WESTERN REGION, NIGERIA ----- (12th April, 1998 - 22nd July, 1998)
“Sometimes when we are faced with the things we had always dreamt of, we get to realize that it takes more than dreaming to achieve anything in life. It requires strength and bravery engineered by God. So wake up my dear in order to make your dreams become a reality.”
- ------ GRANDMA LYDIA ELEFONTUYI
16th October 1997
There once lived in the village of Arogunyo, in the western region of Nigeria, a young male doctor by the name Enitan Silas Alabi. He was sent to medical school in one of the nation’s metropolitans by the king, King Adegoriola since he was the overall best student in his Senior Secondary Certificate Examination. He then became the only doctor in the community and the proud owner of the only hospital in town. He was very good at his profession and that attracts even foreign citizens of neighboring communities to the village of Arogunyo.
35-year-old Enitan Silas Alabi is the first child of his parents and his only sibling is a young hilarious lady, Yewande. As a young handsome man, his parents believed it to be an easy task getting a beautiful wife for himself. On the contrary, Enitan seek beyond beauty. He seeks a wife who has a dream of endeavoring a task that is peculiar, a task a common woman never attempted before in his community, a lady who aspire to be more than a wife. Though he seeks a beautiful wife, but he believes beautiful alone doesn’t perfect a woman. His kind of woman must not agree that everything he suggests his accurate, she should make correction wherever she believe it’s needed. Enitan’s kind of woman must be confident. And also according to his philosophy, “Beauty makes sense when its dignity is maintained.” What is the dignity of beauty? You may ponder. Whatever your definition of dignity is, Enitan’s definition may differ. Dr. Enitan Silas Alabi’s definition of the dignity of beauty remains the vim to create, the passion to attempt the extra-ordinary. Enitan’s overspent bachelorship began to trouble his mother.
“I wonder when this unique beautiful lady whom you seek will come your way. Especially when you fail to see that over fifty percent of the girls in the village are angels.” His mother would say.
“Soon mother. Soon.” His usual reply.
“Soon seems like forever my dear. Just make sure you soar now that your wings are strong.”
“I’ll do mother.”
Enitan’s search has taken 4years already, so he decided to let go and pick a normal lady. “Maybe I am being self-centered wanting a lady different from others. Maybe all ladies are to afraid to attempt beyond the ordinary. Maybe no lady wish to do something no lady has ever tried before. May be mother is right. Maybe I am actually wasting time. Yes I believe I am. It’s been 4years now. I think I better pick any lady before people begin to think I am impotent. I better just let it go and pick a lady. No doubt at all. That, is what I’ll definitely do.” He thought to himself one lonely night. Unlike his former self, Enitan is set to choose any beautiful lady as a wife.
One Sunday morn, Enitan decided to walk his sister, Yewande to the market. They both paced the market path hand-in-hand. Enitan held Yewande’s left hand while she had a black sack in the other hand. Yewande was dressed in a adire (tie and dyed) styled gown colored purple and black. Her plaited pony tailed hair accommodated several rows of cowries. Clinging to her feet was a pair old fashioned flip flop. She handcuffed herself with beads. Though wearing no makeup, still, she looked portably gorgeous. Enitan was dressed casually in a red sleeved oxford shirt and a pinkly checked pair of trousers. His feet engulfed in a brown oxford. They were both enveloped in discussion.
“What kind of soup are you planning to prepare this morning Yewande?” He asked.
“Your favorite soup. Egusi.” She stole a quick glance at him. Her eyes re-motioned to the market path.
“What kind of meat will be in the soup?”
“That I cannot tell for now until father returns from the farm.”
“Okay.” He said. They motioned past vegetables traders rowed stands. The women called unto them in their usually advertising spirit. “What are we going to eat the egusi soup with?”
“Pounded yam.” Was her calm reply.
“That sounds great Yewande.” Enitan grinned amiably at Yewande who frowned.
“I know it will Enitan. Since one of your talents is gluttony.” She said. “You are indeed a connoisseur my dear.”
“I learnt from the best.”
“And who is the best? If I may ask.”
“Father of course. I am as good as him. An imitable chip off the old block sis. So why blame me?”
They both busted into laughter. Some buyers at the marketplace stared at them with less interest about whatever was funny. Probably, maybe they felt disturbed, that, I was uncertain of. They arrived at the egusi traders’ rowed stands. The traders who they walked pass used the same composed languages, “Please come and buy from me.
"Aunty. Brother. Mine is the best and inexpensive.” Traders persuasive routine, I presume. They walked pass several traders without halting, still engaged in discussions. They seem to have a destination.
Finally, they halted before a stand. They let go of each other’s hand. The trader was an aged woman around her late sixties. Her headgear matches her African attire called, ‘Ofi,’ it was styled as ‘Iro and Buba,’ which is originally an African style of sewing as well. The attire was colored blue. Part of her gray hair tucked out of the headgear and maybe all her hair were gray, I am not so sure.
“Good morning Yewande. Dokita (Doctor) Good morning as well.” The aged trader greeted.
“Good morning ma.” They both replied. Enitan prostrated while Yewande knelt, half-way.
“What about your parents?”
“They are both fine ma.” Yewande seems to let her brother do this part.
“Glory be to God then.” The woman said. “So what amount of egusi are you willing to buy?”
It’s definitely Yewande’s turn.
“Six tins ma.” Yewande said.
“Pricing is a female thing. Let me help myself to sightseeing. Abi (or what else)?” Enitan thought to himself as he withdrew his gaze to the crowd stamping their foot unintentionally on the market’s floor. Everyone present in the market is engaged in one thing or another. It was without doubt, a gathering noise making, dialogues as well as scenario of insult incantations between several angry traders and their angry customers. In spite of the largely collected individuals present at the market, Enitan still spotted a lady whom his heart wishes to woo. She was dressed in Alari (Nigerian ancient textile worn or common back in the earlier centuries) styled ‘Ole Ku.’ On the lady’s head sat a basket held with both of her hands. Her face radiated true African beauty like that of the Queen of the African Pride. Her feet were tucked in nothing, she walked the earth barefooted. A string of royal beads cuddled around her gorgeously carved neck. She walked pass Enitan unaware of his gaze on her. Enitan stared after her for a moment. “I think I better go for this one for a change. It’s a strange thing anyway. An angel with a stunning invincible coronet walking without shoes in this so-called civilized age of ours. This won’t be a hard task I believe. An angel like this will be willing to get acquainted with a young healthy man like me.” He thought to himself.
Turning to Yewande, he said. “Meet me by the market’s entrance Yewande.”
“Okay.” Yewande replied.
And to the aged trader, Enitan bid her farewell.
Enitan raced after the young lady like a run away rocket. “Excuse me your majesty.” He called after her. The lady walked on. Enitan thought maybe it was how he architectured his English Language, so tried a universal style, “Hello lady.” Yet, she responded like a lifeless nail. Enitan eased up beside her. The lady twisted her head and took a quick glance at him. Her face bore no expression.
Enitan decided to proceed even though she doesn’t seem a talking type.
“My name is Enitan.” He said. “And you are?”
They began to shove through the crowd collected by the market’s entrance. She didn’t utter a word, but still, a real man shouldn’t give up that easily. Enitan moved on.
“You don’t look like someone I’ve seen before. Are you a native?”
Now, Enitan was certain she was not going to talk or maybe her mother already warned her against strangers at the market.
He halted by the market entrance. The lady didn’t stop, she walked on.
He called after her. “Anyway. It’s lovely meeting you Miss or Mrs. At least I can get to thank you for being beautiful.”
She said nothing still nor did she look back at him.
She walked across the main road and disappeared into the bush in a adjacent direction of the market.
“I thought as much. She can’t be a native.” Enitan said to himself. The bush where she disappeared into serves as borders to so many neighboring villages. So many citizens of nearby villages as well as those far away usually come to trade, because of the inexpensive articles sold in the village of Arogunyo.
“So how did it go?” Yewande asked as she walked through the entrance to join Enitan. He looked at her confusingly or maybe he was pretending.
He believed she can’t possibly have seen the lady while she was busy pricing egusi.
“How did what go?” He shrugged.
Yewande’s brow narrowed. “With that lady of course.”
“What lady?” He decided to avoid discussing about her.
“Common Enitan Silas, humble son of Pa Alabi. The lady you ran after. The one who had a basket on her head.” She elucidated. “Or you actually thought I didn’t see you?”
She folded her arms across her chest.
“Alright then. I give up.” Enitan grinned sheepishly. “It didn’t go so well anyway.”
“What happened?” She inquired curiously.
They began to walk the way which they had earlier walked to the market.
He felt too ashamed to explain. He then decided to avoid it. “Don’t trap me in your cul-de-sac of questions Yewande. I’m famished. So lets hurry home.” He thought saying that would help.
“Don’t try changing the topic. I know when you are trying to propel issues big brother. So you better start speaking. I won’t let go easily this time o.” She threatened. Without being told, Enitan knew his sister to be obstinate when seeking an answer and hardly let go.
“I’ll speak your majesty. But at least lets get home. We shall discuss after breakfast.” He said.
“No way. We shall talk now as we walk home.” She insisted. “So Enitan. Start talking. At least she’s got a name. Start with that. Tell me what her name is?”
“She didn’t tell me.”
Yewande was very sure her brother don’t tell lies. She grinned and mocked. “Oh! What an awesome way to go Enitan. To even begin with, it was a nice start for not having her name.”
Yewande busted into laughter.
“I’m so sorry Enitan. Please do pardon me.” She mocked.
She didn’t stop laughing.
“No problem sister. You are doing just great.”
Six weeks later, Enitan was dressed in a Masquerade’s outfit in the spirit of the village’s Egungun’s (Masquerade’s) festival. He was dancing around the village alongside several other masquerades. They were accompanied by drummers, singers as well as some children seeking trouble. As the children abuse the masquerade, they flee when the masquerades turn around to pursue them. The masquerades all held whips in both hands as they dance. They also go around pursuing ladies who often speed off in fear. Enitan came up to a lady who sat facing the ground.
She sensed the presence of a masquerade in front of her. “You better don’t beat me.” She said without looking up.
“If you don’t want me to beat you. Give me money then.”
Masquerades aren’t actually beggars, but doing this is, is part of their culture.
Still seated, the lady fumbled in between her wrapper. But when it was not comfortable for her to get money from the tied tip of her wrapper, she stood up. Another form in which African women hid or keep their money, say, their depository of bank notes and sometimes other items like kola nut. When the lady was fully standing, Enitan’s jaw fell in amazement. Facing Enitan was the same lady who uttered
no word at the market. She untied the knot and tossed into Enitan’s bewildered
hand a N20 note (20 Naira). “This is another chance to get her. I may be lucky this time. But won’t it sound weird for a masquerade to woo a lady? Common Enitan. We are in a strange world, where strange things can happen. Anything is possible.” Enitan thoughts wrestled within him.
“Excuse me Miss. May I commend that you are really beautiful.” Enitan said. The lady paused on her way back to her seat. She stood straight.
The lady busted into laughter. “And how would you know that? I thought you are from heaven?”
It’s the Nigerian cultural believe or rather saying that Masquerades are from heaven. That, is the reason why they often call masquerades ‘Ara orun,’ meaning ‘Heaven dweller.’
“That is true young lady. But the truth I guess is that, I am yet to see an angel as beautiful as thee in heaven.” Enitan said.
“Really?” She exclaimed, “Well! I never knew masquerades do flatter people as well.”
“I am serious lady.” Enitan protested, passion chained in his words.
The lady noticed it. “Okay then, Ara orun, thank you for the compliment. I am grateful.” She retreated from the war against beauty.
“You are welcome.”
“So what’s your name?” Enitan asked as she was about to sit down.
“Romoke and you? ....Oh! Sorry for asking.” Romoke giggled.
“It’s no problem, I believe you know my name is elegun (masquerade) already.” Enitan said, just because people who wears masquerade’s outfit are not suppose to be called by their names, say it’s one of Nigerian’s cultural top secrets.
“Yes. I am.”
“May I get to know you more deeper, like say we should both become best friends and when we get to see next year during the festival, we can get to talk.” He demanded.
“You wouldn’t want to know me better, because many people believe I am insane. I do not have a lot of well wishers in life. Men don’t want to associate with me as well, but I guess you wouldn’t enjoy the rest of the festival if you do too.” Depression reflects from her words.
“Maybe Romoke. But people can be different as well as masquerades. You believe that?” Enitan protested.
“Not always I presume.” Romoke agreed.
“I have a friend who will be willing to listen. Do you feel like meeting him?” Enitan inquired.
Her eyebrows rose to the tunes of bewilderment. “You mean now or in my dreams?”
“What do you mean?”
“Won’t people be wondering why I am seated with a masquerade?” She asked.
“No. He is not a masquerade.” Enitan replied.
“Oh!” She exclaimed.
“So you wish to meet him?”
“Maybe.” Her reply was dressed in uncertainty.
Enitan stared about the crowd watching him clustered in a discussion with a lady. “Can you run?”
“Excuse me?” She asked with confusion painted words.
“I asked if you can run.”
“And why is that?” She asked following his gaze.
“People had begun to wonder what we seem to be discussing.” He explained.
“Oh! I see.” She twisted her head to look around. Turning back to face Enitan, she asked. “And where do you think will be private to meet this friend of yours?”
“On Isenbaye Hills.” He replied.
“What about you, how good are you at sprint?” She asked.
Before Enitan could respond, Romoke had sped off and after her, with whips in the air, Enitan sped.
Two weeks had wrapped up the festival and Enitan’s parents as well as his younger sister noticed his unusual sad mood. It is unusual of him being worried and failing to share the issue with his parents and when a secret from the parents, the sister would have been told.
The mother decided to ask him of what troubles him within. “Enitan. Are you sure there is nothing you wish to tell me, but not discussing dear?”
“Nothing too disturbing mother.” He replied.
His mother frowned. “I know you too well my dear. There is something troubling your mind. Please do tell me.”
He gave a deep sigh.
“I know you have been thinking as well Enitan. Share whatever is troubling you with me and if you cannot with me. Should I call your sister in or you will to your father as soon as he returns from Oko Ofe (Ofe Farm).” She implored worriedly.
“Nothing special mother. I can talk to you if you insist that I should.”
“Ose oko mi (thank you my husband.) Should we go outside, if it’s a word to be barred from another or maybe we should remain inside?”
“It’s nothing too hard to discuss in here. We can talk inside.”
“Then bring those two stools and lets talk dear.” His mother waved towards two lonely seated stools, yonder, separated from the entrance.
“Okay mama.” He motioned to pick up the stools and in a little while, they were both seated by the adogan (a traditional cooking stove)
“So what is disturbing your mind, my love?” Enitan’s mother inquired.
“I had a problem with this lady which I will to take as a wife…..” before he could round-off his lamentation, his mother broke-in.
“Really?!” His mother exclaimed. “Found a lady you wish to take for a wife at last?”
“Yes mother. I have found one.”
“That’s a great news.”
“I know mother, but-----.”
“You don’t but me this time young man. You already said you will to make her your wedded bride and I am only expecting to meet her. I believe your father and sister will be glad to hear this as well. Which family in this great village of ours is she from? A daughter of the land or an immigrant? What does she do? Where stays her------” His mother paused, her brows narrowed and she said. “But wait a minute. That can’t be the reason why you are unhappy.”
“That is why I have a but mother.” He lamented.
His mother adjusted her stool and sat facing him. “What seems to be the source or cause of your unhappiness then?”
“Good question mother.”
“Then a good question warrants a good answer my dear. So tell me what is the problem with her or why you two cannot get married.” She demanded.
“She has a strange kind of vision mother.”
“Different from what any lady in this community of ours ever had?”
“Good news. So what’s her dream?” His mother asked.
“A weird dream mama.”
“What do you mean weird?” His mother asked confusingly.
“Her name is Romoke Ogedengbe and she is from Onirese Village. The daughter of their Bashorun (A chieftaincy title) there. She wish to put a stop to female circumcision.”
“I know her father and I believe you do as well?” His mother said and he nodded affirmatively. “I like that dream. I guess she has a great tasking dream.” She acknowledged. “So what then is your own problem or maybe what seems to be your obstacle of taking her as your wife?”
“The dream mama.”
“Look here Enitan. You wished for a wife with a dream and now God had made you meet one. So what do you wish to do?”
“Yes I know mama, but that is too much a price.” He explained.
“It’s their culture mama and I can’t change that. I only pray you understand me. I do have a point.”
“No my dear, you do not and I believe your prayer can never be answered for I am not willing to understand why you wanted something and when you get it. You decide to run away from it.” His mother said.
“But it’s too much a price mother.”
“Then you do not want her.”
“I do mother.”
“You don’t act like someone who does.”
“What am I suppose to do mother? Go there and ask them change their culture?” His voice serene a little anger.
“Calm down please my love. I am not trying to force you into attempting any impossible mission, okay?” She pleaded.
“Okay.” He nodded.
“All I am just trying to let you know is that even though this is no movie, play, stage drama or fairy tales, still you can invent a change since all these thing which we call culture were introduced by some people in the days past. Don’t get me wrong Enitan, there are cultures one shouldn’t tamper with and I believe you as a doctor knows the pains and further damages this act cause to the subject feminism once a lady goes through it. I believe you know the objects used carry different kind of blood and just as you have once taught me that un-sterilized objects carry diseases.”
“Yes I know mama. But…..”
“This is however a game of choice my dear. No price is too expensive to be paid for true love, for true love is something you can hardly get with money.” She broke-in. “Think about that my dear.”
“I still don’t get you mother. What do you say I should do?”
“I am not instructing you on doing anything my love. I am just letting you know that, with every precious gift comes a heavy punch, sometimes we see it and duck, sometimes we do not till it gives us a swollen heart. It’s a game of choice Enitan. Romoke has got a good dream. Dreams are like songs, we can hardly exist without one. And good songs my dear, are not sung by force, they are sung by choice.”
“I am still confused mother. Please tell me what to do.”
“Okay then. I will ask you three questions and from my questions. You should be able to get my message.”
“Go ahead mama.”
“The first one is, should our culture sadden us?”
“I didn’t get that question very well mother. Please rephrase.” He implored.
“Alright. This is what I mean. Should our culture which is meant to make us all happy, both masculine and feminine make us cry?”
“If you believe so.” She continued. “The second question is, does the beheading of a criminal make him righteous?”
“I don’t get that mother. What has the beheading of a criminal got to do with female circumcision?”
“Well. Many claim that it qualifies a woman a whole human. I aim not at disputing that though, but my question is do we humans need verify if the works of God is perfect by endangering the lives of the people whom he created?” His mother asked.
“Mother, listen to yourself. This is their culture. Are you planning to dispute that or probably erase it?” His words were emotional.
“No Enitan. You should listen to yourself instead. You are talking about culture, abi (is that not true)?” She asked.
Enitan nodded to affirm it being true.
“Then let me know how you define your own kind of culture?”
“You mean the definition of culture?” He asked confusingly.
“Yes. How do you define culture?”
“I do not know that mother.” He sounded embarrassed.
“There is nothing to be ashamed of my love.” She sensed it. “There is perfectly no particular definition of culture, Enitan. It is just the way of a certain tribe or a certain group of people which is supposed to be designed to please both the sexes.”
Enitan was speechless as he stare at his mother like a derailed train, better still, like a wanderer lost in the dark.
“You don’t have to be confuse my dear. It’s a game of choice my love. In life, there comes a time when every man has got to pick his stand. Either you choose to respect the culture of tears or join the one you treasure to fight it. Good songs like I earlier muffled is not sung by force, it is sung by choice. Not all men has the strength to dare great things, some men are not just masculine enough to fight a cause. Mind you Enitan, my heart and soul, I am not talking about you, I am only drumming the agere (a sacred proverbial drum) drum.”
“It’s okay mama. I understand.” He said. “So what is your last question?”
“I have none my love. I was only wondering of which of these two men you are dear.” Her words gushed further like a whisper.
“Which men are you talking about mama?” He stared expectantly.
“They both have dreams, great unique dreams my love. The first one let his walk by, for the dream carried with it a heavy cross while the other bore his load with courage for he cherish most the dream and willing to achieve his goals no matter what comes his way?” She looked into his eyes closely.
“I am courageous mother, it’s…….”
“Don’t bother answering the question my dear. I was only appreciating being given the opportunity to be the mother of a unique son like you.” His mother smiled and patted his shoulders.
“Thank you mother.”
“No Enitan. Lets thank God for blessing me with a wonderful you and I also thank you for making me a proud mother.”
Enitan was definitely blushing within himself.
“I have to go and prepare you father’s meal now. He will soon be back from the farm.” His mother announced.
“One last thing my love. Don’t let anything occupy your mind when you can easily choose. Just make a choice and I believe you’ll do fine.”
“I’ve heard you mother.”
His mother stood up and walked kitchen wards.
Enitan sat motionlessly alone, his head filled with thoughts.
Three days later, Enitan went to Romoke’s village and they both marched to the palace of the king of Onirese Village supported by some other youths of the village both male and female. The king of Onirese Village got angry, so he sent an aroko (Ancient form or message with items sent through a messenger) to the king of Arogunyo Village. The message was a request to have Enitan warned about organizing a rally to his palace in an attempt to affect their culture, for their culture remains unchangeable. Enitan’s father warned him about the rally in a village that is not his, but he was persistent. Enitan then decided to talk to King Adegoriola about the pains in the act. He went to the palace with some of the ladies who have been affected during the process. A lady whose womb was tampered with and unable to give birth any longer. Another who carries H.I.V inside of her since the used un-sterilized object had been used for a grown lady who already carries the virus amongst many others.
On Wednesday 22nd July, 1998, King Adegoriola sent an aroko back to the king of Onirese Village that he should either stop the practice or expect a war. The king of Onirese’s wise men advised him on not facing the wrath of a powerful Yoruba (A Nigerian ethnic group/tribe) king. The king of Onirese Village then ordered the stopping of the practice in his village. Since then, female circumcision in the village of Onirese became a punishable offence and those caught still practicing it were jailed for 3months each.
Though Enitan and Romoke alongside others wrestled against the act like a flood of non-fiction knights and stopped female circumcision back in their time, but the fact still remains that, this act is still being practiced not only in Nigeria, but in many nations of the darkened community named AFRICA. Should a people’s culture make them not fully satisfied? I doubt the certainty of how you view it. Mary Slessor according to history was that great woman who stopped the killing of twins sometimes ago in a part of Nigeria, but what cause have you fought for? Ponder my great reader, invent an impact, which after you have laid in the earth interred, the world would remember you of. Speak and let those who care to hear listen. Female circumcision is a pain and the hearts of so many, it has broken.
Causes Oromidayo Farore Supports
1. Human Trafficking
2. People Living With Aids