Who said my father Fawehinmi is dead Who ever said Irunmole can die. Oosa does not die. Fawehinmi, my father! Who said you are dead? My father Fawehinmi! We do not see you but you are not dead. Sango did not die in the day of his anger Nor Oya his wife when in a rage she leapt into the Niger. Fawehinmi has entered the ground My father has changed place. Fawehinmi! He is become Irunmole They conspired to have my father bound; At dead of night, to fasten Fawehinmi’s hands with cuffs; With two huge stones to imobilize my father. When two would not do they made them three. Yet, the fiery smoke, my father breezed out, Fawehinmi, my father breezed through their claws He slid out clean thro their teeth Clean through their fangs and their jaws. Ajanaku! You are no burden for a child! They built walls round my father, yet he breezed out He breezed out of the seven corners of the walls. Then they put a roof over the walls And in vain shutter off the window. And to think they would shut my father under with a pot; with a bigger one when the first FAILED TO hold him down! The crooked log in the hearth, my father overturned the pot What ignorance; what foolishness. Did they not know that the river fears no one; The deluge has no dread of those fording through it. It is those who would ford the floods that should tremble. Fiery smoke, peppery fume, Fawehinmi, my father! Erin Lakatabu. What vine dares bar your way to oke alo; What rope, thick as a palm tree, your descent into the stream? White now as cloud, and black now as storm, Companion of the flaming tongue of the shooting fire; Of the big blaze that races down the town Consuming the house of the wicked The wicked noble and the terrible king Erin Lakatabu, Fawehinmi, their father’s grandfather! Smoke, my father, entered into their nostrils and into their lungs The fiery fume that burned out their eyes;

Like poisonous snake that dives under water, chasing out both the novice and the master swimmer My father smoked them out of the hut, peppers in their throats And tears in their eyes. Unshakable like the stump beside the road He who shakes you shakes his own heart into jitters Fawehinmi, lord over the evildoers of the land of the Niger. My father, Fawehinmi Nemesis of the witches and wizards of the land of the Benue. The evil ones wanted no more chicken Our heartless ajele desired no more turkey nor the flesh of camels nor the thick skin of the cow the evil witches of our land began to clamour for new meat the chief sorcerers craved the flesh only of the virgin they hunted for the liver and kidney of our young the eyeballs of the new born was their new delicacy; their appetizer the warm blood of men and women of our town. Then my father got wind of the craze. Fawehinmi was apprised of the madness Of the lunacy our chiefs took for their wisdom The heroic hunter, single handed, my father went after them If they hid in a rock he would crack it open If in the deep, fishers will fish them out. My father, Fawehinmi, Awalawulu, The fearsome one that terrorizes himself, O rabata ribiti. What would you do with the rocky ground? Fawehinmi, my father! You can’t move it. You can’t shake it; you can’t roll it. My father said he must not have heard right Ota-aje who tyrannizes over blood sucking witches and wizards. Fawehinmi said he would hear none of the nonsense. My father, the brave hunter that goes into the evil forest the hunter of the evil hyena the evil beast that in day light snatches children out of their mothers’ arms. My father said; the dog is tamed for the home The horse to ride for fun and for war; My father said he would not have hyenas live among his kin Were were eji owuro; wara wara omi iyaleta Òsòrò o maso òwò; eni ósúnmó’wó omi lomi ntasi lara Who said my father is dead It is ordinary people who die Irunmole does not die. Oosa does not die.

Fawehinmi, my father has transitioned, My father, Fawehinmi, the enormous orange that drops off the tree unseen in the dead of the night Who said you are dead! My father Fawehinmi! Fawehinmi has entered the ground and become Irunmole! Not in the least!! Oba koso. No, whoever said Sango died? Call his name. And loud from the backyard you would hear him answer. I call Fawehinmi and hear him answer I hear him call back in a chorus of voices From the backyard; from across the Niger, from across the lagoon. In the whistling of the cold airs of the harmattan And from the rush of the waves that fringe Okun. Who says you are dead. The ember dead is left covered in its ashes But with its kind the dead banana replaces itself. Fawehinmi. Arise and shake your fist again at them Cause the man-eating tigers to tremble again into hiding. I call on you, answer me in four-forty irunmole voices; In the voices of Babatunde, Omotunde, Awotunde, Iyejide, Omobowale, Babaropo, Iyabo, Adeoti, Olaotan, Aderopo, Omoropo, Aworopo . .
------femi james kolapo