It was a beautiful evening just like every other evening during the season of the Fishermen in Ilu-Eko. The sun was beginning to close her eyes as the atmosphere within the Village was socially peaceful; the mothers were gossiping and laughing about their husbands and other relative matters, the fathers themselves after a hard day’s work in the farm or at sea were either resting or playing board games amongst each other. Showing off their big pot bellies, they laughed at each other’s failure to claim victory. We the youngsters were also having our own fun by building sand houses by the sea and playing Tinko-Tinko which the girls love so much. My elder sister and her friends had gone to fetch firewood for the night’s cooking. The sea of Yemoja (The sea goddess) was toying with us going back and forth as it finally destroys our sand buildings
As we were trying to rebuild them, my friend Akindele made a high-pitched sound that signifies danger, I lifted my eye and I saw six gigantic ducks swimming towards us. They were nothing like we have ever seen. There was panic in the air as everyone scattered. I ran home ‘mama….mama’ I yelled, ‘what is the matter?!’ She yelled back, trying to look for me as I ran towards her. ‘Look……Look’ I said, as I pulled her to the nearest window. The Village bell rang Six times and that meant Unknown Enemy. Papa ran in like a man ready for war. ‘We are under attack; the gods have decided to wage war on us’. ‘I didn’t even know they were angry at us’ mama asked papa as he grabbed his bow and arrows. Where is Yetunde? I asked my nervous mother. ‘Ah Yetunde is outside o, I told her not to go and fetch firewood today that I had enough firewood for the night’. Papa jumps out with his weapons ready to support the strong men of Ilu – Eko. ‘Stay here!’ mama shouted as she goes out to look for Yetunde, my elder sister. I remained at the window side scared of the evil that was about to be unleashed upon my beloved village. This gigantic ducks have now reached the shores as the men of Ilu-Eko line up ready to fire their weapons. There was an awkward silence because this ducks didn’t move no further, I could see them more clearly and it occurred to me that they looked wooden. ‘What kind of animal is this,’ I said to myself.
From inside one of this weird looking things came a man in red coat, his skin was as white as cow milk and his hair looked like that of a lion. He must have come from the heavens I taught to myself or it must have being one of the gods visiting us for the first time. ‘This is Orisha’ I said to myself with confidence, the god of the skies who is married to Yemoja, the sea goddess. Orisha smiled at the men of Ilu-Eko as they were being joined by the Soldiers of Ilu-Eko because the news have spread fast that the gods were at war with us. Surprisingly, Orisha was not the only one in the things as thousands who looked just like him came out of the ships at the shout of his roar. They matched forward not like warriors but as if they were trying to communicate with us, it was more like a practised routine, a performance with Orisha himself taking the lead role. Although most of what was happening was entertaining, we could not understand what was going on; it was as if Orisha and his men were making an introduction of who they really are because he pointed to the sky. ‘I am right,’ I yelled even when I was the only one in the room. It was like the meeting of two great people.
They brought us shinning metals in form of swords and shields, golden idols like the goat head, mirrors, priceless jewelleries and clothes. ‘These gifts are fitting for the king himself, Oba Arowojola’ said the Commander of the Army, Adigun the Warrior. Oba Arowojola had being ruling for thirty- six years and has won all battles against other villages who wanted direct link to the sea of Yemoja. The Sky people were taken through the village as Ilu-Eko people were touching and feeling these god-like men all the way to the palace. ‘The gods have visited us’ cried the town crier all through the way.
Night fell as the Oba welcomed the Sky People. A unique Celebration was rendered to honour the people Yemoja had brought to us. Women danced to the beat of the Thunderbolt drummers around the fire followed by the masquerades of Shango who brought out fire from their mouth. Orisha and his men were totally amazed as they clap their hands together in appreciation. The Oba was proud of his people as he made a speech to welcome the Sky people, it wasn’t clear if they understood what he was saying but they cheered when we cheered the Oba. Yetunde had seen me from a distance, so she crawled to where I was. ‘Mama and Papa must not know that we are here’ she whispered. ‘Leave me alone’ I replied, trying to concentrate on what was going on. ‘I have being looking all over for you’ she interrogated.
In the darkness hour of the night, Orisha and six of his men accompanied the Oba and the six priest of Orunmila (The god of Creation) to the temple of the gods where ordinary men were forbidden. It was said that ‘Men who go there without the Oba or priest would die by lightening from the heavens’. We walked back home in jubilation and glorifying the gods for visiting us.
Back home, Papa was very excited, because he worked in the palace he saw Orisha closely. ‘He came from the stars’ papa argued with mama who said he came from the evening sun ‘I saw their ships come from the sun as it was going down’ she said, laughing at papa ridiculous belief. ‘Orisha came from the sea, I was one of the first people who saw them’ I tried to get my voice in there. ‘Yemoja was pushing them to the shores’ I added. ‘I saw him pointing up towards the stars and the Oba himself said he had a dream of people coming to us from the stars’ papa said trying to win the argument.
Early the next morning, I saw one of the sky people walking towards the sea shore; it was my opportunity to meet one face-to-face. I was nervous but my curiosity made me sneak out from my room. As I approached him, he looked at me wondering what I was going to do as I just stared at him. He knelt down and wrote on the wet sand. He wrote ‘B.R.I.T.A.N.N.I.A’ and pronounced it as it is. I also knelt down and wrote my name ‘O.L.A.W.A.L.E’ and pronounced it as it was. He tried to call my name but pronounced it ‘oooleeeyaaaliii’ I laughed at him and he also he laughed at himself. I moved in to touch his face, it was soft and tender so were his lips, his eyes were blue ‘They are different from us’ I said to myself. He then put his right hand into his pocket and gave me a silver coin with the head of a woman. It was beautiful, ‘it must be a precious stone’ I thought. He looked on until I turned around to see Papa, Mama and Yetunde approaching us. ‘What did he give you just now’ papa asked demandingly. ‘Nothing, he was just feeling my hands’ I answered fearfully. Britannia smiled at me, probably knowing through my body language that I had just lied to papa. He greeted my family with a gentle touching of hands as they reciprocated. Orisha had slept overnight at the Oba’s palace because they both came back to the shore, each one with his respective army. The village people had followed them to the shore. Britannia had gone back to his ship, ‘They are going back’ Yetunde sadly said. The Oba had blessed them with gifts fitting for a god like diamonds, silver, plenty of gold and statues made for the Orisha the god of the sky. Although, the statues looked nothing like him, he was happy with what he was given. ‘Three wise men of Ilu-Eko who follow them to see where they have come from’ Oba Arowojola addressed the crowd. ‘They would see how the other side looks like and would trace their way back to Ilu-Eko’ he added. The crowd made loud joyful noises. A friendship had been made, now that we have friends in high places to rival our neighbouring villages.
A flag was given to the Oba and it was shown to the people, it was a white cloth inscribed with a red ‘V’ sign. A wooden cross was also given to the Oba but it fell into the sea as he tried to raise it up to the crowd. The guards rush into the sea to pick it back up. The wet cross was rooted into the ground then suddenly the Sky people bowed down to this cross and the people of Ilu-Eko, young and old followed suit. They waved at us as they entered their gigantic ships and off they went. We all stayed at shore as long as our eyes could still see them. Nothing would be normal again, we were sure we were not the only ones living in this atmosphere and for the cross; it was a sign that the gods visited us on a beautiful night.
Two years gone by, we are still waiting for the return of the three wise men.