An Igbo prayer from eastern Nigeria. The names invoked, Agu, Okaibe, Ogbaugu and Ezenna, are the elder’s ancestors, to whom the kola nuts and the prayer are being offered.

Agu, my father, come:
Take kola and chew.
The tree that shelters his brothers, (1)
The kola is come; it is for you.
Okaibe and Ogbaugu, you caused
The kola tree to grow and produce
Fruit; come and have the biggest share.
Ezenna, you the father of them and of me,
You will come last, for the father eats
Only after his sons have fed – here is
Your own kola.
All the hills and valleys in Ojebe Clan, (2)
The kola is come, it is come, it is come
In great abundance; take it and chew.
Protect me and my family – my wife and children.
I wish no man evil,
But if anyone says I have lived too long,
Let him go before me to see what it is like
In the land of the spirits.

from Igbo Traditional Verse,
by Egudu & Nwoga
Heinemann Educational Books


Footnotes

  1. The Kola tree is an evergreen, growing to a height of 20 metres. Its nut contains caffeine, and is used ceremonially as well as being chewed as a stimulant.
  2. Ojebe Clan: An important clan line among the Igbo.