We were sent the following poem, a modern working on the Yoruba folklore tale of Olúrónbí, by Oluwatoba Opemip who is a student of Adekunle Ajasin University in Ondo state, Nigeria.

The tale of Olúrónbí concerns a beautiful woman who has been yearning for a child but has been unable to conceive. Following the tradition of her village, Olúrónbí ventures into the forest to petition the spirit of the Iroko tree, Olúwéré, to enable her to become pregnant. Most women who perform this ritual promised to make offerings of wines, food and sacrifices of sheep and goats to Olúwéré. Olúrónbí however, promises her first child to the spirit of the Iroko tree if he grants her request. Time passes and Olúrónbí gives birth to a beautiful female child which she named Béporé. But when the time came for her to fulfill her promise to her benefactor, Olúrónbí in decided to keep her daughter and tries to placate Olúwéré with various other offerings. Olúwéré warned and warned as his patience grew cold, turning to rage and anger until one day Béporé is taken away mysteriously.

Twice a union stroll a year
Even when these amulets of riches
Of pies and honey
Stay and stay
Caress my waiting entrails

Àgàtú!… (1)
Should I in pleasure
Pour libation
On my rusty hips
And twirl back to my youth
Yet scorn by my pitfalls?
Will thy apathy…
Solicit for my tears
When my aging
Aridness is being
Jollied upon by my kins?
Bánidárò!… (2)
Will the night dizzily watch again
Whamming at my grief?
Or will this dawn birth
Yet another wailing sighs
And heaves?
So then will I seek…
And pant to thee
Lúwéré!… (3)
Where many vowed goats
The less coweries and fleshy sheep
Nought shall i sally over
Thy piousness and thy giving
If then shall ye curse
The hegemony
Of my barren harvest
In return shall I…
Wash thy twigs
With the breathe
Of my flowery season
.. So it was days
Grew the grateful few
In calabash
Ornaments and wines
Casted at my bosom
But dearth was that
Of the infidel
Lúronbí…..
If by noon
Enmity proclaim
The countenance of thy woes
Will kindness then
Be convicted
In stead of bounder?
In thy cuss
Have I acted
None of these will I shoulder
Not these seductive yams
Or the fattest of bulls
Shall my vengeance
Be appeased or tarried
But in Béporé’s thigh
Will my lust abide
The boons of my leniency.

by Oluwatoba Opemip,
Ondo state, Nigeria


Footnotes

  1. Àgàtú: Someone who normally act as servitude to his or her peers.
  2. Bánídò: Someone who sympathizes with another in pain or loss, be it sincerely or mockingly.
  3. Lúwéré: another name for the Iroko tree in Yoruba when it comes to eulogy.