Gbogboyin yin Oriyomi!
Ọba ti Okesuna,
Oludari Olori Ipinle Isale Eko,
Olugbeja ti Lafiaji,
Baba ti Lion Junction, ati
Akọkọ ti orukọ rẹ
I had gone to the Muri Okunola Park for a social gathering when Tobi called to ask where I was. “Whatever you do, do not go home!” she said, so I decided to meet up with her to stay the night at a hotel until the fraternities would have simmered down and the police raided. As soon as it was morning I came home and the streets had been painted red with blood from the frats that supported PDP. He was cheered and paraded by his men that night and they sang his Orikii loud and proud over shots of Paraga. Oriyomi was stronger than ever. There was no ending him!
“Isale-Eko is very dangerous” they said. But my mother turned deaf ears when she decided to rent her apartment there because of how “close it is to work”.
“Lagos Island is verrrry accessible. You can get just about anywhere in minutes from here!” she said half grinning, trying to convince my sister and I as we unpacked our suitcases into our new rooms. I had the feeling that “they” weren’t wrong.
GBAGA! GBO GBA! That very night we were awoken by the sounds of what should be people scampering for their lives at about 2 am. The screaming was accompanied by the skrrrrrskrrrr of the sharp machetes scraping the floor of the roads while windshields of the cars parked on the streets were shattered. I ran to mother and I saw in her eyes that she knew she had made a mistake. Oriyomi and his gang had struck.
One day I got to look deeply at the menace of a man. Oriyomi the fearless, tall, dark and hefty man, with deep scars on each side of his face from the juju coated knives of his opponents. Somehow, he survives it all. With each scar, there is a story, of how he must have taken down one confraternity or the other singlehandedly. And somehow, he survives it all. The man who coughs and all of Okesuna quivers. He sneezes and we take cover. Oriyomi o!
I looked at his hands, so big and hard; and how his nails appeared to have dried blood and dirt in them. Those same blooded hands he would use to caress those women who flock around him despite his atrocities. The saying that women love dangerous men is fully justified in Oriyomi’s case, for he cannot get enough of them, and vice versa!
Then his yellow, hollow eyes… they met mine and I cringed, a sweat bead dropping down the arch of my back. The red of his shirt and the yellow of his shorts, the colours of his frat… the colours we never wore outside our flats. We lived in fear of his every move. Where did his weakness lie?
As I made my way home I tried desperately to understand why he chose to live the very life that he did – killing people, robbing others of their valuables…and their happiness. I realised that he, like many others where we live are left with little or no choices. You almost cannot prevail against the cycle of the lifestyle of the people here, who believe that they could never amount to much. Lagos Island is filled with men who have been taught that the best they could ever be are “vulcanizers”. The ones who fail at manual labour join the Lion Junction for smokes of unfiltered Igbo, where the ones that don’t run mental, later get scouted to join the biggest frats you could ever think of. Well, Oriyomi found solace in villainy.
December 2016 I learned that my friend Debisi was pregnant with his child. The neighbourhood was aghast. She was an innocent twenty year old. “Why Oriyomi?”
We concluded that he had used his juju on her. No one could see past those hideous scars, and even if anyone could, they could not possibly see through his atrocities. But she did, and she loved genuinely. He did too. And we soon found that Oriyomi was capable of having strong emotions other than hatred or anger. You should have seen him at the naming ceremony with his squad.
“So… Making how many children in all?” I asked Tobi, who was yet to believe that our mutual friend had succumbed to the areas-cycle. “Five. And they are all from different girls on this same street. He thinks women are weak, and they keep showing him that they are when they fall pregnant for him.”
Their love was no longer news, and their baby, Ajoke, was growing beautifully. He had almost softened, or so we thought, until July when another fight broke. This fight was the bloodiest and most gruesome I had ever heard of in all the years I have lived here. They were shooting at each other because they did not all support the same aspirants for the local government chairperson election. Beat that! But Oriyomi the great and powerful prevailed, taking down the gang that supported PDP single handed!
“IKU DE! ORIYOMI KU A IRIRA IKU”
The local hero died in the most irritating way you could ever think of last week – by poison. We were all sick to our stomachs when we heard. Of how a man who lived all his years by a sword (and juju), was wasted by common poison. He did have a weakness after all, and it was women. His killer is one of those ones who had a child for him, and was already derided by the fact that he had made mockery of her by marrying my friend, Debisi. Even I would not have passed on that offer. Oriyomi died by the she-weapon my friends, after everything. No blood was spilled, nothing.
Never underestimate the power of a woman scorned.
We see them now in their corners, under the rusty aluminum sheds, smoking their unfiltered Igbo. They can’t attempt to wear the colours again without him around; they know it’s all over. Their eyes mirror disappointment more than fear, at how Oriyomi died so uselessly, by that one weakness he had waved off as weak.