THE INSTITUTION OF KNIGHTHOOD STEMS FROM the holy orders that the Catholic Church established in the Middle Ages. The word order’ (from the Latin ordo) then meant a closed circle, the members of which were bound by certain obligations and swore to observe a set of rules. During the crusades, the rules governing monastic orders were extended to the soldiers who, once in the Holy Land, established various religious-military orders to ensure the safety of pilgrims and the sick and to further the battle for Christianity. However, the Order of the Knighthood has survived into the contemporary era generating misconceptions and misinterpretation. As the Order of Knights of St. Mulumba prepares for the 60th anniversary of existence, Charles Omotayo engages the Metropolitan Grand Knight in an exclusive interview and the Knight gave insights into the activities, importance 9of the Knights and clears the misconceptions about the Order of Knights of St. Mulumba.


Thank you Sir for granting this interview. My name is Charles Omotayo, a correspondent of the Catholic Independent News Paper. Can you introduce yourself Sir?

My name is Bro. Prof. Matthew IdowuAjibero, the Metropolitan Grand Knight of Ibadan Metropolitan Council of the Knights of St. Mulumba

Can you give me an insight into the background of your life as a knight and your career as a Professor?

Well, I’m a Professor of Library and Information Science. I started my career in Bayero University, Kano and became a Professor in 1995. I moved to the University of Ilorin and became the University Librarian in 2002. Subsequently in 2006, I was appointed by the governor of my state, Kogi to head the Kogi State Polytechnic where I served two terms as the Rector between 2006 and 2014. After the expiration of my tenure, I was re-engaged by the Governor of Kogi as a Special Adviser on Higher Education. A position I occupied till January 2016 after which I returned back to the University of Ilorin. As for the Order of the Knights of St. Mulumba, I was initiated in Kano Sub – Council and I was at various times PRO, the lecturer and Deputy Grand Knight. When I moved to Ilorin, I was the founding Grand Knight of Ilorin Sub – Council. A position I occupied for six years. In November last year, the Knights of Ibadan Metro, graciously elected me as the Metropolitan Grand Knight of Ibadan Metropolitan Council

What is the Order of Knights of St. Mulumba all about?

The Knights of St. Mulumba is one of the Knights of the International Alliance of Catholic Knights. Generally, Knighthoods in the Catholic Church are about being soldiers of Christ. It has been there since the medieval age and the basic role of the Knights in the Catholic Church is to defend the Church in all ramifications. As knights, we evangelize, support and defend the Church with our time, talents and resources

What are the differences between the Order of St. Mulumba and other Knights of the Church?

There are no differences. We are all soldiers of Christ and defenders of His Church. Though our names may be different but we are all part of the International Alliance of Catholic Knights

The mention of the word Knights send different signals to different people. Over time, a number of people, both Catholics and Non – Catholics have expressed concerns over the secrecy and activities of the Order to the extent that people perceive Knights as cultists. What is your take on this?

We are aware of this perception and I want to categorically state that we are not cultists. Now let me ask you these questions. Do you think the Pope will allow and support a cult group in the Church? Do you think the Archbishop, the Bishops and Priests will allow and identify with a cult group in the Church? Of course not. This is to show you that the Knighthood is not a cultic organization in the Church.The Order of Knights in the Church is well recognized by the Church leadership and hierarchy. If the Order is cultic definitely the Church would not allow such body to exist within it. We are quite aware of the wrong impressions people have about the Knights and we are not bothered because we know we are not cultists. Some people even accuse us that we do initiate our members secretly and the likes. You see, our initiation is not done in secret and there is nothing diabolical about the process. For initiation to take place, the Bishop or his representative must be present. The initiation rites are performed by a clergy according to laid down traditions of the Church. If it is diabolical or cultic, do you think the Clergy will preside over such a process? The Order of Knights of St. Mulumba is a spiritual society just like other societies in the Catholic Church but with a history that is rooted in the defense of the Church.

How does one become a Knight of St. Mulumba? Is it reserved for a particular set of people in the Church?

Knighthood is meant for any practicing Catholic who strongly believes in the Church, works for the growth of the Church and is ready to defend the Church. It is not meant for any particular group of people. We have been accused over time that the Knighthood is meant for elite and wealthy men in the Church. But this is not true. Let me give you an instance. In 1991, when I was to be initiated into Knighthood in Kano, a number of those who were also initiated were people who could not read or write. They had to help some of them fill the form and append their signatures. So, Knighthood is not for the rich or wealthy. It is for those who are seriously committed to the growth and development of the Church irrespective of their social - economic status in the society and in the Church. To become a Knight of the Order of Knights of St. Mulumba, such person must be recognized and recommended by older knights in his parish or Sub – Council. Once an individual is recognized and recommended to the Sub – Council, the Order will set up a fact finding committee that will investigate the person. This committee, made up of two male and one female will visit the individual at his home and ask the individual to allow them have access to his bedroom. The purpose of accessing the person’s bedroom is to investigate if the person belongs to any secret society. If they ask the person for permission to access his bedroom and he declines, then that individual has automatically failed the test. The point I’m trying to make here, is that we do thorough investigation before initiating anybody into the Order of Knights of St. Mulumba. Also, we do request for a confidential report from the Parish Priest. All these are steps to ensure that whoever is joining the Order is of impeccable character. The investigation does not end with the man. His wife, children will also be investigated because we believe that Knighthood does not end with the man. Though he is the Knight but his wife and children have a role to play in his knighthood

Earlier, you said historically, Knights were soldiers who fought wars to defend the Church, especially during the medieval age. So, I will like to ask, since there are no more wars to fight in this contemporary time, do you think the Order of Knighthood is still relevant?

Yes. It is still relevant because we may not be fighting physical wars but we are fighting spiritual wars on daily basis. Everything that happens in the physical is first conceived and executed in the spiritual realm. As soldiers of Christ and defenders of the Church, we do not carry guns but we are armed with the Bible and doctrines of the Catholic Church to defend the faith of the Catholic Church. So, the place of Knighthood cannot be underplayed.

How do you defend the Church? I asked this because most Catholics hardly hear or see events of Knights in their parishes. The times when we get to hear about the Knights are during big celebrations such as ordination and episcopal anniversaries

The issue is that, the Knighthood is not like the regular Catholic organization or society that has Parish unit, Deanery unit and the Archdiocesan unit. We operate at the Sub – Council which comprises of Knights from a number of parishes. So, our activities as a group are usually rotated on the sub – council level and not the parish level. We have many activities and ways through which we defend and enrich the faith of our people. For example, we are at the fore front of the Pro – Life Campaign, working seriously against abortion and other associated activities against life. We do organize seminars; outreaches etc and sometimes, we erect monuments. For example in Ilorin, when I was the Grand Knight, we erected the unborn child monument at a strategic location to drive home the Pro – Life Campaign. Also, we have seminars we have for youths which we hold annually and we organize medical week. We support the Church through our various professions and we ensure that the Church is not relegated in the scheme of things in Nigeria

Ordinarily the word “initiation” makes people feel uncomfortable because to some, it connotes rituals and sacrifices. So, what does it mean when Knights are initiated? And how is your initiation done?

The initiation ceremony is purely spiritual and Catholic in nature. It is just to make the new members feel that they are part of the society and connect them with God. The presiding officer of the initiation ceremony is usually the Bishop or Archbishop of a diocese or Archdiocese as the case may be. In the absence of the Bishop, his representative or delegate presides. If what we do is evil and cultic, do you think the Bishop will preside over it? In our initiation ceremony, we use the Holy Bible, Holy Rosary and the Crucifix. We make use of these spiritual weapons to empower them as soldiers of Christ and defenders of the Church. One major feature of our initiation ceremony is that we make our members to see the vanity in life. We teach them to embrace a cause for God, for humanity and make them realize there is life after death and that we should surrender ourselves to the will of God.

Let’s talk about the costume of the knights of St. Mulumba and other paraphernalia of the Knighthood. Is there a reason why you wear black suit? And what are the symbolic importance of the sword and cloak of the Knights of St. Mulumba?

During the period of the Crusade, the Knights did a lot to defend the Christian faith. As a result, there was a need to differentiate them from other soldiers and fighters. Then, as soldiers, the Knights used the sword to fight. Their swords were peculiar because it was a sword that was fighting for a spiritual cause. So, since we have passed through the era of the crusades, there is still need to identify the Knights whenever they are gathered. So, our uniform which is black suit and a white shirt and black bow tie are all symbols of purity and orderliness and faith. We wear this during meetings and formal gathering. Our ceremonial regalia is a bit different but it is in line with the international alliance of knights which includes countries like Britain, USA, Ghana, Nigeria etc

What is the place of women in Knighthood?

Earlier, when I was talking about investigating a person recommended for knighthood, I talked about investigating the wife too. In the Catholic Church, the husband and wife are inseparable. We cannot single out the man and let go of his wife. So, invariably as the man is becoming a Knight, his wife will become a Lady Knight.

Officially are women part of the knighthood meetings and discussions?

Yes but we do not have meetings together. If we are to meet together, the women will be in a different room having their own discussions while the men will be in a different room having their own discussion. The reason for this is because we discuss different things and we focus on different spheres of action for the growth and development of the Church

Can you shed more light on the 60th anniversary celebration of Knights of St. Mulumba

We thank God for his grace upon our lives. By June 27th 2018, it will be sixty years that Knights of St. Mulumba was established in Ibadan Ecclesiastic Province by Knights from Lagos. So, we knights of St. Mulumba have deemed it fit because it is worth celebrating and this is significant for us because we are expanding. Though we are the smallest in the country but we are very effective and active. To mark this celebration, we have decided to organize a number of programs which we believe will add value to the life of our people. We are going to have a provincial quiz for students of secondary schools. We will start from each diocese and the final competition will be held in Ibadan. We are also going to organize health outreach and a lecture where we are looking at inviting Bishop Kukah, Prof. Pat Etomi and other prominent speakers. It a massive celebration which has already started with the walk for Pro – Life which was done some couple of days ago in Ibadan

Finally sir, where do you see knighthood in future? Do you think the Order will continue or will go into extinction with the changes of the contemporary realities? 

I am very proud to be a Catholic. Do you know why the Catholic Church has survived for almost two thousand years? It is because there is order and discipline. This is what the Knights of St. Mulumba is based on. We have continued to place emphasis on these two cardinal principles of the Church to all initiated Knights and I can tell you categorically that the future is bright for knighthood in Nigeria. Let me give you an instance. About ten years ago, there were just four subs – council in Ibadan Metropolitan Council. Today, we have ten and we are about to inaugurate another sub – council in Ekiti to make it Eleven. If you calculate adding another ten years into it, I’ m sure it would have been doubled. This is a great indication of growth. It is envisaged that the Knighthood will continue to grow at a good rate because more and more people are becoming aware of what we stand for and what we do. We are not cultists. Our principles are anchored on three Ts – Talent, Treasure and Time. Before initiating any new member, we do ask them, if they will use these three Ts of their life for God. So, I am very confident that the future is bright for the Order of Knights of St. Mulumba.

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