and final reincarnation of God with Jesus Christ being the seventh.
-In 2001, in the face of the constant media criticism of his kingdom, Olumba Olumba Obu banned the unapproved coverage of their events.
-Olumba Olumba Obu always stressed love as the core of his teachings and once predicted that those who do not have love in their hearts would cease to exist by 2000AD. He taught that the actual reign of Christ’s glory on earth was to start in 2001.
-As far back as 1972, Olumba Olumba Obu had sent pastors to start bases in North America.
-Olumba Olumba Obu was said to eat very little quantities of food, sleeps very little and feasted mainly on fruits, preaching vegetarianism. He lived a very simple life, preached for hours on end to his hundreds of daily visitors and was always simply dressed or at best, wearing his trademark red or white soutane. At other times, he would be clad in just shorts or wrapper with his singlet or a shirt on. He was not known to amass vast material property.
-Olumba did not belong to any church, he did not go into any period of seclusion and he was said to have the knowledge of the Bible because he was the author. He was accused of saying only the Book of Revelation was useful in the Bible while also preaching the fallibility of Jesus and the idea of reincarnation, to the alarm of many other Nigerians.
-Olumba Olumba Obu shunned formal Western clothing, shoes and even went without wristwatches. His preaching was done mainly in his native Efik language.
-Professor Assassu Inyang-Ibom, formerly of the Esom Fraternity Company of Nigeria said he converted to a worshipper at the BCS when he carried out his own research into the occult and mysticism. He also claimed to have seen Olumba Olumba Obu during his travels to the astral world.
WHAT OTHERS SAY ABOUT OLUMBA OLUMBA OBU
Come unto Olumba,
Ye who are weary and worn,
Bring unto Him your burdens,
And hearts with anguish torn.
Come unto Him, ye toilers,
Tired of stress and…..come unto Olumba.
I am convinced that God’s representative is here on earth who comes into the world as God in disguise.
-Dr. JS Bazie (aka Dr. Aggarwal) Delhi-based occult and mysticism specialist, 1972. Bazie said Obu’s spirit visited him in India and in the 1970s, he led a small team to Calabar.
Truly you have convinced me beyond doubt, that God is now on earth in our midst, dwelling not only in Calabar but all over the earth. Right now many Americans want to visit Calabar to spend sometime with the Holy Father. I talk about you to them all the time. –Bishop James Ellerbe, New Jersey, USA.
Your Leader frequently visits me in my house. When he comes, he always wears a white tee-shirt over a loincloth and bare feet. I alone would see him. I would ask him questions and he too would give answers to my questions and would even instruct me on what to do and how to do my spiritual works. I have always applied his instructions.-Alhaji Sheriff Manneh, a prominent Muslim spiritualist in Keur Massar, Senegal who said he wanted to test the veracity of Olumba’s powers.
REALLY INTERESTING THINGS ABOUT THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE CROSS AND STAR
Olumba’s love is so wonderful (3*)
Oh, wonderful love
It is so high you cannot reach it
It is so low you cannot get under it
It is so wide you cannot cross it
Oh wonderful love…
-The Brotherhood in the name of the BCS signifies the unity and love for all of God’s creations while the Cross is an allusion to sharing the sufferings of Christ and others. The Star is believed to represent the glory and reign of Christ but in some other instances, Olumba Olumba Obu explained it to mean the ‘hidden name for the light of the New Age’ and that ‘the Brotherhood of the Cross and the Star is going to be the STAR, the new name for all the Churches in the world.’
-In the BCS, only the New Testament is used and the Old Testament was very rarely referred to by Olumba Olumba Obu in his teachings.
-The BCS is also called the Christ’s Universal Spiritual School of Practical Christianity.
-Adherents do not celebrate Holy Communion but instead pour out on the streets of Calabar to celebrate the return of Christ to earth in the form of Olumba Olumba Obu. In addition to organizing these love feasts (where they eat together), celebrating Christmas and Easter, they also have a special anniversary celebration in August.
-There are weekly fasts on Thursdays from 6am to 6pm. Olumba Olumba Obu recommends a vegan diet but this is not compulsory.
-BCS respects other faiths and even draws on them, constantly calling for cooperation among various faiths.
-Yes, there is also the 144,000 Virgin Sisters.
-In the BCS, the belief holds that Adam reincarnated as Christ and now has finally reincarnated as the Leader, Olumba Olumba Obu who is now in the form of His Holiness, Olumba Olumba Obu the First Begotten Son of the Leader Olumba Olumba Obu who is in turn accompanied and assisted by Eve, who also reincarnated in the form of the Virgin Mary and now as Her Holiness, Ibum Olumba Obu and the First Daughter of Olumba Olumba Obu. In short, the first son and daughter of Almighty are right here on this planet.
-Fornication, adultery, abortion, stealing and smoking are seriously frowned upon in the BCS. In the 1980s, a pamphlet titled Divine Instruction for the Followers of the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star from the BCS listed a total of 56 sins. Members are also advised against polygamy or joining secret societies or patronizing witchcraft, sorcery and the likes. OOO taught that it was necessary to subdue the flesh in order to gain spiritual advancement.
-Although Olumba Olumba Obu said there is really no hierarchy in the service of the Lord, the body has an organogram. At the helm of affairs is Olumba Olumba Obu who then appoints bishops to head the various dioceses or bishoprics. Bishops are identified by their purple girdle on their vestments. Each diocese has 10 districts and several bethels each of which is headed by a representative or elder chosen with Olumba’s approval. There is also a wing of prophets and prophetesses who hold their position for life and are responsible for what has been described as ‘itinerant evangelism’. Another section has an array of senior pastors then the other pastors that head states, divisions, districts and zones. Pastors wear black girdles. Senior and junior apostles, deacons, deaconesses and evangelists all wear red girdles.
-The highest decision making body in the BCS is the Spiritual Council established on the 24th of December 1966. However, much of all of the power and authority are concentrated in the hands of Olumba Olumba Obu.
-Worshippers carry the pictures of OOO about and pray to it. Same goes for the initials: OOO.
-New members are admitted by baptism following a confession of sins. Members are grouped into two: the ‘sitting members’ who stay at home and the ‘public witnesses’ who move around preaching. Members were white robes called soutanes alluding to the verse in the Bible that says:
…these which are arrayed in white robes (Revelation 7:13, KJV). Walking barefoot takes its root from the bush burning incident in the Bible when God told Moses to remove his shoes. In the same manner, BCS members believe all of the earth is sacred.
-Unlike some others, adherents of the BCS do not believe that Jesus Christ will be descending from the sky. As far as they are concerned, he is already here right on earth with them. A believer in the BCS, Sybil Aganaba explained this thus: The different between the worldly people, and the children of God is, the worldly people are still gazing at the sky believing that one day, the Christ will crash land to this earth, while we the children believe that God is here on earth, and we have seen him.
–Fasting is not obligatory for followers. You can decide to fast or not. However, it is recommended during the pilgrimage to Biakpan.
-In Biakpan where OOO was born or where he was said to have physically manifested on earth, there is the Pool of Bethesda which is believed to have healing powers. Pilgrims to the site bath in it when they visit but dipping in the pool is not allowed on Thursdays. For pilgrims interested in having dips in the pool, there are specific guidelines on how to do that correctly. Before you dip into the water, a pilgrim must do the following, according to the regulations outlined by OOO himself:
-Pay the tithe in the morning.
-Make a confession of all your sins when prompted to do so.
-Be silent and orderly.
-Do not be faster than the conductor in charge of the prayers.
-Do not enter the water until you are told to do so.
-All pilgrims must dip into the water in stark nakedness. Not even a single piece of underwear, hairnet or fabric must be on their bodies.
It is believed that pilgrims that have enough faith and follow all the rules will come out of the water with their lives filled with testimonies and wonders.
Of the rules of dipping into the water, this is what OOO has to say:
Since obedience is better than sacrifice, I urge all of you to comply strictly with this laid down procedure. I am before and behind you always. My peace and blessings abide with you, now and forever. Amen.
His Holiness Olumba Olumba Obu
The King of kings and the Lord of lords
Chairman BCS Executive Council/ Head of Administration
-Activities during the pilgrimage to the holy city of Biakpan are done over a period of three days and three nights from Thursday to Sunday. On the first day, the following are done:
-Fasting and testimonies about the Holy City, the Father and His Christ.
-Evening service which starts at 8pm.
Second day of the pilgrimage:
-Dipping into the healing waters of Bethesda
-Prayers offered in the morning.
-Visit to the new Jerusalem site.
-Fasting continues alongside constant silent meditation, prayers and testimonies as Day One.
-Evening service starting at 8pm.
Pilgrims are advised to arrive on Wednesdays. For those coming for the pilgrimage, OOO advises the following preparations:
- Learn how to sit quietly and meditate for ten to fifteen minutes every day in your home. Pilgrimage Centres are noisy and crowded so it is beneficial to practice sitting quietly.
- Read about the Holy Father, Leader Olumba Olumba Obu, His birth and early miracles so that you can tune into Him, receive His vibrations and feel His presence.
- Prepare to observe 6-6 fasting for the duration of the pilgrimage.
- Avoid unnecessary chit chats and distractions. That is not what you left your home or State or country to come for.
-Apart from visit to the holy sites, other events during the pilgrimage include cultural displays, seminars, quiz competitions, paper presentations, football matches, poem recitations, award presentations and many more. However, I must chip in here that Olumba Olumba Obu said he left his birthplace of Biakpan in 1955 and had not step his feet back there since then. Biakpan, just a stone throw from Igboland, was situated in Akampa Division of the state, and was a site of bitter border disputes.
-Each group of pilgrim visiting Biakpan is responsible for providing its own security.
-In 1983, some members of the BCS were implicated in burning down the controversial Mother Jah Shrine, a healing home notorious for using violent and questionable tactics in healing and exorcism.
-The BCS worship centers are not called churches but BETHELS.
-In July 2013, the BCS released a press statement revealing that they had contributed a sum of over N14billion to support the Cross River state economy.
-For members of the BCS, the letters OOO, standing for the names of their leader, are not to be joked with. They believe these three letters have some special spiritual and protective powers leading some to paint it on their houses, vehicles and others.
-Incense is not used during worship, same with music, hand clapping or musical instruments. They have a special form of music which is called ‘mouth music’ basically a type of rhythmic humming and bellowing. There is baptism by immersion in water, washing of feet before congregational prayers on Sundays, prayer in the ‘powerful name of Obu’ and the use of holy water and oil.
-The number stood at 600,000 in 1980. As at 2000, the BCS had one million members across the globe. Today, they are believed to reach two million of Olumba’s adherents on earth.
-It is believed that the native Biakpan language spoken is the same that Adam spoke in the Garden of Eden. In other news, Biakpan is said to be derived from the following Efik words: Obio Akpan Abasi meaning ‘City of the Son of God.’
THE SPLIT AND THE GREAT CONTROVERSY
In 2001, Olumba Olumba Obu was already too old, weak and frail. Some members of his congregation were smartly scheming what would happen and who would succeed him when he passes on. His son, Roland, was not seen as a suitable candidate to mount the throne because of his lifestyle. His daughter, Ibum, led another faction to lead the BCS. On the 10th of June 2001, the matter reached a climax when Ibum, her brother, her husband, five bishops and 115 others were fired from the BCS and a newspaper announcement was made to back it up. The battle of succession was quite messy with the court having to mediate in the dispute. Ibum married a man from Akwa Ibom State, and Olumba had initially handed over the administration of the BCS to her making her the General-Secretary, to the chagrin of some other members. The decision led to a split to the Akwa Ibom and Cross River factions. It was said that Olumba himself had predicted that the split will give rise to the true BCS.
DEATH AND AFTERMATH
Although many of his members deny this and say that ‘Olumba has gone to sleep’, it is widely believed that Olumba Olumba Obu passed on sometimes in 2003 or after. As at 2009, he was no longer seen in public and many claimed that he had gone blind. His supposed death and what happened to his remains thereafter still remains a great mystery and carefully-shrouded secret. Later, His Holiness Olumba Olumba Obu took over as the new leader of the BCS and is in that position till date. See his pictures below:
THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE CROSS AND STAR TODAY
From what started as a small prayer team in the 1960s, the Brotherhood of the Cross and Star is now a colossus with over one million members from various parts of the globe, all of the holding on to the teachings of the wizened old man from Biakpan. Silently but steadily, the BCS has been gaining ground and its membership rank keeps swelling. Today, there are units of the BCS that deals with hospitality, publishing, catering, tailoring and even intercontinental business. Some aristocrats in the Cross River society are also members of BCS and this has greatly assisted in boosting the profile of the organization.
Since the year 1980, teams from the BCS have been visiting the United States, United Kingdom, Guinea Bissau, Trinidad and Tobago, Gabon, Ghana, Cameroon, Liberia, Senegal, Germany, India, Russia and other parts of the globe and impressive success they have recorded in spreading their message, constructing bethels and gaining new converts like our dear family friend. While he was alive, OOO paid serious attention to the welfare of his subjects, building shelter for the unemployed and destitute in addition to providing a center for the handicapped and giving out vast sums to charitable efforts. Today, the BCS still continues the tradition. No doubt, no one knows what lies in future for the Brotherhood but so far, they have carried their cross calmly, and whether their star will dim or not, only time can tell.