The old man, or rather first king, stepped out and there was such a thunderous salute from those who were witness, one could be forgiven for thinking that all the dead had risen to bid him homage. He raised his hands. “I have a story to tell you, but I will first give grace to the first Creator that created man and also to the first created One. When we overcame the wolf-men, close to the smoking islet, it was to find our own kingdom and be masters of our own destiny. The first Created gave us the divining beads and said we would never get lost nor be vanquished by the wolf-men if we listened to the divining beads of Ifa. You all carry within you the story so I will not bore you.
“Through perfidy, jealousy, lust and silliness, we lost a prince. I made a vow not to create a seat for me with the ancestors because I am the first ancestor and a prince was lost. I pleaded that I may be permitted to search for the lost prince until he returns to his rightful inheritance since I am responsible for bringing about what happened.
“Ifa told me of his journeys.
“That night the lion kept him warm with his body until Numen came and took care of him. She handed him over to a farmer and his wife with instructions never to ask how the boy came about. However the boy had a habit of following the lion everywhere and the lion allowed it. It learned to imitate the sounds of the lion and knew no fear. Numen explained to the farmer’s wife that he would always be identified by his ability to roar like a lion or growl like one. He was almost twelve, time to enter the grove and pick his spear in the initiation rites. Numen brought him to me and allowed me to know him. He was told nothing of his real nature. He learnt herb-lore and became a very good farmer.
“One day the farmer went to the next village and was captured by some strange men. I could not trace him again. I was inconsolable but had to take heart knowing that his line was still intact. Then came the drama of the wives and since I was not sure of how many wives were lying in wait I asked Numen to help me. She explained that the prince would not be king in my lifetime. When I asked why, she said he was to come when the village needed him to stand in protection. She assured me she would be around then too, so I might be given permission to close the cycle in whatever form Olodumare might decide.”
Babatunde poured more of the powdery substance into the flames and briefly the flames illuminated the old man’s face. He looked very tired except for his eyes, which glowed.
“I am not physically here, but in my wanderings I have been given permission to attend this invocation, and I do not have much time. I gave the lost prince the symbol of kingship. Let the one who has it now stand up and present it so all may know and greet him.”
There was dead silence as everyone looked round wondering who that could be. The old man growled deeply and Babatunde stood up slowly to his full height as he roared in response.