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post The Humble Barber

March 29th, 2011

Filed under: Literature Corner — Natty Mark Samuels @ 18:32

The Humble Barber

to the people of Ile-Ife

I’m just a humble barber
Yet Ogun always blesses my tools -
The scissors and the razor.
Spirit of iron and metallurgy
Of he who hunts the antelope
And he who drives a taxi.

Watching over my cutting in the morning
Still awake
When I cut at night.
Above me
Watching over the engine
And the pilot of the flight.

He of the mighty machete
Who cut the path to Ile-Ife
Heartland of the Yoruba.
I hear them calling his name;
The blacksmith and the mechanic
The engineer as well as the butcher.

At the shrine in my house
I celebrate him every day
Before the jobs of cut and shave.
I have done so since I remember
I’ll continue to do so
Until they take me to my grave.

At the annual Olojo Festival
The biggest of all our festivities
All of Ife remember him.
Some bringing palm wine
Others kola nut or plantain
I with a gourd of roasted yam.

To thank him for giving me customers
As well as a steady hand
So there’s always food for my family.
Heading the procession are the priests
Plus the dignitaries
Preceded by the Ooni.

In a field this morning
I heard the hunters
Singing their songs called Igala.
And in this procession now
Someone leads the singing
Accompanied by the drummers.

They lay their offerings first
The Ooni and the others
Those first in the line.
When laying my roasted yams
My heart wells up
Kneeling at Okemogun Shrine.

I feel privileged to be a Heartland Man
A resident of Ile-Ife
Where Oduduwa first laid his earthly head.
I’ll never be a rich man
But I am a contented one
Working in my barbers shed.

So I pray to the Great Master of Metals
Lighthouse to the ship
Watchtower to the incoming plane.
To watch over the Yoruba
Keep a vigil over Nigeria
Till I come to Okemogun Shrine again.

©Natty Mark Samuels, 2011.

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