Thursday, 19 May 2016

KURUNMI : VALIANT WARRIOR (PART 3)

At the gate of the school are two monuments, but sadly the two are unkempt as the wordings inscribed on them have faded, and hardly readable.

On Bowen's monument are the following words are engraved

"To the glory of God and in affectionate remembrance Reverend and Mrs Thomas J. Bowen who began Baptist Sunday School work in Ijaye Orile, Nigeria on January 22, 1854".

Sunday School Department, Nigerian Baptist Convention, April 21, 1979

While Kurunmi's own reads

"To the glory of God and the memory of those heroic dead who here on land granted by King Kurunmi in 1852 created the first Mission House established the first church and laid the foundation of Baptist work in Nigeria.

Nigerian Baptist Centenarian, 1850-1950.

According to Fatai, "The two monuments show how these two powerful men came to unite in death for their monuments were placed side by side yet the two believed in different religions. Bowen brought Christianity and built a church which is the very first, First Baptist Church in Nigeria here in Ijaiye while Kurunmi was a warrior who believed in Ogun, the Yoruba god of Iron. It is great to come here and preserve this place as a tourist centre."

Mysterious Kurunmi's masquerade

The room where the Kurunmi's masquerade regalia was kept is dark. In fact, about four people brought out the basket where the regalia was stored. Pa Tijani Salami who is the custodian of Kurunmi's masquerade spent over 50 minutes to unwrap the regalia as pieces of clothes attached to it are up to 3,000 shreds made from local fabrics to foreign ones. Also attached with the clothes are uncommon carved wooden mask, monkey, and baboon's skulls. Fear gripped this reporter as the material was unwrapped when he requested to have a glance.

In fact, the man in charge of the masquerade, Salami, said it was inherited by him because he is from the Kurunmi lineage. He said, "This is Kurunmi's masquerade's regalia and sword he used during his conquests, and I am the custodian of it. If you look at my cheeks you will see my facial marks and that is how Kurunmi had it. One becomes its custodian by inheritance. This material is well over 120 years old, in fact, it was there before I was born. After the death of Kurunmi it was inherited by one Odeyemi, then to Biobaku who was in charge, after his exit it was handed over to Gbileomo and again when he died I took over from there. One of my children will also inherit it when I am gone. It does not go to anybody anyhow, never. The regalia is very heavy and we offer sacrifices like goats, chickens and other things to it all the time. We must not forget to offer sacrifices at all. If we don't do it then calamity might befall this town." That is how strong their belief is in the power of Kurunmi.

He went further, "Nobody can steal it. In fact, it is on record that it was once stolen some years ago and I believe they wanted to sell it to those who needed artefacts but when the robbers got to the Ose River they could not go further again as they were hearing sound and voices of human being coming out from the regalia and they had to drop it."

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