In Praise of Onikoyi

Tell them about an unflappable warrior
A warrior both at home and on the battlefield
The bird’s offspring on Ìrókò tree
Akalamagbo’s child with magical sight
One who walks ahead and notices people approaching from behind
Oníkòyí, who used a thread to bind the rock
With the witchery lines of Ayajo
Oníkòyí, who is undeterred by gunshots
Death’s son, disease’s son, who can never become ill.

Oníkòyí who is assertive on the battleground
One who enjoys nothing more than conflict
The combatant who never takes a break
The child of the squirrel who cannot be apprehended by onípàkúté
Oníkòyí who is unfazed by adversity
The offspring of the resolute Akọni
One who walked on the earth and rattled it

The child of the coconut root
That wreaks havoc on the soil
Oníkòyí who made a war garment out of spider web
A combatant with psychic powers
One who stays at the crossroads
And commands feral creatures from the forest
One who commands rainwater
And fills the barren akèrègbè when he is parched.

Oníkòyí, a jungle dweller who struts like a king
Oníkòyí journeyed to terrifying bush,
And caused such a ruckus in the woods.
where two hundred spirits stood against him.
He summoned the unhittable breeze,
Which he harnessed to bind them.
Oníkòyí a powerful figure
Who arrived in the dark forest
And came face to face with the cruel warriors,
He recited incantations and set the dried grass on fire,
Which he used to burn them.

Oníkòyí, who goes for night walks
And notices the baby’s missing nails
Oníkòyí, who walks during the day
And refuses to notice passers-by
Because he sees just what he wants to see.
He’ll eat Ologini if you bring it to him
Bring him Alapandede; he’ll gobble it up
Bring the alligator to him, he’ll devour it
But he’ll never be able to devour the squirrel
Because it’s a forbidden subject
For the squirrel represents his forefathers.


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