Sunday, October 16, 2005

The Icarus Girl

I have had problems with this blog since summer and I actually wanted to delete it. But, I have decided to return and correct all the mistakes. And as you can see, the new layout is better than the old one. I simply picked a new one. No more, no less.

This news report on the exceptionally gifted teenage literary genius Helen Oyeyemi of Nigeria has been delayed for months due to the reason already mentioned above. But, better late than never. I have to blog this story.

Many people would have read most of these reports on her extraordinary novel,"The Icarus Girl". But, not presented in this manner. I have to combine different reports from different newspapers to make up this comprehensive feature on Helen Oyeyemi.

Three young Nigerian female writers have made literary waves in America and Europe. The first person was actually Helen Oyeyemi and she is the youngest and the highest paid of the three. Because, the large sum of hundreds of thousands of pounds she got as an advance payment from Bloomsbury has never been given to any other Nigerian writer. Not even the Nobel laureate Prof. Wole Soyinka could get such an advance for any of his books. The other two female literary wonders are Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie who won several prizes for her classic novel "Purple Hibiscus" and Sefi Atta whose novel, "Everything Good Will Come" also made headlines.

I will feature Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and Sefi Atta in the coming weeks. So, watch out.

July 17, 2005
The Play Date From Hell
By Lesley Downer THE ICARUS GIRL By Helen Oyeyemi. 338 pp. Nan A. Talese/Doubleday. $23.95.
HELEN OYEYEMI'S first novel was published in Britain last winter to considerable fanfare. Oyeyemi, who was born in Nigeria and raised in England, wrote the book when she was 18, while studying for her examinations. A literary agent took her on after reading only 20 pages of the manuscript and won her a two-book deal for an advance that was said to be in the neighborhood of £400,000 (though the publisher insists it was less). But does the book stand on its own? Would we think it was good if we knew nothing about the author?

''The Icarus Girl'' is the story of 8-year-old Jessamy Harrison, nicknamed Jess. The daughter of a Nigerian mother and an English father, she is a troubled child given to tantrums and uncontrollable screaming fits. She has no friends, hates school and is far happier sitting inside a cupboard or writing haiku alone in her bedroom. Quite naturally worried by all this, her mother decides that a change of scenery is in order, so she takes the family away from its home in England and back to Nigeria for a brief visit. Initially, Jess feels out of place there as well -- until she meets Titiola, a mysterious girl of exactly her own age, whom she calls TillyTilly.
From the start, there's something not quite right about TillyTilly: she seems out of proportion. ''Was she too tall and yet too . . . small at the same time? Was her neck too long? Her fingers?'' At first, she merely echoes Jess's words, but she soon develops into the friend and playmate Jess has never had. Together they have adventures: they manage to break into Jess's grandfather's locked study and then into an amusement park (also locked) where the gates magically swing open.

All too quickly, though, the family returns from exotic Nigeria to prosaic England, where Jess is surrounded once again by bullying schoolmates, a hostile teacher and her hateful, doll-like blond cousin, Dulcie. Then, to Jess's joy, TillyTilly reappears, simply knocking on her door. They play together, go on a picnic, write a poem. But TillyTilly also formulates a plan to ''get'' Jess's tormentors.

The reader suspects that TillyTilly is one of those imaginary friends so common to lonely childhoods, and that the strange and sinister events are happening only in Jess's imagination. But just as Jess herself begins to doubt whether TillyTilly is ''really really'' there, her playmate's malevolent magic begins to spread, infecting every corner of Jess's world.

TillyTilly's power, at least, is far from imaginary. She reveals that Jess had a twin who died at birth -- and that she intends to act on that twin's behalf. No longer a girl but a horrific primeval presence, she takes over Jess's bedroom, turning it from a safe haven into a place of terror. ''Stop looking to belong, half-and-half child,'' TillyTilly intones. ''Stop. There is nothing; there is only me, and I have caught you.''

Oyeyemi brilliantly conjures up the raw emotions and playground banter of childhood, writing with the confidence and knowledge of one who has only recently left that state herself. Jess's schoolmates, her therapist, the people she meets in Africa, even her parents, remain suitably shadowy figures, seen solely through the distorting lens of Jess's increasingly skewed perception.

''The Icarus Girl'' explores the melding of cultures and the dream time of childhood, as well as the power of ancient lore to tint the everyday experiences of a susceptible little girl's seemingly protected life. Deserving of all its praise, this is a masterly first novel -- and a nightmarish story that will haunt Oyeyemi's readers for months to come.

Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company Permissions Privacy Policy
Home, strange home
What do we think of when we imagine Africa? As a major programme of events celebrating the continent gets under way, the Nigerian novelist Helen Oyeyemi argues that Africa is at once a part of us, and yet deeply alien.
Helen OyeyemiWednesday February 2, 2005
Guardian

As a Nigerian brought up in Britain, I admit that when it comes to Africa, I just don't get it. I can examine modern Africa for hours, years, my whole life; saw open my head and cram it with rolls of statistics, death rates, birth rates, gross national products, and still not know where it is that I come from, what my country's problems are and have been, and how they can be resolved. These aren't the words of somebody who is familiar with the colourful emergencies of Africa, the necessities of trudging to the well and back, swaying under the weight of clean, bucketed water in the absence of the tap variety, or, to borrow Emily Dickinson's phrase in a more pragmatic context, "growing accustomed to the dark" with the heaving of an almighty sigh as the electricity is cut off. Again.

Rather, I have the muddled perspective of someone who is in a Nigerian cultural framework but not of it, being carried along by a culture at a distance from its source and its pervading influence. I'm a mix of first- and second-generation Nigerian - I was born "back home", where I feel more comfortable in my skin, but I am still often baffled by certain Nigerian ways. I find Africa in the weirdest places, with the jolt of someone waking up in the middle of the night and catching a glimpse of themselves in the mirror across the room. I have sat in mortification when a couple of Jamaican girls called me "jungle bunny" in primary school, all three of us knowing there was something wrong, hateful, in the name, none of us knowing exactly why. I've exchanged glances of mixed embarrassment and defensiveness with another African pupil while classmates earnestly express their wishes to "help feed the Africans".

Part of the reclaiming of a personal image of a country can be done through history and culture. Beginning this week, there will be a broad-ranging attempt to explore Africa's multiple meanings and identities, as London hosts a cultural celebration of the continent, part of an international effort to spur progress. Africa 05 is a unique collaboration between the British Museum, the Royal Festival Hall, the Hayward Gallery, Hackney Museum, and even London Underground. There will be music from Dizzee Rascal and King Sunny Ade; there will be a place called "Salon Afrique" set up in the Royal Festival Hall from March 7; Chinua Achebe will be in conversation with Caryl Phillips in October; and past winners of the the "African Booker prize", the Caine prize for short stories, Leila Aboulela, Binyavinga Wainana and Helon Habila, are taking part in the Africa literature series at the South Bank Centre.

The celebrations begin, appropriately, by looking back to some of the oldest objects in the world, brought together in the Made in Africa exhibition at the British Museum. The rocks on display here are between one and two million years old and mark the beginnings of human enterprise. But without understanding their meanings, these tools are difficult to engage with. They don't speak or show themselves as the foundation of modern essentials. They need to be spoken for. And the silence of such artefacts has been a contributing factor in the failure of African countries to be recognised as major artistic and architectural players in the past. Anthropologists and historians in Africa could not believe, for example, that the court of Great Zimbabwe, once a palace where the Queen of Sheba was rumoured to reign, now an imposing ruin, was built by Africans. They reasoned that it must have been the work of Asians.

At the British Museum, I follow an Africa 05 "trail", not unlike a treasure hunt, to discover an array of quietly dignified exhibits that wait in glass boxes with the good-humoured beauty of well-preserved matriarchs. Downstairs are the Benin bronzes, crouching in block formation on the walls, and carved leopards that are still as salt, yet shot through with potential motion. Walking through these rooms, I am dull and ironed flat under the feeling that I have forgotten something. It's only when I see the cloths, the fine Moroccan gowns and Ghanaian Kente cloth robes, which seem as vital and changeably colour-veined as people, that I realise: here is brilliance that doesn't need handling or explaining. If I had the chance, I'd be playing dressing-up games like you wouldn't believe.

By virtue of their very presence in a British museum, there is an uncomfortable sense of African art and history being catalogued and presented according to the post-colonial values of the dominating side. Has Benin ever asked for its bronzes back? Some were returned in 1994, but there has been no formal recent request. I think about Nigeria, and about how there is so little to recommend it for a tourist; quite simplistically, I think about the Egyptian museum in Cairo, stuffed with home-produced artefacts, and I wonder if maybe Nigeria has nothing to show because European museums have stolen it all. How is this going to be Africa's year if it can't even tell its own story with concrete evidence? And there is such a lot for us to tell. Africa is much more a collection of countries than it is a continent. Each country is compartmentalised in its own challenges: South Africa's box is still layered with the thin fissures left over from apartheid; the shadow of children-made-soldiers starkly overlays the image of Sierra Leone; and Somalia and Ethiopia's names are always twinned with starvation and poverty. And then there's my home country, Nigeria. The 1980s and 90s saw the bleakness of rule by military junta; first Babangida, then his successor, Abacha, led the country in a state of fear and internal violence leading to the execution of the environmentalist and writer Ken Saro-Wiwa, as well as the death of Moshood Abiola, the president elect, who was to have helped turn Nigeria into a democracy. Wole Soyinka, one of Nigeria's greatest talents, managed to escape with his life.

Nigeria bled people: they left for Europe; they came to England, to a place where, according to a recent poll, 60% of the population would still "prefer not" to live next door to a member of an ethnic minority. The unease of a generation who left their homes for such veiled hostility has been well captured by writers, such as Buchi Emecheta, who have specialised in documenting Nigeria's blood flow, its spillage into other countries.

As a programme, Africa 05 faces the unenviable task of emphasising unity of artistic heritage and influence at the same time as trying to dispel the concept of Africa as one big, overgrown, jungly country. It might make little difference to non-Africans, but Africa as one concept does not work for most Africans. Africa remains a collection of nations splitting up a vast and ancient landscape. Many of my generation feel that we will never be purely African enough for our parents, while accepting that this is not our fault. But divisions still exist between us, our search for fellow Africans in our situation is selective; we're running around looking to see reflections of ourselves.

We need to recognise that the continent belongs to us all; coming from Nigeria or South Africa or the Ivory Coast, being "home" not only means when you set foot on the ground of that country, but also hanging out in an Egyptian cafe drinking karkadeh and eating kosharee. With this understanding it will be even easier to be proud of each other and to know that, alongside the urgent humanitarian needs, there are voices rising out of our continent, a resourcefulness and energy to which it is good to lay a shared claim, even if these voices tell no more than myths, even if these shared characteristics are impossible to distribute among a citizenship like so many handfuls of rice.

But I'm confident that 2005 will mean Africa is finally recognised on the world scene, and for something besides crippling hunger. This celebration is the opening-up of an amazing secret, and I, for one, don't begrudge its telling.

Helen Oyeyemi's novel The Icarus Girl is published by Bloomsbury. Made in Africa is at the British Museum, London WC1B, until April 2. Box office: 020-7323 8000, www.thebritishmuseum.ac.uk.Africa Remix is at the South Bank Centre from February onwards. Box office: 020-7921 0600, www.southbankcentre.org.uk
Guardian Unlimited © Guardian Newspapers Limited 2005

Friday, July 22, 2005

SOKWANELE! SOKWANELE! SOKWANELE! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH

The powerless poor masses
Robert Mugabe rendered homeless.
Many of them have lost their children
during the demolition of their homes
in Zimbabwe.

Sokwanele! Sokwanele!

Sokwanele!

Enough is enough!
The old African wizard named Robert Mugabe has gone too far!
He has done the worst by violating the sacred confines of the churches in Zimbabwe to drive out the poor masses he made homeless.

Many children have died in questionable circumstances since the wicked tyrannical ruling despot of Zimbabwe sent his storm troopers to use buldozers to demolish thousands of ramshackle houses of the poor and forced them into inhuman transit camps with thousands of them left in the open without shelter in the storm.

The time has come to end the wickedness of the wicked.

ZANU MUST GO! NOW!
Enough is enough!

Zimbabwe anti-riot police force homeless

to leave the shelter of churches

Sokwanele Report: 21 July 2005.

Refugees sheltering in the church grounds with their belongings. Bulawayo. Baton-wielding police in full anti-riot gear descended on a number of churches across the city last night and into the early hours of this morning to forcibly remove several hundred homeless victims of Operation Murambatsvina still sheltering in the churches. The victims of this latest human rights outrage were awakened from sleep and bundled with their few pathetic belongings onto the back of police trucks believed to be headed for the holding camp recently established at Balu Estate just north of Bulawayo.

The first church to feel the brunt of the police assault was Agape Church in the western suburbs which had been offering shelter to over 200 of those whose homes had been destroyed in Operation Murambatsvina. The police arrived there soon after 10 pm, wearing full anti-riot gear including helmets and batons. Witnesses were appalled at the brutal way in which men, women and children were forcibly removed from the premises. The pastor of Agape Church, Pastor Lucky Moyo, was visibly angered and distressed by the unlawful intrusion of the police onto church premises and the ruthless treatment meted out to poor, defenceless people now forcibly removed for the second time within a space of a few weeks.

The police continued the removal operation through the night, only arriving at the City Presbyterian Church at 4 a.m. this morning and the City Baptist Church some hours later. Their objective was clearly to remove all the remaining internally displaced victims of what has been called the "Mugabe Tsunami" from the churches to a holding centre where they are less visible and access to them can be more easily controlled. This move coincides with a recent tightening up of security at the Balu Estate. On Tuesday a Bulawayo pastor who was visiting his parishioners at the holding centre was interrupted in the course of a service of worship and ejected from the site. The authorities administering the camp even refused him permission to return and collect his Bible. The holding centre is now effectively off bounds to pastors and representatives of the Church.

Fr. Barnabas Nqindi, the Rector of the (Anglican) Church of the Ascension, was one of those who witnessed the brutal police action at Agape Church last night. He described it as "cruel, nasty … unbelievable". It was he said "heart rending" to see the innocent victims of the present social upheaval being carted off to face further misery. A few hours later Fr. Barnabas himself was arrested and taken to the Ross Camp police centre where he was subjected to hostile interrogation and verbal abuse by police details, some of whom were so young they could hardly have been out of their teens. It was noticeable that these young interrogators wore ZRP uniforms but did not display any numbers or other identification. A number of other pastors tried to intervene on behalf of Fr Barnabas but they were chased away. Fr Barnabas was released from police custody at about 4 am and told to report back at the police station at 9 am.

Apart from the gross human rights abuses involved in their forcible removal, there are fears for the well-being of those now held at the Balu Estate Centre. The Red Cross had provided temporary accommodation in the form of 100 tents, but this latest influx will take the number of refugees to something in excess of 1100, for whom the facilities are quite inadequate. The refusal of access to the Church and the strict control of those entering and leaving the site are also matters of grave concern.
Another local pastor interviewed during this latest outrage commented, "It is utterly barbaric. If this isn't a crime against humanity, then I don't know what is. It is high time the UN (United Nations) intervened to stop these atrocities."

Thursday, July 21, 2005

THE FALL OF ROBERT MUGABE

The atrocities of Paapa Robert Mugabe of Zimbabwe have been condemned all over the world. But the President of Nigeria, Olusegun Obasanjo and many other African leaders are looking dumb and numb like zombies. Except for Thambo Mbeki of South Africa and Professor Wole Soyinka the first African Nobel Prize Laureate in Literature who have openly condemned the draconian tyranny of Mugabe.


Homeless children in Zimbabwe looking gloomy as the future looks bleak.

Prof. Wole Soyinka says Mugabe has fallen from the pedestal of the charismatic liberation leader of the anti-apartheid era to become one the worst African tyrannical despots since independence.

Updated From: Friday, 24 June, 2005, 13:29 GMT 14:29 UK

Why Africa won't condemn

Zimbabwe blitz

By Elizabeth Blunt BBC News

Foreign ministers from the G8 grouping of the world's richest and most powerful countries have called on other African leaders to denounce the forced evictions which are causing so much suffering in Zimbabwe.

Some children in Zimbabwe have left school after their homes were demolishedYet many of those other African governments have overseen similar brutal evictions in their own countries, and yet have suffered very little outside criticism.
The sad truth is that what is going on in Zimbabwe at the moment is not at all unusual.

From one end of Africa to the other, governments have set about slum clearance schemes without any consideration for the people who live there, or any sense of responsibility for what happens to them afterwards.
Unsanitary

Nigeria, the current chair of the African Union, was the scene of a huge mass eviction in 1990, when around 300,000 people were bulldozed out of the Maroko neighbourhood in Lagos in a single week to make way for corporate office buildings and executive villas.

Soldiers cleared the Washington area of Abidjan in Ivory Coast at gunpoint in 2002, turning people out of their homes, sometimes with less than an hour's notice.

See before and after images of township clearance in Harare.
Hundreds of families in Bonaberi area of Douala in Cameroon, lost their homes in similar purges.

In every case it was absolutely true that the areas were unsanitary, and the houses built without permission, yet there was never any sense that these exercises were being carried out to give residents a better place to live.

The evicted families inevitably were driven further to the margins and ended up living in even worse conditions.

The victims of the Zimbabwe eviction are lucky that because of the political campaign being run against President Robert Mugabe, both inside and outside the country, there are well-organised and well-funded people calling attention to their plight.
But it seems unlikely that Africa's other leaders will sympathise with the displaced rather than with a fellow president cleaning up his country's city, and will speak out on their behalf.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

KEZIAH JONES: THE ICON OF BLUFUNK



Chima's Exclusive Interview With Keziah Jones: The Icon Of Blufunk Fame.

EKENYERENGOZI MICHAEL CHIMA INTERVIEWED THE CHARISMATIC AND ENIGMATIC NIGERIAN BORN ROCK GUITARIST KEZIAH JONES. AND HE IS ALSO WORKING ON THE KEZIAH JONES BOOK PROJECT WITH FRENCH AND JAPANESE RESEARCHERS AND TRANSLATORS. BELOW IS THE FULL TEXT OF THE EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW.

1. WHAT IS BLUFUNK?
Blufunk is essentially a method: a means of making one instrument sound like many. This was a necessity during the years I spent playing out and about on the streets of London and Paris. In the guitar, is the bassline, the percussion and the lead guitar line. Weaving in and out of all these is my vocal line. For all these things to be going on it is necessary for the mind to be totally still and fixed on no one thing in particular, therefore Blufunk is also a philosophy of life, which is reflected in my lyrics. You could say the whole theory emerged as a result of long periods of time spent in solitude and cultural isolation whilst I was being ”educated" in British boarding schools from the age of eight. So literally you could break it down like this. The psychic blues/melancholia that I perceived in life in general and the funk: for an individuals physical/dynamic attempt to overcome it. In the dictionary a "blue funk" is defined as a state of mental or emotional agitation.

2. WHY ARE YOU NOT CALLING IT AFROFUNK? SINCE THERE IS A LOT OF AFRICAN BEATS IN THE COMPOSITION OF YOUR MUSIC.
The term afro funk whilst obviously related to me and to some aspects of my music is still too broad and unspecific.

3. WHY ARE YOU NOT VERY WELL KNOWN IN AMERICA?
I am known among the people who look for me, so far I have managed and to prevent my music being totally commercialized in return for mainstream success, there are compromises involved in "being known in America" or even being known anywhere. After 4 albums, it’s so far so good. I believe I can now negotiate being known in America and elsewhere on my own terms. So lookout for the next album.

4. DON'T YOU THINK YOU NEED AN AMERICAN PRODUCER LIKE QUINCY JONES?
I think America and American music business and music production techniques are in some ways far ahead, African- Americans are constantly evolving new ways of sonic effects, e.g most R&B and Hip-Hop and certain avant-garde and R&B with Pop like the Neptunes and Timbaland. I tend to choose producers on account of how we get on with each other, if they are sensitive to my ideas, etc; rather than if they have a name. But at the same time I respect the work of Quincy Jones as a producer and as a musician.

5.WHAT IS THE RELATIONSHIP OF BLACK ORPHEUS TO KEZIAH JONES AND "BLUFUNK"?
Black Orpheus is the 4th and final installation in a series of ideas started by the “Blufunk is a Fact” album. It is also the 4th and final attempt in the self-analysis triggered off by my being sent away from home at a very young age. I feel as if the series of questions and enquiries this cultural journey presented have at last found some sort of resolution from the 1st album "Blufunk"(mental agitation/discomfort) to the 2nd called ”African space" (the journey into new and uncharted cultural/psychic territory as a result of the forced break with the past/family/culture) to the3rd "Liquid Sunshine" (which was an attempt to see some sort of beauty nevertheless amongst all the destruction left behind) and finally the "Black Orpheus” album (which was the completion of the broken cycle, an attempt to create new links with the past with the full understanding of my present state and place with the resolution to use it fully to liberate myself and anybody else who might be interested.)

6.WHY ARE YOU NOT BRINGING UP OTHER NIGERIANS WHO ARE INTERESTED IN PLAYING "BLUFUNK"?
After 15 years or so of devising and defining Blufunk, I have only recently found a means of codifying it into a series of instructions and symbols. The idea is to put it out in book form, or DVD at some point. That’s the purely technical side. There is also the philosophical attitude necessary to really "play" it. This I think I express and convey by my live concerts all over the world, and more recently in Nigeria in particular. So interested Nigerians will definitely be seeing more of me.

Thank you KEZIAH JONES.

BY EKENYERENGOZI MICHAEL CHIMA.APRIL 2005.

Link:
keziah Jones

Saturday, July 09, 2005

WHERE WOMEN RULE





REBECCA LOLOSOLI(FROM LEFT) LEADS THE WAY


A Place Where Women Rule

All-Female Village in Kenya

Is a Sign Of Burgeoning Feminism Across Africa


By Emily Wax
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, July 9, 2005; Page A01

UMOJA, Kenya -- Seated cross-legged on tan sisal mats in the shade, Rebecca Lolosoli, matriarch of a village for women only, took the hand of a frightened 13-year-old girl. The child was expected to wed a man nearly three times her age, and Lolosoli told her she didn't have to.

The man was Lolosoli's brother, but that didn't matter. This is a patch of Africa where women rule. "You are a small girl. He is an old man," said Lolosoli, who gives haven to young girls running from forced marriages. "Women don't have to put up with this nonsense anymore."

Ten years ago, a group of women established the village of Umoja, which means unity in Swahili, on an unwanted field of dry grasslands. The women said they had been raped and, as a result, abandoned by their husbands, who claimed they had shamed their community.

Stung by the treatment, Lolosoli, a charismatic and self-assured woman with a crown of puffy dark hair, decided no men would be allowed to live in their circular village of mud-and-dung huts.

In an act of spite, the men of her tribe started their own village across the way, often monitoring activities in Umoja and spying on their female counterparts.
What started as a group of homeless women looking for a place of their own became a successful and happy village. About three dozen women live here and run a cultural center and camping site for tourists visiting the adjacent Samburu National Reserve. Umoja has flourished, eventually attracting so many women seeking help that they even hired men to haul firewood, traditionally women's work.

The men in the rival village also attempted to build a tourist and cultural center, but were not very successful.

But the women felt empowered with the revenue from the camping site and their cultural center, where they sell crafts. They were able to send their children to school for the first time, eat well and reject male demands for their daughters' circumcision
and marriage.

They became so respected that troubled women, some beaten, some trying to get divorced, started showing up in this little village in northern Kenya. Lolosoli was even invited by the United Nations to attend a recent world conference on gender empowerment in New York.

"That's when the very ugly jealous behaviors started," Lolosoli said, adding that her life was threatened by local men right before her trip to New York. "They just said, frankly, that they wanted to kill me," Lolosoli said, laughing because she thought the idea sounded overly dramatic.

Sebastian Lesinik, the chief of the male village, also laughed, describing the clear division he saw between men and women. "The man is the head," he said. "The lady is the neck. A man cannot take, let's call it advice, from his neck."


A Place Where Women Rule

"She's questioning our very culture," Lesinik said in an interview at a bar on a sweltering afternoon. "This seems to be the thing in these modern times. Troublemaking ladies like Rebecca."

In a mix of African women's gumption and the trickling in of influences from the outside world, a version of feminism has grown progressively alongside extreme levels of sexual violence, the battle against HIV-AIDS, and the aftermath of African wars, all of which have changed the role of women in surprising ways. A package of new laws has been presented to Kenya's parliament to give women unprecedented rights to refuse marriage proposals, fight sexual harassment in the workplace, reject genital mutilation and to prosecute rape, an act so frequent that Kenyan leaders call it the nation's biggest human rights issue. The most severe penalty, known as the "chemical castration bill," would castrate repeatedly convicted rapists and send them to prison for life.

In neighboring Uganda, thousands of women are rallying this month for the Domestic Relations Bill, which would give them specific legal rights if their husbands take a second wife, in part because of fear of HIV infection.

Eleven years after the genocide in Rwanda, in which an estimated 800,000 people were killed, women in the country hold 49 percent of the seats in the lower house of parliament. Many of them are war widows who have said they felt compelled to rise up in protest after male leaders presided over the 1994 slaughter of Tutsi tribal members by the Hutu majority.

Across the continent in West Africa, Nigerian women are lobbying strongly for the nomination of more women politicians, including a president in 2007, saying that men have failed to run the country properly.

Focusing on the meeting of Group of Eight leaders in Scotland this week, female activists said they hoped international aid intended for Africa would include funding for women who are seeking rights in their court systems and more representation in their statehouses.

"We are at the start of something important for African women," said Margaret Auma Odhiambo, a leader of western Kenya's largest group for widows. The members are women whose husbands have died of AIDS complications.

Lolosoli's effort to speak out for change in her patch of the continent shows the difficulties of changing the rhythm and power structure of village life. Before Lolosoli even went to the U.N. conference, she was going house to house in the nearby town of Archer's Post, telling women they had rights, such as to refuse to have sex with their husbands if they were being beaten or ill-treated.

"A woman is nothing in our community," she said, referring to the members of her tribe, including the men in the village across the road.

"You aren't able to answer men or speak in front of them whether you are right or wrong," she said. "That has to change. Women have to demand rights, and then respect will come. But if you remain silent, no one thinks you have anything to say. Then again, I was not popular for what I was saying."

At the U.N. conference in New York, Lolosoli said, she and other women from around the world bonded as they watched an episode of "Oprah" that focused on women, verbal abuse and cheating husbands.

"You just cry and cry," sighed Lolosoli, who said many men in her tribe still take several wives. "Then again, I was really inspired to know that a lot of women face challenges of this nature and make it."

When she came back to Kenya, armed with ideas and empowerment training workbooks, she stood her ground even when some of the men filed a court case against her, seeking to shut down the village.

"I would just ignore the men when they threw stones at me and ask, 'Are you okay? Are your children okay? Are your cows okay?' " she said. Her tactic and calm reaction was disarming, she recalled. "After everything, they weren't going to stop us."
Lolosoli is still battling her brother over his attempt to marry the 13-year-old.
But lately, the residents of the men's village have been admitting defeat. They are no longer trying to attract tourists. Some have moved elsewhere. Others have had trouble getting married because some women in the area are taking Lolosoli's example to heart.

"She has been successful, it's true." sighed Lesinik, who said maybe he is a little bit jealous. He then shrugged and said, "Maybe we can learn from our necks. Maybe just a little bit."


Thursday, June 16, 2005

THE WORD THAT OVERCOMES THE WORLD




THE WORD THAT OVERCOMES THE WORLD.


Em..em...Yes.
Sorry.
Don't worry.
This is not another long story.

Yes. ORIKINLA is not a Photo Studio and ORIKINLA is not a Photo Album.

We believe in the Word.

And nothing, but the Word.

The Word is mightier than the sword.

The Word from the Spirit of the Lord.


It is written:


"In the beginning was the Word

And the Word was with God.

And the Word was God."

JOHN1:1 (KJV HOLY BIBLE.)

This is our Motto

That drives us anywhere we go.

This is our everlasting Motto

That drives us to and fro.

The name of our Motto is JESUS

You are welcome to join us .

It is free of charge.

The Lord has paid your transport fare.

He will carry your excess luggage.

Including your software and hardware.


He has given us His Word.

And so, we are rest assured.

Therefore, let us rejoice

For Jesus Christ is our Life Insurance.

So, we are covered forever.

Washed, cleansed and redeemed by the innocent blood of the Lamb of God

Jesus Christ is our everlasting redeemer, our saviour and our Messiah.

And we thank God that Jesus Christ is our Master and our Lord.

This is our Word.

The Word that overcomes the world.

TALKING DRUMS AND TANTRUMS OF ANGER


This is my Story, this is my Song.

"Be angry, but sin not."

That is the warning from the Word of God.

I am disturbed and sleepless. Many thoughts kept me awake.

I could hear echoes of distant Talking Drums

Echoing in my eardrums

But, I am afraid that they are only the drumbeats of my tantrums.

“Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day.”

Thomas Jefferson

Ivan,


You speak true words.

My revolutionary kinsmen in the Niger Delta have been branded terrorists as well.

This happened when they threatened to blow up all the oil and gas refineries and tankers. They made breaking news on CNN.
They were branded terrorists and to make the label justified, the news mentioned their leader who is an Islamic convert, Alhaji Moajid Asari Dokubo. But, the CNN did not report when the Nigerian government sent armed forces to terrorize the villages in the Niger Delta and houses were razed, people were killed and women were raped.

I was once a refugee child in Nigeria. So, I can relate with the agonies from my own experience. And I have a grown up cousin who is a product of a Nigerian soldier raping one of my aunts. She is black and beautiful. Her mother is now dead. And we don't mention the circumstances of her birth. And we also don't mention how her mother died. Her husband beat her to death.

Most people don't understand it when I post all these issues.

They are not fiction.

I have been traumatized to the point of becoming a suicide bomber in the Niger Delta. To blow myself up with all the oil and gas refineries and gas plants. And put an end to the nightmares. Because, these oil and gas resources have done us more harm than good. Thousands have been killed in pipeline explosions, tribal wars over oil wells and government forces going on rampage in our villages over illegal oil bunkering. So, I was fed up. But, I have not done so, because of the fear of God. And to believe in the hope I have in my faith in God. Hoping for divine intervention. Otherwise, it would have happened. So, I am a victim of terrorism. This is my story, this is my song.

I am now a peacemaker simply for the same reasons mentioned above.
War makes the crisis worse. So, let us make peace from the living room to the street. But, this seems like an elusive dream, because the weapons of war are still being manufactured and we are the guinea pigs of their experiments.

The violent acts of terrorism on the streets of New York and in Soweto claim over 11,000 lives every year.

The UN should have insisted on making peace between America and Iraq and we would have been saved from the horrors we watch everyday on our TV screens and computer monitors.

The innocent men and women would have been saved the horrible death of beheadings.

Yet the UN is running skelter-skelter over UZBEKISTAN?
When, worst massacres happened in Nigeria in several villages in the Niger Delta only last year. And the Nigerian government and her Western Masters covered up the crimes from the eyes of the world press? There were over 10,000 refugees in Nigeria last year. And there are still hundreds who are wandering without any roof over their heads in Nigeria. They have become emergency refugees in their own country. And some people want me to close my eyes and stick my forefingers into my ears and shut my mouth? But, I can still hear the echoes of the blood of the innocent victims of the evil tyrants crying out for justice like the blood of Abel.

Should I accept such double standards and hypocrisies?
And clap my hands for the US and NATO and the UN?
I would rather commit suicide than be silent and watch the innocent writhe in the torment of tyranny.

THE MOST HONEST PRAYER IN AMERICA


THE MOST HONEST TO GOD PRAYER IN AMERICA

Thought you might enjoy this interesting prayer given in Kansas at the opening session of their Senate. It seems prayer still upsets some people.


When Minister Joe Wright was asked to open the new session of the Kansas Senate, everyone was expecting the usual generalities, but this is what they heard:


"Heavenly Father, we come before you today to ask your forgiveness and to seek your direction and guidance.

We know Your Word says, 'Woe to those who call evil good,' but that is exactly what we have done.

We have lost our spiritual equilibrium and reversed our values.

We have exploited the poor and called it the lottery.

We have rewarded laziness and called it welfare.

We have killed our unborn and called it choice.

We have shot abortionists and called it justifiable.

We have neglected to discipline our children and called it building self esteem.

We have abused power and called it politics.

We have coveted our neighbor's possessions and called it ambition.

We have polluted the air with profanity and pornography and called it freedom of expression.

We have ridiculed the time-honored values of our forefathers and called it enlightenment.


Search us, Oh, God, and know our hearts today; cleanse us from every sin and set us free. Amen!"


The response was immediate.


A number of legislators walked out during the prayer in protest.


In 6 short weeks, Central Christian Church, where Rev. Wright is pastor, logged more than 5,000 phone calls with only 47 of those calls responding negatively. The church is now receiving international requests for copies of this prayer from India, Africa and Korea.


Commentator Paul Harvey aired this prayer on his radio program, "The Rest of the Story," and received a larger response to this program than any other he has ever aired.


This prayer has been rated as the Most Honest Prayer in the history of America by the Nigerian Times Journal of
www.nigeriantimes.bravehost.com.

With the Lord's help, may this prayer sweep over our nation and wholeheartedly become our desire so that we again can be called "one nation under God."

Yours faithfully,
EKENYERENGOZI MICHAEL CHIMA
"Guardian of the Truth"

THERE WILL ALWAYS BE TOMORROW


Yes, there is will always be tomorrow, no matter what happens and whereever you may be.

Goodnight my love.

Tomorrow will be waiting for us at the break of dawn.

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN NIGERIA




Gender - Women Human rights:

Half of Nigeria's women experience domestic violence


afrol News, 31 May - While the level of violence against Nigerian women in the home remains poorly mapped, pilot studies conclude it is "shockingly high". Up to two-thirds of women in certain communities in Nigeria's Lagos State are believed to have experienced physical, sexual or psychological violence in the family and in other areas, around 50 percent of women say they are victims to domestic violence.


In the absence of official studies, research into the prevalence of violence in the family has been conducted by individuals and organisations. In a recent small-scale study of gender inequality in Lagos and Oyo states, 40 percent of the women interviewed said they had been victims of violence in the family, in some cases for several years.


The study concluded that such violence was not documented in Nigeria because of widespread tolerance of violence against women: "once a woman is married, she is expected to endure whatever she meets in her matrimonial home," according to information released by the human rights group Amnesty International today. In Nigeria, there was said to be little awareness of psychological abuse in marriage, and 20 percent of the urban women interviewed and 29 percent of the rural women did simply not know if they had been subjected to abuse or not. The worst-yet numbers of domestic violence in Nigeria had been disclosed in a 2001 survey by Project Alert on Violence Against Women. Here, interviews were conducted with women working in markets, women in other work places, and with girls and young women in secondary school and at university in Lagos State. They were asked about physical abuse in the family, rape and reporting incidents of violence. In Lagos State, 64.4 percent of the 45 interviewed women in work places said they had been beaten by a partner, boyfriend or husband. 56.2 percent of 48 interviewed market women had experienced the same type of violence.

According to Amnesty, the federal and state governments of Nigeria were partly responsible for these "shocking" numbers. Neither the Lagos government nor the Federal government was doing anything to stem the tide of violence – and in some cases they were even condoning it, the human rights group said at a press conference today, launching its report 'Nigeria: Unheard voices – violence against women in the family'.Amnesty's Stephane Mikala was outraged over the level of violence against women in Nigeria. "On a daily basis, Nigerian women are beaten, raped and even murdered by members of their family for supposed transgressions, which can range from not having meals ready on time to visiting family members without their husband's permission," she said. "Tragically, husbands, partners and fathers are responsible for most of the violence against these women," Ms Mikala added. In some cases, the report found, vicious acid attacks have left women with horrific disfigurements, in a brutal form of punishment known as an "acid bath". Such violence is deliberately intended to mutilate or kill – and many women subjected to an "acid bath" die as a result of the attack.Violence against women in the home is generally regarded as belonging to the private sphere in Nigeria, and therefore to be shielded from outside scrutiny. A culture of silence reinforces the stigma attached to the victim rather than condemning the perpetrator of such crimes.-

The criminal justice system in our country provides almost no protection for women from violence in the home or community, said Itoro Eze-Anaba of the Legal Defence and Assistance Project (LEDAP), who contributed to the study. "The police and courts often dismiss domestic violence as a family matter and refuse to investigate or press charges."Years of "corruption and under-resourcing in the police force" over the years had left little public faith in its integrity or capacity, causing many victims to avoid the police, according to the report. "Furthermore, the few rape victims who summon up the courage to take their cases to court face humiliating rules of evidence," Ms Eze-Anaba said. The human rights activists urged the Nigerian government to "take immediate action to meet its obligations under international human rights law," obliging it to protect women from gender-based violence. This included information about women rights, legal reforms, a police force and judiciary capable of aiding female victims and the establishment of safe-houses where women could escape violence - which are non-existent in Nigeria.


By staff writer

LET US SPEAK THE TRUTH


“Enlighten the people, generally, and tyranny and oppressions of body and mind will vanish like spirits at the dawn of day.”

Thomas Jefferson



LET US SPEAK THE TRUTH REGARDLESS OF RACE, COLOUR OR CREED

AND NO MATTER WHOSE OX IS GORED OR SLAUGHTERED.

It is even better to chastise ourselves before others do so. Why must we Africans always want the West to spoon-feed us and even change our diapers and then some of us will be screaming their heads off about racism.


Everybody as a chance to make a choice.America and Europe don't force us to buy their arms. So, we can be wiser now than ever before and use whatever Aid they give us to really help the poor majority in Africa. But, I believe that charity begins at home. So, let Africans help themselves before going to harass the G-8 for alms in exchange for arms? Are we so backward and shameless that we want to continue crawling at the feet of America and the rest of the developed nations, like dogs begging for crumbs of their left-overs? Look at my country Nigeria for instance. Nigeria was better when she was still a British colony than now. Now, Nigeria is very dirty, filthy and corrupt and I cannot continue to tolerate the whole rubbish making me sick everyday by day. Come and see our public schools and public hospitals and you will weep for this so called giant of Africa that is so blessed and yet the majority of the over 150 million Nigerians live below the poverty line? Millions of Nigerians live in misery and penury! It is a shame.


Africans are among the dirtiest people on earth and they only clean up to impress the white folks. I can tell the difference, because I live in an estate managed by the Dutch and it so clean, beautiful and peaceful that we are praying that the Dutch should never leave it in the hands of Blacks. Because, they will mess it up with filth, corruption, greediness and their religious hypocrisies.


Look at Robert Mugabe who has turned the State House of Zimbabwe into his African Shrine and does not want to vacate the place until he dies? The only true leaders we have in Africa are Papa Nelson Mandela and em...em...You see, I cannot even find any more to boast of!


May God help us to help ourselves, so that we don't have to go cap in hand to beg America, Britain and the other members of the G-8 for debt relief and debt cancellation and more donations, as if we are paupers. And we are so blessed with so much mineral resources and human resources, but our greediness, wickedness, nepotism, tribalism and corrupt oligarchies are destroying our beloved continent. I wonder why Africa is so blessed and yet majority of Africans are so wretched? Why can't we vote out all these corrupt rulers like Robert Mugabe, Olusegun Obasanjo and the rest of the horrible and terrible leaders wrecking our continent?


Let us speak the truth on every issue, regardless of race, colour or greed. And no matter whose ox is gored.

May God help us all?

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

ORIKI UNFOLDS


Oríkì Unfolds

The Oriki is the Yoruba Art of Oratory in Yoruba eulogy or praise singing of human beings, animals , places, things and other objects or subjects of interest.

I have to publish this comprehensive article on the importance of the Oriki in Mural Art in Yoruba Culture to give you a full meaning of the Oriki from the fundamental origins in the history of the Yorubas in Africa.
If you have questions, please feel free to ask me.


BY STEPHEN FOLARANMI

Oríkì forms the basis of formal praise poetry. These are most often given to people, but may also describe class, animals or inanimate objects, and they are usually laudatory.
6 Although not very common today among the educated Yorùbá elite, it used to be a day-to-day form of showering praises on children by their parents when they greet them in the morning. I did enjoy such endearment from my grandfather while he lived.


Oríkì (cognomen) are permanent titles held by individuals, some of whom have several of these names so that a collection of them recited together resemble loosely constructed poem about the person praised.
7 Various scholars (Johnson, S.1976: Karin Barber, Olatunji, O, 1984) have identified several forms of oríkì. There is oríkì sókí - one word oríkì, as in Àkàní, Àbèní, Àjàó, Àrèmú, and so on. There are also oríkì of lineages, towns and places, chiefs and kings, divinities, plants and animals.8 These later oríkì are often descriptive, for example:-

Òjó kúrè, Alágada ogun
Òjó ò sí nílé, omo adìe dàgbà
Òjó wà nílé omo adìe kò kù kan
Òjó ún wè lódò
Gbogbo omoge yo wóse
Òjó kúrè, alágada of war
In the absence of Òjó, chicks grow to maturity
when Òjó is at home, chicks are devoured
while Òjó takes his bath at the river,
all young ladies come with soap.


The discipline and characteristic role of oríkì evokes the feeling of well-being in the subject as he or she has a comprehensive citation being presented about him or her.
9 This you experience when you visit most, if not all Yorùbá palaces. It is the duty of the court drummers and akéwì at the òyó palace to wake the Aláàfin with such praises every day. The same applies to chiefs and notable personalities whenever they visit the palace. Oríkì is spoken, chanted, or sung (and in the context of this essay, painted) depending on the situation of performance.10 They contain expression, which praise and characterize its subjects. Such expressions and characteristics of the subject being praise are fully experienced on the images and forms realistically displayed on the òyó palace mural.
Oríkì in Òyó Palace Mural


The Òyó palace mural as we shall find out, reveals a vivid example of the influence and significance of oríkì in Yorùbá mural decoration. This painting, commissioned in 1933 by late Aláàfin Siyanbólá Ládigbòlù, known for his love of creativity and flamboyant nature is richly decorated with numerous human, animals and inanimate royal objects. Ruth Finnegan was right when she wrote that the most frequent subjects for panegyrics are human, especially kings and chiefs, and that praises of kings are most formal and public of all.
11 In addition Bólánlé Awé mentioned the focus of oríkì on deified heroes and kings, ògún, Òrànmíyàn, Obòkun and others were not only commended and praised for their valour and bravery but also for their protection. In summary, their oríkì describe their hierarchy and function in warfare.12 Oríkì also play a very important role in self aggrandisement and glorification in the society, they were the main instruments through which reputation was publicly acknowledged and enhanced, here, Karin Barber13 says the ‘big man’ is on display. In a public gathering, “oríkì singers would address those they perceive as the most important, the most successful individuals would have the largest corpus of oríkì. Both the mystical and material attribute with which the Oba is endowed sets him apart from the rest of the population. Next to him are the chiefs.” Salami Alabebe who painted this palace mural displayed a high sense of knowledge when it comes to his to people’s culture. There is no doubt that he dug deep into the different oríkì and other praises showered on the Aláàfin.


When Aláàfin Siyanbólá Ládigbòlù wanted to be sure that the painting being commissioned had not been done anywhere else in the whole Yorùbá country, he was only living true to one of the common oríkì of the òyó people. The oríkì that bears this out is:

Ají se bí Òyó làárí, Òyó kìí se bíi enì kokan –
People wake to comport themselves like the Òyó,
but the Òyó never behave like anybody else.


The application of this oríkì and its influence in the execution of the painting can best be appreciated today when it is certain that not all Yorùbá palaces can claim to have such murals on their walls talk less of comparing their murals with the Òyó mural
14 The Òyó palace mural is also described as one of the most spectacular of all traditional murals in Yorùbáland.15
This painting chronicles the attribute of the Aláàfin. Most of the animals depicted were actually kept in the palace by the Oba. (elephant, leopard, horse, tortoise, chameleon, ostrich, egret, hare and others). All the images depicted show clarity of form and are realistically rendered.
16 Other images were chosen to enhance and promote the position of the Oba. Scenes like attendants and visitors prostrating before the Oba and attendants holding silken parasol over the Oba are depicted (fig. 2).


Apart from the clarity of form and images represented on this painting, some of the images depicted are frequently mentioned in some oríkì of the Aláàfin. In these various praise songs, the Oba is sometime compared with very strong animals, which are associated with leadership, authority and power. Some of these animals have cognomen attributed to them. It has been affirmed that oríkì can be concerned with almost anything - animals, birds ... make apostrophized in high-sounding terms.
17
Some of the oríkì assert:

“Àjànàkú kò ni èèkàn,
Oba tí yóò mú erin so kò tíì j e
The elephant has no post to which it is tethered;
the king that will tether the elephant has not been crowned.

This thus shows the great power of the Aláàfin over other Obas, more so when he is described as:
Aláse igbá kejì òrìsà
One with authority next only to the gods.

The elephant is often praised in some oríkì (praise names) as:
Erin oníbú owó
Alágbàlá òkun
Elephant owner of abundant wealth
and a courtyard of sea.
These praises summarily symbolize the wealth of the Aláàfin on the mural. In another oríkì the elephant is described in relation to the Oba,
Erin á gbé nú igbó yan bíi ba
Elephant the jungle dweller who walks majestically like a king.
Other oríkì describe, erin as:-
àjànàkú, òkan soso àràbà tíí mi igbó kìjikìji
elephant, the only gigantic one like àràbà tree who shakes the forest violently.

This in reference to the Aláàfin shows him as the all powerful amongst the other Obas.
The antelope (egbin) is also depicted tethered like the elephant. The antelope is known for its long horns which symbolises àse, (life force) because it is the traditional container for àse a kind of medicine which make wishes and utterances to materialize. “Àse as a word, means authority”.
18 The antelope can also be said to be a symbol of beauty as it is evident in its oríkì19 (Fig. 3:). The oríkì reveals the descriptive beauty of the antelope as an animal that:

“Uses velvet leather as bed sheet-
beauty of the forest
animal with shining fur”
“ fàwo àrán se’aso àtésùn
dára níjú,
ranko abara yòòyò”.
it is also described in another oríkì as:-
“Very beautiful antelope, its rival does not exist in the forest”
Egbin dára títi, elegàn egbin kò sí nígbó


In relation to the Aláàfin Siyanbólá Ládigbòlù at whose instance the mural was executed, there is no such beautiful palace, mural or even king as the Aláàfin. He is the embodiment of beauty. For this reason, the ostrich (ògòngò) icon is the most prominent of the images on the mural. Ògòngò is associated with leadership, the following oríkì describes:
“Ògòngò baba eye
Ògòngò, king of birds.

When chanting songs or praise names of the Aláàfin, his wives always refer to him as “Ògòngò baba eye” meaning he, the Aláàfin, is “the king of kings” in Yorubaland
20 (Fig. 4: Alaafin and wives).


Another significant image in the mural is the figure with a bow and arrow. This I have identified to either be a warrior or hunter. Both professions are very important to Aláàfin Ládigbòlù and all other Aláàfins before him. Hunters and warriors were very useful to the kings in carrying out their numerous Calvary and assaults in their bid to gain supremacy over other territories. This is no longer so in modern times where such exalted positions have been taken over by state military personnel. The hunter could probably represent those who killed wild animals for the Oba, or his warriors.


In “Awon Oríkì Oríle” by Adébóyè Babalolá, he mentioned, “the progenitors of Olú-Òjé who were brave elephant hunters using spears, bows and arrows. They killed elephants for the queen in òyó Ilé. He also goes on to mention the relationship between hunting and warfare. The Oníikòyí’s weapons were said to include bows and arrows and so Oníkòyís are praised in an oriki as:-
“Àwon omo oníle olófà
ta fà má tàsé
olófà mímú, olófà oró
tíí pa egèbrin ènìyàn”
“Owner of the land of arrows;
sharp shooters,
shooter of sharp arrows,
poisoned arrows with which he killed 800 people”.
21


Distinct from the oríkì of the animals are the direct oríkì of the Aláàfin. These are known as oríkì orílè. Oríkì orílè, totem denotes foundation or origin.
22 It is however not a name in that it represent every conceivable object such as, erin, (elephant) ògún (the god of iron and war) òpó (post) àgbò (a ram), òkín (peacock) and many others. In orílè, the lineage of the Aláàfin is revealed, making the representation of the images on the murals much more meaningful. In relationship to the interpretation of the images on the Òyó Palace mural, the oríkì and orílè becomes relevant. For example, erin (elephant) is the totem of the original line of kings.23 Because orílè, (totem) is never used by itself, as it would be meaningless, it is always expressed along with oríkì when endearment or admiration is intended.24

Aláàfin Siyanbólá Ládigbòlù Àkànbí Erin and Aláàfin Oláyíwolá Adéyemí III. Àtàndá Erin both share the same totem of the original line of the Òyó kings. Erin, the elephant being mentioned here again as it has been interpreted on the mural. In some lines of various versions of oríkì chanted by Mrs. Afolábí, an akéwì, and a descendant of a family well versed in the in oríkì of the Aláàfin of òyó, some of the images depicted on the palace mural were mentioned.
25 A testimony of this is narrated in lines such as-

“Bí ó wo dò, ariwo esin esin
Bí ó gòkè odò, eruku esin
ó fesè esin somi rùkú rùkú rùkú
Oba aborí esin bààbà lonà kòso
bìrìn esin tìkò tìkò lona bàrà”
“When he enters the river, it’s the noise of horses
When he comes out, the horse raises dust
He stirs up the river with the horses’ hoofs
He, strides reluctantly like a horse towards bàrà”

In the above lines of oríkì, esin (horse) seems to be the point of reference. Therefore, the representation of the horse on the mural is justified. (Fig. 5: Horse) In another line, the ostrich was mentioned,
“Ode Ògòngò tíí rìn tomi tomi”.
ostrich hunter, who walks with water).
In another line, the Aláàfin is praised poetically in which the sword is mentioned as:
èyin lomo ò sòrò gbooro
gbédà gbooro kó
òrò gbooro ò tán
idà gbooro ò wàkò”
You are of the descendants of those,
who speak words of volume.
who hang the long sword;
long sword too long for the sheath.

The sword depicted on the mural may be the one mentioned in this line of oríkì (Fig. 7a & 7b: The real sword and its representation on the mural).


Oríkì is especially set to record the events of an individual’s life in most favorable and glorious light and to exalt and glorify him or her. Yùngbà chant is one of the important varieties of oríkì that is reserved only for the noble people of òyó in person of the king, (Aláàfin) his son, àrèmo and the senior brother of the king. (Baba Ìyaji) Although mention can be made of other individuals in the course of their citations, The Yùngbà chant by the Akinyùngbàs’ is particularly to document all the major activities that happened during the reign of each of the Aláàfin.
26
One of such historical events was during the reign of Aláàfin Ládigbòlù who commissioned the palace mural. The ’Akinyungba’ documented the close friendship between Siyanbólá Ládigbòlù and Captain Ross; after all, Captain Ross had been instrumental in the installation of Ládigbòlù as Aláàfin after his fathers’ death. Of course, Ross accomplished this with the help of the Òyó–mèsì. This event marked one of the socio-cultural changes being witnessed by the Yorùbá people at the arrival of the colonial masters. The colonialists desired to have a hand in most of what happened around them. It was such influence that brought a constitutional change in the system of succession to the monarchy in Oyo, in which the crown prince no longer commits suicide at the death of his father, but stands the chance of succeeding him. This was a means by which the colonial masters introduced their infamous direct rule system.
27 The eventual result was the gradual erosion and usurping of the Oba’s powers. In the chant the Akinyùngbà said.

Ládìgbòlù Àkànbí
Adégbóyèga, ìpekun Oba
Afínjú oba tíí pèèbó ránsé
Adegboyega Akanbi lawo Rosi (Ross)
Ladigbolu Akanbi
Adegboyega, the greatest of kings
A fashionable king that sends a white man on errand
Adegboyega Akanbi is Ross’ confidant.
28
It will be true to assert that the significance of the oríkì is much more revealed in the execution and interpretation of the Òyó mural. The reason for this may not be far fetched. The Aláàfin being human lived and dined with the people unlike most of the deities who are mythically known. It was therefore easy to ascribe or attribute so much praise to him. From these oríkì and other sources, the Salami Alabebe drew his subject and inspiration. As earlier mentioned, the oríkì became the driving force by which the artist executed his masterpiece.
Influence of Oríkì on Pópó Shrine Painting


Another painting, which has a considerable influence of oríkì, is the òrìsà Pópó painting in Ògbómòshó. òrìsà Pópó is the name by which Obàtálá is known in Ògbómòshó. As a deity his praises are daily expressed by the devotees. Many Yorùbá deities have a series of praises expressed in figurative and obscure language, sung by the priests. When the òrìsà is to be worshipped or praised, its praise songs are played or recited one after another until it takes possession of one of its worshippers
29 , this statement seems to confirm the claim of the painters that they are inspired by the òrìsà in executing the painting. However, we can positively say that various praise songs and chants are the real inspiration in the execution of the painting. The use of colour, images, and forms are all embedded in the oríkì of some of the deities. In 1960, Ulli Beier described this painting as one of the most beautiful shrine paintings in Yorùbáland; a recent photograph (1995) taken however betrays this statement (Fig. 7: Pópó mural). The deterioration of the painting and the skill shows the decline in the artistic decoration of the shrine wall.


As earlier mentioned, òrìsà Pópó is the same as Obàtálá.
30 Because Obàtálá worship is widespread in Yorùbáland, he is known by other names in other Yorùbá towns. In èjìgbò he is known as ògìyán, òrìsàìkirè in ìkirè, òrìsà olúfón at Ifón, ìrèlè in ìkìrun, and òrìsànlá in Ile-Ife.31 This is confirmed by the oríkì of Pópó as chanted by one of the female devotees at the shrine.32 Every divinity has a set of cognomen with stories, which are recited in commemoration of his attributes, greatness and nature. It is therefore not strange to find images, forms and colors testifying to the lines in the various versions of oríkì. The painters also state categorically that the recitation of oríkì gives the painters inspiration as they perform their religious duties. As the creator god, Obàtálá or Òrìsà Pópó is saddled with the responsibility of making humans. He is therefore known as the sculpture divinity33 .


The walls of Òrìsà Popo’s shrine are painted with a rhythmic pattern of gods, men and animals to show the acts of Obàtálá in the course of creation. Animals like birds and goats, though not so distinct are represente.
34 (Fig. 8: Birds). One of the practical applications of oríkì on the painting is expressed in:
“Eni sojú se mú
òrìsà ni máa sìn
Adá ni bó ti rí
Òrìsà ni maa sin”
He who fashion the eyes and nose
it is òrìsà I will worship
He who creates as he wishes
It is òrìsà I will worship
35


One can visibly recognize stylized human figures with faces on the painting. In fact, the mural has more human figures than other forms and images, all enmeshed in white dots. Another oríkì attests to this:
Ó-s-enìkan-soso digba ènìyàn
So mí di rún
So mí digba
So mí di òtà-lé-légbèje ènìyàn
36
O you who multiplies one into two hundred persons!
Multiply me into one hundred,
Multiply me into two hundred
Multiply me into one thousand four hundred and sixty persons.
The thousands of dots all over the wall may be translated as meaning the eye of the òrìsà. This is expressed in:
Olójú kára bíi ajere
One who is all seeing like ajere pot.
Ajere pot is a traditional Yorùbá pot perforated with several holes. It is used for several religious purposes and sometimes in preparation of efficacious medicine.
Women play critical roles in the worship of Obàtálá. They seek help from the deity in order to give them children. The stigma associated with barrenness among the Yorùbá people is very destabilising. It is believed that every marriage must produce its own offsprings. Through this norm every married woman even in modern times goes to any length to bear children. If visiting Obàtálás’ shrine will solve the problem, why not? The societal verdict remains, without a child you cannot be considered a complete woman. A testimony of this is narrated in:-
Ó mú’lé t’ará ojà
Ó so àgàn di alábiyamo,
àgàn tí ò rí’bí, ti ró sòó leyìn olúwa wà
37
Neighbor at the market,
who makes barren women into nursing mother.
The barren women, stoops behind our lord for help.
This is practically depicted on the left side of the painting where female figures are painted with earrings on their ears. Close to the floor on the left side are other figures thanking Popo for answering their prayers.


Obàtálá represents the Yorùbá ideas of ritual and ethical purity, and therefore the demand and sanctions of his morality. Immaculate whiteness is often associated with him. This symbolizes holiness and purity
38 . On òrìsà Pópó painting, funfun - white is perhaps the most dominant colour (Fig. 10). The devotees are usually dressed in white, all items used in the shrine should be white, including the food (pounded yam, èko, (congealed pap) òrí (shea butter) and ìgbín - (snail). On account of that also, he is praised as:
Bàtà-banta nínú àlà
Ósùn nínú àlà
Ó jí nínú àlà
Ó ti inú àlà dìde
Immense in white robe
He sleeps in white clothes
He wakes up in white clothes
He rises in white clothes.
39
In another oríkì there is a particular interesting aspect, which says:
Obàtálá kò f epo
Obàtálá kò f osun
Obàtálá abhors palm oil
Obàtálá abhors cam wood.
40
This oríkì confirms Obàtálá’s preference for white. Pupa (red) and dúdú (indigo or black) is also seen on the mural. These two colours do not have any symbolic connotation to the òrìsà, but they serve as complimentary colours to the white to give aesthetic value and balance of design and harmony.


On the òyó mural, hunters, warriors and their tools of trade are depicted, this is not so on òrìsà Pópó painting. This is because Obàtálá is a god of peace and purity. He does not harm his children whom he moulded with his own hand. The oríkì which expresses this belief and which invariably must have influenced the painting is in:
Òòsà má jé ká ta fà nílú yí láíláí
Iyán ojú Pópó ni o jé á maa tú sénu
onílé ojú Pópó má jógun ó jà lú re
gbodò jógun ó le jàlú àwa.
41
Òrìsà, prevent us from shooting arrows in this town forever.
Provide us pounded yam to eat
Landlord of Pópó, do not allow war to break out in your town.
Do not allow war to break out in our town.


The significant influence of oríkì in the interpretation of this painting cannot be over emphasized. Inasmuch as the painters and devotees could not give any concrete information concerning the images they have painted, the oríkì has enabled us to understand and appreciate this mural.
Another shrine painting with some glaring influence of oríkì in the images represented is the Ògbóni Repository in Ilésà.

WHAT IS YOUR ORIKI


What is your Oriki?

Can you tell me your Oriki?

If you cannot tell me your Oriki, that means you don't know it and in fact, you don't know what is Oriki.

I will introduce you to the full meaning and realization of the phenomenon of the ORIKI. When?

When I return tomorrow.