Wednesday, 5 July 2017

Ololu- an Egungun (Yetunde Esan)
Egungun (masquerade) is a very prominent aspect of the Yoruba because of the believe that the ancestors return once a year and live with their people for a short period. During the day time such a spirit_ an egungun_ disguises himself by covering his head and body. He visits his households and receives presents. In return he blesses those living and wish them well until his next return. There are diverse stories to support egungun’s emergence since there are different egunguns amidst the Yorubas and each with different character, costume, taboo to distinguish him from the other.

Some Yoruba language cultural writers have claimed that Ologbojo is the most reverend of the Egunguns while others give it not to him. In the case of Ololu, there is only one of its kind in the whole of Yorubaland. He must not be seen by women as he wears no disguise when parading the environment. Formally, any woman who sets eyes on him will die but today, such has been prevented by the sacrifice of goat before he goes out.

“Ololu- an Egungun” is a poem written by Yetunde Esan, a Nigerian writer and educator who at the time of this post resides in the United Kingdom based on the poet’s linkedin profile. “Ololu- an Egungun” was written when the author was a student of University of Ibadan.

The diction of the poem is very simple in the sense that imageries and repetitions have assisted the rendition.
The arrangement of events in the poem are two opposing ones where stanza 1-3 reveal the genuine Ololu and his power while 4-6 tells of the present day fabricated Ololu masquerade. Yetunde noted that in the past, Ololu must not be seen by women because of Ololu’s “Regalia” in line 6 which in summation are all that the egungun parades with such as charm, amulet, herb, or items having magical properties, the poet pointed that he “Must not be seen by a woman’s eye” and truly when the daughter broke the rule, she died on the spot. But the day she peeped to see for herself, she wished she was backed “In the good old days when/ Ololu was a semi-god/ With seven skulls”

The poem is cultural with the Yoruba community as its setting. Indirectly, Yetunde Esan expressed her sadness over the lost of true strength in African culture in terms of regards for the culture and its dwindled supernaturalism. Another message from the poem is the deep-rooted issue of gender inequality within African communities since men are superior to women. The 30 line poem has a lot of alliterations and imageries; where some of the noticeable alliterations are “Seven skulls” in line 1, “his heart, his head” in line 5, “And dropped down dead!” in line 15, “tall thin” in line 23, “plain pyjamas” in line 24, “I wished I were back” in line 26.

The images of sight are “Blood drained, wild eyed, a baleful look” in line 2, “Is steeped in the very devil’s blood” in line 7, “walked out once in full array” in line 12. Other figurative are assonance “out_ a great crowd” in line 21, “old days when Ololu was” in line 27. Repetition of “Ololu”, “I”, “skulls”, “back”, “blood”. Few of the family words in the poem are “man”, “men”, “head”, “skull”, “woman”, “daughter”, “girl”, “barefooted”, “bareheaded”.
Samuel C. Enunwa aka samueldpoetry

(the Leo With Wings Flying)


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