Wednesday, November 27, 2013

PATAKI: The "Glasses of Elegbara" (Ojuani Shobe)

In this path Elegbara lived in the Bankele country. He had neither voice nor vote. He lived a disgusted and sad life because he knew that he represented nothing in the world, and so he spent his life sokú.

One day Oyá, who lived in the Obarioda country, where everyone lived well, and from where she could keep watch over all the neighboring territories, went to visit Elegbara, who was her son. When she got there she found him very sad. Oyá took a rooster and cleaned Elegba and gave him his secret, which was a stone. She took out the eyes of a rooster and put them on top of Elegbara. When Oyá was making this ceremony she sang:

Elegbara Ni Laleo Ojuani Shobe,

Feshuba Oyá Odara,

Elegbara Ni Otá Odara Ojuani Shobe Ni Laleo.

Elegbara asked Oyá for her blessing but he was resentful inside in seeing the great power that Oyá had.

Elegbara went out to the road and said, “I’m going to the house of Olofin, because I can’t continue like this, because I have to have control and do whatever I want, because no one is better than me. The world simply has to live blindly and do whatever I order.” He arrived at the house of Olofin, putting himself humble, very sad, and sokú, and he said, “My Father, please give me your blessing, because I am a nobody in this world.” Olofin sat him down and told him, “if you want to be somebody you will be, but you will never be greater than intori enkan arayé just because you get some iré.” Elegba replied, “no, father, what!, send me to a place where I can rule.” Olofin, who knew him well, and knew what he was capable of—because he never had been anybody—had him there for three days giving him advice. But Elegba could think of nothing else than what Olofin was going to do. Olofin asked him if he was listening and Elegba said yes, of course. “Look, Elegbara, if you don’t do what I say, you will soon go blind and crazy. At the end of three days Olofin sent him to the Obainile country.

Elegba thought, I’m not going there. I’m not going to be able to dominate in that place. In order for me to dominate in the world I have to go to the Obarioda country. So Elegbara left, since at that moment Oyá was visiting the Obanile country. I’m going to take advantage of this and go to the Obarioda country, because there’s a lot of sand there and my powers are the plants that I’ve got; I’ll let the whole world intorí arún oyú; I’ll rule and will be the owner of the whole world, because there will be an epidemic that will spread throughout the world.

Elegbara got to the Obarioda country, called the whole town together, and began to wash everyone’s head and do ceremonies to them, and because of this the people began to get illnesses in the head and the eyes.

However, there was one man there named Oyú Obariodé Ojuani Shobe, who was an awó of Orunmila.

He left looking for Oyá and on the road went along singing, sounding a bell, and shaking a vaina of framboyán.

Oyá Nile Umbo Obara Boda,

Oyá Nile Umbo Obara Boda

Ojuani Shobe Feshuba.

Oyá heard the song and went immediately to her country, and when she found Awó Obariodé Ojuani Shobe, she asked him what had happened. He told her what Elegba had done and that everyone was blind and had lost their memory. Oyá went running and from the bag that she carried she started collecting eñí adié.

She got to the town and began to pick up sand, mixing it with the egg whites--making a dough. Then she called all of her children so that they could clean themselves with what she had prepared. At that moment Olofin sent down a lightning bolt and the sun’s rays, and the dough that Oyá had made calcified with the heat and glass formed so that eyeglasses could be made. This brought back the sight and the memory of everyone, including Elegbara who had also gone blind.

For that reason glasses were born; indeed Elegbara himself needed them. Thus glasses are represented in the figure of Elegbara by the shells that are his eyes; they signify that Elegba sees everything that happens in the world and then tells all to Orunmila and Olofin. [Oyá told Elegbara]: “here you have a great power that you already had; you needn’t have done all the things you did. All you had to do was to speak with me. Although you are young, you have to use glasses, because with time and age, everyone will need to use them—youth, old people, and even children—because that is my curse for what you did,” and in this way Elegbara got the world he wanted.

Note: the glasses of Elegbara represented by the shells that are put on him as eyes signify that he sees all and then tells all to Orunla and Olofin.

English Translation (C) Copyright David H. Brown, 2013.

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