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Osisiye Tafa: Meet the Alaafin, His Wives, Slaves & His War Tortoise



I want to take you somewhere and I don’t want many people to come with me. This is not an anyhow journey.
This is not for the many-tabbed-speed-reading readers. This is not for the ‘my Pastor said this-and-that’ people, this is what you’ll call idol worship. There are shrines here. This has beer. This is sin. I need just a select few.

Come with me if you make the cut, and I will take you places.

I will take you through an Alaafin’s palace. I will show you an eagle carved into a roof. You will see the stately lineup of chairs that are the chiefs.

If you have a vivid imagination, you will see these pictures for what they truly are. I will show you how a boy can become king. You will see how a tortoise can spirit one into war.

I will show you a cotton tree that is also a shrine. You will wander through mystic, dark huts covered with soot, dust and there you will find enchanted features, discarded trumpets, wick lanterns and age long pictures. You will meet the Alaafin, his wives, his slaves and his war tortoise.

You will see how a woman could be a deity and how your legs can take you places you only dreamed. You will see marked legs that go places only spirits go. You will wonder at what these leaves wrapped around foreheads mean. I will show you age long traditions unbothered by the sweeping changes all around.

At the end of this, you’ll understand that
A wall is not just a wall: a wall marks time, remembers faces
That a tortoise could be faster than the wind
And a cotton tree can make more than cloth
Marks on faces tell a story of remembrance, and remembrance is a task, not something to be taken lightly
Footfalls create music that only sprits can hear
What do you think your spirit will look like

You have a spirit self and you can meet it at the Osun Egbe Festival

A door could hold a pantheon, a mystic, dark hut could hold treasures

The Alaafin’s slaves

By standing on this tortoise, the Alaafin will be spirited to battle

Meet the Alaafin, meet his wives


Inside the palace

Only 2 people from this ancient Polaroid are still alive

Footfalls create music that only sprits can hear

Wandering through deserted apartments in the Alaafin’s palace

Female worshippers getting ready for the procession at the Osun Egbe festival

The cotton tree at the Alaafin’s palace, its base serves as a shrine

A boy can become king.

Osisiye Tafa is a banker by day, and writer by night. He has been published on The Guardian, Kalahari Review, The Culture Trip, Arts & Africa, BusinessDay, Y-Naija among others. He writes faction - fictionalized telling of actual events-which he shares on his TinyLetterjournal. His debut book, ‘Sixty Percent of a True Story’ is available on Amazon and Roving Heights


  1. Ewa Ali

    April 4, 2017 at 6:03 pm

    Quite Enlightening …we want more

  2. Oluwanifesimi

    April 4, 2017 at 9:29 pm

    I enjoyed reading. Your words painted vivid pictures and your pictures made me long for more.

  3. Blacksmith

    April 5, 2017 at 12:15 am

    Slaves really ??! servant, no ??! who does he think he is!

    • Me

      April 5, 2017 at 8:10 am

      He is a King, First class at that. They referred to them as slaves in the olden days and I’m assuming not much as changed now.

    • Alaafin kanran

      April 5, 2017 at 9:53 am

      That’s why they asked people like you not to come along. Mechionu

  4. Nunulicious

    April 5, 2017 at 9:04 pm

    Nice! More of this biko…

  5. Joseph Egbeyemi

    May 7, 2018 at 2:48 pm

    Job well-done, Shakespeare of our time.

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