ONIGANGAN: Master of the Talking Drum

With vexing pride in his wake,
And subtle laughter hued in his fiery
Eyes, he gyrates in a tippling dance
With the dexterity of a champion
Wrestler; wings on his heels, he
Bounces with the stead
Of a masquerade:

Come, my people, says the drum.
Come gather round; thank the gods and
Ancestors of our lands,
Let go of that which breaks your heart.

Like waves on raging waters,
Flowing Aso-oke blankets him whole,
Save his woven locks; Sango-styled.
Characteristically, he beats the drum
With abandon as one possessed with new wine,
Spinning tumultuously like a typhoon,
Churning out rhythms only the gods know:

His name is known abroad: ONIGANGAN,
Tremulous beater and custodian of the age-old
Goatskin instrument of cultural heritage.

Kinsmen, women, come listen to the sound
The wind plays; cluster round
And listen to the words of the drummer:
It scythes thru’ the thickness of all hearts.
Come; unblunt your feelers that you may taste
The music, for it’s as fresh palm wine
On the tongue of one sore thirsty.

ONIGANGAN, your drum is your tongue.
Speak on, Master of the Talking Drum,
For kings will dance with little restraint and
Princes will run with the rhythm’s beating.

Children surround him, chanting high.
Parents, too, are not left out. The trees
Flow in the soul of the music,
As the winds beat the rocks:
Nature is caught in the throb of the moment…

Copyright © Idowu Addison


Also by Idowu Addison, The Hunter and the Forbidden Forest: soon on Amazon.

The Hunter and the Forbidden Forest book cover


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