First of all, my story is not about tribe or ethnic group nor is it meant to depict some people as evil. Something happened to me where I went to and I just want to tell the story. I am not indicting any one here, please.
I followed a close friend of mine to her home town for the burial of her father. The man was a chief in their town. The town is in the southwest, Ijebuland to be precise. My friend had followed me to the east a few years before for the wedding of one of my sisters.
We are that close.
Now, you know all the preparations that come with the burial of an elderly man who had many children who are doing well and many grandchildren as well. It’s a huge celebration!
The man had been buried quickly being a Muslim, so it was the 40day burial that we went for. Among Yoruba Muslims, I was told, when a man dies, like my friend’s father, he would be buried immediately, that day by 4pm then 40 days later a proper burial party or reception would be thrown by his children or if they so desire, they may postpone to a later date convenient for all the family. So I guess it depends on the family’s pocket.
We went to Ijebu, o; we were fully prepared to help my friend celebrate her father’s glorious passing. She was expecting no less than 100 guests, of course aso ebi, souvenirs…all the works were already in the mix. As close friends, I was among those who got there on Friday; Saturday being the day for the reception.
Like I said because the man was rich, he had a large house, huge compound and trust you Yorubas with party, the cooking was massive. Each of the man’s children had their own cooks, their own cows, their own set of everything that can make an owambe party rock.
Yes, o. I don’t know any tribe that loves party like Yoruba people.
Now, something happened at that event that will forever be on my mind.
First was when the cow belonging to one of my friend’s sibling broke loose and took off! Yeah, I know it’s common to see or hear that cows break loose especially as they are about to be slaughtered, what was unusual was that after this cow had been caught and this was after several minutes later and its neck was cut, as in the Mallam had used a very sharp knife to slice its throat, my sister, cow no die o! I mean, the cow, with its neck cut and blood oozing out had managed to kick those holding it down and it stood up!
All the people holding it scattered several ways; even those of us watching from afar pick race!
The Mallam was chanting somethings, I don’t know if it is Arabic or Hausa, I just know the Mallam followed the cow, chanting something and finally, the cow slumped and he cut off its head clean, separated from the body.
Hummn, I vowed not to eat any meat from that cow, though the likelihood was slim because my friend too killed a cow and as her guest, we would have more than enough from her tent.
But anyway, after all that commotion of runaway cow, we settled to monitor my friend’s cooks as they cooked for the party. We were still talking about the cow when a storm began to brew. You know what that means to outdoor cooking?
Some of the cooks were even suggesting that my friend and her siblings ought to have contracted a rainmaker to avert rain so that their party would not be disrupted.
Hmmn the storm was gathering fast, black clouds accompanied with lightning and thunder. We were cooking, I was silently praying that we would not have to stop cooking because even though we were cooking under a huge roof like shed, wind and water could quench the firewood and that would delay cooking and you know what that means for a party.
One loud roar of thunder sent us all scampering indoors, everyone was scared. Seconds later, we saw lightning come straight from the sky, hit the ground and begin to head towards us. I meant US as in all of us cooking outside. There were butchers still gutting cow nearby… women pounding yam, you know the scene now?
The lightning was zigzagging among people, many of who couldn’t run, o. it was zigzagging and moving around as if seeking something. I have never seen such a phenomenon ever in my life, I pray never to ever again!
I took off!
I cannot come and go and die in another man’s land, o. I ran into one of the rooms and watched from a window. The lightning was now moving really fast and opening the ground as it moved. Then suddenly it struck one man, he was one of the butchers still gutting a cow.
It wrapped around him like wires, and before we could shout, died out on the man’s body!
Did he die? What kind of question is that? We say Alfa got burnt, you’re asking if his mustache was affected… of course he died, the man was cooked; his fingers, feet shriveled, he turned black and hie eyes popped out, his clothes turned to ashes…
They said he must have done something wrong, that maybe he stole something sacred or swore a false oath…I don’t know, that was what I heard. Is that why he should be fried?
As for me, I just wanted to go back home. I didn’t even want to do party any more, I just wanted to go home, back to Lagos.
(Series written and edited by Peju Akande and based on true stories)