I have now lived long enough to witness some wild shenanigans among our people. From the days of Ijimagodo, the one who brought the mystery of power to Ila Orangun, till now, history keeps repeating itself. But not long before this largely unorganized and undisciplined society we now live in was formed, I once lived in a remote village. East of the main River serving all the communities around.
The village was full of wise and conceited people. At the time also live Baba Tortoise. It was also the time King Ikamudu reigned with his Queen, Binta.
The King was all in all. He was all full of majesty and splendor. Those who knew him before ascending the throne hardly can believe this was the hunger-stricken letter writer, who hijacked power from the former King. But that was far in the past now. King Ikamudu now a man of stupendous wealth and means can order just anything that his mind desired. He lived big. And so, did the Queen and the Princes and Princess.
But suddenly, the Palace is troubled, disturbed to no end. The King’s favorite Princess, in all her Imperial Majesty, was ill. Very ill indeed that the illness got the whole Palace tumbling. To make matters worst, she fell ill outside her father’s domain. She could not exercise nor enjoy any special privilege due to her status. The King was briefed. He is fully aware of her favorite daughter’s illness. To fasten her treatment, the Palace Chiefs suggested consulting Oracle. They all chorus Princess must not die. Princess must not die.
But there was a cog to their concern. The King. He was most disturbingly, a most self-conceited man. He neither considered the counseling nor advice of his coteries of chiefs and advisers. He considered no one except himself and his family. He brooked no-nonsense and gave nothing away to sustain his kingdom and his harem. He ruthlessly warded off other competitors. He made sure he was the only known figure in the village. The Chiefs doubted if the King will accept their suggestion of calling Baba Orunmila to come with his ifa oracle. But he accepted. And so, Baba Orunmila was summoned to come to the Palace with all his Ifa oracle paraphernalia.
The Palace Chiefs quickly summoned Baba Orunmila to come with his Oracle. Baba Orunmila needed not come with his Oracular rosaries nor any slate with white sand. He already was aware of what was happening in the Palace. He had spoken to the recalcitrant King a couple of times. The King would always refuse to carry out necessary instructions. Baba Orunmila did come as requested. A frail-looking, gaunt old man, with grey hairs and beards all over his head and body. To compound the mystery, he was fully kitted in his ceremonial white robe. He sat frailly by the large stool. ‘Ha Baba, please sit on the chair’, one of the over-anxious Chiefs someone intoned. ‘I am alright like this’, Orunmila retorted. He needed no niceties now. When last did the King offer propitiation in form of sacrifices to the gods, who own the land he walks on, he soliloquized quietly?
All set. Orunmila surveyed intensely the eyes of all in the large Courtyard of the King. He cleared his throat and told them with a tone of finality. ‘The gods are angry. The owners of the land are angry. They must be appeased with propitiation. That your priceless Princess will die, except a big propitiation sacrifice was made to the gods. The materials for the sacrifice include seven cows, plenty of money in different currencies and lastly, a young boy must donate his kidney for propitiation. It is this fresh kidney with plenty of money and cows that we shall use to appease the gods of the land. The sacrifice must be performed in the foreign land where the illness was diagnosed. And this must be done within three months. Once he finished his announcement he rose to leave. He looked back again, and said ‘when the donor of the kidney is ready, you know where to meet me’. With this, he turned and left.
Now the king is hapless and in need. He needs help from wherever he could get one. His adorable Princess, the precious glass may break if an adequate propitiation was not offered to the gods. He must have offended the gods badly. But this is no time for an excuse or buck-passing. Something needed to be done and must be done most urgently. The monetary aspect is no issue. Loads and loads of different currencies were stacked in stores. As one former Head of State of Nigeria, General Yakubu Gowon (retd) succinctly put it: Money is not our problem. But how to spend it. The real problem was the procurement of the fresh kidney, three months before the gods of the land will suck the blood of the Princess.
The Palace was cold and damp as days turn to weeks and weeks turn to months. This was the point when King Ikamudu met Mr. Latuneji. He narrated his ordeal to Mr. Latuneji and the difficulties he was having getting the main appeasement material for the esoteric gods.
Mr. Latuneji quickly came up with an ingenious idea. He knew a poor boy working in one of his friend’s farms. He had no one looking for him, perhaps, he has no relatives. Good idea. A deal was struck. A handsome reward went to Mr. Latuneji, the facilitator.
Mr. Latun went to work. He got in touch with Mr. Igunnugun who owned a big farm and had some workmen. Mr. Tortoise was one of the workers, he always looked morose and forlorn. He had no one looking for. He was a real loner. This Mr. Latuneji must have noticed from his several visits to his friend’s, Mr. Igunugun, farm. He explained the ‘new big business’ to Mr. Igunugun and the handsome reward awaiting the two of them, should they get Mr. tortoise to follow the King to the foreign land. But there was a caveat: Mr. Tortoise must not know the full details of his kidney removal for the propitiation.
Mr. Igunnugun too was excited by the promise of huge rewards. He went to work immediately. He called Mr. Tortoise aside and asked him if he would like to go to a foreign country, Obodo Oyinbo? ‘Wonderful’, Mr. Tortoise exclaimed. But the problem was the means of actualizing the dream.
Here Igun got his man. He moved to finally nailed him. He stylistically sold the idea of working in a foreign land, Obodo Oyinbo, on a farm owned by a big man he knew a long time ago. The tortoise was elated he quickly accepted. They decided to go and meet the man right away. Tortoise immediately dropped his tools and cleaned his body to go and meet the farm owner. But while discussions were going on, the wily Mr. Tortoise quickly saw a window of opportunity here. He quickly, without thinking accepted the offer. He did not bother to ask for further details.
They got to the King’s mansion. The sheer opulence of the mansion nearly befuddled him. He had never seen anything building like that all his life. He was served food. The type he had never seen before. In a few days, all were ser for the journey
King Ikamudu celebrated wildly in the inner recesses of the Palace with his Queen. For the first time in King weeks, the Palace came back to life, everywhere was agog. The was elated. So was the Queen and other Princes and Princess. After all, a solution has been found. Baba Tortoise can die, that should not be any problem, for the Princess to live. All arrangements were made to go for the propitiation and sacrifice. Baba Tortoise was promised heaven and earth. He was promised a new lease on the good life. He was assured that once the sacrifice was done, he would not need to come back to the village again. he could choose to start living in the foreign land.
Unknown to all, the Tortoise had another plan, a sinister one. Trust a Tortoise to always devised a way of getting out of rough zones.
The date was set for the journey. Baba Orunmila was informed. This time around he carried his oracular strings and rosaries. He too was fully kitted. When they got to Obodo Oyinbo, where the Princess was, money and other materials for the propitiation were put down, remaining the kidney. That was the point the boy was told that the final appeasement for the gods would be extracted from his body. He did not argue, nor struggle. He agreed but asked for a day for him to prepare. They agreed. He was now in a foreign land. He knew no one here and could not raise his voice.
Tortoise deceitfully sneaked out from the shrine. With the assistance of one of the priests, he got to the Royal Imperial Court of Obodo Oyibo. He informed the guards of the Ile Funfun about the illegal propitiation about to be performed without the consent of the Imperial Royal Majesty and his priests. Propitiation of that type was not allowed on the land. King ikamudu and his Queen were promptly arrested and taken to the overall King of the Ile Funfun in Obodo Oyinbo. Meanwhile, Princess was still ill, critically ill while the parents were facing the ordeal of kidney harvesting. Baba Orunmila disappeared using his mystic disappearing power (egbe), leaving the King and the Queen in the foreign land to face the music. The music however still rages.
Afolayan Adebiyi writes from Lagos, Nigeria
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Images: Courtesy Google images.