Totem II


(For Her Highness Zaynab Otiti Obanor – Humanitarian of the Year Award)

There are gods,
there are spirits,
there are genies,
there are ghommids
and there are
Ito ba pe lenu,
o di warapa,
egbo pe lese,
o di jakute,
bi obinrin ba pe nile oko,
aje nii da.

Tradition is the ordinance of the man,
our culture. our garment.
It is what makes us,
it is the water we sip,
the bitter kola we chew,
the cloth we put on.
The beauty of traditions is its distinctness,
bi a n se n se nile yii ree,
eewo ibo miiran ni.
When you get to Rome,
you behave like the Romans.
of what use is tradition
without self ideology ?
God gave men brains,
so that He can rest.

the nest of women,
women of different colors.
different races,
different religions,
different traditions.
Man can resist sleep
but he won’t resist
for he can’t.
Women bestowed with unequalled powers,
awon ni
obinrin dudu regi regi
ti n rin nigba oja ba tu.
Bi isu ba tan loko,
obinrin a di awodi,
a ni rira loun tun n ra je kiri.
Despite the powers that lives in a woman,
her submission
is to her husband.
Oko l’olowo ori aya,
the bride price –
the symbol of superiority.

Bi obinrin to ato-rin,
ki okunrin to ato-rin,
ki a wo eni ti o ye.
A woman without an husband
is a slave without an owner,
she is a yolk
of no shell.
Nothing is worse than for a woman
to be widowed.
Even if the earth bows to her,
the soil staggers at her footsteps,
heaven rumbles when she speaks,
she still owes loyalty
to her man.

this is Africa,
this is tradition,
but tradition is built as a proof of humanity
not superiority.
The bride price of a woman
is not her pride price,
she is worth more than the cowries
and barrels of oil submitted in her household.
Marriage is not slavery,
marriage is not a scene
to display the inferiority in a woman.
Our culture is patriarchal,
the men goes to the coasts,
the women only to pound yams
and when it’s dark,
she becomes a material for pleasure
not as a treasure.
Her duty ends in the other room.

She is a woman,
she is not a slave.
Eti l’obinrin fi n gbo Oro,
obinrin lo ni Gelede.
This clash triggers the unbalanced nature
of the world,
the world cannot be fair
if the women are still weaker.
The world cannot be fair
if the voices of the women are sidelined.
History have
Lisabi Agbongbo Akala,
Aare Latosa,
Ogunmola l’ode Ibadan,
Lagelu akoni Eba-odan,
Soun ti Ogbomoso,
Oranyan l’ode Oyo
the chronicles also have
Efunsetan Aniwura,
Oya Okara,
Moremi Ajasoro,
Kudiratu Abiola,
unnumbered. unspoken. untold.

It is not man enough
to tie a woman down
with the odd sides of traditions.
It is not man enough
to expose the caricature of a woman
painted by falsehood
and spellbound by traditions.
They are women,
not slaves.
For when the woman breaks free from this shackle,
she refuse to be manipulated
by the oblivious drama in the chambers.
A n soro elegede,
obinrin bere pe kini a n so,
a ni oro okunrin nii,
bi a ba ko elegede jo,
tani yoo se ?

‘As important as tradition is in the fabric of our lives,tradition without intelligence is not worth having’.

Synopsis: This poem is a sequel to the first one that was written to run an unbiased commentary on the latest and unusual happening in the marital foray of the Ooni of Ife, Oba Ogunwusi and his ex-queen Zaynab Otiti Obanor. However, this one focuses on the nature of women, their roles at home, in the society and the perceived lopsidedness of their true identity.

Author: Balogun Yusuf a.k.a Gemini

Profile: He is a novelist, playwright and a poet. In December 2016, he authored a pamphlet ‘Days of Infirmity’. He is also the convener of Ardent Writers and the editor of iTalkCulture. He’s currently working on his upcoming books ‘When a Snake Sheds its Skin and Smiling Carcass


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