Watching this Youtube video brought tears to my eyes. It shows what seems to be a typical Sunday religious service at a small church. A young African man, accompanied by an Asian guitarist, sings a heartfelt gospel song as the audience sings along.
But the camera does not show the security guards, iron bars and barbed wire fences that would have indicated this was no ordinary place. The singer, 41 year Okwudili Oyatanze who was executed today in Indonesia, was giving his regular performance at a penitentiary outside the Indonesian capital, Jakarta.
Known in Indonesia’s penal system as “The Death Row Gospel Singer,” Mr. Oyatanze was arrested in 2001 while trying to smuggle 5.5 pounds of heroin through Jakarta’s international airport, in his
stomach, after arriving on a flight from Pakistan. He was convicted the following year and sentenced to death.
Mr. Oyatanze made the most of his incarceration, writing more than 70 songs and recording multiple albums behind bars. He has performed with prison guards as well as fellow inmates.
In the Youtube video, shot in 2008, Mr. Oyatanze sang his song “God You Know,” which was also the name of an album he released that year.
“He has turned his life around in jail,” said the Rev. Charles Burrows, a Catholic priest from Ireland who now lives in Indonesia and offered religious counseling to Mr. Oyatanze before his execution today.
Raised in Biafra, a strifetorn region in southeastern Nigeria, Mr. Oyatanze started a garment business in 1999, traveling to Indonesia to buy clothing and resell it in Nigeria. The business collapsed, and Mr. Oyatanze, heavily in debt, traveled to Pakistan to try to revive it, at the suggestion of a fellow Nigerian living there.
The plan involved swallowing capsules of heroin before boarding a flight to Jakarta. “There was a chance to earn some easy money, so he became a courier,” Mr. Burrows said.
Check out the video below
Source: Lailas Blog