The story of Mary Daniel (the Egume Girl who showed the world that there is ability in disability)
By Fr Boniface Opaluwa (Ökakachi Odoba)
In the past decade, the idea of people “making it” at all cost, and most times without putting in the required efforts, seems to be on an exponential surge.
The superficiality of the religious leaders and the gullibility of the ‘believers’ of this epoch seems to be greatly and grossly responsible for this irresponsible mentality. It is no wonder that at baptism, most parents want their female child to be christened “Favour” and the male child “Miracle”. Of course, who does not want to get a huge share of these free favours and miracles flowing all around?
Gratia non tollit naturam, sed perficit ‘Grace does not destroy nature, but perfects it’. ‘Grace does not remove nature but fulfills it’. This Phrase is from St Thomas Aquinas (c. 1224–1274). He observes, grace does not destroy nature, but fulfills its potentials. This assertion was supported by the scholastics and people of the medieval era. They saw the attempts of those who wanted to propound and expound absurdities in the name of “Faith”. While miracle is a rare reality where supernatural force can overrule natural law and order, it has been seen that most times, it is usually within the provisions of nature.
Any miracle that seeks to make a man conceive and carry pregnancy becomes a magic and an aberration. The prayer that seeks to call for mango to produce cashew nut because of the economic boom of the latter is not only an effort in fortuitous futility, but also like the journey of Arthur and Merlyn to the mystical lake of avalon.
Why not, when the African Magic depicts everything as possible. But we ought to take note that when John Cena jumps from an upstairs and crashes into Roman Reigns in smackdown championship, we are warned not to try this at home. Real life is different from movies.
Opportunity favours the prepared. That is why it is important and imperative for us to do our part and give our best while God turns up with His own end. God is ever faithful. I doubt if Mary Daniel would have been found out if she sat down in the midst of some dreary dejected almajiri chanting some mournful meaningless “bambi ala”. Of course we know that our streets and cities are full of many amputees. What made her case different is that she rejected a mendicant’s calabash, and accepted a merchant’s cooler. Something cannot be built on nothing.
The saying heaven helps those who help themselves has been well captured in the rise of Mary Daniel.
Having suffered many tragedies and afflictions, she refused to be buried. Even when she was eventually buried by a heartless young man who impregnated her, abandoned her and subsequently duped and dumped her, she rose from the ground and began to sprout with life and new leaves/lease until grace finally found her in this most miraculous and magnificent manner.
This is the real testimony. Not the fabricated ones we hear on crusade grounds where the blind who receive sight are never known by those from that locality.
This pure water hawker has rubbished the treacherous and terribly selfish society where the government who is to be the provider and protector is now the predator and parasite. She refused to live in perpetual self-loathing and blame games. She did not move from one prayer house to another in search of the witches and wizards who caused her misfortune and misery. Instead she stepped out to the streets and that is where Grace found her.
Whenever men and women of goodwill step out to heal and help the tatterdemalion of the society, it offers the needed hope that God has not given up on His creation yet. It also reassures as it reassert that Nigeria is part of God’s work.
And that also brings a sour question: what if we were better and our leaders were good? I’m sure we would have been more advanced than the mighty Asian tigers.
The Story of Mary Daniel is the True Meaning of Grace. It is a wake up call for the indolent and errant youths who believe in chasing after heavily tinted cars with cries of “rankadede”, “Öma wę dę” renting the air. It is like the cry of the kestrel. We are tired of feeding like scavenging desert vultures when we are supposed to be carnivorous roaring lions that feed on its fresh sports. If individuals can do as much, imagine what we can achieve if things are in place.
As hopeless as the country looks, as helpless as we may be, let us embrace honest means of earning livelihood. The miracle we are celebrating is an echo of hope. It is a resounding testament that there is ability in disability. Yes, there is always sufficient grace for the entire world for the treasury of heaven is never susceptible to bankruptcy.