THE SACRIFICE | Episode 1


The Title, Dedication and Cast Pages in the immediate previous post so titled  (in Category >Drama and Sub >>The Sacrifice).

PROLOGUE

 

Blackout on stage. A masculine voiceover of a Narrator.

 

NARRATOR:

It is in these days we are

when territories have been forged

by wars and wars of expansion—

in these days we are here

when afterwards cold hatreds starts cold wars

between sister kingdoms—

in these dark and uncertain days

one that hangs between life and death,

and will sooner pass on as folktale or history—

It is in these days that we are

the White Man brought here a story of long ago,

his name the Reverend David Hinderer;

and his telling, one of a master storyteller:

he told us a love story in another world.

 

I am Daniel Olubi;

and one of his first labour fruits in Ibadan,

and with J. C. Akielle, and Henry, and Samuel Johnson.

And our eyes are heavy the White Man now goes,

both Baba David and Mama Anna Hinderer.

 

And as we send the White Man onwards 1869,

because the native Ifọle decree from Abeokuta

now finally gets Ibadan, too, to expel the Whites—

and as we bid him farewell and Godspeed

on his way back to his forlorn home country

retiring the sickly yet laboring body of two, awhile—

So, as we do remember his sojourn here since 1853,

I will now tell the story the White Man brought to us;

and I will tell it a love story in our own world.

I will tell it a love tale around the last war.

 

Eighteen sixty-one.

 

[Soft drumming and rhythmic clinking of metallic objects begins offstage, bespeaking a religious ritual of Ogun, the Yoruba god of iron and of war.]

___

ACT ONE

The scene is a great while before cockcrow.

 

Spotlight brightens centre stage right to reveal a very picturesque and rustic setting of Ogun shrine: one big banana tree stands, with a machete stuck into its stem, and which may stand inside a big drum for support and leaning backwards on its rim; and these all stand behind all the people there (the details of the people comes below).

 

In the spotlight, and right in front of the banana tree, sits old OGUNSOLA on a mortal stool chair, clad in ritual white wrapper tied only around his waist, and having royal strings of beads on his neck and around his both wrists, and holding a royal horsetail in his hand. And beside him, on his right hand and on his left, are seated, on mortal stools, men of the awo, three, dressed in the awo pattern—white cloth, passed under one arm and tied at the top of the other shoulder, and wearing kẹmbẹ trousers; and also there, are the ritual bodyguards—three of them, clad only in kẹmbẹ trousers and holding in their hands sharp, glistering machetes, and the third holds in his firm grip a young lady whose eyes are covered tightly with a cloth and her hands tied together behind her with ropes; and CHIEF PRIEST who sits on a straw mat, clad in a long white robe, his hair all white for old age, and he holds a fetish-adorned staff. He is quietly saying some incantations.

 

One of the awo members stands and speaks. Rhythmic clanging of metal objects subsides and then fades as he speaks.

 

AWO MEMBER 1:

Ogun o!

O god of iron and of war!

The time is around the corner,

when we shall present to you

the sacrifice of Adáiyélabálà town,

as we do

year after year

and have never for once failed in the observance

of this age-long tradition, since

ancient Adáiyélabálà became a people.

Now we are come to you this year again,

O deity of a genesis and of an apocalypse.

O Ogun, we invoke you: accept our sacrifice!

 

AWO MEMBERS & OGUNSOLA:

AṢẸ!!!

AWO MEMBER 1:

When a blazing inferno meets

with a pool of red oil,

it licks it all up and rids the soil

of the red:

O Ogun with the loincloth of fire

and a cloak of blood,

we invoke you to lick up the atoning blood

of this sacrifice to be made and rid this land

of all evil!

AWO MEMBERS & OGUNSOLA:

AṢẸ!!!

AWO MEMBER 1:

No man licks honey

and spits it out.

Palm oil is never bitter

in the mouth of ants:

may this sacrificial blood be sweet

in your mouth!

AWO MEMBERS & OGUNSOLA:

AṢẸ!!!

AWO MEMBER 1:

Pipọn l’ẹjẹ: pọn ẹbọ wa le o!

AWO MEMBERS & OGUNSOLA

AṢẸ!!!

AWO MEMBER 1:

Ẹbọ l’ẹjẹ: jẹ ki ẹbọ wa jẹ o!

AWO MEMBERS & OGUNSOLA:

AṢẸ!!!

AWO MEMBER 1:

[roars.] Ogun o!

Accept the sacrifice of Adáiyélabálà!

AWO MEMBERS & OGUNSOLA:

AṢẸ!!!

AWO MEMBER 2:

[stands up.] If a task does not take one a long time, one does not prolong it. The time we have been waiting for is here. But then it is until the sacred Awo Rooster crows that the main ritual can be observed—we all know that. It is past midnight and a great while before daybreak—this is about the time the first cock crows. We must be on alert; the Awo Rooster, in the innermost sacrifice chamber, securely guarded, may crow anytime from now.

AWO MEMBER 3:

If that is the case, what are we waiting for or why are we prolonging things? Let’s call on the Chief Priest of Ogun to begin the ritual protocol – abi?

AWO MEMBER 2:

O yes! One must get started!

 

[Turns to CHIEF PRIEST.]

 

O Chief Priest of Ogun from Ọyọ,

Ọyọ-Alaafin; where Alaafin Adelu

now reigns over the great Kingdom

in the stead of his father Atiba,

the great Alaafin of yesterday.

We pay homage.

[ALL bow except the young lady.]

It is for us, for us

the people of Adáiyélabálà,

that you do come every year

from Ọyọ, a long journey on foot,

down to our Adáiyélabálà.

Chief Priest of Ogun, old and sage;

with dim eyes yet seeing the supernatural;

infallible minister of Ogun!

Pray meditate between us

and the deities, as you are wont to do

year after year, for us.

We pay homage!

 

[ALL bow, except the young lady, as CHIEF PRIEST rises.]

 

CHIEF PRIEST:

Almost all things are by divine ordinance

purged by blood.

However the flawed kind of sacrifice

must continue,

year after year,

until a greater, flawless one

takes its place,

to remit evil in the land,

once and for all!

 

Without maternal blood

and labour pains,

there is no cry heard—

so anticipated and desired—

of a baby born:

without blood sacrifice,

the land and the people are not cleansed,

Nor can they receive blessings divine.

Yes, without the mother viper having to die,

baby vipers will not be delivered of her:

thus it behooved someone

to shed his or her blood,

for the land to live.

 

[To OGUNSOLA.]

 

Baalẹ Ogunsola, king and

Generalissimo of Adáiyélabálà:

Great and mighty a ruler;

Dreadful and fearsome a warrior.

May the crown stay long on your head,

And the slippers long on your feet.

O, the one that shall well maximize his reign—

Ten score years like just one!

Ever hard is the blacksmith’s stone!

 

[OGUNSOLA holds his irukẹrẹ and shakes it in approval of him. CHIEF PRIEST continues.]

 

We now wait for the significant crow

of the Awo Rooster

to usher in the second phase

of the rituals, in which

I myself shall take Ogun’s offering

[points to the young lady]

to his altar of sacrifice

in the innermost sacrifice chamber.

 

[Pauses. Moves to the banana tree and gently removes the machete from its stem. Goes back to his place then gazes slightly up and points the machete towards the sky.]

 

Ogun o! The god of iron and of war!

With iron new things are wrought—

brings a genesis!

And iron, too, we use in wrath—

brings an apocalypse:

But for the bliss and tranquility

of this land Adáiyélabálà,

we offer today, as we do yearly,

the price of a maiden’s blood:

ACCEPT OUR SACRIFICE!

 

[Light fades gradually centre stage right and comes on simultaneously, and dimly, upstage left to reveal, vaguely, a shrine guard clad only in a kẹmbẹ trousers and armed with a bow and quiver of arrows, and is guarding a door. (His name is IFAWE.) Then a young man of strong build, and wearing a mask, ghosts in, heading for the door of the room which IFAWE is guarding. The young man merely covers himself with a broad white cotton cloth, which he only throws around his body. IFAWE noticing him, although can only see his vague figure because of the blackness of the night, and suspecting that the young man is a marauder who is up to something bad, springs up and aims his bow and arrow at him.]

 

IFAWE:

Stop there! Who are you, masked young man? Where are you heading to? What is your mission in this place?

YOUNG MAN:

Who I am, you don’t need to know. Where I am heading to, is that room—[points there] the innermost sacrifice chamber! And what my mission is in this place, you will soon discover yourself—just leave the way and let me go in; or else it may be in the world beyond you’ll be discovering what I am here to do! Now, leave the way!

IFAWE:

Agbẹdọ! If you love your life, man, turn back and vacate these premises at once. But if you persist and insist on entering this sacrifice chamber forbidden to mere mortals’ feet, I myself will fire an arrow deep into your heart before the dreadful gods devour you in their blazing fury! Now leave, or I’ll shoot!

YOUNG MAN:

[laughs.] Ha! Ha! What a pity!

          The ṣigidi-effigy of you wants a bath

in shame, it asks to be doused in water!

He who challenges a desperate man

that is undeterred even by death

will just get his own life wasted

and destroyed by the same

who nothing more under the sun

frightens!

 

[Strips himself of the broad cloth, deftly—revealing him now only clad in a bantẹ underpants and a magical undergarment waistcoat with amulets and charms all over it. He pulls out a tortoise shell talisman, holds it towards IFAWE and chants.]

 

What is the obstacle before me?

What is the obstacle before me?

The way cannot be so blocked

as to stop the serpent from moving.

The butterfly that will obstruct the thorn,

it will get its own clothes torn.

Tear down, Obstacle; tear down!

No man stands in the way of the sea

and is not swept off his feet.

Fall down, I say! Fall before me!

Fall down, no lizard brags standing

The insect that belittles a burning lamp

gets its wings burnt. Fall down!

Fall down, I say; fall down—

the tree falls apart that a thunderbolt strikes!

Fall down, neither dead nor alive—

a felled tree dies only half-way.

Fall down… Fall down… F-a-l-l d-o-w-n!!!

 

[IFAWE staggers and then drops to the ground. YOUNG MAN picks up OLUBI’s machete.]

 

YOUNG MAN:

[laughs.] The spider web that would hamper the elephant in passing through the river, the elephant would rather cross the river with it! [Looks around gravely.] THE ROOSTER SHALL NOT CROW THIS DAWN!

 

[Light effects. Suddenly a loud crow of a rooster – the Awo Rooster – is heard to crow offstage. The crow sound may be pre-recorded, relayed over, say a loudspeaker. Light goes off upstage left and comes on simultaneously centre stage right to reveal everybody sitting up, preparing for the sacrifice, on hearing the crow of the Awo Rooster; while the young lady is visibly shuddering with fear. CHIEF PRIEST grips her with his left hand and points the machete up with his right hand, very high.]

 

CHIEF PRIEST:

[shouts.] Ogun o!

AWO MEMBERS & OGUNSOLA:

[thundering.] ACCEPT OUR SACRIFICE!

 

[CHIEF PRIEST turns with the lady towards the innermost sacrifice chamber.]

 

[Light goes off centre stage right and comes on simultaneously upstage left to show YOUNG MAN and IFAWE again— IFAWE lying motionless on the ground.]

 

Watch out for Episode 2 | Posting  Tue May 5 …

Send private comments and enquiries to Kayode Taiwo Olla via kayodeolla@gmail.com, or simply text or put a call through him via the number +2347062280424.

[All Rights Reserved. Copyright owned by Kayode Taiwo Olla, 2014.]

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