Having gone home after set up and all, the time came for me to resume. I was to teach mathematics in a local secondary school. Thankfully, I had made friends with the principal and I decided to call him to tell him I was on my way back. That’s when he told me to make sure I come into town before nightfall. Ha! Mogbe o! Why? What happened? The king of the village had died and they were looking for seven female heads to bury with the king, he explained. Haba! Who was still practicing such traditions in this modern age and time?
Since the driver had been eavesdropping, he immediately brought the car to a halt. He insisted he wasn’t taking me into that town that evening as there wasn’t any likelihood he’ll make it back before nightfall. So, I had to continue my journey in the morning. I later found out that, in fact, the journey shouldn’t have continued for another two weeks or even one month. Reason, you ask? Well, throughout that period, nothing worked in that village. Not the market. Not the church. Not the school. Churches couldn’t hold weekly activities in the evenings, market women couldn’t sell freely. Schools had to close earlier than usual, and you could even become stranded if you left town, because, no bikemen were willing to ply that route, and the few that were bold enough were willing to charge you triple the fare. Not to mention how the busy roads could suddenly turn dead in a matter of minutes. Masquerades were all over the place, constantly terrorizing road users and at midnight you could hear chants and processions by the village priest and chiefs.
I freaked out to say the least, and my new friend at the time who was just as scared, came over to stay at my place during that period. Atleast it was better to die together than die alone. I had to constantly ask my yoruba-speaking neighbours what every gong meant and the interpretation for every announcement and update by the town crier and the local news.
Eventually, all rites were completed. And normalcy returned to the town. Whether or not they found the seven heads, I can’t tell. The only important thing is that we survived. This was to be my first culture shock in Ijebu kingdom and I was more than glad when the whole episode ended.