THE KING WHO WANTED TO LIVE FOREVER
Once upon a time, in a town called Ayedun, there reigned a king called Adelagba. He had everything; wealth, good health, promising children and a peaceful regime. But he wanted more. He wanted to live forever. So he summoned his seer who assured him it could be done, that he could live forever. A special pot of potion was prepared. His first daughter was the sacrificial animal. Adelagba and his seer must have convinced each other that their conspiracy worked. But did it work? Did the king live forever?
After some years Adelagba was believed to have died. Another Oba was installed but he died shortly after coronation. Another was installed and he died too soon after the festivities. By this time, the sons of Adelagba were old enough to become contenders for the throne. The race for the throne starte d between the two eldest sons of the late Oba's two queens. Adekanbi was the eldest and he returned from his sojourn abroad convinced that he was the heir apparent. Not so fast, his younger brother from another mother, Oyewumi, told him. And so began the royal battle that unravelled the conspiracy of many years.
The queens were at each other's throat. Money and juju were deployed. Nocturnal meetings were held. Then suddenly, Oyewumi withdrew his candidacy. He said he was no longer interested in the throne. Since his elder brother was still alive, he was stepping down as a mark of respect. Adekanbi was stunned but happy. The children of the eldest queen swung into action. They organized a pre-coronation party. And then tragedy struck. One of the young men who attended the party died the morning after. A chain of events followed and it looked like if Adekanbi was going to live long on the throne of Ayedun, a lot of people must die, including the woman he was engaged to marry.
Was Ayedun on the road to extinction? Had the throne become an eater of flesh and drinker of blood? Had the ancestral stool become a death trap? One of the older palace chiefs eventually revealed that he it was who advised Oyewumi, the younger prince, to shelve his royal ambition if he wanted to live long. So, what was killing all Adelagba's successors? The search for the truth started. The oracle pointed in the direction of the now very old Adelagba's seer. Off to his compound the people went. At first he denied knowledge of what was killing the new kings and threatening the foundation of the town but a few threats soon had him singing the tune the town wanted to dance.
Yes, he consulted for Adelagba. Yes, there was a pot buried deep in the forest. And wait for it… Adelagba was not dead but not really alive. He was somewhere in the forest because until and unless the pot holding his life was broken, Adelagba's heart would continue beating. The cat was out of the bag and running. The people did not see the need to wait another minute before putting an end to the evil in their land. The old seer led them to the forest where they found the skeleton of Adelagba. But his heart was still ticking. He was neither dead nor alive. Everybody was stunned, lost for words. When they recovered their tongues and senses, they smashed the evil pot and finally Adelagba died. His seer slumped too. And thus ended an evil reign and its evil men.
Before you start thinking I'm the new D.O. Fagunwa, this story is not like the Ayeloja and other stories that you have read here. The story you just read is from a Yoruba movie from Nollywood, titled Ogun Aiku (live-forever potion) . It was written and produced by Adebayo Tijani. Muyiwa Ademola directed it. I watched it on Easter Sunday and it got me wondering. Yoruba movies most of the time are deep with very fundamental messages. As a student of literature, I am trained to see beyond the surface, read the sub-text and dig out the deeper meaning buried in any story line. What did Ogun Aiku teach me? There is a time to be born and a time to die. It does not matter how rich or successful we are, there is a time to leave this clime. Humans are mortals. It is the way God wants it. It is the way it will always be. No matter how hard we try, we all must return from whence we came. No matter how long our heart beats, it will stop one day. It is not how long we sojourn in these parts that is important, it is how we will be remembered when we are gone that matters.
As we ejected the movie from the player, I wondered if the people of Ayedun will remember all the good things that Oba Adelagba did before he became obsessed with living forever. Something told me Adelagba's good works had been consumed by his crazed and mindless lust to live forever. Ayedun would most likely would with pain remember the kings who died so soon after ascending he throne and the confusion that Adelagba left them with while only his heart ticked in the forest. And the town will never forget the seer who tried to play God by trying to manipulate the hands of time.
Serial rapists everywhere
The military came and mauled her. They started by feeling her up, roughly. Goggled and ungoggled ones took turns and left her bleeding. Reprieve came for a short while. She had a few moments to catch her breath before fraudulent elections barged in. He wore a hood the first time, dragged her into a corner and thoroughly raped her. She cried and cried. The second coming of Mr Fraudulent Election was without a hood and the rape took place on the lawn under the gaze of international media. He committed his crime with impunity and dared anybody to arrest him. Nobody did. Third term came and continued from where rigged election stopped. By now, she had become a psychological wreck. But her ordeal was far from being over.
The next phase was more colourful. It was a phase of gang rape. Thieving governors gang-raped her. Greedy legislators padded every budget in sight and used the proceeds to rape her. She got used to it and was resigning to fate when a new set of hardened criminals unleashed a different brand of terror. They kidnapped the President and hid him in a hole. They demanded all kinds of ransom, raping her in-between each evil move. She bled. She sweated. She cursed. She swore.
It seemed she was doomed to a life of only rape. Why didn't a proper suitor ever come her way? Why can't she be wooed with roses and purple prose like her friends and peers? She is more beautiful, better educated and more intelligent than her friends. She has a to-die-for shape. How come only rapists are attracted to her? Maybe she should give her life to God, become a born-again Christian or devout Muslim. She was summoning courage to take solace in the House of God when a Muslim cleric burst in through the door and pounced on her, turban and all. She fainted. In white cassock, a reverend gentleman came in, didn't wait for her to regain consciousness before taking his turn.
Who will deliver Nigeria from rapists? When will God stop by and shut the door against those who see nothing wrong in raping a woman in coma? When? There's nothing to assure us that the next gang of bandits won't rape her to death. God, are you there?