The following poem is part of the dirges chanted at the funeral of a deceased hunter, Pa Ogundele, by Atoyebi at Agunpopo, Oyo in 1975. Pa Ogundele was a member of the hunters society, the Asipade, (see The Asipade) for whom magical charms are an essential tool for capturing animals and surviving in the forest. However, whilst these charms are highly prized ultimately no magic can defeat death.

Ajuwon Akanbi, (1)
Hunter, I thought you had egba magic.
It is true you have.
Hunter, I thought you had ajabo magic.
It is true you have.
Egbe is used by hunters to capture elephants in the game-forest.
Ajabo is used by hunters to conquer lions in the game-forest.
But when Death comes,
Magic cannot ward off Death.
Sacrifice cannot ward off Death.
Magic cannot ward off Death.
Death is the inevitable end of man.
Bad Death alone is what we pray against.

Collected and translated by Professor Bade Ajuwon,
from his essay Ogun’s Iremoje: A Philosophy of Living and Dying
taken from Africa’s Ogun: Old World and New Edited by Sandra T. Barnes


Footnotes

  1. Ajuwon Akanbi: Another deceased hunter.