Poetry

Fiction

Essays

 

ONIGANGA: MASTER OF THE TALKING DRUM

 

With vexing pride in his wake,

And subtle laughter hued in his fiery

Eyes, he gyrates in a tippling dance

With the dexterity of a champion

Wrestler; wings on his heels, he

Bounces with the stead

Of a masquerade:

 

GAN-GA, GAN-GA, GAN-GA!

Come, my people, says the drum.

Come gather round; thank the gods and

Ancestors of our lands,

Let go of that which breaks your heart.

 

Like the waves on raging waters,

Flowing Aso-Oke blankets him whole,

Save his woven locks; sango-styled.

Characteristically, he beats the drum

With abandon as one possessed with new wine,

Spinning tumultuously like a typhoon,

churning out rhythms only the gods could know:

 

GANGA-GA, GAN-GA, GAN-GA!

His name is known abroad: ONIGANGA,

MASTER OF THE TALKING DRUM,

Tremulous beater and custodian of the age-old

Goatskin instrument of cultural lineage…

 

Kinsmen, women, come listen to the sound

The wind plays; cluster round

And listen to the words of the drummer:

It scythes thru’ the thickness of all hearts.

Come; unblunt your feelers that you may taste

The music, for it’s as fresh palm wine

On the tongue of one sore thirsty.

 

ONIGANGA, your drum be your tongue:

Speak on, master of the talking drum,

For kings will dance with little restraint and

Princes will run with the rhythm your beating.

 

Children surround him, chanting high.

Their parents, too, are not left out. The trees

Flows with the soul of the music

And the winds beat against the rocks…

Nature, too, is caught in the throb of the moment.

 

He now summons us all to a feast,

A feast where bliss may no boundary

Or race know…

 Idowu Otorishe Addison

Copyright © 2003