Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Lamentations of a Masquerade

By Tatabonko Oro Edem

I am Alapansanpa, a reincarnation of Lagelu the Jagun of Eba Odan, Eba’dan, for short. Our ancestors built this town after the defeat of the Olowu of Owu. It is on record fact that the first city of Eba’dan was destroyed when an egungun (spirit) was disrobed and contemptuously mocked by all and sundry in the open place. Today, I, Alapansanpa, an egungun, have been brought before a magistrate court presided over by a woman! It is trite that in Eba’dan, as in other parts of Yorubaland, it is an abomination for women to look an egungun in the eye but this woman wants to, and has done so.

The Alapansanpa operates on a different cosmos, the orun (the spiritual and invisible domain of the ancestors, Gods and spirits), and not the aye (the visible world of the living). Though interconnected, and the Alapansanpa regularly visits the aye, he could not have been capable of doing those things ascribed to him because he was specifically sent to rid the society of social ills and not create them. How can a visitor from orun be treated so callously? In fact, if Alapansanpa was human this would have ended long ago - ‘iku ya jesin’ (death is preferable to ignominy). I put it on record that the police prosecutor should remember ibaje (negative reversal of fortunes). How can these children of Eba’dan that I have variously blessed, treat my earthly costume with disdain? How can the prosecutor and the magistrate send me to Agodi Prisons when they know there are no ahun trees or laganga in prison to hang my costumes? Where will I find the blood of the cockerel to sprinkle on my costume before nightfall?

I cannot plead my case before a female human magistrate and my detractors know it. Who has ever heard of the fundamental right of an egungun? They claim to have granted me bail. Bail? Whoever told them a ‘spirit’ is in bondage and needs bail? What for? Me Alapansanpa, who occupies a prominent place at the Osemeji Shrine. Me, who holds up a calabash to the Gods. Me, who watches over Eba’dan, blessing and protecting its shons and daughters. Me, Alapansanpa, a dweller of heaven. Why else do they call me ara orun? Me, needing bail? It would have been very hilarious if it would not become so tragic. They further went ahead to allege that I stole a stethoscope, a handset and eight thousand six hundred and fifty naira cash. Of all the things I have been accused of stealing, what is the business of Alapansanpa with a stethoscope? They also claimed that Alapansanpa stole a handset. Please, spare me. I am an exponent of Ifa, I deal in seere and incantations. I prescribe oruka and onde, what in heavens name would I need a stethoscope and telephone for? Who has ever heard of a telephonic connection to the spirit world? This is extreme provocation. And about the money, Alapansanpa survives by consuming large quantities of oro fruit and igbin that are very abundant in the spirit world; money as you know it on earth does not exist. The only earthly thing we sometimes crave is eko or oori, which is always provided by our worshippers. There is no witness who saw me take these items, neither have I ever craved nor needed these items as they are of no use to me, yet I stand accused before the woman magistrate to be humiliated in public! They did not stop there. They accused me of willful damage to property.

How can I be accused of damaging a Mitsubishi Lancer car, a Nissan Sunny car and a Mitsubishi Gallant car? Why not a Peugeot car? Do they think I have something against Japanese products? What is the business of Alapansanpa with cars, anyway? Alapansanpa who descends to earth using a cobweb strand has no interest in cars, except when I ask Sango to save the lives of car accident victims. For my reward I have been arraigned and accused of “assault, stealing and willful damage to property”. To show how far these misguided humans have gone, it is trite that in criminal cases all accused must be physically present in court to submit their pleas before a criminal case can move forward. In my case, I was accused with my accomplices. (?) How can I have accomplices? Were they referring to Oloolu and Atipako? If yes, why were they not also arraigned? Is it because the Oloolu wears the ago garment and carries a human skull, which was brought back from the Ibariba war? Why was Atipako not arraigned? Is it because he carries a stick that was used in beating the ofi?

Be warned. When the conclave of ancestral forces and other spiritual agents of the Eba’dan cosmos are roused, the end nobody will be able to foretell. History repeats itself when awon agba (the elders) do nothing. Agba ki i wa l’oja, ki ori omo tuntun wo (An elder cannot be present in the market while the head of an infant [on the mother’s back] hangs in the wrong way). I demand that Balogun, Otun Balogun, Otun Baale, Osi Balogun, Osi Baale, Ashipa Balogun, Ashipa Baale, Ekerin Balogun and Ekerin Baale call their daughter and the misguided prosecutor to order. There is no mens rea or actus reus that could be proven in a magistracy, that I Alapansanpa did what I was accused of doing. This is a case of mistaken identity and my accusers are mistaking me for an earthling! I am ara orun (heavenly spirit).

Submitted by Tatabonko Orok Edem based on the appearance of a masquerade in Ibadan, Oyo State, charged with theft.


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