Sunday, May 2, 2021 12:00 pm
By Nkrumah Bankong-Obi
Motivational speakers have tanks and truckloads of dossiers they deploy to awake the sleeping lion in individuals. When they touch on the dying nerve, such inspirators draw soul-racking happenstances like this popular one: a man who had been exasperated with life, decided to end it all with a string. But then, he had a banana finger left in his thinned-out reservoir. He took it to a tree-top, finished it, and let the peel fall. His next move was to hop unto the noose of his suicide rope. Just as he prepared to make the short stretch from life to death, upon one last glance to the ground, he saw another fellow, obviously in worse economic situation, run to the position of the peel. He grabbed it and licked up what was left of the dying man’s last meal. The sight of this hapless man’s action, instantly reactivated the sense in our friend who had blathered from poverty to the suicide tree. Death, the most undignifying type, was averted.
In a society impacted by a cacophony of incoherent solution-providing voices, it is rare to hear one voice speak so lightly, yet so deeply. As a journalist, I make attempt at critiquing music and art(that isn’t the purpose of this piece, though). Dr. Paul Enenche is fresh in his preaching as he is with his music. I’m not a member of his church. I neither consider myself a stoic not modernist. But Enenche reaches the upper ranges of psycho-therapy with his simple renditions that are accompanied by gentle rhythmn of instrumentation.
Take his tune, You are Always There For Me, for an analysis. Enenche speaks in adherence to the laws of creation. He reminds us that by some means, some Being, greater than all is watching, ordering, modulating, stimulating, guiding and steadying us against the counterforces of God’s plan for mankind. Although a Christian, there is no doubt that Enenche also considers the atheist as a child of God, who comes under the thumb. Humanity in general is a tool, a piece of cherished artwork that the owner-creator shows tremendous and unquantifiable love and care for.
The immediate point he conveys much through the chorus viz:
“You’re always there to help
You’re always there to help me
Even when no one else was there
You’re always there for me
Even when I can’t feel you
Even when I cannot trace you
I still have faith in your word
That you are always there for me.”
Here, the Nigerian preacher trusts in the supremacy of God. Thus, the guiding light manifests in His omnipotence, omnipresence and omniscience. Since people of all faiths hold tenaciously to the mysterious power of God, the free-thinker also agrees to the overwhelming power of a Being that was but has disappeared to a place of no return. The awesome powers of that Being endured through it’s creation. So, as a gardener loves and tends his plants, so does God direct the tendrils, waters the crops and weeds the farm to ensure the farm isn’t overrun by weeds. And even when due to an inconvenience or another the farm is invaded, the owner returns to his investment and chases the invader out. That indeed is how Enenche reminds us that whether we are aware of it or not, whether we are able to trace him or not, God is on the look out for us – to help, to nurture to guide and to give us that expected end He talks about in the book of Jeremiah.
When I used to report arts for a frontline magazine, I spoke to experts who told me that paintings can be medicinal. If paintings, sculptures, drawings can heal us emotionally and otherwise, you can imagine what good music does to the soul. Aristotle tells us that “literature, music and gymnastics were meant to improve the soul.” In the same vein, William Shakespeare posits that music is the food of love…”if music be the food of love, play on. Give me excess of it that surfeiting the appetite…” A lot more philosophers, psychologists and allied medics have identified the role of music in the critical retention of balance, health and order.
Thus, good music as Enenche offers, beautifies and reassures. It heals and enforces hope’s enduring belts. I don’t condemn other forms of music. It is my considered duty as a critic in fact, to make sure people in the creative enterprise get their due. Singers like Enenche who deploy their calling to lead others to light deserve better crayons to highlight what they do. In preaching salvation, Eneche, a medical doctor by training, knows how to reach the lost and despondent through hope.
Hope indeed is all that doctors have. I hear them say ‘we cure but God heals”. And to call on God is to ride on the speed lane of hope. So, when he says
” I will serve you to the end
I will serve you till I see you
For You’re everlasting love
Has drawn my whole being to you
My life is in your hands
Lord I’m your project in progress
And when you’re through with me
All the praise belongs to you.
I hear the musemaker in this verse speaking to the sick, the economically challenged, the cheated, the oppressed and the newbie navigating through the swamp of life. Therefore, as listeners hang their faith on the Supreme God for answers, they also do their bit; work hard, keep His precepts and abide in love and let the One above fulfil his will in our lives, since we are His project, which He is certain to accomplish.
What more can be a better message for these times than this? The massive despair occasioned by economic downturns, massive corporate corruption, religious fundamentalism and the rise in indescribable orgies. When we listen to music that subtly acknowledges the existence of doom yet offers hope of salvation, it spurs us to attain higher hights. Listeners are advised to log onto the promise of hope.
Dr. Enenche is the founder of Dunamis International Centre based in Abuja. His other songs like ‘Take Me Lord,’ and collaboration, ‘Nare Ekele’ have enriched many listeners. His songs have a way of turning war to peace, hate to love and despair to believe. The infectious simplicity of the tunes can restart the pulse of a dying heart.
This writer does disagree in principle with some Teachings of petecostal preachers, Enenche inclusive. But what he can’t dispute is the fiery pastor-gospel singer’s uncanny ability to turn on the levers of believe, hope and trust with so much speed.
Bankong-Obi is a journalist and poet based in Abuja