Two things happened during my recent journey to the east (Igbo speaking part of Nigeria), that I’ll like to share with you, so you make of it what you will. I’d gone to pay my respects to a friend’s late Dad, as well as visit my village to keep up with happenings over there. Friday saw me attending the funeral of the man (where I was feted and even had the village joker and “Ogbú Àjà“/flutist do a few incoherent notes for me for a few buck),
in Imo State, and afterwards personally consoled my friend, and some members of her family, including her mother. I attended Sabbath on Saturday also in Imo, hence couldn’t attend another burial in my village in Anambra State, intending to pay them a condolence visit the following day.
Just as I was planning my itinerary in my village on Sunday morning, a cousin of mine came calling. In the midst of our discussion, we came to talking about the burial I missed on Saturday, and which I intended to go pay the bereaved condolences later, though not after visiting a friend who’d invited me to come and celebrate a belated “Íwa Ji” (New Yam Celebrations) at his place, a week after the official time allotted for the festival, because apparently he wasn’t ready the week before. My intention was to leave from the place I’d pay condolence to another place where a neighbour’s sister, whose hand was given away in marriage traditionally, the day before (Saturday), was having her “Ewu Nna” (Goat presented to kin of the bride) killed later in the evening.
So, back to my tale. My cousin then tells me that the burial wasn’t brought to a fruitful end, because the ministering Priest walked out on the bereaved, mourners and everybody present at the burial alike. Everything was going well until, the grandchildren of the deceased woman started playing in the open ground before the Priest who was preaching. Their activity must’ve served as a source of distraction to the Priest, or something else entirely that he asked the parents of the unruly children to come attend to them. To this request, the kids’ father, one of the sons of the deceased rather than control his kids, berated the Priest for having the audacity to chide his kids, though my cousin wasn’t sure the priest used any abusive or insulting words on the children. This soon degenerated into a war of words between the man and the priest, leading to the priest stopping further proceedings regarding the burial, and then went on to place a curse on the man for having the effrontery to challenge his authority. My cousin reminded me that it was to that family he and some other person were headed to in the morning when I saw him on my way from where I’d gone to eat breakfast with my neighbour and friend at a bukateria in Oyè Águ. Their intention? To break the ice, so that the deceased can be interred and other funeral activities can be completed.
The other thing had to do with the village God. Two contending parties had approached it to help solve an issue involving money. In the end, it was decided that a party should pay the other forty thousand naira as part of resolutions to the problem. Because our village God didn’t have a bank account, it was agreed that the sum be paid into the account of one of the hangers-on at the shrine, which was promptly done. Unfortunately, the one who received the funds failed to remit it, but left the village, such that the one who had paid once before, had to pay again, just so that peace can reign, though not without handing over the one who’d just defrauded him, to the village God for appropriate action or sanction.
So on Monday, reeling from a heavy head from the “Igbu Ewu Nna” of yam porridge and goat meat, with palmwine and Life beer from the night before, while entertaining a few members of my age grade, who’d come to find out “ma’m bàtà à” (if I was around), I was informed that the one that hurriedly bailed from the village with someone’s money (paid into his account because the village God had no back account) died the night before. He was said to have been brought back to the village during the weekend, so that he could be taken to the village God on Tuesday (Consulting Day), so he could plead for mercy, and maybe be granted some respite from the debilitating disease that had left him a shadow of his former self. One of my visitors countered the widely held belief that he must’ve been struck down by the village God, noting that if that where the case, then Okey would’ve been long dead, seeing as he was involved in something similar years back, yet nothing happened to him. He opined that the man must’ve died from AIDS-related ailments seeing as symptoms he manifested were similar to those exhibited with HIV and AIDS infection, but he was quickly reminded that Okey quickly saw the error of his ways, retraced it and obtained mercy from the gods, besides no one knows the ways of the gods, seeing that years back the same village God visited a pastor with death, along with his family, for desecrating his shrine after the pastor, attempting to prove to his congregation that his Christian God had dominion over his village God, at a time when the shrine was so unkempt that it was almost turned into a public toilet.
Since I returned from the village, I’ve been pondering over both events. I wondered why the priest couldn’t look beyond pride and allow the burial and funeral to continue in spite of provocation by just one member (a son out of seven sons, and three daughters) of a family, and guests, including of timbre and caliber present. As for the village God, I’ve since elected a “live and let live” approach to it, because though I do not believe in it, I do not feel it’s in my place to dissuade those who do from worshipping it. This latest event though, just as with that other one with the pastor, illustrate that something may just be up with these so called gods of our fathers, whether or not we intend to acknowledge it (and this is when I have intentionally decided not to tell a third story, that may send shivers down your spine here, maybe never even), but I’ll leave you to make your conclusions.
VILLAGE YARNS https://madukovich.wordpress.com/2017/09/13/village-yarns/
Published by m'khail madukovich