By, Bode Oje
It was late in the night of December 31st, 1999. The world was preparing to welcome the new millennium and it has reached an apocalyptic fear level. It was such an awe inspiring year. Many apocalyptic prophesies had been said of the coming millennium, so I took refuge from the fear of unknown about the coming year by watching again the classic epic movie of Ògbórí Ẹlẹ́mọ̀ṣọ́, fantastically made by Pa Lérè Pàímọ́. We used to play tape video then, and by the time the fascinating movie was over, I could not put another one; for we have nothing else at home that could match or beat the classical work of Ẹ̀dá Onílé Ọlá. So I relaxed on the couch and off I dosed into the land of dreams.
Then I met him in my dream. He was in a place that looked like a dense forest. A man of about fifty years of age. He looked everything the character portrayed by Lalude. Well, except that he was charcoal black in complexion and I didn’t see the cone shaped basket cap. That must have been alien to Yorùbá dress. And yes, he was dressed moderately flamboyant too. What I saw was a negroid warrior with biceps and broad chest nearing his inactive years of war and adventure. Yet, he looked like a man of wisdom than rogue. It is like wisdom and action combined in one person. He motioned me to settle down on a stone seat beside him, and we started a dialogue.
“My name is Ẹlẹ́mọ̀ṣọ́ of the old Ọ̀yọ́ kingdom. I was alive during the time of Aláàfin Àjàgbó. In fact he was my childhood friend. Contrary to what you might have heard about me, I am a Bariba by ancestry but with a Yorùbá mother. You can ask from Ṣọ̀ún Ogunlọlá himself and he will tell you about me.”
He motioned to a burial site by a tree on which hangs the paraphernalia of a hunter.
“Should I tell you about Aláàfin Àjàgbó or you are familiar with his story.”
I told him I would like to hear the story again. All I know is that Ajagbo was an Alaafin of the West African Oyo Empire, whose long reign took place during the seventeenth century.
“Well” Ẹlẹ́mọ̀ṣọ́ continued. “Aláàfin Ajagbo succeeded his grandfather Obalokun as Alaafin. If you remember, it was during the reign of Obalokun that white men first stepped foot on Ọ̀yọ́ royal city. Obalokun even sent his”son” to go and learn the way of Portuguese.” I bathed my eyes in disbelief as I never heard this part of the story before. So there was an Aláàfin that sent his son to white men’s land? Ẹlẹ́mọ̀ṣọ́ did not notice my surprise.
He continued. “Well, king Àjàgbómòkún was his full name, and what does that tells you?” The words caught me unprepared! I open my mouth to speak but nothing came out. “So he had been to….” I could not say the rest of what the name revealed.
Rather than give me a pat in the back for my discerning mind, Ẹlẹ́mọ̀ṣọ́ looked at me with disdain. “Why is it that you younger generation of great ancestors are just realizing basic things about what happened in the past? Is it because you have an aversion for reading about your history or you have demonized your ancestors the way you demonized every one including me?” He squinted his eyes to probe further into my soul as he gave me a straight look.
“Well, you are right in your deductions except that Obalokun did not send his actual son,” Ẹlẹ́mọ̀ṣọ́ mused, “What King will send his heir apparent to a land beyond the sea? No, he sent his grandson and the reason for that is simple: the grandson was a troublesome yet brilliant mind. And Àjàgbó did not succeeded Obalokun directly, there was a brief reign of Oluodo.” Silence filled the forest.
“If you are surprised by the name and what it reveals, then you will be more surprised if I tell you that king Àjàgbó reigned for 140 years. How is that possible? You will likely ask. The secret lies in the fact I want to tell you today, do not tell any other person.” Ẹlẹ́mọ̀ṣọ́ bent sideways to whisper into my ears: ” Aláàfin Àjàgbó was a twin! Identical twin to be precise!!
“What!” I exploded with mother of all disbelief. “Could it be that…” Ẹlẹ́mọ̀ṣọ́ did not wait for me to finish the sentence, he gave approval nod to whatever has cracked open in my mind before I vomited it with words.
I made a mental scan of the History of the Yoruba by Samuel Johnson I came across in the past, but I could not recall that priceless information being revealed to me now. Doubt if I have a copy of the book for myself, so I made a mental note I will consult Bode Oje to buy one. Meanwhile, let me enjoy this top secret of the ancient world that had been sunbaked and buried almost forever.
“Yes, they were twin brothers. Brilliant twins with a touch of weirdness from the time we were young.” Ẹlẹ́mọ̀ṣọ́ continued.
“They loved playing pranks with their similarity as people found it hard to identify which one is Taye and which one is Kehinde. Only their grandfather, Obalokun could tell which is which. Yet, I was their friend and our friendship grew so fondly I used to sleep at the ààfin with them. We go to farm together sometimes carried on the shoulder by kings slaves. We hunt bush rodents and squirrels together. Yet, Àjàgbó twins continued to play prank on us their friends and sometimes each of them made away with double share of our game playing identity prank on us. Yet, we love them for their pranks and every child wanted to be their friend for they were two amiable charming boys.
We were on such hunting expedition near the city main road when an entourage came of white men carried on 3 seats, each seat resting on the shoulder of six black men. The entourage was of about 24 men comprising 6 white men and the rest were blacks. It was like seeing alien or gods coming to Ọ̀yọ́ in flesh and blood. We quickly took a short cut and rushed down to Ọ̀yọ́ to inform the court of the approach of some strange white men. The court guards did not believe us initially, but when the road chief came to break the news again, they took us serious and reported the issue to the king. It was a memorable day when the first white men knocked at the gate of Ọ̀yọ́ ilé and the gate of brass was opened for them. It was the beginning of my story and the beginning of intrigue, betrayal, conspiracies, war, love, patriotism, scandal and a whole lot of unforgettable events that I’m about to tell you. All I want is your listening ear to hear my own side of the story.” With this words, Ẹlẹ́mọ̀ṣọ́ sighed.
To be continued.
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