I was five when my grand-mother taught me about courage. It was quiet in the village. Everyone was asleep. The stars were shining above the hut. After mama told me stories about our forefathers, I fell into a deep seep. A lion entered the hut. He showed me his crows. I could smell his strong breath. Fear paralysed me. I couldn’t move. I screamed. When I woke up, mama was by my side.
– Onika, kini? Omo mi my child, what is wrong? She asked me.
– Mama. I can’t tell you. It was too scarry.
– So fu mi! Tell me!
– I saw a big lion. He was huge and had big teeth. He was in the hut facing me.
Mama didn’t look surprised. She shrugged.
– Is that all? She asked
– Yes; I replied feeling ashamed.
– My child go back to sleep.
Before the sun rose my grand-mother woke me up vigorously.
– We are going to chase the lion from your dream . Sho Bow? – She declared triumphantly.
– Iya, oh! Mo da ran. Do you want my death? Mo fe lo. You go and chase that lion. I will wait for you here.
Mama was known for her wisdom but at that moment I had strong doubts about it and thought that she must have lost her mind.
She took me firmly by the arm and dragged me to the bush in spite of my cries and resistance.
When we got to the bush she took me by the ears as if to open them.
– Bow row mi omo. My child look over there, see the lion that is sleeping, he probably hasn’t eating in days because of the dry season; she said flashing her white teeth at me.
She carried on with her hands on her hips:
– We are the children of Olowruoba. We are from the Yoruba tribe; a tribe of conquerors that fear nothing. Go and tell the lion that he should never again disturb you. Fear is nothing! Have courage my child!
I was terrified and couldn’t move. Mama pushed me out of my hiding. The lion saw me. He got up and approached me. I could feel his breath just like in my dream. He was getting ready to have his breakfast when mama suddenly came out of her hiding. She was transformed and looked just as ferocious as the lion. Her legs which were stocky and strong stood the ground firmly. Her two hands rested on her hips.
She spoke to the lion with such a fierce authority:
– Why are you disturbing my child? Ishe bu ru ku ki lo she?
The lion left me alone and turned his attention to my grand-mother. He was roaring with rage and showing his huge crows.
Mama carried on unimpressed:
– We are the children of Oloruoba and we fear nothing because our ancestors guard us.
The lion was angered. He looked as if he could attack mama anytime.
Mama spoke again tapping her right hand on her chest robustly like warriors.
– Let that be the last time for you lion.
From that day on, I looked at my grand-mother as a strange human being because she had fought the lion with words and had won.
Today, when I walk past a lion, my head is held up high with pride because I now know that strength is within us if we choose to use it.
Harmonie Loko (Sade Farotade)