One of the stories my late grandfather, Tenibiaje (Ganmu Ganmu o se lu
oju ibembe), told me while growing up in Okemesi Ekiti was that of a
King, whose laws were never flouted even by the animals in his
My grandfather narrated how in his bid to stop a particular robber
that terrorised his kingdom between the hours of 10am and 12 midnight,
the King banned movement of his subjects and animals from 8pm to 6am.
Penalty for flouting this rule was death, yes death!
To enforce this law, the King ordered the Oluode (head of hunters) to
place his men in strategic locations in the community and that anyone
seen moving round the town one minute after 8pm should be brought to
him for public execution within 24 hours.
Alas! The second week that the law became effective, the King’s only
son, who just saw his girlfriend off to her residence was caught at
“Eemo ree oo! This is a serious problem. Ori Ade, the crown prince!
Ipa taa pa ogberi, a o ni se bee pa omo awo (you don’t punish the
initiates like the non-initiates),” the hunters told themselves.
The hunters who arrested the prince quietly took him to the palace so
that the town’s people won’t know.
When they got to the palace, they told the King that his son was seen
moving around the streets of Oja Oba at some minutes past 8pm and that
they chose to escort him to the palace so that he won’t be seen by the
To the amazement of the hunters, who ostensibly had expected the King
to thank them, he was livid. He was angry and he exclaimed; “why did
you bring him here untied? Why did you not tie his hands and legs as
demanded by the law?”
The hunters looked at themselves, none except Odewale could talk. He
said “Kabiyesi, omo ola ni, a ni ka ma f’ori ola yile ni gbagede ni
(He is a Prince and we felt he must not be disrespected).”
The King shouted, “tie him and take him to the prison. By 1pm
tomorrow, take him to Idi Ogun (Ogun shrine) and behead him in the
presence of the town’s people!”
Terrified and shocked, the hunters reluctantly moved to tie the
prince, thinking that the the King was just joking. But the King’s
last words confirmed his seriousness.
“Meet me at Idi Ogun at 1pm tomorrow. Osan pon ganrin ganrin oba
makin… Ogun maa mu eje omo alaigboran – The blood of this one who
flouted my law will be sacrificed to Ogun at noon.”
Before dawn, news had spread that the King’s only son was going to be
beheaded at the shrine of Ogun Lakaaye Osinmole at 1pm. Those at home
sent messages to the ones in the farmsteads. Even the birds gathered
in the sky waiting to see the unprecedented.
By 12 noon, Idi Ogun was already filled by the town’s people, with all
of them wearing the looks of “I must use my two eyes to see the King
behead his only son.”
As the town’s people were gathering at Idi Ogun, the Chiefs and elders
of the town were in the palace, pleading with the King to temper
justice with mercy.
Oloye Otun was the one who spoke, he said “Kabiyesi, it is the Crown
Prince that we are talking about here, not just anyone. Omo Oba, Oba
naa ni, a o gbodo se idajo eru f’omo (a prince is not different from a
king and we must not judge a freeborn like a slave).
As Oloye Otun was talking, the King was only closing his eyes and
opening them occasionally. Suddenly, he stood, looked up and down,
then faced the palace entrance door.
Shout of Kabiyesi oooo, Kabiyesi ooooo rented the air as the King
appeared at Idi Ogun with the chiefs and elders following him.
In less than ten minutes, Abenilori (executioner) arrived with his
two-faced sword shining like lightening. He moved towards the King,
acted like he was seeking his permission and the King just nodded.
Before the twinkling of an eye, the Prince’s head was separated from
his body and wailings enveloped the whole community.
Then, the King rose, cleared his throat and said; “now that the first
offender of my first law has been punished accordingly, I will be
waiting for the second offender.”
Of course, there was never a second offender and no first to the
King’s subsequent laws.
Last night, I saw my grandfather in my dream and he said I should
narrate this story to a certain Muhammadu Buhari who lives inside a
rock in Abuja and those urging him on. But who am I to be looking for
any Muhammadu Buhari ti ngbe ibi gegele okuta?
Anyway, if you see that Tyrant of Daura, tell him that a King can only
make his laws work if they are applied to his closes allies.
Lere Olayinka writes from Number 1, Irunmale Avenue, Oke Agbonna, Okemesi Ekit
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