Grandma, my Oriki and the Lagos rains

I miss my Grandma. She introduced me to my Oriki, Isola. I had often wondered why that was chosen as my Oriki until she explained to me that she named me after my Dad’s oldest half brother, the family’s eldest child and our Olori-ebi (Family head) because I happen to occupy the same position in my father’s house.

My grandma would often pull me close to her on rainy mornings as I prepared for school and recite my ancestral Oriki, she would finish up with my personal Oriki and I would walk out the house head held high feeling like I could conquer the world.

You see, the Oriki is a traditional praise of one’s head (Ori) by reciting panegyrics which usually recounts family backgrounds, values, victories and other notable events in the life of your ancestors or forefathers. It is chanted just before you undertake any activity and it is expected to build your confidence and invoke bravery in the face of fears.

Grandma’s been dead for about 10 years now but I hold dearly the bits of my Oriki I learnt from her — the entire Oriki would take a lifetime to master because like most traditional African literature, they are not written anywhere. You have to learn to recite it by listening.

I love the rain, I love Lagos rains. I bet you Lagosians will think I’m weird with the mad traffic Lagos rain brings but yea, I love it still. So on rainy mornings as I set out on my 1hr drive to work, I recite my Oriki and reach for a Bob Marley, a Fela or some deep reflective music from my stash and try to imitate my Grandma’s praise singing of my Oriki. You can bet I achieve more on those days.

So today, I want to thank her again for introducing me to my Oriki, for reminding me that I am a Jagun, for reminding me that my forefathers were big traders as well as warriors, for telling me I am Isola — the scion of agbo, that I am Olori-ebi. Thank you Grandma, I miss you. I love you.

PS: I will continue to disagree with Mom who thinks you were a wicked witch (I’ll talk about this on another post) 😃