Yemonja – The River Goddess

 

Balogun the Great,

The fearless warrior of Osogbo,

A man with a stone- heart, tall, strong with a fist that played with fire,

His name was known from the depth of the sea to the heart of the desert,

Brave as a lion, never backing down from a challenge,

 

We had seen him grow from a little boy who was only a spearman under the old empire,

Walking his way up the ranks, he challenged the Army warlord from  Oyo empire to a fight,

A step no soldier at the time was brave enough to take,

In front of the whole village including the Oba, Balogun defeated the warlord,

Slicing his head off with a machete,

 

The crowd cheered with a cry of Freedom,

All the foreign soldiers were slaughtered,

Balogun’s victory gave us hope,

He established a new army,

Given the permission by the Oba to go ahead and fight for our independent,

 

News got back to the village that Balogun and his men were victorious,

For with a gladden heart, we rejoiced at his return,

He was given a hero’s welcome-back parade,

Awarded the title of the ‘The Land’s Watchman’ whose role was to protect the village from invasion,

The Land’s watchman needed to stay at the outskirt of the village to perform his role,

 

But Balogun was unhappy with this role, angered by the treatment of the Oba,

Balogun overthrew the Oba and his ministers

He banished them from the village, never to return

With the support of the people, he was declared Oba, having absolute power over everything

Seven years down the line, Balogun had become a beast of a man

Enslaving his own people for his quest for more power and glory

Proclaimed by his admirers as god

Marrying thirst-six women, some were forcfully taken from their husbands

 

Our village couldn’t contain him, he fought unnecessary battles

Never speaking of peace and love but of war and violence 

He wanted his name to be remembered for all of his accomplishments 

Any man standing on his path to battle was crushed

A protest was led by seven  Orunmila women

Unfortunately, they were all hung to death

 

In despair, we sought the merciful face of the gods

We prayed day and night, begging for a saviour

A saviour who would redeem us from  Balogun’s tight grip

His army  stopped us from giving any sacrifice to the gods

Every sacrifice and offering was to go to Balogun

 

On a faithful evening, at the eve of what was supposed to be the Parade of virgins

I was on my way home from a day’s fishing at the river,

I heard the cries of a little girl

I followed the sound of the cry,

She appeared to be a young lady,

 

As beautiful as the lily at the river banks

with blue eyes that will strike a man’s heart with lust

Her hair was banded in red ribbon, wet and curly

Gently touched her smooth and refined body

She couldn’t speak my lauguage

On our way to my house, her beauty caught the eyes of every human being

 

Knowing she was from a foreign land, a soldier took her from me

‘A slave befitting for the eyes of Balogun himself’ he said 

She was taken from me not knowing what was to become of her

 

During the main Parade, Balogun was nowhere to be found, this was his favourite festival because of the virgins he could bed for himself

Rumours surfaced that he was sick and couldn’t attend

Later that day, news got out that Balogun the great warrior………… was dead

He was stabbed seven times in his chest overnight

 

That rang a bell, overnight?

Who could have done such a wicked thing?

Who was brave enough to have killed Balogun?

The whole village was amused but nobody knew who Balogun’s killer was

The priest, the army, the royal family, nobody knew what happened that night

 

On getting to the river the next day, I saw the same young lady descending into the underworld

She sang her way down into the river,

Bewildered by fear, I stood quietly behind the fig tree

I couldn’t believe what I was seeing, this is Yemoja, I said to myself

 

I ran back to my mother and my wife to tell them

But they didn’t believe me

‘The foreign girl cannot be Yemoja’ they said

We argued till dawn,

For great men die on the laps of a beautiful woman

Years later, It was confirmed that Balogun was infact killed by an unknown  woman

But I was the only one who knew who the woman was

THE END

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