Even before he enters my office, it is very clear that Chief Balogun Ajanlakoko is very distressed and even hysterical. He needs urgent assistance and support.
His 19-year-old, very beautiful daughter, Kokumo (meaning "this one will not die") disappeared two days earlier.
Chief Balogun Ajanlakoko had managed to arrange for about 30 vehicles and they are looking all around Ibadan for her, without success.
On Sunday morning, Kokumo went to Dugbe Market (The G is not pronounced) to get some cassava, plantain and snails and since then, there is no trace of her. Clearly it is a very, very big Wahala!
Kokumo is the Chief's favorite and he is concerned about her, and worried that the name he gave her might not be enough to protect her.
Everyone in Ibadan and around, including the Chief, know what happened two years ago, when a 12-year-old girl, was kidnapped at the same place, at Dugbe (The G is not pronounced), Ibadan. And that kidnaping was also occurred on Sunday morning.
Her family looked for her everywhere for weeks and couldn't find her. Then one day, by accident, in the course of the search, one Okada (small bike) driver pointed toward Soka Forest. Some of the family members, went into Soka Forest and discovered a cultists' den.
The cultists are using people parts for important rituals. Important for them.
Seventeen (17) decomposing bodies were scattered all around. Skulls and bones everywhere. Eight (8) people were still alive and breathing at the time when the searching team arrived. They were chained and disoriented patapata, emaciated and dried.
The searchers knew immediately that the den is used for cultists' rituals and also maybe for rituals by Aje Pupa (Red Witch).
Unlike Aje Funfun (white witch); which is regarded as a good witch, and never harms people, Aje Pupa (Red witch) is a dangerous witch that have the power to kill, drink blood and eat flesh. This is the tradition.
Of course, Aje Pupa is not performing all these rituals just for her fun. The main purpose, is to help people with health problems. Such as easing pain for respectable members of the village, especially elders. Very important!
Helping and respecting elders is an honorable duty in the Yoruba land and to be more accurate, all-over Nigeria. It is a fundamental virtue.
Within a short time after the cultists' den was discovered, hundreds of angry Yoruba youth stormed the area unleashing mayhem on some of the den's neighbors. Surly they knew about the activities in the cultists' den. Or not.
The youths killed few Fulani herdsmen and slaughtered their cows for food. In addition, they caught two unknown guys, installed used tires on them, and set the tires on fire. "Instant justice"! Probably cultists. Or not.
The Aje Pupa was not around; a witch or not?!
The Yoruba villagers, especially the hardworking farmers, blame the Fulani herdsmen for different issues, especially for destroying their fields.
The Fulani herdsmen are leading their cattle from the north, from around the south of the Sahara Desert to Lagos, and on their hundreds-kilometers journey, the herdsmen lead their cattle through local farmers' fields, allowing the cattle to graze on the local farmers' crops, like maize or yam or cassava.
The cattle must eat something, to survive the long journey.
Most farmers are seriously upset, when they get to the field the next day after the Fulanis' cattle paid a visit to their farms.
It's an old contention between the farmers and the herdsmen, that continues up to date, in the Garden of Eden, called Nigeria.
Now, the Ajes (witches) are very important with the healthcare service they provide, like easing pain. But the Ajes are helping to solve different crisis, not just health issues.
For example, recently, the villagers are terrified, after listening to the Oyinbo's media from Europe, regarding the consequence of the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. They don't know what is this CO2, but it sounds like something terrible.
So, the elders asked the Aje Pupa to perform rituals to avoid the destruction of their village, by the big flood, as the Oyinbo's media warned, since the world will definitely come to an end soon, when the ice in the poles will melt.
Some even saw on TV one very small Oyinbo (peeled person) girl describing how the big flood is coming soon to their village. Maybe even the icebergs themselves shall come, and they never saw iceberg before in the Yoruba land.
The word 'iceberg' itself create panic. Iceberg! In our Yoruba Land. Ah-Ah!
They believe that this Oyinbo girl is Aje Funfun (good witch) warning them in advance of the 'climate crisis', otherwise, how come Oyinbo's television let her speak.
Chief Balogun Ajanlakoko call it - the "Ignorance Crisis"! Who knows?
Of course, the Aje Pupa shall use any means to help the villagers, including some traditional, well-established rituals, using some parts of 12-year-old girls or boys to avoid that 'climate disaster', such as the disaster that the Oyinbo girl warned everybody on television. Wahala!
Upon arrival of the missing 12-years-old girl's brother, to the cultists' den, he identified his sister's shoes. That was all what remained of her, in addition to her terrible story.
So, now, when Kokumo disappeared, all are worried of her fate and her father, Chief Balogun Ajanlakoko, is hysterical.
Chief Balogun Ajanlakoko is a senior manager in the Coca-Cola factory in Ibadan, and he carry with him, everywhere he goes, some high intelligence. Meaning, that he has a very good understanding of the reality around us, which is anyway a very rare commodity all over the world.
It was always fascinating hearing what he has to say on issues like this and that and I always learnt something from him.
We became good friends some years earlier, when Chief Balogun Ajanlakoko came to my Ibadan office, along Oyo Road, opposite University of Ibadan, to introduce himself for some insignificant reasons, which I cannot recall.
He asked me – who is the best chef in the world ever? And he answered – it is the hunger. He was very pleased with his answer.
Now, Chief Balogun Ajanlakoko is certainly more Oga (respectable and important man) than Okunrin (any man) and let me even say he is Oga Agba, a very big man.
The meaning of Balogun is a 'Warlord' or 'Commander.' To emphasize his size, he is wearing agbada, which gives him even more measurements. Such measurements give him an edge, when it's comes to negotiations. Any negotiation.
Under these circumstances it is not so hard to understand why I accepted his invitation, to go to Kokodome restaurant, without hesitation.
We are jumping up and down on the potholes and bad roads of Ibadan, sitting on the back seats of a pale blue Peugeot 404, mocking about bolts and nuts and other issues, while Chief Balogun Ajanlakoko is directing Bolade, the driver, to Kokodome restaurant.
Bolade, the driver, is not familiar with the streets and the alleys of Ibadan, and from time to time, Balogun is providing directions to Bolade with - go straight, lo osi (go left,) lo otun (go right) and be careful! All in an effort to somehow reach Kokodome restaurant.
We are moving left and right for about one hour around the center of Ibadan, looking for Kokodome restaurant and I begin to wonder if Chief Balogun knows how to get to Kokodome, or even if Kokodome exists.
At a certain busy junction, when Balogun tells Bolade to go left, Bolade stops the car, turns his head, to the back seat, and asks the Chief – "Oga, do you mean 'Go Left' to this direction or 'go left' to the other direction?"
Chief Balogun is changing the voice system and starts using the fingers.
We are approaching a junction with traffic light. Bolade, the driver enthusiastically says – look, look, look, like London!
Those days, there were no traffic lights in Ibadan. Chief Balogun tells us - The Governor of Oyo State decided to bring two traffic lights, after his visit to London, last year. He really liked those traffic lights – the Chief says.
This traffic light in Ibadan is like any other traffic light in the world, with red light, yellow light and green light changing automatically all the time without any human involvement. Very beautiful lights show and works very fine at that.
But, the Chief said, this is a Nigerian traffic light; which has red light, yellow light, green light and blue officer.
The blue police officer's job is to confuse the drivers. Otherwise, who needs the police officer.
I asked Chief Balogun – If there is traffic light, why there is a need for a police officer directing the traffic?
The Chief – the drivers in this Ibadan, don't know yet, how to use these traffic lights; so, the officer assists the drivers. He is a very skillful officer.
The officer presence is slowing the traffic somehow. In fact, it creates a huge Goslo (Go-Slow), huge traffic jam, that can sometimes take hours to navigate through.
And if this is not enough, if the officer is not happy with one of the drivers, then the officer might decide to educate the driver.
I ask the Chief – how can the officer educate drivers?
Chief says – we call it 'ese idajo' (Instant Justice); the officer might deflate the car's tires, right on the spot.
Sometimes one can see a driver doing 30 pushups, inspected by the officer. Instant Justice is very important to be made and shown instantly.
But – I wonder – will it not make a bigger goslo?
The Chief replies – yes, but the drivers must be punished instantly. The other drivers must see the justice, on the spot.
This is why crossing such traffic light can take a long time, especially when the road is free, because when the road is free, the officer has more time to rumble the drivers.
Eventually, we hit Kokodome, which is a mixed restaurant with Yoruba traditional dishes, and Lebanese food, owned by two young Lebanese.
I asked for Efo Riro soup, a popular Yoruba vegetable soup. The waiter looks happy and asked - do you want a 'big' or a 'small' Efo Riro?
Without hesitation, I said 'big'. When I am hungry, I make unexpected decisions.
Ten minutes later, a bunch of waiters came with my 'big' Efo Riro. Many hungry Yoruba people could quench their hunger with this Efo Riro alone.
Balogun Ajanlakoko said that I am a good man for ordering soup for all the drivers that are hanging outside Kokodome restaurant.
He also said - when you ask for 'big' or 'small', ask the waiter for the volume. That way, your expectations shall be adjusted and you shall not be surprised.
He tells me – Expectations! Expectations influence your decisions.
Chief Balogun Ajanlakoko gives me his advice - if you are not happy with the situation and the reality, then adjust your expectations. Changing expectations is easier and cheaper than changing the reality! Think about it.
I ordered Dodo made of plantain and Oga Balogun ordered Asun made of goat's meat. I asked Chief Balogun - where can I get Agbada (native gown) like the one you have? Balogun tells me – I will take you to the market. You like it, ha?
I never get in line with the Oyinbo's fashion – he added. In fact, I am not in line with any fashion. Comfort is the rule for me. That's why it is better wearing underwear inside out, with the stiches and the notes outward. It is more pleasant.
The Chief continues – you know, my wife is in London for three years, with my son, who is studying in London.
Two years ago, I visited them in London. My wife was not happy with me. She complains that my trousers have vertical pockets. So, we went to get new trousers with the correct, beautiful, horizontal pockets.
Now, last month, during my visit to London, my wife again gave me a big wahalah! No one in the world walk with horizontal pockets anymore - she stated - Only vertical pockets.
You see, beauty is relative to time!
You know – Balogun says – those Oyinbos in London, they like very slim blonds. They shall not survive in our bush. We in Nigeria, we like them big and healthy. So, beauty is also relative to location.
You are very right Oga - I tell him. One governor appointed ladies' commissioners by their size. He is attracted to those madams with a good chance to survive, even if there is nothing to eat for one year.
So, one of his commissioners came to the holy-land. From Jerusalem we went down to the Dead Sea. Around the Sea Level point, we saw a camel with his owner, an old Badueen herdsman. Apparently, the Badueen is making his living by taking tourists for a short ride on the camel's back.
Those living around the slopes between Jerusalem and Jericho will never forget that poor camel's screams! rererererererer!! The old Badueen herdsman runs hysterical to all directions.
Big Wahala! The Honorable Commissioner climbed on the camel's back. Imagine. The governor has no limitations; however, the camel has.
And if this is not enough, hear what Indian ladies are wearing. Sari is an Indian traditional garment, that consists of an unstitched drape typically wrapped around the waist, with one end draped over the shoulder, partly baring the midriff exposing the fat-folds. The more and bigger fat-folds she can publicly show, the more beautiful and attractive she is.
Indeed, beauty is relative to location!
So, what is beauty? Dose it exists?
Finally, the Dodo and the Asun arrived and we ordered chapman too, for now.
Balogun tells me about his father's wisdom regarding the relativity of time.
When you work in the cassava farm in Ogbomosho, you can start at 06:00 and after 5 hours of hard work, you look at your hand watch and it show 08:00 only.
On the other side of the road, if you work in that construction company in Ibadan, you might start at 06:00 but, after 20 minutes you check your watch and it's already 08:00. Time is relative - he says - think about it.
Chief Balogun Ajanlakoko's wisdom was impressive right from that lunch at the Kokodom. We met many times after that lunch and I became his family member, which it is a great honor in the Yoruba land.
So, now Balogun Ajanlakoko is terrified. His beautiful Kokumo is his favorite and he shall do anything to find her, if she is still alive. I added 2 vehicles to the search. Many unexpected events can happen with those powerful Aje or the Juju.
Juju? Few months earlier, I came to see Alhaji Tolulola, a friend of mine, and saw a dry penis hung on the entrance.
Of course, man's penis. Women doesn’t have a penis. Maybe some do.
Alhaji Tolulola opens the door with a big smile.
Alhaji – I asked – What is this hung on your door?
Oh – Alhaji said – "this is against the Juju. My ex-wife gives me plenty wahala lately. She sent me the Juju. I wake up in the middle of the night, and many black birds are attacking me. I know that my ex-wife sent them. She became an Aje (witch.)"
So – Alhaji Tolulola tells me – "I went to one Aje Funfun (good witch) and she advised me to hang a dry penis on the entrance. The Juju afraid of dry penis. Since then, the birds of my wife are not coming to me at night and I can sleep well."
Alhaji – I asked – I didn't know that you believe in Juju?
Ah-Ah! … No, No, never, never. I don't believe in Juju. Juju is bad. I believe in Allah – he said.
Should I worry too from the Juju? - I asked the Alhaji.
Well – Alhaji said – the Juju is scary, only if you believe he exist.
Where did you get this dry penis Alhaji? – I asked him
In Dugbe Market – he answered.
Now, with the situation of Kokumo, I understand how these items get to Dugbe Market and I can see how Kokumo fate can be catastrophic.
She looks so innocent and young. She looked like 12-year-old. What a tragedy this is for my friend, Chief Balogun Ajanlakoko.
The next day, one of the searchers see a girl, disoriented patapata, dirty, roaming around Dugbe Market, and after some questions it turns to be our Kokumo.
Kokumo is alive but can't communicate for three days. Then, after she recovers, she tells her terrified story.
She went to Dugbe Market to get cassava and snails. As she got off the Okada (small motor bike), a white Toyota Hilux stopped nearby, and three guys rushed to her caught her and dropped her in the Hilux.
They brought her inside the bush, somewhere, she doesn’t know that place. It was a lonely hut, and they tied her with a chain to the ground.
She thinks that there were at least twenty people in that hut. She remembers how in the next day, these cultists took 2 people away, never to come back, and she still hears the shouts.
On the third day, they took her inside the bush, a short distance. She said she felt nothing, out of a shock.
These guys brought her in front of one scary old madam, looks like Aje Pupa (dangerous witch.)
The Aje Pupa told Kokumo that she is trying to help one important and respectable chief in the village. He is in a big pain and asked for her help to ease his pain.
The Aje Pupa asked Kokumo if she is willing to cooperate and help to ease the Chief's pain. Kokumo immediately agreed, without knowing what and how she can help.
Now to ease the Chief pain - the Aje Pupa tells Kokumo – she needs her stomach.
The Aje Pupa asked Kokumo - how old are you?
Kokumo answered – I am 19-years-old.
Ah! Ah! … the Aje Pupa angrily reacted. Do you have a proof that you are 19-years-old? – the Aje challenged Kokumo.
Lucky for Kokumo, she had a paper, like an ID, stating her birth date, so she handed the document over to the Aje Pupa.
The Aje Pupa turned to the cultists boys and started confronting them - I told you to bring 12-years-old girl and you bring me 19-years-old woman.
Ah-Ah! … she is a woman, not a girl, and we almost risked her life for nothing; we are here to help people.
Take this woman away and bring me a 12-year-old girl – the Aje Pupa instructed the cultists guys.
The guys took Kokumo and dropped her near Dugbe market (without G), so she can find her way back to her family.
Kokumo was under traumatic shock and can't find the energy to walk or talk until she was found by one of the Chief Balogun Ajanlakoko's drivers.
Months later, Kokumo decided to become a nurse, so that she will be able to help the elders and the chiefs in other villages, to ease their pain without the stomach of 12-year-old girl.
Kokumo's advice to others is to always have their ID in the pocket. Sometimes it can save life. Sometimes not.
Plus, if you are 19-years-old then you better look 19-years-old, or else.
Chief Balogun Ajanlakoko tells me - you see how the name I gave her protected her. Kokumo (meaning "this one will not die".)
The Chief saw how I wonder and tells me – no need for intelligence to sanctify your belief.