The news fly all around and the hitherto serene community becomes busy playing host to people from far and near seeking miracle healing to their ailments in a stream that sprang up suddenly.
The physically challenged, the aged, young, men and women including people with different kinds of sicknesses throng the pool in droves, dip themselves naked in the 3-4feet deep stagnated water, wash the ailing parts of their bodies believing they are healed.
Although the testimonies were not forth coming, the lame, blind still assisted with mixed feelings, believed that they will be healed.
‘Pool of Bethesda’
The mysterious pool, called Orimiri located in a forest about 3km from the Nachi bus-stop along Onitsha/Enugu old road, allegedly heals all kinds of ailments after it was discovered by a Fulani herdsman recently.
Since the discovery, the community has become a pilgrimage center with no fewer than 3000 people thronging the place daily. From morning till 6pm daily, okada ply through that narrow and sandy path carrying passengers and their loads of jerry cans to the stream.
When Saturday Vanguard visited the stream, scores of people especially women were seen naked dipping their bodies in the already contaminated stream in the quest for healing. As those with tumor, sores and injuries wash their bodies without any reservation, the physically challenged were being assisted by their relatives for thorough bath. Others were busy scooping up water from different holes dug around the bank into their plastic containers of various sizes.
The people’s craze for healing was also seen as they collect sands from the stream into cellophane bags to their homes believing even the sands under the water was as effective as the stream itself. The trees in the surroundings were also not spared as people chop trees into various sizes with a claim that it cures all kinds of sicknesses.
But none of these miracle seekers at the stream as at the time of visit could give a clear testimony of the healing he or she had received. Most of them who spoke with us opined that they believe it will work.
A middle aged woman, who refused to give her real names who never suspected she was talking to the press, said: “I just came here for to exercise my faith. I have not seen any one though, but I believe it. I just had a bath in the water and I believe it. I believe God that I will be okay.”
But Donatus Ike, who claims he has been coming to the stream on a daily basis since the news of the healing power broke said: “I always come here every day to work; I guide people in doing certain things here. The water has healing power. A lot of people came from far and near. Not too long ago, Rev. Mbaka came here, he prayed for people. The lame will work, the blind will see. You can see a crutch over there; it was dropped by somebody who couldn’t work.”
Amobi Chukwu in his own view said: “I think it is all about faith. What you call medicine is medicine for you. I also believe the water has healing power. The water is dirty and it was because a lot of people come here and bath inside the water and you know this is not a flowing river. That is why people dig the river bank to get better water to drink. It is drinkable.”
But the controversies surrounding the healing power of the stream, began to unfold as Rev. Father Chikezie Cypril a.k.a Okanga Jesus, the Parish Priest, St. Michael Catholic Church, Oji, Enugu described those who seek healing from the stream are spiritual puppets. Cypril who is also the Chaplain of the Physically Challenged in the area said, said he has not heard from any of the physically challenged in his domain that one person had been healed from the water. “I don’t believe it.
I am the chaplain of the physically challenged and none of them has come to me to give that testimony of healing; and this is happening in their area. I mean not even one person has come to confirm it. I know that most of them have gone there and nothing is happening. So, you see, people tend to confuse you with certain things. As I am speaking to you, no member of this community has shared a testimony about the water.”
Seeking healing at the pool
In the same vein, Chief Ignatius Ene Chikeluba who claimed he was born in the farmland gave an insight into the beginning of the whole parody. He stated that it was the Fulani herdsmen who concocted and spread the story of healing power without any clear evidence. “Throughout the period I stayed in the farmland, we have never heard about the healing power being ascribed to the water. It is a concoction of the Fulani herdsmen. I know that revelation from God can come through any body but my advice to them is that whatever they are saying should be the whole truth and nothing but the truth,” Chikeluba stated.
The traditional ruler of Nachi community, His Royal Highness, Igwe F. O. Onuigbo, Obi II of Nachi, in his own submission said the water has been there for a very long time, adding that the healing power ascribed to it was only a recent phenomenon which he did not confirm.
“River Nachi is natural water which has been there for a very long time which people use for their cooking, drinking and washing. The healing power is something new and I have not visited the place. But the water has been there before. People said it is healing; I can’t stop anybody from going there to seek cure and healing. I have no right to do that.”
On the pattern surge, Igwe Onuigbo said he didn’t know about the coming and occasional surge of the water. “I do no know of that”
He confirmed that the land where the water is situated has been in dispute between Ameke and Umuaga for a very long time, adding that efforts are on-going to resolve the issue between the two communities amicably.
History of the water
Chief Ignatius Chikeluba, a Chief in Umuaga-Nachi, who claimed the farm land belongs to his father, gave historical perspective of the stream. “According to my own father, Ogbonnaya Ene Chikeluba, there was a man called Aniene, a native of Umuaga, he was the first man who saw the water. He used to be a farmer in the area. He came out one morning to discover the sudden surge of the water. He ran out to call others that were farming in the area to witness it. At that point, the water was named Miri Aniene.
This happened long time before I was born, it was never known as having healing powers. We used it to wash cloths, cassava and other culinary activities. It used to surge after every seven years. After the war, it came in 1972, 1979, 1986, 1994, 2000, 2005 and now 2013. When it comes, it is usually there until the next raining season. It is deterred by the rain or sun shine, it comes at any season of the year. We have never worshipped the water before.”
“Before it came this year, there were Fulani herdsmen who live in that farm; they always take their cattle there to drink from the water. So, recently, a group of people came to my house, I recognised one of them who had lived there before, and I asked curiously whether he wanted to return to the farm again and he said no. But he said that the water which used to spring up had sprung up again and that it has healing power – curing all kinds of ailments. I told him that we don’t know about that. He said they discovered the healing power of the water the last time it came and they asked the herdsmen to be monitoring it. So, the Fulani herdsmen who have been monitoring it informed immediately it came out. After a while, another group of herdsmen came and said the same thing. But I pointed it out to them that their cattle had damaged my farm and they should do something about it and they moved away from the area. But surprisingly, after some time, another group of people came this time, with some Igbos. I was the one who cleared the way to the river. I have palm tree in that place, banana plantation, cola-nut trees, orange among others. It is a farm settlement of Umuaga. At this junction, I want to state that the Nachi people have been trying to encroach on the land claiming it belongs to them, but it belongs to the people of Umuaga. The water is from God. And whoever says the water has not been there is trying to pull the wool over our faces. My house is there, and the water has been there. The king who does not know Joseph will not know Joseph was buried. I was born there and my father’s house is still there now. To, me it is the Fulani herdsmen that are responsible for this misinformation. Throughout the period I stayed in the farmland, we have never heard about the story of healing power being ascribed to the water. It is a concoction of the Fulani herdsmen. I know that the revelation of God can come through any body but my advice to them is that whatever they are saying, should be the whole truth and nothing but the truth.”
I don’t believe it — Rev Fr Chikezie Cypril a.k.a Okanga Jesus
Rev Father Chikezie Cypril a.k.a Okanga Jesus is the Parish Priest, St. Michael Catholic Church, Oji, Enugu and also the Chaplain of the Care for the Physically Challenged in the area. He spoke to Saturday Vanguard on the healing power of Pool of Bethesda.
The mystery river that is said to be healing is happening in your parish, what can you say about it?
I am privileged that this is taking place in my parish, but unfortunately, I have not gone there to see what is happening there, but I have seen a lot of people going there for healing. For the fact that I have not been there does not mean I wouldn’t know whether what is going on there is good or bad. My opinion is that it is better to seek God than seeking the blessing of God. This is because if you seek God, the blessing of God will come your way. If you seek the face of God, you will get the hand of God. Unfortunately people think that God is not alive to their problem. Most people who go there are those who have little or no time for the word of God and they spend a lot of time there waiting for their turn. If only they can spend their time for God, healing will come their way. That is why I will not find the time to go there because there is nothing better than seeking God.
But we heard that Rev. Mbaka was there and he prayed at the river?
Maybe he went there to know what is happening, but also remember that Mbaka is not God. It does not matter whether the Bishop or the Pope was there or not, what matters is that people should seek God. What about those who don’t have the opportunity to go there, do you mean they will not be healed? I see it as a kind of madness when people go there and take bath while they also take the same water and drink.
But one funny thing about it is that, I don’t believe it. I am the chaplain of the physically challenged and none of them has come to me that they are healed and this is happening in their area. I mean not even one person has come to confirm it. I know that most of them have gone there and nothing is happening. So, you see, people tend to confuse you with certain things. As I am speaking to you, no member of this my community has come to me to share a testimony about the water. I know if it is real as people tend to portray it, one or two persons in the community must have been noticed and if we see it, we will be the promoter.
You see, one has to be very sensible about it; a lot of people are making money on this situation. For example, if you tell the Okada riders who are making money from the situation that it is not real, they will say you don’t know what you are talking about. But let us trust God, power belongs to God. It is when we commune with God that we see the power of God in our lives. I see those who go there as spiritual puppets.