On the same evening, the Basòrun’s family had just finished having dinner in their home, and the maid was clearing the short wooden table and cleaning up. As the family sat outside together under the moonlight to enjoy the serene evening, the Basòrun’s wife excused herself to the kitchen to give some instructions to the family’s three maids.
The Basòrun sat on a stool, sipping palm wine from his bowl. His two sons, Olúmólá and Oládélé, sat on either side of their father close to his feet, also sipping palm wine, and gazing into the darkness beneath the beautiful full moon. The stars glowed brightly, lighting up the magnificent night sky.
The Basòrun took another gulp from his bowl of wine, took a deep breath, and spoke to his sons: ‘My sons, I am sure you both know that our family has been very prosperous for many centuries. Our farms are the largest across the kingdom. We have the largest workforce, second only to that of the King, that has come from within and outside of Ìkirè to work on our farms. Our family has also paid the most taxes to the palace for centuries without competition because no other family earns as much as we do in the entire kingdom.’
Olúmólá and Oládélé responded, ‘Béèni bàá mi (Yes, my father).’
The Basòrun nodded his head in affirmation and continued: ‘We eat what we like when we like and how we like. We wear the best clothing materials, and as you both know, our family’s lineage is known throughout the entire kingdom as holding the position of Basòrun, the second in command and the second most powerful family in the kingdom. Second only to the adé (crown).’
Both sons responded: ‘This is true, very true, bàá mi.’ Both young men had smiles on their faces knowing full well the importance of their family within and beyond the kingdom and the extent of the wealth they controlled.
‘My sons, the only problem we have is that we are the second most powerful family, the second wealthiest family, and the second most important family. We are second in everything, and that is our problem. Nkan tó bá kan ójú yí ò padà kan ímú (Whatever affects the eye will eventually affect the nose). But it is not our problem alone. This has been a generational problem. It was the problem of our ancestors, and it will automatically become your problem as well, my sons, if I am not able to find a solution in my lifetime. If that is, unfortunately, the case, you must both make sure that you do all you can within your means to place our family in its rightful position where it belongs: the first family in this kingdom.’
Olúmólá’s and his younger brother, Oládélé’s, eyes met. Their father looked at both of them, one after the other, with a tough smile on his face as he patted both of them on their shoulders.
The Basòrun continued: ‘We have been fighting a secret war for centuries. We either win or eventually become extinct one day. My father—your grandfather—told me he’d promised his father that he would do all he could to win this battle. Èmi náà se àdéhùn fún bàbá mi wípé mà ná owó mà sí nà ára láti ri pé a borí (I also promised my father that I would spend my money, my body, and everything within my power to see that we win this battle).’ He paused to ask Olúmólá to pour him some more palm wine.
As Olúmólá picked up the jar of wine, Oládélé asked their father a very naïve but relevant question: ‘Bàá mi (My father)— who is this enemy with whom we are in a battle? Against whom are we fighting? You haven’t told us, bàá mi. We need to know them so we can take them down anytime we may meet them.’
Sixteen-year-old Oládélé showed obvious signs of a boy who was growing into a strong, fearless man, most likely tougher than his older brother, but his naivety was evident from his question. Nonetheless, his father had a broad smile on his face because, in the midst of his son’s inexperience, he heard the passion and intensity to fight in Oládélé’s voice.
The Basòrun responded: ‘Oládélé, you are a true son of your father. The enemy with whom we are in battle is very strong. Remember, our ancestors have been in this battle for centuries without winning. The answer will gradually become clearer to you as you grow older, but for now, I want you to know that any family or person in the way of our family’s becoming the first family is an enemy, and that includes the family presently ruling this kingdom. What this means is, indirectly, we will have lots of enemies. We will need to convert some of them to friends because we will need them on our side. Likewise, we will be forced to eliminate others to allow us our space and room to breathe.’
At this, both boys were confused, but they knew they could trust their father, and they nodded their heads in acceptance.
‘Bàá mi,’ said Olúmólá. ‘We promise you that we will do everything in our capacity to win this battle.’ He looked at his brother Oládélé, who nodded in agreement.
‘Great. We have gotten closer to our goal over the years, and we couldn’t be closer than we are now. Remember that your sister, Olúfúnké, is now the queen of this kingdom, and she is the one who will bear the heir to the throne.
‘That will be all for tonight, my sons. I will keep you both informed as our strategic plan progresses. I know we will win this battle together. You may now go to bed for the night.’
‘Thank you, bàá mi,’ Olúmólá and Oládélé said to their father.
The Basòrun’s sons got up from their seated position next to their father and proceeded to their rooms for the night.
Excerpt from MYSTERIES OF KNOWN UNKNOWNS published by Conscious Dreams Publishing. Copyright © 2023 by Babatunde Olaniran.