Ila ko n’ise meji, emu n’ise won [Ila has no other business but palm wine tapping]
Akiwarapa a b’ito funfun l’enu,
Akiwarapa a b’ito funfun l’enu , o wo’lu l’aaro,
bo ba d’ale ariwo a ta,
a ni B’o o lo Ko o m’aalo,
iyawo elegbe fati abi elegbe run
( Epileptic man that foams from the mouth. When he arrives in the morning he remains gentle but in the night he threatens his wife saying ‘Go if you want to !’. The next day he begs his wife for forgiveness]
WELCOME TO ILA ORANGUN
As the commercial bus drove past , the palm -wine trees on both sides of the road were the cynosure of all while the aroma of the palm- wine wafted in the air. As the vehicle was running fast the trees too were running backward while the scent increased.Funny!.
A palm-wine tree in Ila Orangun
Some of these palm-wine trees are tall while some are of average heights of different shapes while their palm-fronds with their green leaves showed how healthy the trees are in the environment. The fresh breeze coming from the areas was felt as the sound of the ‘slapping’ of the leaves could be heard- no thanks to the evening breeze. From afar off one could see different sizes of gourds attached on the palm-wine trees.
Prince Oladosun, Halimat and others
A man unconsciously cried out ” Je nlo de’mu mi , agbe mi yio ti kun” [Let me go and ‘offload’ my palm wine, my gourds would have been filled up] , while everybody in the commercial bus burst into laughter.
Another passenger responded ” I have left Lagos where we drink ‘chemical’, and I am going back home to drink fresh palm -wine”, he added ”I take two kegs of palm- wine to Ibadan to sell every week end”.
Other passengers debated on the advantages of palm -wine over alcohol. In a jiffy, the topic of the local wine turned many passengers to overnight ‘Medical doctors’, ‘Nutritionists’, Chemists’ ‘Pastors’ and ‘Counselors’ as each brought his own views on the wine while the argument almost resulted to exchange of hot words and fisticuffs.
While the argument continued the vehicle arrived its destination , Ila Orangun town.
PALM -WINE IS OUR BUSINESS
Four elderly men coming back from the farm with their gourds foaming from their mouths were sighted . This reporter approached one of them for interview who was jovial and turned the interview to a comedy , as he went into action, singing ” Ila ko n’ise meji, emu n’ise won” [Ila has no other business but palm- wine tapping].
Another one boasted ” Have you tasted it? .Have you drank our wine?. Have you been to our forest to see our gold?. You will marvel seeing how Ila Orangun town is blessed with precious ‘gold’ . We are the biggest supplier of palm- wine in the South -West of Nigeria, if you are in doubt then go and ask”.
One Nosiru Shiitu who lives in the town stated ”Our wine is different from the chemicals you people take in Lagos .Our wine is fresh , undiluted and medicinal. It cures malaria fever, we mix it with other herbs and roots and use it for one thing or the other”, he boasted.
STORIES, STORIES IN PALM -WINE JOINTS
It was a Friday around 6pm , the sun had gone down and everywhere was bubbling as civil servants had returned home, farmers and artisans too had retired home and all went out to cool down with drinks. Some were in the Beer Parlor sipping their beer with pepper soup and bush meat while others in Palm- wine joints cooling off.
Different types of cars, motorcycles and bicycles were packed on the streets while long benches, wooden and iron chairs were used as seats in Palm -wine joints. Some however sat on concrete cement as the sight of gourds, plastic kegs and cups with calabash cups (aha) were offered. Customers were served , those who were anxious to drink served themselves and told the woman how many they had taken.Here, the literates and illiterates discussed all manners of topics from social to politics.They threw banters not minding their status, religion, or sex.
Stories of all kinds were told, two hunters spoke about their adventures, one narrated how he met a Fairy (Iwin) while another old man described how he killed a tiger with his dane gun. An old man who had fewer teeth in his mouth caught attention of everybody as he narrated how fought in Germany. He described Adolf Hitler’s bunker, and threw everybody into suspense . The old man gave the graphic details of the German war and when he was highly ‘ charged’ he started gesticulating and punching the air with his fists as he was expressing his views to drive home his points .
In another scene some young men were dancing to the African Kennery, Orlando Owoh’s music blaring from the giant hifi speakers placed in strategic positions. Palm -wine is what brought them together!.
BoN posed with a statue in Ila Orangun
The ancient town ,Ila Orangun is popular not because of the political gladiators they have or because of the politics they practice but it is popular and well known as the only town in the South west that has the highest number of palm wine trees and also trade in the palm wine business .
Virtually almost all households in Ila Orangun sell palm- wine and it is said that the best palm wine is from the ancient town.
One of the prominent sons of the town, Prince Olusegun Idowu Oladosun said “This town generates 80per cent of her earnings from the proceeds of palm wine.There is hardly any household that do not trade in palm-wine from natives to non -natives. My forefathers were palm wine tappers. From my great grand mother down to my mother were also palm -wine sellers.We brew palm -wine, it is our own industry and our great source of income”.
A palm -wine seller, Halimat Olawole who is in her 70s, said “I inherited this business from my parents . They were both palm wine tappers and sellers. Our own palm wine is the best in the country, we don’t mix our palm wine with chemical. My forefathers were palm wine tappers. When they traveled and settled down in other places like Ile -Ife they were doing the same business till they died”, she continued ” my father’s name was Gbadamosi , my father had no other job than tapping palm wine. And his wives had no other job than selling palm wine” .
Prince Oladosun described the town that it has no other medicine than palm wine ( Ila k’o l’ooogun , emu l’ogun Ila), he said ” the only job we have here is palm wine tapping from time immemorial and we are also into farming”.
Apart from being our business , palm- wine cures all ailments Suleiman Oluwarotimi said , raising his voice .He said ” any child that is sick and given this palm wine must be healed if he did not recover then we believe the baby is a bastard.”
For Aremu Joseph who is non native (from Ekiti) but had worked and retired in Ila Orangun have this to say ” this is how we drink it here , I am from Ekiti state. I am happy to have been caught here drinking it, palm wine is good for your health but one should not abuse it and then drink to stupor” , he cautioned .
Another non indigene , Bamidele Adeagbo said “I am from Idanre in Ondo State .My father was a palm wine tapper , my father once told me a story that the keg Ila people has is called their hernia and this used to annoy them . I fought over over it several times until we later knew it was just a joke, but an expensive one”.
As they were happily drinking , a man reminded others not to leave the keg standing upright as Ogun could appear to them, he then narrated how Ogun in annoyance beheaded some palm-wine drinkers when he met the gourd standing as if it was filled with palm wine, and when he met it empty he beheaded all of them and since then it has been the practice to be placing empty gourds lying down instead of standing or sitting .
A lady who was seen assisting her mother serving palm wine Silifatu Azeez, said “I am assisting my mother to sell palm wine and I am understudying it in order to continue the business when she is old .The business runs in the family”. While the mother interjected ” Any job you are doing and cannot leave it for your children to continue is questionable”.
PALM -WINE’s TABOOs
But are there taboos for Palm -wine tappers? . Yes , there are , two old men chorused. Among the most important taboos is “Thou shall not taste a pint of palm wine before climbing the palm wine tree, whoever does this will be blind! “. However this was punctured by an elderly man who said ” it is not good for a palm wine tapper to get drunk before climbing the palm tree!”, he explained further, ”You see we have seen a lot of people in the past who got drunk and when they got up there jumped down from the tree top not knowing again the high level they were”.
Another man said ” You must not smoke cigarette while tapping” , Why? ”he could miss his way while looking for matches!”. All these taboos are for safety reasons, according to the men who said they adhere strictly to these taboos.
SONGS FOR PALM WINE
Chief Yusuf Olaboye described the Ila Orangun as a rich cultural place where songs are rendered for palm wine , with his melodious voice he sang in praise of the palm wine :
Ope wewe lemu re ndun, Mo ba’La roko. Ila a muludun,
Mo ba Ila roko oo (The wine from the little palm tree tastes fine , I will go to the farm with Ila people . Ila makes the town to be merry , I will go to the farm with the Ila people ),
Ila Ko n’ise meji Emu n’ise won( Ila has no other business than palm wine business).
Yes, this is Ila Orangun the home of Palm -wine, the place of epileptic ‘victim’ foaming from the mouth.(‘Akiwarapa abito fun fun lenu’)
ILA HAS ORIGINAL CROWN
Ila Orangun is respected for their crown which they said its original and not controversial , since it is believed that he ( Ila Orangun) is a direct son and crowned Oduduwa son, no wonder they sing
Ila l’ade wa, nwon o w’Ade ka ( Ila is where the crown is , they don’t need to search for crown elsewhere ).
Before this reporter’s departure songs were rendered , Yusuf Olaboye sang Iyan lounje Ila ati Emu.
Abeke Momodu another palm wine seller rendered her own thus :Awa la lemu ni’la Orangun, Ila lo lemu , Ila lo leemu eeemu aroso o. , Ila lo lemu , emu aroso( We are the owners of palm wine in Ila Orangun. Ila owns the palm wine , fresh and undiluted wine )
While the septuagenarian palm wine seller , Alimotu gave the palm -wine its panegyrics thus:
Akiwarapa a bito funfun lenu,
Akiwarapa a bito fun fun lenu , o wolu laaro,
bo ba dale ariwo a ta,
a ni Bo o lo Ko o maalo,
iyawo elegbe fati abi elegbe run
( The epileptic man that foams from mouth. When he arrives in the morning he remains gentle but in the night he threatens his wife ‘ Go if you want to !’. He begs his wife for forgiveness the next day)