Imisioluwa Ogunsunlade
January 7, 2023

At a little distance, three women sprawl out on the brown earth with wrappers untamed: sighing, stomping and singing. Their children – all the little children – stand scattered at the backdrop like moving pieces on a chessboard: watching, whispering and wondering. Behind the children, bubbling huts that appear empty, chickens and hens go about their businesses,the wind is silent, and men stand at their doorways, one hand on the doorpost and the otheron the waist:  grieving and groaning.

At the fore, Olúrónbí kneels on the earth, her hands forming a confluence over her head: weeping and wailing.

In a moment, the women burst out into another song, in unison; they sing:

Oníkálukú jèjé ewúré   Others offered goats

Oníkálukú jèjé àgùtàn, àgùtàn bòlòjò Others offered sheep

Olúrónbí jèjé omo re Oluronbi offered her child

Omo re a pón bí epo Her beautiful child

Olúrónbí ò jo jo  Ìrókò jo jo

This song summons Olúrónbí's inner voice. Her regrets and rife etched in the very thing. The women's voices lower but Olúrónbí's voice rises. It speaks:

I remember you today, Omo apón bií epo

I remember you because darkness fell over your shiny eyes before you could speak of sight

Hassle took you into custody before you stepped out of your cradle to test your feet

As if sculptured by God, there is perfection in your beauty but it was snuffed out before any

man could ignite it with admiration and passion

Apón bá epo ré! Hive of nectar in the morning vigour

You were lantern at the bedside of your mother’s sweet slumber. But snuffed out!

You were delight in the noon time

But you hummed away like rain when harmattan approaches


A thousand goats longed to be at your bidding speed

A thousand more lambs had their heads stretched out for your sake

Olúrónbí! Stop! Come back! Stay put!

Olúrónbí! You have chaptered your future into the past

You have made us purge for the heroine who had no hubris

Ah! Where is the peaceful stream when the day is mute?

Ah! The cauldrons are thirsty today Apón bépo ré

Tonight, there is a drought of dirges

Tonight, the yellow gourd cannot fetch for us again

Tonight, the candle can no more be rekindled

Tonight, we turn our backs against the Iroko Tree

(The women start to sing again, again and again till fade…)

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