Before the “apes obey”, when Esu was just another one of the deities, far away in western Nigeria, oral tradition has it that , the Yoruba people exercise some process of marriage. These includes, research such as consultations, parental permission , courting and so on. Imagine going through all that and more , before getting married to whom you love. That exactly how Soyinka felt when he told his father that he would love to marry Abike, the daughter of Akinwolu. He has being on her tail since the last dance competition she entered, at the king square , during the last yam festival. He fell in love at first sight and lost his mind, when she started dancing and the numerous Ileke around her waists ,kept swaying. . “It’s been many moons since the last yam festival, and baba I think, I have found the woman I want to marry”. He began and presented to Baba Obafemi , his father, how he met Abike and how much he loves her.
Baba Obafemi is the king’s Wit. An aged man who had his only Son of eleven children , when his last black strand turned grey. Baba responded with a narration of the process involve in marriage, under the Yoruba culture to him . Abike been a known face , baba continue his response with Abike and her father Akinwolu, story. Ekun Alafin as baba Called him.
“I’m sure you know Akinwolu is the Aare of our town, but I don’t think you know how he became the Aare. “ baba began.
“No I don’t baba”. Soyinka responded.
“Akinwolu was not born into the Aare family nor originally from Oyo. His fore fathers walked into Oyo le. They were peasant whom the community welcomed, with open arms. Akinwolu , just like my name is not originally Obafemi, was named after his bravado behavior. He started his life as a laborer on plantations, but a time came for the army recruitment and he joined the army. His inclination, unlike other historical legend, was rather slow and full of piteous stories , according to him. I can see you are growing impatient and my story is boring to you. To cut it short, Akinwolu killed a lion that disturbed the community with his bare hand . He skinned it , wore the skin and walked to the palace of the king , with its blood dripping from the skin. Kabiesi renamed him that very day. He became the Aare many moons later , after fighting legions of armies and succeeding….“. He was interrupted by Soyinka.
“But baba , what has this got to do with me marrying his daughter”
“Show me a youth , he will show you what impatience look like. Be patience and listen. When he became Aare, the king also gave him his daughter , who Akinwolu has been courting since he killed the lion. I was there at the wedding . It was really beautiful. Iyunade really loves him and he truly loves her in return. They were the perfect match . We all knew. She gave birth to Abike few moons into their marriage . But on that day , Akinwolu’s pot broke but he took his water home . Death is cruel , it’s snatches like it took nothing . Iyunade is one of those you will curse death for taken . The day is just like yesterday but look at it now, Abike is all grown.” Baba paused and sighed but Soyinka confused this for the end of his talk.
“But baba , I still don’t really understand”. Soyinka asked.
“What I want you to understand is that ,Akinwolu is not child’s play . I’ve known him for a long time . He is a hard man to deal with. You don’t know what you are asking for my son.” Baba said but Soyinka persisted and persuaded baba . He talked him how genuinely he loves her , how much baba would love to see his grandsons, how much the Aare respect baba Obafemi and how he can influence the Aare decision.
“You don’t know medicine, you call it vegetable, the little behind your grandmothers backward Is what makes her grandma. Listen to me attentively the little I know is the reason I’m your father . Akinwolu is not the ball in Ayo game but the player himself. But Hmm, he is someone I can approach. I want you to know that you are about to ask of a lion jewel, therefore there is the need to consult IFA”.
“Okay baa mi , I will go get baba Amawo for you immediately”.
He exited but his back view made baba reminisce, the days of asking for a son. How he had to marry different wives but failed at getting a heir , that will outlive him . Eventually he was blessed with a son and now he is on his way to become a grandpa.
At Amawo’s place Soyinka looked for one of the diviner’s apprentice, who owe him a favor. He instructed the young diviner to make the divination in his favor. His plan was splendid only baba instructed him to get Amowo , not his apprentice. To make a long story longer , he lied to baba that Amawo told the apprentice to come in his stead. Well his plan worked. Baba with few chiefs approached Akinwolu . The Aare was joyous and merrily when he was told but the chief left with a fish for answer. Akinwolu told them he has no intention of giving his daughter to anyone from a wealthy home. He believes his son in law must be a strong breed like him.
Akinwolu stance was met with various reactions and resultantly his daughter absconded with Soyinka to another town. When she heard her father rejected a suitor , she looked for who it was. And as fate will have it she fell in love with him. The two lovebird then hid themselves , in the next village. Their little adventure caused baba Obafemi his overall peace. In fact , the whole town listen to the roar of a pharaonic lion. This reign of threat and terror lasted till the couple returned. But when they returned, they returned with expectations, with pregnancy. Akinwolu gave in since he could not tell her to abort,but refused to support the union. Soyinka, omo Akin, on his end also vow to bring himself up, without his father’s help.
A moment with our loves is worth more than a thousand lifetime with someone else. With them we bear everything we thought we couldn’t. The couple life was a long narrative of misery , penury and hardship. They toil day and night but still beg even the ants on the wall to live . They are the love story that never work . A negative lesson to all youth , that might want to follow same path. Soyinka spend most of his day, time and energy cultivating , the only farm his father gave him before their union. He is such is hard worker, the cock and cricket can verify. But he can’t hard work his way to selling his produce.
On a fateful morning , Soyinka consulted his diviner , to see and proffer a possible solution to his predicament. He left his diviner’s place with solution to his problem. Although difficult but within his reach. On his way back he met his wife and he told her to follow him to the farm and harvest yam. On their way ? He claimed to have forgotten his cutlass, that will be useful for the task ahead. So he went back for it.
Well it’s seven days now since we saw Abike last. Not dead , not mad yet no trace. The whole city became curious . Curious of the fact that Soyinka sold all his farm produce three days after his wife was declared missing. But nobody dare point a finger at him , not even Akinwolu . Only the walls continues to speak in silent. Humming a secret, publicly known.
But what is the benefit of the wealth without peace of mind ? The money you have but you walk around your community in shame ?
To be continued.