SON OF MAN: Baba Agba – Tosin Ezekiel

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SON OF MAN: Baba Agba - Tosin Ezekiel

SON OF MAN: Baba Agba – Tosin Ezekiel

My father died two days before my final exam at the university.

I was rushing to an early morning practical test when a call came from my mom. “Hello, mama!” I said. I had planned to call the next day so she pray could for me for my exam.

But I heard a very shaky voice on the phone, it was not my mother’s voice, it was one of my uncles. “Your father is sick and needs to see you today, can you make it home today?”

I was destabilized. Two days earlier I dreamt and saw him praying for all his children on the bed. Then he tried to give me one of his old clothes. I should call the cloth a rag.

When the call ended, I suddenly felt pressed. I rushed to the hostel’s restroom to release the hottest urine of my life, while urinating my laboratory coat dropped on the watery floor, and I stepped on it without knowing. It was another student who told me, I picked it up and managed to attend the lab practical.

My father was an old man, but he was no ordinary man; he had never been sick, and his illness might be a sign of death. But his death was not the main issue; I will explain the main issue as you read on.

I had finished my practical test in the laboratory and was about to leave when a friend, a classmate, Gbade, rushed over and told me he had seen my father at the school gate.

That couldn’t be true. He didn’t know my Dad and had not seen him before, we only met in school. “Where, how” were the two questions I asked immediately.

“I’m not sure how he knows who I am, but you look exactly like him, and he said he knew we were friends.”

I felt cold as Gbade told me this. My father was not an ordinary man, and I needed to understand what was going on.

“Your Dad told me, you should come home, he has a lot of gifts for me,” Gbade added.

“Where is he?” I asked.

“He told me that he is in town to see a friend.”

The cold became severe and instantly I knew the old man was dead. He didn’t have any friends to see in the city. Gbade. He must have seen his spirit.

I picked up my phone and called home, I called my mum but it was one of my uncles who picked it up again, he told me my dad was only sick but I could hear eeping underground.

It was still early, and I could travel if I wanted, so I grabbed my shuttle bag, selected two clothes and the books I needed to read, and dashed out on my way home.

The problem was that I didn’t want any of my uncles to know I was in school.

The issue with my father’s death was that my family had a masquerade, and my father was the carrier. When a carrier dies, he usually chooses another. He was fond of me and I was scared he might choose.

It was late in the evening when I arrived in my town, and as I approached our compound, I could hear gunshots in the air in celebration of my father’s death.

Heroes and powerful men were honored in this manner. There would be rituals, music, and activities all night.

As I entered the courtyard, there were skeptical looks from my uncles. They greeted me especially, and one of them even called me “Baba.”

That’s what they did to my father as well. Everyone in the compound addressed him as Baba agba and bowed to him as the person in charge of the masquerade.

I realized I was in big trouble. Could it be that my father mentioned me as one of his heirs?

The women were chatting and singing. My eyes grew large and tears streamed down my cheeks. I didn’t know what was causing the tear, but it was fear. I was afraid I’d walked right into a trap.

I was taken to see his body in one of the sacred rooms in our compound that no woman who knew a man could enter. When I entered, his eyes were wide open although they had put wool in his nose and ear. My uncle who was also a priest said I was to close his eyes with my hands.

“Why me? I was not the firstborn.”

He directed me to use my left hand to close his eyes. He then told me to get ready and that we must complete some rituals by night.

Then I knew, I had been chosen.

I had run away from this for a long time, how on earth did I walk into it? If I had known, I wouldn’t have left school.

I rushed out to see my mother who was in her room with other women mourning.

But the way she was crying was suspicious. Of course, everyone was crying, but I knew there was something more. She was not allowed to talk to me but I could see it in her eyes, she wanted to tell me something badly. My uncles knew there was something she wanted to tell me, I could see it her eyes.

My mother had told me a lot of stories about me. She told me of series of dreams she had while carrying my pregnancy. In most of the stories, she always mentioned Son of Man.

Even though I didn’t know who was the son of man, I knew the name. I waited and sought every opportunity to be alone with her, but no way.

I went outside, then her younger sister followed me, she told me, “The ritual will be performed tonight and you will installed as the new ‘Baba agba’. You should not have come home.”

She told to find a way to escape toOnikoko, a nearby village where one of her uncles lived then escale the following day.

I knew there was big a problem.It was dark already, I could not walk alone to Onikoko. Besides, there was no way I could leave the compound.

As God would have it, my uncle, a priest, called and told me I needed to get down to the shrine near the river before it got completely dark. He gave me an empty calabash to retrieve a bowl of water for the rituals. I knew the opportunity to flee had arrived, but my shuttle bag was inside, and I had my textbook there which I planned to read in the dead of night. There would be suspicion if I attempt to carry it.

I quickly sneaked in holding the empty calabash, carried my bag and was heading out, one of the uncles, different from the priest, saw me, he ran out.

I walked fast to use. the back door to escape, then I heard my name, “Akin…akinkunmi, Duro!”

I froze in fear***

I stood beside the wooden gate that led to my compound, I had the empty calabash in my hand and my shuttle bag that contained my books to be read for exams.

Remember, my final exam at the university was the next two days, but then, my father died and I was chosen to be his successor. I would be the next person to carry the masquerade in my family.

I had been given the calabash to fetch water from the shrine on the way to the river. It was either I move down to the shrine, fetch the water and become the next Baba agba or I throw away the calabash and run away with my shuttle bag to write my exam in term and lived a life different from what my father lived.

Before I could take a step to dash outside the gate, two of my uncles shouted my name at the same time, “Akin! Akin! Duro duro.”

Meaning I should wait.

“You can’t take an extra load before the gods, eewo ni!” One of them protested and the other one dragged the bag from behind me to take it from me.

I fell in the process and the empty calabash broke into two, both of them shouted, “Ah!” “Abomination! Abomination!

This is an ancient calabash; we only had two, and now only one remains. This is a warning sign. If anything happens to the last calabash, everyone dies except three virgins are used for the ritual.

They brought the second calabash after much deliberation. They handed it over, and about four of my uncles warned me not to look back until the water was fetched for the ritual.”

I nodded in agreement, but my mind was completely off. I left for the shrine all the same

While walking out, I heard my auntie, my mother’s sister whom my mother had sent to me earlier to inform me that I had been chosen to be Baba agba, shout, “Don’t stay long.” She looked at me with her eyes wide open, and I understood her message: she wanted me to run.

I immediately left the compound, walked for a while, threw away the calabash, and began running. I didn’t wait to see if the calabash had broken or not.

But I didn’t recognize the road because it had been years since I had slept in the village. I came to a fork in the road and followed my instincts. After a short walk inside, it was clear that I had gotten lost.

Suddenly, I noticed large snails crawling, but they weren’t ordinary snails; they were white snails.

Then I remembered what my father had told me about “Igbo aiwo” (Forbidden forest). He told me that Igbo aiwo (Forbidden forest) was home to the dangerous gods of the land and strange creatures.

I’d gone into the wrong forest. You couldn’t get out of the bush if you looked back, just like my father told me. I didn’t realize one had to enter with his back.

I was terrified, and the only way out was to not look back until I found my way. I kept walking, hoping to reach a nearby town.

I was walking and running when I heard a loud shout from behind me as if they had pierced a young boy with a dagger, but I remembered what my father had told me, “If you look back, you will be lost forever.” I didn’t turn around. I continued to run.

I continued walking when I heard another cry, “Egbami, Egbami!” like a woman in labour. (Please, assist me.)

My body was shivering now, there was cold, fear, and noise, and I closed my eyes but refused to look back.

I kept on running…but I was getting tired.

In the forbidden forest, I saw six strange things.

I told you about the snail, the crying boy, and the yelling woman.

You will read the remaining three strange things.

I continued walking when I noticed another strange being, what appeared to be a man, in front of me. It was as if a man was bending down.

Fear gripped me from head to toe, but I knew I couldn’t turn back, so I moved in close.

I saw the most terrifying being of my life. I had seen vampires in movies and heard my father talk about ‘iwin’, bush spirits before, but that day, I saw one face to face.

The creatures shrieked and the noise blocked my ears, he looked like a old man with only two teeth in his mouth,but the teeth were so long that they looked like chewing sticks in his mouth.

His eyes were bright and frightening, like when you see a cat in a dark room.

I almost turned around, but that would be even worse. I closed my eyes in terror, thinking the end was near, but then I remembered the Son of Man.

My mother had told me about a man’s son who was always coming to her dream and had saved her numerous times.

She met a spirit by the river who wanted to harm her, but the Son Of Man saved her.

I muttered under my breath, Son of Man, please help me too.

Suddenly, the noise died down and when I opened my eyes, the creature was gone.

It worked, the Son of Man was real. I kept moving.

I was tired soon, but I wasn’t as scared as I had been. It was dark and I was too tired to move, so I sat under a tree, my eyes open but dizzy. I told myself that sleeping was a bad idea.

Suddenly, my head began to swell to the size of the entire tree where I sat. Then I noticed my deceased father approaching me from afar toward the tree.

He was coming slowly but steadily, as he moved his legs, they were like they were many approaching.

Now, I’m not sure if I was awake or sleeping at the time, but I couldn’t do anything and was still conscious.

As I looked well, it was not only my father, I saw my grandfather too, he was behind him.

Their steps made the ground where I sat vibrate. A strange wind was blowing softly on the three.

Then I saw again, there was another old man, who was my great grandfather behind them.

The more I looked the more I saw another old man, they were in a line, everyone has hands on his son’s shoulder, my father was the last person on the line.

Where I sat under the tree, between life and death, between sleep and dream, between consciousness and unconsciousness.

My father extended his hands to me. His hands were like eagle claws, and his two eyes were large like that of a hungry owl.

I heard it like it were twenty people calling my name.

“Akin! Akin! Akin! Iwo lamu, Iwo layan,” which means “You are chosen, you are selected.”

#OpraDre SON OF MAN: Baba Agba SON OF MAN: Baba Agba SON OF MAN: Baba Agba SON OF MAN: Baba Agba SON OF MAN: Baba Agba SON OF MAN: Baba Agba

To be continued in the next post

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