June 11, 2011

A Royal Funeral

Yesterday I attended a royal funeral.

The day started early. Up at 5:30. Rapid Triple S, and an even swifter cup of coffee and we were off. Two and a half hours later we arrived at Igbobo for the church service. They wheeled in the body of Prince Adekunle Babafemi Ogunlewe and so began a three hour session of hymns, prayers, benedictions and testimonials. It was officiated by an archbishop and no fewer than seven vicars. All in the Yoruba language. I joined in the hymn singing as much to my surprise as the Prince's four wives sat across from me. It was difficult but not impossible.

Here's a snatch:

A o pade leti odo
T' ese Angeli ti te;
To mo gara bi kristali,
Leba ite Olorun.
A O pade leti odolf
Odo didan, odo didan na,
Pel' awon mimo leba odo,
To nsan leba ite ni.

Recognise it?

We know it as "Shall we gather at the river".

Prince Ade (pronounced ah-day) had lived a good, long life. He died on 22 May aged 80 years. Far in excess of the average male life-span of 46.7 years. Judging by the turn out, he was a popular man.

After the church service he was popped into the ground. Just a couple of hymns really, this did not seem to be the major event. Yorubans call it a celebration of life, rather than a mournful, hand-wringing regret of death. I kind of liked it.

We all then piled into cars and headed for the local school where many marquees were set up. As soon as we had we sat down we were offered food and drink. I stuffed myself with fish, curried chicken and at least three types of rice. The Heineken flowed like water, so I imbibed. A lot. The band was good and loud. They sang only in Yoruba but I got a sense of what they were singing about. Although asked several times, I refrained from dancing. I have no rhythm.

My first trip to the portaloo was uneventful. I had a smoke and returned to the table. More beer was waiting for me. So I drank it. They brought more. So I drank that too.

The second trip to the loo was different. I now had a fan club. Around 40 kids wanted to talk to me and have their pictures taken with me. They wanted to practise their English and I wanted to practise my Yoruba, so it was a win-win. It was disconcerting to see the girls curtsey and the boys bowing but I quickly realised that the only odd thing about this particular celebration was me.

Not only was I the only white man amongst many many thousands of Yorubans, I was also the only white man ever seen in Igbobo wearing Nigerian national dress.

I looked a little like this:

(But without that particular pose).

The Prince's brother, Adesegun (Segun) Ogunlewe, himself also a prince, spent a lot of time at my table. He returned many times, with his bodguards in tow, to sit with me, drink a beer, and chat. This was nice, but there was a never-ending line of people who wanted to come and bow. He also dispensed money, a sort of "alms for the poor" deal. Segun (pronounced shay-gun) is head of services for Lagos State. Second only in power to the state governor, recently re-elected Babatunde Fashola.

An odd day, given my anti-royalist stance, but one I enjoyed tremendously. I am guessing that this was my first, and last, royal funeral. The Windsor's will almost certainly not be inviting me to any of their royal send-off's.

I will feature in the DVD of the days events, and in the local press too. Please do not google the event too hard. Or, if you do, please keep any pictures of me to yourself. My anonymity is still required for the time being.

It is now nearly 12:30 and the pool bar is open. Having destroyed one liver yesterday, I go now to work on the other one.

Have a great weekend,



Anonymous said...

I thought I was the only one with two livers. Enjoy yourself and have one for me.

Ampers said...

I have copied this to my next-door neighbour, a lovely Yoruba man. They are one of the nicer Nigerian tribes.

Jy het links 'n baie ongeveer vooruit. Het jy? Om die hoek van die toilette? Was sy mooi?

Captain Ranty said...

Thanks Anon.

I have three or four. If I only had one like the Righteous say I have, it would have exploded many years ago...


Captain Ranty said...

Meneer Taylor,

Much has to remain unsaid to protect both me, and the innocent.

But, just for the record, Sy was baie mooi!