Gods Were to Blame by Samuel Okopi

 

Sango by Tobi 'Leftist' Ajiboye

All the lessons of history in four sentences: Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad with power. The mills of God grind slowly, but they grind exceedingly small. The bee fertilizes the flower it robs. When it is dark enough, you can see the stars. – Charles A. Beard

 

 

“Who dares Oyo?”

Sango’s fingers quaked as he rose from his seat. A palace guard had come with news that frightened his household but angered him.

“Who dares my beloved Oyo?” Sango asked again with a louder voice, his face squeezed to a frown, his eyes eager to escape the prison that held them.

Everyone in the palace shifted back.

“I will destroy this oyinbo god!” said Sango, as he raced to the skies.

From the embrace of the lower clouds, Sango saw Poseidon, an oyinbo god so mighty that when he moved, the sea swirled around his body like wrapper shaking in the wind. Poseidon held a trident with which he guided the clouds above the sea into a thunderstorm easily uprooting palm trees outside the city walls. He advanced from the middle of the sea, lashing the waters with his massive frame.

Sango trembled. Where did such a god journey from? What does it desire?

Poseidon roared and the earth shook.

Olorun did not mold Sango with fear!” Sango spat out the words through trembling lips.

The upper clouds swirled faster around Sango’s outstretched double-headed axe. As the master of thunder, the knowledge that another being sought the obedience of heaven’s light and sound enraged him. Fear shrunk into a still prisoner bound by the shackles of his rage.

“White god, listen! You shall burn! The waters shall do nothing to stop your white skin becoming like the terrible blackness of night. You shall disappear as ash to the skies!”

When Poseidon’s eyes caught Sango, he roared all the more in the foreign tongue and mounted the sea horses formed of the tidal waves. Soon, he was by the beach. Poseidon had not crossed the palm forests by a man’s twenty paces when Sango swung his axe and struck him with a stream of lightning.

All of Oyo Kingdom and beyond heard the terrible groan of the oyinbo god as he crashed into the sea. Warriors ran into their huts ahead of their wives. Children bumped into themselves as they pursued their mothers’ loosening wrappers. The scent of death had never been this pungent in Oyo.

In the palace, Sango’s three wives, Osun, Oya, and Oba, huddled in the inner chamber, quivering.

“Olorun, spare us and our Kabiyesi o!” said Osun, whose beauty and excellent cooking kept Sango’s deep love for her aflame through all seasons. Wraps of amala she had prepared for him lay on the floor of the main chamber, their roundness deformed to the jaggedness of mountain ranges. The hot ewedu soup she had placed beside the amala stained the floor like stubborn patches of grass.

Every member of the royal household crouched in hiding, counting their heartbeat and the painful seconds before the oyinbo god’s groan would resound. Instead, the faint sound of Sango chanting praises of his exploits in battle, streamed in from the skies.

The palace guards rose first, following the distant sound, shedding their fear with each footfall. They moved into the courtyard and sighted Sango in the clouds, and then they shouted, singing the great victory songs of old. The palace drummer struck the batá twice, swung around, and then moved his hands faster and faster over the batá. Osun, Oya, and Oba’s legs received strength and their hips swung left, right, left, as they chorused with the guards.

 

Who amongst beasts and men can stand the fire in Kabiyesi’s eyes?

Will a god beside Olorun do battle with Kabiyesi?

Ah, Kabiyesi, master of thunder!

The god that brightens the earth with his eyes.

The one that chews iron and bathes with fire.

Our lord with eight eyes guiding heaven, eight more ruling earth.

Our king who makes Oyo people snore in a thunderstorm!

Kabiyesi, master of thunder, Olorun made you perfect!

 

Sango smiled as tributes from the lips of hundreds of thousands dwelling in Oyo kingdom ascended to his ears. He descended towards his people, his brown loincloth swaying in the wind as he danced to the intoxicating beat of the batá.

Midway between earth and sky, the earth began to tremble. Poseidon’s roar arose from the sea and saturated the skies, sucking in the joyful noise of victory swimming in the air. When Sango turned to behold Poseidon, a mighty ball of water hit his frame and flung him towards Egbaland where he crashed on Olumo Rock, the great rock revered all over Egbaland. It shattered at once into boulders that flew out and crushed many houses and people.

From where his swift flight ended, Sango pushed aside the tree trunk straddled across his torso and jumped to his feet.  His mouth was bitter from the memory of his humiliating crash. Seeing Poseidon advancing towards Oyo, even if with a burnt arm, turned Sango into a mad man. Wrath stole his words. Pain summoned his axe. When it came, he stuck it in the air and flashed his iron teeth at the sun.

Thunder knew its true master.

“Olorun! I am the greatest god after you!” Sango said, his eyes aflame as he channelled ten years of thunder towards Poseidon.

***

Poseidon’s ashes travelled as far as Timbuktu. The great walls of Oyo crumbled to dust. Not one living thing survived.

“Oloooooruuuuuuuuuun!” Sango cried to the heavens, the fire in his eyes humbled to tears streaking his cheeks.

“Oloooooruuuuuuuuuun!  Olodumareeeeeeeh! Why did you not tame my anger!”

Sango sank to his knees. Osun’s enchanting smile flashed before him and with it came the memory of the sweet-smelling amala and ewedu she had prepared for him.

“Aaaah!”

Sango bowed his head and wept like a man. For two days his knees remained with the ground and his lips did not part. When he stood to his feet, he walked for seven days never stopping until he vanished into the sea.

No god ever saw Sango again.

 

© Samuel Okopi 2014

samuelokopi.com

 

Oyinbo: Pidgin. Usually, a person of Caucasian descent.

Olorun: The supreme god of the Yoruba pantheon in its manifestation as the ruler of the heavens. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Olorun

Kabiyesi: Majesty, Royal Highness. He whose words are beyond questioning.  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Highness 

Batá: A double-headed drum shaped like an hourglass with one cone larger than the other. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Batá_drum

 

Image Credit

Sango’s Rage by Tobi ‘Leftist’ Ajiboye

Twitter & Instagram: @leftistxx

 

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