Versatile Bishop of the masses
There might have been a time when men and women of the Holy and Ecclesiastical Orders were assumed to be somehow indifferent to events outside their spiritual calling. In years gone by it would have been unthinkable that a Bishop would be out there carrying a placard, in the midst of other protesting citizens, urging the government of the day to reverse its hike on the price of petroleum products!
Of course, a highly respected Bishop in the person of His Lordship Felix Femi Ajakeye, Catholic Bishop of Ekiti Diocese, is as reputed for his concerns for the happiness of others as he is for sanity in political governance. It was he who, among others, carried a placard to protest about the increase in the prices of petroleum products during the Goodluck Jonathan administration. This uncommon solidarity with the masses was reported in major newspapers and is also documented in the Bishop’s new book, Beyond Ideas, a compilation of his religious and intellectual thoughts as well as the activities he has been involved with over the years. Such activities, also indicative of the high esteem in which he is held in Ekiti State, include his participation in the 2014 Constitutional Conference in Abuja.
Beyond Ideas emanates from the author’s philosophical thinking that “for true success, attitude is as important as ability. In our ideas, we need to have both attitude and ability for positive and concrete action”. This combination of attitude and ability reflects in this voluminous book of 588 pages divided into six parts. Part 1 of this highly-revealing book is devoted to Religion. His Lordship talks of his foray into priesthood, as well as discussing religious issues of global significance. He provides a detailed biographical essay on the revered Pope John Paul II, a great historical figure of the modern era. More significant for Nigeria, is the author’s admonition of understanding and tolerance between the competing religions of the Nigerian state.
Part 2 of Beyond Ideas is devoted to a wide range of political, economic and social issues. This section can be regarded as the main chunk of the book as it covers over 300 pages and comprises about 60 essays. The essays cover virtually every significant issue in the Nigerian polity during the past twenty years. The commentaries, not only on Nigeria but also on events in Africa and beyond, are documented with great clarity. The author regards Nigeria’s historic “June 12” as the “real democracy day” in one of his essays, essays that are as relevant today as they were when first written.
Parts 3,4,5 and 6 cover sports, talks, interviews and other important issues. The Bishop’s interest in sports, in particular, suggests he has a busy summer ahead of him with Wimbledon and the World Cup soon to come. His appraisal of the epic achievements of the William sisters should provide inspiration to our young men and women to seek to excel in diverse sporting activities. Bishop Ajakaye will no doubt be cheering every goal scored by the Nigerian national team in Russia 2018; one hopes his cheering will be prolonged!!
Beyond Ideas is a 2016 publication of Y-books (a subsidiary of Associated Book-makers Nigeria Limited). Bishop Felix Ajakaye’s style of presentation is flowing prose, a reader-friendly exposition. Because his numerous essays appeared in a variety of newspapers, he chose, understandably, not to identify any particular newspaper with the original source of publication. I will strongly suggest, even as I enthusiastically recommend this important book to libraries and individuals, that crediting a source of publication is still important for research purposes. However, the author made up for this shortcoming by dating every article assembled under the cover of Beyond Ideas. I have profited from reading this book and believe others will.
Anthony Akinola, wrote from Oxford, UK.