The jury is still out but for Onigegewura, Ó Le Kú is my favourite of Prof Akinwumi Isola’s seminal literary works. Since the first time I read it in Form One, I must have read it more than 100 times. It’s that engrossing.
Immediately I heard of the tragic passage of the celebrated author earlier this morning, I began to look for my most recent copy. Finally, I located it hidden between Femi Jeboda’s Olowolayemo and Adegoke Durojaiye’s Gbe ‘Ku De ati Ise Abe.
I also found Prof’s Efunsetan Aniwura and Kòseégbé. They are all Yoruba Classics. Is there anything penned by Akinwumi Isola that is not a classic?
On flipping through my copy of O Le Ku, I remember why it made such an impression on me in my teenage years. It is the story of Ajani, a young undergraduate of University of Ibadan. Ajani wanted to get married to his fiancée, Asake, but Asake’s father was the stumbling block. Baba Kekere wanted Asake to become a graduate before settling down.
Ajani was however impatient. He moved on to Lola Ajasa, an undergraduate like him. Lola was however already engaged to Dotun, a broadcaster. Tenacious like the snail, Ajani succeeded in extricating Lola from Dotun. The relationship was however to hit the rock when Lola discovered, through her estranged Dotun, that Asake was pregnant for Ajani.
With pressure from her father, Asake also decided to give Ajani a breather. Ajani became the proverbial hunter that chased two rats and caught none. It was at this point that Sade came into Ajani’s life. Before you could say Onigegewura, the lovebirds had fixed a date for their wedding.
One thing that struck me about the book is Prof Ishola’s use of language. Rich in idioms and proverbs, the book is a collector item any day. Ajani composed a poem for each of his three lovers. Back in our College days when letter writing was the only way to convince a girl of your love, I adapted the poems for many of my friends. Don’t worry, I am not going to mention any name. What happened in College stayed in College.
By the way, the legendary filmmaker, Tunde Kelani, had made a movie adaptation of the book.
To mark the passage of the literary giant, I have attempted to translate one of the poems in the book for Onigegewura’s readers.
If you see one who fetches burning ember with his naked palm
Blame him not, he must have his reason
Perhaps he wants to smoke
Or he wants to fry an insect
Or may be he wants to burn his rival’s house
I have seen someone who walked into a moving train
He was neither blind nor lame
He was engrossed in watching a robbery scene
The young man who takes to his heel in the King’s market
Don’t blame him
He has to run to escape arrest from tax police
I was strolling in the market when I bumped into a textile stall
The merchant struck me, I cried not
I endured the pain and moved on
It pained me not, I knew what I was doing
The mother of twins dancing in the market place is far from being mad
It is the Oracle that prescribes dancing for her children to survive
Whether you strike me with cane or cudgel
It is the sight of beautiful ebony that carried me away
That I stumbled into a textile stall
I can’t help myself
I can’t look away from a radiant beauty
You can’t behold her beauty without running into stalls
When eyes see beauty, the eyes must blink without control
When you see elegance in a lady, you are bound to become dizzy
To behold the wonder that I am looking at
The wonder I am looking at in my soul mate
My soul mate who is as beautiful as daybreak
Who is as gentle as a dove
Who is perfect without blemish
It appears the Almighty did not slumber
On the day Sade was created
Sade is perfect, perfect like perfection
Tall and beautiful
She intoxicates me to no end
She is as luxuriant as fresh vegetable
Vegetable that blossoms by the riverside
Sade’s beauty is matched with noble character
Her beauty and character I found alluring
Happiness meets with joy
Our union will certainly be blessed with children.
May Professor Akinwumi Isola’s soul rest in peace.