Kano COVID-19 deaths and the parable of Omu-Ijelu-Ekiti Mad Woman
By Ayodele Oluwasuyi
Published by Irohinoodua
Not long ago, the funny character, who presides over the affairs of Kano State as the governor, Umar Ganduje, raised the alarm that the Federal Government had literarily abandoned the state in its quest to combat the rampaging Coronavirus epidemic.
Kano State, after the end of this COVID-19, will remain our reference point on how a bad child behaves. Kano is not only the bad child amongst the 36 children of Nigeria, it is equally the ‘sick baby’ of the nation. And in all honesty, Kano State is terminally ill. The undertakers are waiting by the side to be invited for the mass funeral! Like we say in my place, Odo-Oro Ekiti, “were l’uku omo ko sun upere hije” (the death of a child who delights in roasting tiny snail for supper is usually sudden).
Just like every other badly behaved child in a family, it will get to a point that nobody in the family will care about what happens to him or her. Around 2011, I was at a function in Ogun State when one rascally fellow, obviously emboldened by the charms he wore on his body, tried to disarm a mobile policeman. He was shot dead on the spot and the ‘party scattered’! The organisers took his corpse to the state hospital and waited for his family members to show up for the real trouble. But alas, when they turned up in the morning, the family members were all happy. Yes! All of them that came to collect his ‘dedi bodi’ were happy!One elderly man among them said that they had been looking forward to such a day when they would be contacted to come and pick the dead body of the boy. Nobody asked how he was killed; they were all happy that he had finally died!
The Federal Government’s attitude to Gadunje and his crowd of recalcitrant elements in Kano is well understood. It is a case of “omo ma pa mi” (this child don’t kill me) turning to “omo ma pa ara e” ( this child don’t kill yourself). What a transliteration!
I am very sure now that nobody is shouting ‘ba bu coro’ (no Coronavirus); nobody is washing his or her hands and drink the water thereafter; nobody is playing soccer again as if they are in another planet. Kano is now living in the real Nigeria and not in the jungle anymore! Ganduje and his crowd now know that there is ‘coro falafa’-plenty coro dey.
The stupid behaviour of the leadership and the uninformed crowd of Kano notwithstanding, ‘abandoning’ them at this time will not only be counter productive, it will make nonsense of all the good efforts of both the Federal Government and other state governments at combating the pandemic.
Lagos and Ekiti States, for instance, have done very wonderfully well. And for the first time, Governor Kayode Fayemi of Ekiti State, my home state, has shown that he actually earned a Ph.D. Once he weans himself of his trademark ‘foreign accent’, I will say to him, like that comedian, “Ooin, you are doing well”. Governor Babjide Sanwo-Olu too will be remembered for his proactive measures so far. In fact, his ‘to match’ nose mask will remain a fashionista reference point for many years to come. Eko for show. I am very proud of the two of them.
Now, abandoning Kano- but has Kano been really abandoned or the N15n has not been made available?- and leaving a ‘clueless’ ( God knows I don’t like that adjective) Ganduje to take care of his ant infested firewood will amount to what my late mother used to call: ” omode ule su s’odo, agba hi be m’osuka nu; ategbin d’egbin” ( when a child defecates in the mortar and the elder cleans it with a rag, you are moving from one level of filth to another).
In his column, “Monday Lines” titled: “Kano’s Curious Deaths”, Dr. Lasis Olagunju of the Nigerian Tribune, while analysing the state of things in Kano, made a classic allusion to the old saying that reasonable people should not allow a madman to roast his mother’s corpse because he will pollute the atmosphere of the entire community. That is wisdom in its raw base. Leaving Ganduje to handle his self inflicted festering sore will spell doom for all of us! He doesn’t even have the capacity to handle it. The pandemic is not like deposing an Emir or stuffing dollars inside agbada! It is what we call ” uku ajalubebe” (death in its illiterate form- my translation).
Besides, no matter how stupid and silly the Kano crowd and the governor are, they are still Nigerians and until something gives and I pray it does happen that the sheep will be separated from the goats, our good destinies are joined with the misfortunes of the Gandujes of our time! Sad, sad and very sad indeed!
So in appealing to the Federal Government not to ‘abandon’ Kano and while also calling on all other good people of this country to come together and safe Kano from itself, I want to draw strength from the parable of the mad woman of OMU Ekiti and her child.
According to the folklore, there is a very pretty woman from Omu Ekiti, an agrarian community in Oye Local Government Area of Ekiti State, who is not mentally sound. However, in her insanity she has a baby boy, whom she loves very dearly.
Everyday, she wakes up early in the morning and takes the child to the bank of Ele River. Ele River is between Omu and Ijelu Ekiti. As a matter of fact, people from that axis of Ekiti State are referred to as Omu-Ijelu people. One of the biggest Yoruba deities, Esu (Please, Esu has nothing to do with the Biblical devil in any form. Esu is not evil as portrayed by Christians, but just a picaro) is a native of Ijelu and we have a priest who oversees the affairs of the deity. Thus in Ekiti, when you see a mischief maker at his trade, you say “j’esu lo a si Ijelu” (Allow Esu to go to Ijelu, i.e. give peace a chance).
At the bank of the river, this mad woman scoops sharp sand and with the assistance of the local sponge, begins to scrub the boy of the baby. She does this till the entire body becomes red and you can imagine the agony of the baby.
As the baby begins to cry, the mother picks him, makes as if she wants to throw him into the river and them withdraws him and cuddles him singing thus:
“Unba gbe kete, unba so s’ele ( I feel like picking him up and throw him into Ele River), then she withdraws and cuddles the baby, saying: ” ora oni ju bunu” ( but you don’t throw away any part of your body).
So like the mad woman Omu, let us all sing for Kano and its Ganduje: “unba gbe kete, unba so s’ele; ora oni ju bunu”!
The Federal Government and all other public spirited people should please rally round Kano at this time. Like Olagunju said and I paraphrase in Ekiti dialect: “ha gbudo wi ki asiere se oku eye re bo ba se re; ha so s’omi ki kete aye hi mu”- we must not ask the madman to handle his mother’s corpse the way he wants; he will throw it to the stream from where we all drink.
We can only hope and pray that after we all might have survived this pandemic, nobody among us will behave like the legendary monkeys of the Pampas of Argentina, that have learnt nothing and have forgotten nothing!
BUT A WARNING HERE: DON’T GIVE GANDUJE N15B! That guys is worse than Yanribo, the wife of the tortoise; he has no sense of shame! He will collect the N15b and announce his own obituary the next day! Whatever is going to the state should be managed by a committee (anyway, thief boku everywhere self) and not by the light fingered man!
Ayodele Oluwasuyi writes from
Oke Otun Quarters