With pulsating beats of music
Afield, aplenty, dancers regale, but
He rose high, then low, supine body
Rising so high, nearly touching the sky
Though many bodies entwined with the light
gyrating to the rhythmic sound of music,
‘Baba’, as the young and old call him, was
deaf to all sound but that of the dun-dun drum.
Dancing left, then right, waltzing in, then out
His hips doing the silent dance of lovers.
Mouths agape, maidens watched as this
young man, called by an elder’s appellation, entertained.
Hearts aflutter, souls a hoping, bodies expectant…
It didn’t start today. No. Many a moon has lapsed
As Olawuwo horned his craft, in the shadows;
On the way to the stream; alone in the fields
while chasing oya*; doing sundry chores.
His one desire, to be the King’s choice
For the festival of maidens. Oh, what pleasure
He reckons he’d give to Silifa, his crush.
If only… Oh, if only she had said ‘yes’ by the stream.
What a great life he would give her, what joy
he would harvest, and what envy he’d endure!
But she still says ‘no’! Who does that?
Malcontent of the village – derided by many,
Silently admired by all. What with his riches.
Bereft of handsome genes, bankrupt of grace,
Yet, he catches the best oya*, none his rival.
To think that Silifa prefers him. Him?
What could she possibly desire in that ungainly gait,
Crippled by bush traps. Some women are blind!
Who knows what fetish he uses on his farm…
Every farmer laments, Bashiru harvests aplenty!
Who are his parents in this village? Their story we know!
We’ve had the tales – loan sharks, the lot
Now masters among this blind lot. Even Kabiyesi
buys their cock and bull story! Mischew…
Surely, Silifa’s father must have fooled her
Allured by promises of riches, afraid of starvation
Why must that fool Alao fall from that damned palm tree?
And must Bashiru offer him help? Olowo igbo**!
Shameless father,Alao, using my Silifa as repayment
He must know that I love Silifa, surely he knows.
Agbaya***. I will have my bride yet. Some parents.
Alao ‘n Moripe sneaking out of Ilugun under the cloak of darkness
Who do they think buy their cock and bull story of why
Ilugun became too hot for them? Mischew… Abowaba*
Tall, dark skinned, supple hipped, high breasted.
Alluring beauty, worthy maiden – abale* intact.
Silifa’s trips to the stream, piped piper like, draws men
Both old and young; farming pretenders and weathered hands.
Their sojourn to the stream, so sure to be at that time of the day
Wives angry, maidens jealous. Men puffy, cheats heaving.
For me, only one holds my heart strings. Just him …
But why is life so cruel? Baami* insists I must marry Basiru.
Foul of body and breath! Eewa gbami**** All legs only!
Compared to my love. Just look at ‘Lawuwo’s biceps!
Surely triplets there reside! But what can be done?
Three moons from now, my most priced asset
On a cloth, on his mat would go! If only …
Alao & Moripe.
We are so lucky, Moripe; to have Bashiru to parent.
Our Silifa will have a life worthy of a princess.
You would agree with me that you too can have a lot –
Trinkets, those finely woven adires* you so love and so on.
For me, a life of luxury, in-law to Bashiru. Think about
my friends’ envy, my voice in the meeting square…
Hmmmm ….. Baale mi*, remember how we too began o.
We married for love despite my father’s opposition
Looking into your eyes was a dream! With nothing,
I followed you; sneaking out of Ilugun at night …
Our daughter too deserves her choice be respected.
Shut up! Foolish woman. So, what if we snubbed your father?
That’s past tense o. Ehen! So, you would rather we stave, abi?
What value has that lazy dancer? What’s his name again?
Is he blind? Silifa that kings and Chiefs desire?
That young bull better know where to stick his nose, or else…
Is it by force? Was his placenta buried in my compound?
Ka so ra o*!
Ha, Baba Silifa, Eewa beru Oloun*! On the days of yam
that boy could ill afford; what about his only goat, sold for
your treatment after the fall? Or …
Or what, you this foolish woman? Or what?
Did I to him appeal for help? He offered ..
When I was unconscious o! You, who was conscious –
Why didn’t you reject his gifts, why? Mschew…
Please if you have nothing good to spew,
Go get my food! Olawuwo ko, olafuye ni!!!
This Dance continues in Part 2… Watch out…
*What do you reckon the various characters should do next?
© 12th May, 2016. Adewale Adeniji.
Glossary of Yoruba Words:
*Oya – Bushmeat.
*Olowo igbo- Money miss road.
*Agbaya – Foolish old man.
*Abowaba – Coming back to you.
*Abale – Virginity.
*Baami – My father.
*Ka so ra o – Be very careful here.
*Eewa gbami – Somebody help!
*Adire – local, hand woven, patterned clothes.
*Eewa beru Oloun – Why don’t you fear God.