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

 

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and livelytwist.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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27 thoughts on “Gods Were to Blame by Samuel Okopi

  1. Ahhh! Beautiful story. Takes me back to yoruba classes in secondary school, listening to those wonderful stories understanding almost completely but never quite able to string a sentence in my mother tongue- still not able too. The gods are definitely not to blame for that.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hehehe. It must have been fun listening to the beautiful language of Yoruba ferry fantasies to your mind. I understand that kind of frustration that comes with an inability to engage with the poetry and aesthetics of a language.

      Thanks Tony. Glad you enjoyed the story!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Robin, I bet Samuel will be pleased by your comment. I like the story because it contains moral wisdom that shows us how to navigate our world, all the while stirring our imagination.

      Like

  2. @MsTimi, if mere mortal men lay down their brains to testosterone, how much more “gods”?
    @Samuel, I adore this story. As a kid, I used to read tales about the fight between Osun and Oba and wonder if I could expand the story. I forgot. You reminded me.
    Lovely tale! 👍

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Indeed with fatal consequences for both. Someone said, “If only women ruled the world!” 😉
      Now Samuel, about those Osun and Oba tales . . . I’ve never heard of them.
      Thanks for reading, so glad you enjoyed it.

      Like

      1. @hrh7. Thanks for enjoying the story! The one Osun vs Oba tale I read back then was so gripping that I haven’t forgotten the details almost two decades later. I still remember the burning anger of Sango in that story.

        Timi, then you have missed o. But a quick search on Google should bring up a brief or two on their story. But the synopsis: Oba was envious of Osun on account of her delicious meals. Oba asks for the secret. Osun deceives her with talk that her great love for Sango made her cook her ear for him. She advises Oba does same. Sango discovers Obas cooked ear is the strange meat he is chewing on while eating and wreaks so much destruction by the hand of his anger. Osun and Oba ran away, turning to two rivers that, even to this present day, clash where they meet.

        I know I despised Osun for years. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Another cautionary tale. I like it. Thanks for sharing.

          As a child, I was given money everyday to buy a book and indulge my love for reading. The bookshop that I went to didn’t have these kinds of books. So I read Enid Blyton, Nancy Drew, etc. Later, I would read AWS, Pacesetters, Mills & Boon, etc, before spending countless hours with my dad reading opinion pieces from newspapers and magazines.

          I hope that kids today have even more access to African mythology.

          Like

    1. It would seem Sango was threatened because his beloved Oyo was threatened. I mean, if Poseidon came in peace, why did he create a thunderstorm that uprooted palm trees outside the city walls? Oh, infractions, breaches & territorial integrity! Poseidon not only attempted to invade Oyo, but also question Sango’s relevance as the god of thunder. Recipe for testosterone (do gods have that?), to heat up ….

      Glad you enjoyed reading.

      Like

  3. Cool stuff Timi, I think the legend of Sango and many other gods might have some substance to them, in that someone lived at the time (a warrior) with so much effect on the society yet so much anger issues. I however think the stories are largely over exaggerated, in regards to the powers they have.

    Like many of the gods, it better to make the gods disappear instead of dying, that way there is no burial place for people to worship and expect miracles.
    It actually sounds better for a god to vanish rather than dying. Dying is for a regular being.

    Like

    1. One reason I like the story is because it’s a graphic representation of how anger (and pride), can cloud judgement.

      @worship, my friends and I were discussing if man’s desire to worship is innate. It would seem that man’s capacity to worship has not diminished over time, but the object(s) of worship has changed form . . . I wouldn’t be surprised if people built shrines by the sea waiting for Sango’s re-emergence! 🙂

      Like

      1. I am missing this gene. I went through the motions when I was younger so as not to displease family members, but as a centered adult who is no longer worried about what people think of me, I confess to not understanding why people feel compelled to worship deities. I’m not critical of it or professing that my reality is somehow more authentic than that of others. I just don’t feel the call of worship or religion.

        Like

        1. @worship and religion, fair enough Eric.

          I enjoyed the clash of the titans in the story. I understand Sango’s motivation to defend his land, but wonder why Poseidon would travel long distances to Oyo. Samuel, fill in the blanks . . . How often have we used a sledge hammer intending to kill a fly and crushed something more, something dear? In any case, I imagine this on the big screen with glorious effects. Coming from a romantic comedy girl, that’s something! 🙂

          Like

          1. @Poseidon’s journey to Oyo. Hmmm, Timi, I honestly don’t know what took Poseidon all the way from Greece to Oyo. Maybe he had heard of Osun and her extreme beauty, and wanted her to himself? Or maybe he wanted to fight with a black-skinned god for the fun of it? *chuckles*

            Liked by 1 person

      2. Hahahaha…Timi, I wouldn’t be surprised, too! And this oddly reminds me of a sect whose leader convinced them to commit suicide so they could hop unto a passing spaceship that would take them to [heaven?] Can’t remember the sect now.

        Like

    2. @Busola. I believe the fear of the unknown, man’s ignorance of the complete picture of what comes after life on earth, and the tendency of man to dominate his kind when given the opportunity, all come together to make religion and gods perpetuate themselves through the ages. Yes, there must be exaggeration to the tales from different climes. But then man is naturally an imaginative being who feeds off stories so it is only natural that fiction garnishes what is taken to be reality.

      Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I think, and Samuel would have to correct me on this, that Samuel concocted this story. I don’t know how close or far removed the ending is from Greek and Yoruba mythology. I’m aware that people worshipped and still do worship these gods. Perhaps the gods have power, but in my case, only to the degree that I concede mine. Samuel?

      Like

      1. Reading stories about Greek mythology, I have seen that the power of the gods does diminish as people forget them and they are no longer worshipped, so they fade away because their life force stems from belief in them.

        Liked by 3 people

      2. Yeah Timi, this is largely fiction of my own imagination. Nothing like this ever happened I believe. Lol. Nonetheless, the legend of Sango gives several accounts of Sango’s anger getting him into serious trouble.

        Curt, your statement is powerful. I wonder how the relationship between gods and men would be a thousand years from now.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Hi Samuel, I don’t know much about African mythology, so I enjoyed reading this. Meanwhile, what inspired you to fuse Yoruba and Greek mythology? And why did Sango have to disappear? Do the ‘mammy waters’ find him? 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. *Laughs at mammy water kidnap*

      I have always wanted to see African mythology explored more and given the depth of artistic expression we have become accustomed to in comics and big budget movies. I am not sure the idea of fusing African and mythology had been brewing inside of me. I guess it just came as an instant flash of inspiration; a kind that could come about when you are under pressure and working with prompts: In this case, a 30-day Facebook contest I went into with another writer.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. @African mythology explored more, I think it’d be great with first-rate film effects. We’ve really got stories to tell. If we pique Hollywood’s interest, yours is probably the kind of story that’ll sell with a few twists- they’ll have to fight over a woman, Osun of course; and Poseidon, the white God, he can’t be obliterated o . . . haba, do you want a box office hit or not? 😉

        When you sell your story, remember me in your kingdom 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

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