You see, there is this conversation that we all have with ourselves, within ourselves and most times I just listen to mine. So, here’s an introduction to the Isio that is; beneath the surface.
There’s my mind: sharp, witty, caustic, 100% Realist. No nonsense. A ferocious reader; likes to acquire knowledge, highly opinionated.
And there’s my soul: soft, kind, maternal, nurturing, and forgiving. She is the lover, the spiritual one, the deep thinker, very empathic.
And there’s my body: which is where I come in, this vessel, experiencing life. The voice of the mind and soul. Likes beautiful things. Does not like driving, does not like traffic, absolutely detests saliva, sweat and yucky bodily fluids, loves laughing, exotic food and pretty much is concerned with the more mundane things of life. She is the everlasting referee between the caustic mind and the sensitive soul.
This is Isio.
Isio Knows Better is an attempt to capture the shocking and highly entertaining conversation within myself. Now I must say that these conversations happen in various languages, in any situation and underneath a poker face and a hidden smile.
Many, many years ago, a story was told to me; of an ancient African tribe… of its king, its richest merchant and a beggar.
The merchant decided to have an extravagant party. Only the best for the richest of the rich. He had his slaves toil mercilessly for days and nights. Then he set his servants to cook the most delicious and exotic meals ever to be made in the history of that land.
The whole land was feverish with excitement about the party. It was as if it was a festival. And so the merchant’s slaves toiled, and cooked, and cooked. And what a delicious bouquet of mouth-watering delicacies they made.
And so it was said, that when the time came, the richest of the rich came in their best- (Of course, at the time, there were no Jaguars/ Mercedes/ Aston martins! The poor rich folk had to make do with cattle, camels and horses! Whoever had the ‘chubbiest’ one had the ‘coolest’ ride!)
As they sat down to eat at their table, these nobles, chiefs, royal princes and princesses – surrounded by splendor and the now famous buffet- the merchant noticed a beggar outside sniffing the air and licking his lips.
The merchant got into a rage. He yelled, and cursed and flung objects at his slaves. He pointed and screamed hysterically, saying his party had been violated! “The guts of that beggar…sniffing at my delicious buffet!” He thundered. He ordered his bodyguards to arrest the filthy vagabond. He demanded justice.
Now, the rich merchant was the richest man in that land… way richer than the king. And even though he was generous to the king and the crown, only the king’s word was law.
So rich was this man that it was no secret all the subtle ‘donations’ he had given to the throne. He was one merchant the king did not want to piss off. (Yeah, I had to add some modern lingua there)
The merchant demanded an execution! Such, he felt was the punishment for the vagabond-beggar’s gut to even sniff his food. And so the bodyguards dragged the beggar in the dirt… And the rich merchant, with all his rich friends marched in righteous indignation towards the palace. The whole town turned upside down. There were onlookers everywhere. When the march started- men, women, children, all joined to see what would happen.
They got to the palace. And the king listened to them from his throne. He was surrounded by his best advisers and his priests.
The merchant breathlessly reported the crime of the vagabond-beggar. He asked for an instant execution. To teach the poor not to sniff the food of the rich. Now, his well-planned party was ruined. All for a filthy ‘rat’. He even had the guts to lick his lips. Such an insult. Such effrontery must never go unpunished.
This king was considered a wise King. But, even he was at a loss. Could he condemn a man to execution for being hungry? For licking his lips at the smell of food he only wished he could taste in his dreams? On the other hand, the merchant had a point. His sensibilities had been violated… And he was generous to the crown
The king thought, but said nothing. The confessions of the vagabond-beggar were in sync with the merchant. Yes, I was so hungry-I-couldnt-help-myself-the-food-smelt-so-good-I-did-not-even-know-when-I-licked-my-lips… (Sob)- (sob)…
When the king finally spoke, he spoke to everyone present. He said that he had heard, and asked for the people to converge the next day at the arena at sunset. He assured everyone that justice would most definitely be done.
And so, the next day, at sunset… the town gathered at the arena, and even people from neighboring towns who had heard of this…’gist’ (ok, ok, I’ll stop with the modern slangs…duh) The merchant came in his finest clothes, followed closely by his minions, the nobles and chiefs. Who huffed and thumbed their noses at the commoners. The poor jeered back. (Of course from a safe distance.)
The king finally arrived. Silence suddenly seized the air. He spoke.
He asked his executioners to step forward.
All 12 of them. They had the meanest looking horsewhips with them. They looked meaner than pain. He asked the vagabond-beggar to step forward. The merchant smiled. The vagabond wet his pants.
He then asked the merchant, the nobles and the chiefs to take the place of the executioners. To do the honor of being the ones to punish the vagabond-beggar for daring to smack his lips at the smell of their food. The beggar was now whimpering and had spittle drooling from his mouth. Such desperate attempts to beg for mercy. (I have to tell you guys, this guy REALLY looked like an imbecilic specimen at this point).
The king then said to the rich, “You see his shadow? Start flogging it. Really hard!” The rich merchant replied, “Why, majesty? It is the man who offended us, not his shadow! Why should we waste our energy flogging a shadow? It’s not real. We want the vagabond-beggar.
The king replied. “If you want to punish a hungry man for licking his lips because the wind brought to him a smell that he only wished he could taste… and for licking his lips and swallowing his saliva to console his renegade belly… then it’s only fair that you get your vengeance by beating the man’s shadow, since it is the consequence of the man – just as the smell of the buffet was the consequence of the food.“
Now, that’s justice.
I wasn’t yet a teenager when my teacher told me this story, but, I’ve never forgotten it. All through my life, not once have I forgotten. The way I tell it to myself, it is funny, but somber. I guess that’s why I loved it and never forgot it. There is a lot to be learnt from this story and from our folklore in general.
Stories about wisdom, consequence, equality, fairness and justice.
But this- it’s about justice.
Isio Wanogho is a top-model, TV Personality and entrepreneur. She is conversant in five languages and has 12 years of experience in the Nigerian entertainment industry. Isio, popularly known by her brand name Isio De-laVega, captivates audiences with her signature wide smile and relatable, quirky personality which endears her to many. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @isiodelavega