The Chief priest and council of elders of Ilaro community waited impatiently for the appearance of their Prince. They had been sitting for over thirty minutes with the exception of the chief priest who had chosen to stand. They murmured amongst themselves, nodding their heads in agreement to what each other had spoken. Suddenly the Prince entered wearing a short that was barely below the knee and a singlet.
“What audacity!” The elders murmured, “to come and address us dressed like this!”
“Is there anything you care to tell me?” Prince Adebisi asked as he sat on his chair and looked round at each of them, taking note of their faces for the first time. He noticed they all looked old, as old as his late father was before he died. If they were not careful he may have to replace them with people his age.
And they will be called what? Council of youths? A small voice arose within him. Well, not bad.
“No your highness,” the elders were saying. They stood up to greet him before sitting again, with the exception of the chief priest who stood like a statue. Well, he cared nothing for him anyways.
“Well, I am here to let you all know that I am ready to take Abike as a wife and I want the rites to be performed within two market days. I will be going to her parents in two days time to rightfully ask for her hand in marriage and I need five of you elders to accompany me.”
There was silence for a while, one filled with apprehension mixed with annoyance, before one bold chief stood up and said.
“Your highness, it’s no news to us that you want Abike for a wife, but we have told you that this is no match ordained by the gods, Abike is for the gods. We are ready to perform the rites if only you present to us another bride.
“Old man it’s no news to me what you and the gods have decided to say, but my words still stand, the gods can choose another. If…”
“Adebisi,” the chief priest suddenly cut in.
“It’s Prince Adebisi,” Prince Adebisi rudely interrupted.
But the chief priest paid him no attention. He hit his staff lightly on the ground and looked up before lowering his head to look straight at the Prince. “Adebisi, do not be the stubborn fly that refuses to hear word, this stubbornness will lead to nowhere except to your destruction. There are many maidens to choose from, but not Abike.”
“Why must the gods want what I want? Tell them to choose another.”
“This was predestined before times, before ages, before you were conceived. The ways of the gods are not man’s…”
“If they are truly gods, what do they seek from amongst men?”
There was another silence, this time around, filled with the abomination the Prince had spoken. It was the chief priest sinister’s laughter that broke it, enough to cause another tension. The laughter ran for a long time before the Prince angrily stood up and said.
“I want Abike and so shall it be.”
“Ah! Adebisi ‘Adìe funfun kòmo ara rèlágbà’ (respect yourself) iyi so so o y’a a ghonen ‘ju a to ke iye e ti ho i’ (to be forewarned is to forearmed)””
The Prince took a step to leave when the chief priest’s words stopped him.
“We will not accompany you to seek Abike’s hand in marriage, neither shall any rites be performed. I am too old to tolerate and join in the folly of your youth and neither will the council of elders.”
“Then you leave me with no option than to remove the caps from each and everyone of you heads and the staff from your hand chief priest and give it to people more befitting.”
“What!” There was gasping amongst the elders. Shock consumed their faces and their mouths hung open.
“Ah! Adebisi àrì pe gbénàgbéná eye àkókó n yojú (never think too highly of yourself)” The chief priest continued with his incantation of proverbs and as the Prince made to enter his room, he spoke more loudly. “Prince of Ilaro land, there are some powers and authorities that are beyond you. You have sought for your downfall and that you shall see.”
The Prince who should have been bothered with these words, continued into his room, caring less for the chief priest jargons.
The next day, the Prince came up with a new governing body comprising of more younger men. He chose two elderly men whom he was able to convince with money and they went with him to Abike’s parents. With much convincing, he was able to get Abike’s parents consent and a day was fixed for the rites. The Prince had spoken with the chief priest of the next community and together they ordained a new chief priest.
But that same night Prince Adebisi I of Ilaro land was struck with blindness, and when he awoke and found out he could not see, he screamed the whole palace awake. The chief priest was summoned, the same one whom Adebisi had ripped off of his office- it was very obvious that the gods are not men, and he came bearing the message of the gods.
“Adebisi I of Ilaro community, the gods have taken away the crown from your household- for it’s a taboo to crown a blind man as king, and has given it to one more befitting. Ah! Igbe ága owe s’ugwaju ipa’uun (pride goes before a fall)”
The loud cry of Adebisi filled the whole palace as he was shamefully carried out of the palace.
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