The Last Stone: A Biblical Narration of Nigeria’s “King Jona”, by Pius Adesanmi

Vanity of vanities, saith the Preacher, vanity of vanities; all is vanity. But the people came upon the preacher and saith: if what thou sayest is true and all is indeed vanity, what sayest thou of King Jona, our taskmaster, and his wife? And the Preacher saith unto the people: who is King Jona?

Whereupon the people spake about their tormentor and his wife and the abomination of desolation they hath wrought upon the land. And they saith: O preacher, thou knowest not King Jona and his wife? And they saith: our ground and inheritance brought forth plentiful. But whilst we perish of hunger, King Jona and his wife apportioned our possessions unto themselves, unto their children, and unto their children’s children. And when they hath filled their house with our portion, King Jona saith unto himself: What shall I do, because I have no more room where to bestow my fruits? And he saith, this will I do: I will pull down my barns, and build greater; and there will I bestow all my fruits and my goods. And I will say to my soul, soul, thou hast much goods laid up for many years; take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry.

Storage barn

After King Jona hath said these things, his wife’s heart was greatly gladdened. And she summoned Orontolum, Renokrim, Abatimus, and all the other palace servants and saith: now that the inheritance of the people hath yielded plentiful for my husband’s barns, it is meet that we call a great feast for all the lords of the land so we can rejoice and make merry. Go ye now and bring forth musicians who play the horn, flute, zither, lyre, harp and all kinds of music. Bring forth the best robes and put it on my guests; and put rings on their hands and shoes on their feet; and bring hither the fatted calf and kill it; bring forth the best wine from the bridegroom’s store in the land of Cana; and let us eat and drink and be merry.

And as they made merry, one of the lords of the land rose and did obeisance to King Jona and his wife and saith: O great King, because it is appointed unto thee to rule over this land forever and to fill thine barns with the fruits and goods of the people, it is meet that we name this district after thee and in thine honour. Whereupon King Jona saith: o worthy servant, so let it be written, so let it be done. And the choice district of the city bore King Jona’s name henceforth. And another servant rose and saith: O king, it is meet that we also name a road after thine wife, our mother. Whereupon King Jona saith: o worthy servant, so let it be written, so let it be done. And a choice road in the city bore the Queen’s name henceforth.

And one of the lords, who came from the home district of King Jona, rose and did obeisance and saith: O great King Jona, although thou now liveth in the city by the rock with the Queen our mother, it is meet that I appoint her one of the supreme courtiers in our home district. And there was great rejoicing in the hearts of King Jona and his Queen at this announcement. And while they tasted wine, King Jona commanded his servants to bring the golden and silver vessels so that his lords and their wives and their concubines might drink therefrom.*They drank wine and praised the gods of gold, and of silver, of brass, of iron, of wood, and of stone.

The ‘King and the Dame’

And the people saith unto the preacher, behold King Jona has built bigger barns to store the fruit of the people which he hath apportioned unto himself; behold a district is named after him; behold a street is named after his wife; behold his wife is appointed a supreme courtier in their home district. Before our own eyes, King Jona and his wife store up great treasures on earth and no moth or rust is come upon them and thou sayest that all is vanity? Pray, preacher, where is the vanity?

And the Preacher went out and departed from the temple. And the people came to him and taketh him up into an exceeding high mountain, and sheweth him all the worldly treasures of King Jona and his Queen and the glory of them. And they saith to the preacher: behold, with our eyes and out of our poverty and deprivation we behold the glory and splendor of King Jona’s barn. Pray, preacher, where is the vanity?

And the Preacher saith unto them: see ye not all these things? See ye not King’s Jona’s treasures which he took from the people and apportioned unto his own inheritance? See ye not his mighty castles and his barns full of the fruits of the people? See ye not the district named after him and the street named after his wife? Verily verily I say unto you, there shall not be left one stone upon another that shall not be thrown down when the appointed time comes. For all the fullness of King Jona’s barns shall come to nought and the souls of the foolish who build bigger barns for their earthly fruits shall be required of them. And that which was named after them today shall be erased and named after their successors. For vanity of vanities, all is vanity.

And great fear is come upon the people for they look into the Preacher’s eyes and saw the truth.

Pius Adesanmi