The Dibia Part IV
In the last post I told you that Obi and I agreed with the Dibia on what we had to bring as an offering and we divided up the tasks. I had to get the chicken, the schnapps, and the money, while Obi would get the yams, kola nuts, and palm wine.
Early the next morning, I drove by myself in the rain to the government farm in Ekwulobia, ten miles away on a paved, but much worn, road. I had to admit the chickens looked healthy and well-fed. But I was disappointed to learn that because this was a government agency and prices were fixed, I couldn’t bargain for the chicken. So I handed over 350 naira, and took the struggling hen by its legs, tied together with raffia, to the car. I bought the schnapps at one of the small supermarkets nearby.
While I was making my purchases, Obi was arranging for the other items. He sent a messenger to his favorite palm wine tapper to bring the fresh palm wine. He asked Obele, the wife of the oldest uncle, to provide the yams and the kola nuts. When I got home, I counted out 500 naira in crisp new bills and put them in a small white envelope. Obi and I compared notes and decided we were prepared.
The following morning, we called two young boys from the next compound to carry our gifts to the Dibia. Obi balanced a yam on each boy’s head. I handed the struggling chicken to the older boy, while Obi gave the jug of palm wine to the younger. Obi himself carried the bottle of schnapps, the money and the kola, all stored in his own ancient leather bag.
I followed Obi into the Dibia’s hut again and seated myself in the same spot. After the greetings, Obi said, “We have brought the gifts the spirits asked for.” He motioned to the boys to bring in their loads while he took out the schnapps, kola nuts, and money, and spread them on the Dibia’s mat.
“You have done well,” the Dibia said. “I will break kola for you again.” The rituals of two days before were repeated. I ate the kola again. “Take this,” he said, handing Obi a calabash.
I couldn’t imagine what magical properties it held. It was a ten-inch sphere, dirty tan (not as shiny as the one in the picture), with a three-inch opening at the top. “Keep it with you, and if it looks like rain is starting to fall, you should rub it. Listen carefully to what you need to say.” He spoke quickly in Igbo. I heard him say ancestors, rain, and Samuel but couldn’t catch the rest.
I don’t think the Dibia believed a white woman would have the necessary power to convince the spirits. Given that I was still a doubter, he was right not to entrust the task to me. Maybe no woman would be entrusted with this role. But I was happy to let Obi take responsibility. We thanked the Dibia again and departed.
The wake and funeral were still a few days away. Stay tuned!
Another Death – This One Recent
The Emir of Kano, Alhaji Dr. Ado Bayero, died last week at the age 83 after 50 years on the throne, and was buried on Saturday. Kano is an important ancient city in Nigeria’s mostly Muslim north. The Emir of Kano is second only to the Sultan of Sokoto in leadership of the country’s Muslims. The Emir was known as a proponent of peace and unity during his long reign. I learned of the death from Facebook – my friend Joanne’s son Chukwuma posted the news.
The new Emir has already been appointed. He is Lamido Sanusi who was the governor of the Nigerian Central Bank until February when the president removed him from the post. There is controversy about the selection. Some believe the late Emir’s son should have been given the title. I wonder how this will affect the country’s ongoing difficulty with Boko Haram.
And Yet Another
Professor Dora Akunyili, the former Nigerian Minister of Information, died last week in a hospital in India. She was just 59; she was from our own village of Nanka.
She was the former Director General of the National Agency for Food and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) and had a promising political career ahead of her.
India has become an important destination for Nigerians seeking medical care abroad. Our cousin Isaiah was there last year and I know others. It is much more affordable than the United Kingdom or the United States, with excellent medical professionals.
And two new challenges for you!
Number 1 – What is the meaning of the late Emir’s title Alhaji?
Number 2 – (If number one is too easy!) Who appoints the Emir of Kano?
Your name in lights – hmm, I don’t know how to do lights – your name in bold (if you want) for the first correct answers to these questions.