Lagbayi, ara Oyo*, lion of the land
Great Oyo meesi*, Akinrogun* of Oyo
Proud warrior of dated ancestry
Tales of your battles far and near titillates.
Son of Lemboye, witty husband of Hunbo. Welcome!
We salute your courage, great wrestler.
To what do we this honor owe, seven full days before
The great maiden dance fiesta? You left Oyo early!
Indeed! Early riser, that’s how my fathers taught me.
Me, the lion of the battle field. Amororo guided me aright.
Seven days, yes. But to your land I come to see for myself
That beautiful damsel of the land – Silifa.
News of her dazzling beauty traveled far! Even strangers say
News of her elegance delights the ear! More wine, please!
Silifa ba wo*? You married from the great Sabe people, remember?
Dahomeys, who do not take kindly to oroguns*. Oran re o!*
How will princess Hunbo take it? How will Onisabe* react?
This is real trouble. Fitinati* births in our midst!
Oso sini lenu, o bu iyo si!* How would we sort this out?
But, Lagbayi, between Oyo and here, many maidens
You saw; of diverse shapes, of various sizes, pleasing to
Sights. Why us, why now? Enjoying our season of rest from war.
Kabiyesi and our Chiefs, do they know your real mission here?
Are they aware that this year’s maidens’ dance just became war?
And that is my fault, how? I heard, I came, I intend to conquer!
More wine, please! Woman, don’t just stand and stare – wine!
Yeeee! Apologies my lord, more wine coming up…
Amona, my ancestors told me of the war with Allada,
how whole villages were slaughtered who dared defy
the missive of the Alaafin, iku Baba yeye.
Amona, I warn you, on Silifa’s matter, no retreat no surrender!
Instruct Alao and Moripe not to cause war between us!
Vassals do not query their masters, I’m sure you know.
Lagbayi, calm down. Okun ki ho ruru, ka wa ruru o*
Amona, Amona, Amona! How many times did I call you?
Akinrogun to you, not Lagbayi. Only my friends have that privilege.
Ok, Akinrogun Oyo, I counsel patience. This is not state matter.
War? On this small issue? Patience! The girl is betrothed!
What????? To whom? How? When? The last I heard, she wasn’t!
Now, she is, Akinrogun. Now she indeed is! Nothing I can do.
So, what is the point of your maidens’ festive if their best is taken?
Karaole o* To what do we owe the honor of your visit, Akinrogun?
Moripe, bring a stool, bring food and wine for our August visitor.
Save your greetings Alao, save your ministrations! I came to confirm.
I heard a rumor. A little bird whispered that Silifa is betrothed
My mouth immediately vouched for you. Not Alao, I said. Not Alao.
My LORDDDDDDDD, what can I say. Bashiru will be my in-law.
Why, Alao, why? Why are you in such a hurry to marry her off?
Hurry, my Lord? Our Silifa is overripe for marriage; and she’s made her choice! Her choice is Bashiru. What can we do?
How am I not sure Silifa has anything to do with this, Alao?
Moripe, say something. Don’t just stand there! Am I lying?
Yes, oloye; just as my husband said it, just as he said it!
Alao! Moripe! Ema ma gba Esu l’abule yin?!*
Oloye, Esu bi boooo?* How is this a problem?
You’re asking me that, Moripe? Alao, answer your wife now…
O, your mouth is trapped, abi? My coco yams, my dried fish,
My adire eleko, my.., answer now, Alao! Since the last dance; nothing missing, nothing lost from your list.You think you can disgrace the great Lagbayi? Haaa, Esu a se! Iji a ja!* Alao!
I shall return to Oyo via Ilugun, if you know what I mean?
I shall visit your homestead and revel all my ears have heard!
I am sure Dauda, Moripe’s brother would be interested …
To know who burnt down his inheritance, because your in-law refused your offer for Moripe, three times! Will it not become clear
why some love birds used the bush as cover to flee Ilugun?
Silifa Silifa! My rose among thorns. You see, my heart dances
Just at the sight of your beauty! Eledua* did overtime on you…
Yeeee! You will be my death yet! Kaa sa!* Come near me now …
Stop, Basiru, stop I say. Don’t touch me please…
You flatter to deceive me, Bashiru. Is that fair?
How on Eledua’s earth do I do this? You, I worship day and night?
How? You ask, ‘how’? You promise and you fail, don’t you?
Or is it because you think you have gripped the machete stump?
That’s why your word is no longer your bond? ‘How’, he asks?
Ololufe mi* Tell me what I have not done? and do it I shall
Tell me to bring ten cows, I shall. What will I not do?
Drunk as I am with love! Not just any love – Silifa’s love.
1 moon ago, when you came with your friends, remember?
1 moon ago? 1 moon ago? When I came with my friends?
Many issues were discussed, Silifa. Ok, help out this poor soul..
How remiss of me to promise and fail my sweetheart…
When you asked us to step aside from the motley crowd…
Oh, oh, that. I now remember. You told me to prove I will always
Love thee, no matter what, by hunting for ogbori efon’s* head..
Silifa, were you serious then? When I thought you were teasing …
Teasing? No, I was serious. My first and only request of you, and
Failed me you have. Bashiru, is that a taste of what I am in for?
Omo adaamo!* Haa, Yee! What was a rumor, I now believe, Silifa.
Oh, so you really do not want to marry me, abi. Aye ma ni ka o!*
Can your own forebears confront ogbori efon, talk less of killing it?
Ha, ha, ha! If that’s your plan – to kill me before we’re wed, you lie!
My wife you shall be; the taste of your wetness I shall enjoy!
Ogbori efon ko, ogbori elemoso* ni! Get out of my way joo …
© 17th May, 2016. Adewale Adeniji.
*Oyo – a great Yoruba kingdom
*Oyo meesi – titled chiefs of Oyo kingdom, closest advisors to the king
*Akinrogun – A title for a major warrior, lower in rank to Balogun.
*Silifa ba wo? – why Silifa?
*oroguns – wife rivals in polygamy
*Oran re o! – This is war!
*Onisabe – King of Sabe Kingdom in Dahomey (Benin Republic)
*Fitinati – Trouble
*o so si ni lenu, o bu iyo si – Conundrum/Bitter sweet.
*okun ki ho ruru, ka wa ruru – unwise to stoke the flames of fires
*Karaole o – greeting for a titled one, lesser than a king.
*Ema ma gba Esu l’abule yin?! – You better not allow the devil in your village.
*Esu bi boooo? – Devil’s visitation, how?
*Haaa, Esu a se! Iji a ja! – O a truth, there shall be chaos!
*Eledua – God
*Kaa sa! – exclamation.
*Ololufe mi – my darling
*ogbori efon – a mythical monster of the deep forest.
*ayanfe mi – my choice to marry.
*Omo adaamo – Expletive for ‘wicked soul’
*Aye ma ni ka o! – Wicked world!
*ogbori elemoso – another mythical monster of the deep forest.