Sunday, July 03, 2005

The times of a new Oba

OK, OK, no response at all to the last posting, maybe it did not resonate or touch a nerve. In fact I have spent a lot of my blogging time blowing grammar that I myself forget how we communicate in Ibadan. For those who might wonder what Onibudo stands for, it is short for Kiniun Onibudo. The name is the alias of one of ancestors, a great warrior, leader and entrepreneur Balogun Ibikunle. Some day when we get to know each other well enough, I will share stories and his oriki, but for now back to the renaissance.

Sure you watched 'Live Hate' and you are amazed that one man can generate such enthusiasm and commitment, cheers St Genduff. So what do we now do with the stereotype of destitution that was used to market this soiree? Do you ever wonder what permission or authority is sought from the parents of dying african children used to market this and other 'kind aid' for africa adverts. It reminds me of an eternal story.

In times never ending, there was an Oba of the hills of yesterday, in town of 'Honour is as costly as the eyes'. He had ascended the throne on the demise of his father a much celebrated pioneer who rescued his people from servitude and penury by the full authority of his role and the power of his charisma. His people so respected and feared him that plans were afoot to add him to the Pantheon of Saints. He was both fearless and fearsome, to the extent that his whisper was Law and is his sigh sanction. He took unto himself many wives as the fattening huts could take but even in moments of full intimacy it is said none of his many wives dared look at his eyes or even contemplate his vunerability. The town prospered under his tutelage and all decision emanated from his wisdom. As his people had never experienced anything other than servitude they were extremely grateful and loyal even when they were punished for any form of intransigence no matter how little. As the bata drums heralded the going of the old Oba into the attic of life, so did faint sound of the celebratory dudun and gagan drums start to call out his the name of the Son. Like the Banana plant who dies to be replaced by its young .The people and their old Oba looked to maintain , the certainty and the predictable times of the old regime so enshrined many of his decisions and to go against them was 'ewo' the worst kind of taboo.

The new Oba was selected and crowned by the traditions that had been handed down before the hills had names and the elders had titles. Everyone rejoiced but the new Oba who stood up to question the complacency of his people in his first pronouncement. Yes he said you are no longer servants in chains but lazy in ideas, I watched how you let your late Oba, my father denigrate your initiative and direct your every way. What happens he said in more difficult times would you look for me to solve all problems? The chief rushed forward casting out such remarks and endearing the good wishes of Kabeyesi. In simplicity they affirmed that this is the role of their Oba. In that case you have made the wrong choice and he starts to disrobe, everyone including the elders and the chief ran for their dear lives because, to watch an Oba disrobe in this manner is to be cursed. For many days no one returned to the palace, each one seeking out their own saint in prayer. Then the Oba sent for his Chiefs and addressed them towards questions which they should address the council of the people. He raised the three questions which if they could get a satisfactory response from the people he would rule according to customs until then he would operate at his discretion. He stood before them to ask them the following:

. Which of our gods and saints is the greatest?

. What is the most powerful blessing it can bestow?

. What role are the people to play in getting this blessing?

The people received the question with shaking of heads under the large Iroko tree in the market square they gathered daily to ponder and chose a response, in between sharing Kola and games of Ayo washed down with Emu Ajabale, the virgin wine from the deep bush they contemplated. In the meantime the Oba decided to break the first custom and take a wife from the streets, a nobody who had not been to a fattening hut. Many were troubled by his choice as they could see the fingerprints of hunger on her waist and shocked that her bottom did not expand to fill the Iro of her Aso Oke. No good could come out of this, they rushed around to find answers naming different gods , the Oba rejected their answers. The new Olori was viewed by everyone but her husband, she was mean and demanded attention and by her husbands decree she got it. It now emerged that young girls in the town started to eat very little to match the look of the Olori. Parents concerns were brought to the Oba who encouraged them to provide answers to his query before he could answer their request. They have now sent forth emissaries to land far and wide looking for answers to the Obas question. We open the calabash of the matter and plead to you who visit this blog to help us before all is lost.

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