Hmmmm! Alao mused as he threw the cowrie one more time. This was his seventh try,and the outcome of this remained the same, the gods required him to take his life. He threw the cowrie and his traditional paraphernalia against the wall, and started pacing back and forth in his dim lighted shrine. A boisterous wind blew and this snuffed out the oil lamps which were his source of light. He groaned in anger and great pain as he knelt down on the muddy floor,his white regalia getting smeared by the brown colour of soft mud.
Why Orunmila ?????? Kin ni mo se???? I have served you with my life! The village of Ayetoro greatly prospered under my spiritual rulership as High Priest. Has any other priest in the history of this town served you like I have???? I even sacrificed my beloved Adunni when you called her defiled and blamed her for the uproar in the town as a result of Ifamuyiwa’s rebellion he shouted, bitter tears stinging his eyes. Is it because I’ve refused to offer him also as a sacrifice to you? He’s my only son,my blood runs in his veins,why should innocent blood be constantly shed! Why?? he asked.
The moment he uttered this, a heavy downpour of rain began to fall and Alao, refusing to take shelter,cried bitterly till the cock crowed. The village of Ayetoro was in an uproar,the death of their king seemed to usher in series of notorious incidences;from plagues and diseases,to heavy rainfall and lightning until the missionaries visited. The chiefs alongside other fearful indigenes had run away,following the prophecies of doom that other priests had voiced out concerning the town and this new religion of the missionaries, the gods were angry. They needed more blood,this being the blood of Alao,chief priest of the town.
We must not give up! Ayetoro must be colonised by us!! Not in the name of Britain!(Olorun maje),the other youths replied,or the gods(never!) But in the name of Jesus! (Allaluyah they replied in their thick yoruba accent) the speaker was John(formerly Ifamuyiwa)the high priest’s son who had just returned from lagos with several white missionaries whose aim was to preach the gospel to Ayetoro and neighbouring villages.
The villagers were willing to accept this religion after these missionaries had turned their stream,which smelt putrid,and was browned by waste,into clean,clear water just by speaking loudly an unknown language and dipping their hands into the water. Almost all the youths and women in the village had accepted this new God. Even the two queens and and their children had accepted this so called ‘kristianity’.,except the older men and women who strongly believed that the whole thing was a hoax.
They couldn’t understand why Alao had refused to tame his son,doesn’t he know that the gods must not be provoked? And words couldn’t explain their grief over Omo Oba Adewale,the heir apparent to the throne who greatly assisted in the propagation of this new belief.I greet you all my fellow elders Alao said as he held their hands for a brief while with respect.
As you all know, a lot has happened in ayetoro these few months,and as required,I consulted Ifa. Ehen? What did ifa say? Iya ologi the eldest woman in the community asked inquisitively. Hmm…….. Ifa wants a sacrifice. Sacri kini? Bawo ni yen se je? Another human sacrifice? After Adunni? Another woman asked. Quiet! Iya elepo!! Let the priest speak said Akanni the most successful hunter in the village;his family had started believing the nonsense Ifamuyiwa was preaching.
Well, Alao continued, he wants me to lay down my life. Ah! Awo,ki lo se? I refused to give them my son he muttered in response. And I’ve decided,to join this new religion of my son’s. That was why I called this meeting he enthused.
Ahhhh! Iwo naa? You want to join them? Who will speak to the gods on our behalf? Well, I know this priesthood has been in my family for years but,since I no longer wish to continue, I have written a letter consisting of everything a priest ought to know about orunmila alongside the book my father left me. Here it is, have it! He said as he stretched out his hands to his assistant, opeifa. Kin ni? So he can ask for my head too? Emi o fe oh he enthused,this new religion thing,we will do it together!
Opeifa imitated Alao, and pulled off his regalia .So,one by one,like dominoes the elders all marched out of the grove after they had refused the letter and headed straight to the church. The rain started once more,and orunmila’s letter laid bare on the muddy ground,every drop of rain soaking it more than the previous…………..