BOOK REVIEW: REVERSED

Author: The Christ A Poet Team
Publisher: Christ A Poet Concepts
Reviewer: Olufunke Ajegbomogun

When I began the review of this book, I made a decision to use a few days to go through the poems but as I started reading, I was gripped and couldn’t let go of this anthology. That is exactly the experience you are likely to get when you open Reversed to read!


Reversed is a collection of poems that takes us on a journey reminiscent of the times of Jesus and other biblical characters. The messages are woven around biblical stories which help us relate to scriptures in the most simplified way we could ever imagine. We see the experiences of ordinary men like us play out right before us as if we were there. Even animals and inanimate objects echo their stories, leaving them entrenched in our minds.


Through the pages of Reversed, we see Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. Most of the poems are short and freestyled although some use traditional rhyme schemes and poetic sound effects. Each poem’s unique style plays a role in relaying its message. Some poems also contain graphic images that paint a picture in the reader’s mind. “Cock Coo Roo Coo” reminds us of how God can use an animal to remind us that none of His words that come forth from His mouth dies without fulfilling its purpose. The poet alludes to the experience of Peter to remind us of the importance of having a voice even if it’s that of an animal to caution us when we derail from the path of life.


We also see beyond the agony and pain that took place on the cross when Christ died as we read “I Saw Evil”. This poem helps us to see that there is more to the death of a sinless man by revealing to us what took place on the cross that had otherwise been invisible to the eyes of an ordinary man. “Evil died when Jesus was crucified! That line is explosive. Time and space will not permit me to talk about the other poems’ deep and inspiring messages that words alone may not be able to capture.


If you are the kind of person who reads scriptures with a sense of detachment, get hold of Reversed and see how you’ll get a new perspective from reading scriptures.


So, let me leave you with this: Reversed is an anthology you got to read yourself, let no man tell you the stories, go get a copy and be part of the journey.

You can download a free copy of Reversed here.

RACIAL RECONCILIATION: OUSTING RACISM WITH LOVE

” God created the human race, humans created racism.” -Jane Elliot

Racism. We all are somewhat scared of and responsible for this word. An upsurge in protests snowballing across many countries in the wake of George Floyd’s murder is shaming racism and racists. Topics that were once sacrosanct are now public discussions. The world is waking up to the damaging effects of institutionalized and systemic racism that has plagued “minority races” for decades. In spite of the COVID-19 pandemic, activists and protesters are stamping their feet down, pumping their fists in the air demanding equality for all races. These measures are certainly drawing attention to the issue but unless conscious steps are taken by every individual, it “may” be a waste of time. We may not be responsible for racism but we sure do have our work cut out in achieving its deconstruction.

Living in imperfect societies as Christians compels us to do the one thing we’ve been called to do – Love. The famous one-liner, “if you can’t beat them, join them” isn’t a Christian mantra, but rather debunking it is what we are called to do. We can’t stand up to racism by inciting hatred or shrinking into our holes but by loving people of all ethnicity and language like Christ did, unconditionally. Mike Todd in his sermon on racial reconciliation expatiates on a commandment God gave us; “love your neighbour – not your black neighbour, or white neighbour, or affluent neighbour”. The knowledge that in Christ, there are no divisions based on race or ethnicity would be more effective if it were truly practiced rather than stated.

Prejudice, discrimination, structural and institutionalized injustice can be demolished with racial reconciliation which upholds love, tolerance, inclusion and respect as its tenets. Recognizing the problem and actually believing it is a problem is a good place to starting the journey of racial reconciliation. We ought to have a level of self awareness rather than feign ignorance on the issue, only then will we see it as a social problem that needs to be tackled.

Racial reconciliation is not just the sermons but the conscious and consistent love for people, not because of the colour of their skin but because they are human. Love encompasses everything we need to fight racism. There is beauty in diversity, I mean the world will be so bland if everything existed in one shade. Accepting and embracing this draws us closer to the fulfilment of the revelation John had when he saw people of all race, language, nation and tribe worshipping God in harmony.

Reconciling races is possible when we’ve been reconciled to ourselves. No race is inferior to the other, therefore you are not inferior, the spirit in you is not the spirit of fear but of love and that eliminates all fear. We are all worthy of respect and equality and because this decades-long monster has eaten deep into our societies and institutions does not imply we have to settle for and expect less. We are to celebrate our ethnic identity and uniqueness, whether we be African, European, Asian, American, Australian, Biracial, Multiracial, we are God’s ingenious handiwork. We love God and by transforming into His image, we become love and in turn, we love others.

Self-examination reveals who we inherently are. There are social, religious and institutionalized constructs and biases inculcated in us from our childhood which may be discriminatory, this can unconsciously lead us to perpetrate the myths and stereotypes we grew up feeling were normal. Racial reconciliation means evaluating our beliefs and theories about people different from us and ultimately deconstructing the prejudiced, bigoted ones.

The one way racism can be ousted is through love, the God kind – agape. Sure activism raises awareness but treating everyone equally starts from an individual making the choice to love. And how best can we love except we have love in us? There is one who loved us all so much He gave His life for us and if we let Him in, then we too can love effortlessly, regardless of who it is, White, black, brown, red.

In a world where hatred and strife is growing, may we choose to be symbols of love.

IfiokAbasi Okop and Steven Kator Iorfa. ©2020

THE TRAIN: THE JOURNEY OF FAITH

PRODUCER: DAMILOLA MIKE-BAMILOYE
DIRECTORS: YEMI ADEPOJU & ISAAC FEMI-AKINTUNDE
CAST: SEUN ADEJUMOBI, OMOLARA AYOOLA, TOLULOPE MIKE-BAMILOYE
YEAR: 2020

REVIEWER: IFIOKABASI OKOP

The Mount Zion Film Productions (MZFP) has, in recent years, undergone a great transformation in the production of her films, with fresh, relatable stories, terrific acting and fantastic cinematography. Damilola Mike-Bamiloye took the Christian film industry in Nigeria beyond what his father started, thereby sparking the interest of many to watch their films and have their lives changed.

“The Train”, a biopic on the life of the founder of The Mount Zion Film Productions, Mike Bamiloye, was highly anticipated since the beginning of the year when Damilola made the announcement on his social media pages. It was released May 3, 2020 on Damilola’s YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCGyPHwlkRV_Ai7aLRXpXJow) and has since generated testimonies, raves, reviews and trends all around the country.

The film chronicles the life of Mike Bamiloye from his childhood to the early years of his ministry. It is divided into different chapters depicting various stages of his life; his childhood, education, friendships, marriage, ministry and his absolute trust in God’s will for his life and calling. “The Train” is an enthralling story that holds your interest for its almost three-hour duration, soaking in every step of Mike’s journey, leaving you spell-bound.

The cast of the film is well put together and the acting effortlessly delivered. I would imagine the work put into that, given the fact that they portrayed real people, some of whom are still alive. Seun Adejumobi, who plays the older Mike-Bamiloye, was perfect for the role as his delivery of a wide range of emotions were realistic. You’ll root for him, cry with him, laugh at him and pause the movie to pray the times he takes those proverbial leaps of faith. The “Agbara Nla” herbalist scene is excellently recreated and it shows the level of dedication this actor put into his work. The child actor, Oluwasola Peter, who plays the younger Mike-Bamiloye, is a delight to watch; his mischievousness cracked me up and his childish innocence endeared many viewers to him. Omolara Ayoola is brilliant in her role as Mike’s older sister, living and breathing her character in each scene, bringing her A-game to make her performance memorable. Tolulope Mike-Bamiloye perfectly embodies the character of Gloria Bamiloye with apt genteelness and grace that made me fall in love with her character.

Other elements in the film have great attention paid to them. Set in the 1960s to 1990s, the film’s set designers, costumiers, makeup artists, location managers put in a lot of hard work and creativity into making sure it felt like a period film. The sets, costumes, hairstyles, props- TV, radio, currency, telephone, lanterns, cameras, kitchen plates- were all from the 90s. The Ilesa dialect of the Yoruba language Mike Bamiloye grew up speaking is used for a greater part of the film, showing the attention the filmmakers gave to the little details.

The cinematography is well-thought out. It does not just tell a person’s story, it uses the environment as a character, depicting its aesthetic in relation to a scene’s emotion or action. Music and sound is the heart of this film. Joshua Mike-Bamiloye channels his awesome creativity in highlighting the emotions in each scene through his choice of sound and, of course, there were scenes that moved me to tears. The music was largely responsible for that. The reworked version of “Oruko Jesu O Tobi” is superb and the theme song, “The Train”, done in collaboration with Lawrence Oyor is timely, provocative and contemplative.

“The Train” scores a high point by not being preachy but ends up passing across a great deal of messages through its casts’authentic, passionate performances. This film relentlessly opens you up to the truth that God’s will and way is the perfect path and that the bigger-than-life calling we have can be successful if we trust Him, foolishly. Mike’s ministry was an uncharted territory but he believed God for the strength needed for his journey.

“The Train” (WATCH HERE) is a classic that has set a new standard for the Christian film industry whose future productions certainly have big shoes to fill.

IfiokAbasi Okop
©2020

Dear God #2

To follow you
Anywhere
Anytime
Anyhow

2

I’m on a boat sailing to the shore where you are
The waters, still, remind me of your love –
Unwavering and completely overwhelmimg
When I’m stuck and can’t go any further, you still believe in me
I’m sorry for not trusting you enough
For not doing the little crazy things you want to me to do
For not completely giving in to your desires
I’ll listen to those little nudges inside and obey your voice
I am not going to hide the light that you have put in me
You know what you’re doing
You know what’s best for me
From now on, I put all of my faith and all of my trust in you
I see your hands stretched out to me
I love how warm and safe it feels
I don’t want to ever be in a place where you aren’t
I want to follow your lead

Your darling

– Ifiokabasi Okop (2019)

Dear God #1

Eyes that see
Ears that hear
A heart that knows
A life that does

1

I’m stuck
I don’t know how to describe it
I feel numb and distant from you
I searched for answers in a world that proffers lies
I’m sorry I didn’t trust you
I’m sorry I doubted you
Distance from you is seeping life out of me
I look for meaning and reasons to live
Dad, it’s vague, dark, empty and I’m loosing myself
Please show me
Give me eyes that see you in everything
Ears that hear your reassuring, soothing words
A heart that knows you, all of you
Let my life do your desires, be your heartbeat, live your life
Your Zoe

Your lost daughter

– Ifiokabasi Okop (2019)

RESCUE

I found rags to cover up
I take the lonely road home
Trying to hold back tears
– Mum will be so angry –
I’m at the front door
And I can’t ring the doorbell
The door clicks open and Mum gasps
– What happened? –
– I don’t know –
I sob and drop to my knees
– Don’t worry honey, let me clean you up –
She picks me up and takes
Me to her bathroom, peels
The rags off me, picks out
The dying petals from my hair
And cleans off the ashes from
My body. She gently sponges
Me and shampoos my hair
I let out the tears
– I’m so sorry Mum –
– It’s okay honey, you’ll be fine –
I nod
– I love you, you know that right? –
I nod
When she is done, I look at
The bathroom mirror and touch
My face. I see the glow come into
My eyes, I smile and clean off my tears
– I love you –

IfiokAbasi Okop
© 2019

FADE

Spotlight’s on me
I look around
Hoping these eyes
Aren’t staring at me
Suddenly the dress
Mum picked out
Doesn’t feel that
Glamorous anymore
The flowers in my hair
Are falling off, dying
The petals crumble
Colours; white, gold, purple
Slowly fading
No one’s staring anymore
I’m forgotten
But the spotlight’s still on me
I run but the light follows me
I stop and scream
– Let me go! –
I hold up the dress but
It’s in flames
From the hem up,
It turns to ashes
I run into the bathroom
– This is a nightmare –

IfiokAbasi Okop
© 2019

HOPE

I walk into Mum’s room
She has laid out
Another beautiful dress
For me with flowers for
My hair.
– You don’t need a dress to make
You feel beautiful. You are beautiful,
Loved and blessed and that’s something
You have to know, for yourself.
No matter how many times you feel alone
And forgotten, don’t forget to come to my
Front door, this is always Home –

The smile on my face bursts into a beautiful
radiance; the joy of a thousand hearts.

IfiokAbasi Okop
© 2019