“How dare you! How dare you usurp me and decide to take up a role reserved for me? What gave you the right???”
“I was only helping you, big brother. It needed to be done, and you were in no position to.”
“Not in a position to?! Who said so? What gave you the right to assume, to conclude in that manner? You lack respect, boy!”
“Egbon mi, you couldn’t possibly have been able to. You were unconscious….no, you were drunk, wasted, stoned!”
“What did you just say?”
“You heard me, senior. You were dr…..”
The elder one, now furious, did not let his sibling complete the statement. He swung at his erring brother’s law with his left fist, and when he missed by few inches, he sent in his right fist, delivering the uppercut to perfection. He swung again with his left fist, catching his brother by the right cheek, then he tilted backwards to create ample space to raise his foot, applying his heel to his brother’s face with considerable force. A fall was the inevitable outcome.
He walked towards his younger brother, now on the ground, grinning as he stood over him. He was determined to beat some sense into him, and raised his foot to begin a stomping session, but was caught with a sweep kick from the man on the ground. The elder landed on his backside with a loud thud, and as he tried to get back up, a round-house kick from his younger brother greeted his face. He was flattened out.
“Egbon, you made me do this”, the younger one said repeatedly, as he looked to see whether the fallen man had totally lost consciousness.
Satisfied that he had repelled his elder brother’s onslaught, he turned his back to him, breathing heavily as he tried to draw back some strength. He had apparently over-estimated the effect of that kick. His elder brother was soon up on his feet and began to crouch stealthily towards him. For some reason, he felt the need to turn again, and as he did so, the elder one rammed into his ribs with his left shoulder, sending him to the ground once again. The hailstorm of punches began. The elder one sent in his right fist, then his left fist, then his right fist again, and applied his left elbow at intervals. He had his younger brother where he wanted him; he would learn never to slight him in any form ever again, knowingly or unknowingly.
The blows did not last forever. All of a sudden, one of his punches was blocked, and in a matter of seconds, he received a stinging head-butt to the nose. His younger brother had turned the tide, but he didn’t stop there. He gripped him by the neck, and fixed him into a chokehold, bearing down on his windpipe.
“Hey, let go of me now”, the elder one commanded, in a strained voice that showed his struggle to breathe.
“Let you go, so you’ll hit me again, right?
“I said, let me go!”
“And if I don’t?”
The younger one got a response soon enough, but not in words. He maintained his grip, but less than a minute later, he found himself high up in the air. The manner in which he was flung away was reminiscent of the scene of a car explosion. His elder brother had summoned an unusual, external strength.
“I told you not to mess with me, rude idiot”, the elder one roared.
There was a new look in his eyes, and it was not a pleasant one. He stretched his right hand to the direction of the Sun, conversing in strange languages with no one in particular. His younger brother shuddered. He knew what he was capable of. Trouble was looming.
Long chain. Snail’s shell containing a handful of dirt. Live, five-toed chicken spluttering about. Palm nut. These items lay around Obatala, eldest son to Olodumare (god of the sky and universe) as he slept on the floor, nearly unclad. He could not be blamed for his slumber though. The day’s events had led to exhaustion.
It had been a wild party. The gods and spirits that prowled the universe had eaten and danced until their various forms caved in. Obatala himself had been treated to such a good time that he had got a lap dance from one of the female “orishas” (deities), until his loincloth got moist. Drinks had flowed freely, and at some point, the music had spurred the gods to dance with one hand over their eyes and the other hand stretched out. Yes, from time immemorial, the gods had perfected the art of dancing Shoki.
Obatala had not known who hosted the party, and as a matter of fact, he had gate-crashed. At the time, the world was only made of the sky and water, so his father Olodumare had given him a gold chain long enough to stretch down to the (proposed) Earth, along with the palm nut, chicken and dirt. Instructions had been given to create the Earth, but for reasons best known to Obatala, he decided to stop over at the party. They welcomed him anyway by virtue of his position as Olodumare’s first son, let him have a good time, and gave him a lot to drink, maybe too much. He had lasted through the palm-wine, but then, he got to have a gulp of something that tasted like the modern-day Orijin, and he soon began to stagger and speak incoherently, ultimately passing out. The last thing he could remember was seeing a male orisha flirt with a female orisha, and then hearing the female orisha say something like “Story for the gods”.
The party had ended days earlier, but the after-effect of the Orijin taste-alike was still evident on Obatala. He was yet to get up, he was nearly unclad, and the other spirits had since retired to their homes. They had opted to leave Obatala the way he was, his member nearly sticking out of his loincloth. After all, he was the first son of Olodumare; he could sleep how, when and for as long as he wanted. It was in this state that Oduduwa found him.
Oduduwa, younger brother to Obatala, had developed a hunch back in the heavens that something was wrong. His father Olodumare was busy with other inter-planetary affairs, and he could not have gone down himself to inquire the reason for Obatala’s delay in returning. Had the chicken died? Had the dirt been too little? Was the chain not long enough?
Oduduwa was quite the eavesdropper, and he had listened closely as his father issued instructions before Obatala set out on his journey. Days had passed and, well aware of his brother’s tendency to misbehave, Oduduwa had sneaked out of the heavens and gone out in search of his brother. Besides, it was a golden opportunity for him to claim glory for creating Earth.
He had found him, asleep with his mouth open, farting in his slumber, his member in need of covering. Yea, that member which some of the female “orishas” gossiped about, saying that it was “big for nothing” and could not last the night shift……but it was not in Oduduwa’s place to confirm the rumours. He had work to do. He quietly picked the items meant for Obatala’s mission, tip-toed out of sight and hearing, and proceeded to complete the task.
Oduduwa let down the chain. It was as long as Olodumare had anticipated. He then climbed downwards, upturning the snail shell. The dirt settled on the waters. It had looked small in the shell, but it turned out to be just enough to do the job. He then set the five-toed chicken to the waters, so it could spread the dirt. The chicken was a bit haphazard with demarcations, but it did a fairly good job. Oduduwa then lowered himself down the dirt and tried to mould mountains with some of the dirt. He kept fumbling with the shapes, but he was sure that Olodumare would be proud of his effort. He then proceeded to plant the palm nut. He looked around, saw that it was good, if not perfect, and shrugged. As far as he was concerned, his father’s instructions had eventually been carried out. He also knew that Obatala would be livid whenever the alcohol cleared, but he could not be bothered.
Obatala was determined to teach his brother a lesson. His monologue had yielded dividends, and he had successfully drawn out some fire from the Sun. He contorted the fire into a large ball and threw it at his brother, Oduduwa. The fire went for its target with full velocity, catching Oduduwa.
“Seriously Egbon, fire balls? You are going supernatural? Fight fair!”
“Go on, teach me how to mete out discipline on my little brother”, Obatala retorted.
Obatala kept conjuring missiles from the Sun, and Oduduwa had to keep evading, doing series of acrobatic flicks in quick succession. The punches did not totally stop flowing too. Oduduwa held out until dusk when the Sun went to bed. Night came upon them in due time, and Oduduwa lifted one of the stars in the sky and hurled at Obatala. He had not expected it. The weight of the star sent Obatala tumbling down the night clouds, and the brightness temporarily blinded him.
The verbal exchanges between the brothers had been thunderous, but what they had just heard immediately caused an earthquake. For a moment, it seemed that the earth which Oduduwa had just created was going to be destroyed. Olodumare’s voice had shaken the universe. The brothers knew better than to continue fighting. They knew what happened when their father disciplined Eshu, the trickster god.
“How long will you keep at this? And over such a petty issue??”
“But Baba, we have only fought for a day…..”
“SHUT UP, OBATALA! One day! One day, you say! You know how long that is, on the earth you refused to create. That is a thousand years! Yes, you have spent a thousand earth years fighting.”
“Baba, you can see that Dudu here disrespected…..”
“Shut up, I say! Oduduwa was simply helping you finish the simple task you could not complete. I have looked at it……it’s a good world he made. I am happy that drink knocked you off….who knows the rubbish you could have created in that state of intoxication? Well done, Dudu.”
“Thank you Baba”, Oduduwa said, prostrating.
“That does not mean you are entirely blameless. Eavesdropping is wrong, and you should not have sneaked out. Your punishment will come…….but your action was for the greater good, and so I am placing you in charge of what you helped to create. You will govern the earth. As for you Obatala, you have failed, but that does not mean you won’t work. You will be subservient to Oduduwa, and you will be in charge of creating humans on earth. I want you to make things in our own image and likeness, and put on that earth. If you like, drink again while at it…..but first, you will cook for all the ‘orishas’, tonight!”
Obatala scowled as he set out to the kitchen. He had been disgraced. Oduduwa stuck his tongue out and made eyes derisively at his elder brother.
(Author’s Note: There are many other versions of the Yoruba story of creation. Some accounts portray Oduduwa as Obatala’s servant who proceeded to make the world after Obatala’s blindness, others portray Oduduwa as a female deity. Others completely put Oduduwa out of the equation and claim that Obatala did the job, though going on to create deformed humans. There are also those who use the name Orisanla instead of Obatala. The writer finds this version both intriguing and narrate-able, and some schools of thought even hold this as a more credible account than the Biblical creation story. Well, that is what myths are all about, feel free to come up with yours!
P.S: Apologies are made for any glaring inaccuracies. All blame should be placed on Google, as well as the writer’s secondary school Social Studies teacher.)