No bottled palm wine or gourd hung on the tree or displayed on the table to advertise her product , palm wine .There was no signboard or any sign post to show the way to Mama Elemu’s place. By 10 am on that Saturday her shop at Idashen , Owo had been jam packed by customers who wanted to eat cornmeal (egidi) or pounded yam, bush meat and to drink palm wine.
How did they know they sell locally brewed palm wine here for there is no bottled palm wine hung on the tree and no gourds (akemgbe ) of palm wine hung on the tree as some used to .Yes ,that is the practice – from distance one could see bottled palm wine or an empty gourd of palm wine hanging loosely advertising that ‘palm wine is being sold here’!. No wonder , the Yoruba proverb that a good palm wine does not need an advertisement.
Chief Adewale, Mama Elemu and BoN during the interview
For the Owo natives who love palm wine this place is their choice. For visitors this place is where they would enjoy their evening with full satisfaction. For Owo natives in diaspora especially those who live in Chicago, Illinois, Texas, California,Las Vegas,Missouri , Carolina or Washington DC the moment they landed in Owo ,they would all go straight to Mama Elemu’s place in Idashen. If you live in the European countries and come to Owo your enjoyment is not complete if you have not been here to taste the undiluted palm wine called aroso.
BoN eating egidi with local soup
Emu abiwarapa abito fun fun lenu ‘ emu lawa nmu , Ero ya wa me mu oo.
Elemu nget on Ka ma rise …
Se kan ko mi ko tun sekan kora re ka jo maa mu loo
When this reporter got there he burst into Kegites songs , singing while eating the cornmeal (egidi) wrapped in a leaf with local soup (obe oogun) and egunsi soup .The fresh bush meat ( grass cutter and antelope ) were cut into pieces and tied with strings to avoid falling off. Seeing how she displayed the bush meat in a special pot could make a customer be salivating !
Chief Niyi Adewale a popular radio presenter described the place thus”Mama’s palm wine is as sweet as honey.She does not advertise her product but her product advertise itself!.Her palm wine is original. It is not diluted and if she does not have to sell she would not sell.!
She is very neat and at her age, in her 80s she still possessed good retentive memory. She is jovial ,she loves visitors and sell what you can hardly find in other places.Yes, she sells bush meat, fresh and undiluted palm wine.
MAMA BAKO RACHAEL
As she alighted from the cab, the driver assisted her to offload two rubber kegs of palm wine , all ‘foaming’ from the mouth. The aroma wafted in the air and immediately the customers stopped to drink the water they held in their hands and rushed towards the octogenarian woman asking to be served .This is Mama Elemu.
She is a woman of few words , she said “My name is Bako Rachael, I am over 80years .I have been selling palm wine for the past 50 years.I am well known in OWO.I sell original palm wine .From the proceeds of the my business I have trained my children in school and have a roof over my head” .She continued ” I sell bush meat and with local soup and use leaves to wrap my pounded yam or cornmeal and their taste is different from the ones wrapped with a nylon and kept in a cooler.Big men come here to buy my Palm wine and food”, she said as she was cleaning the leaves to be used to wrap the cornmeal.
As she brought out the drums of palm wine and one could see the palm wine ‘foaming’ from the mouth and the body of the container ‘sweating ‘ too.
Ask her for a cup of palm wine, she will tell you ”My palm wine is a special one.I don’t dilute it .I also sell bush meat with native soup [obe oogun] that goes along with egidi (cornmeal). Yes, you are at home for she will not put the egidi in nylon but wrapped in a green leaf , as everything is local.
WHAT HAPPENED IN LAGOS
When I got to Lagos in the evening and brought out the five litres of palm wine I bought along with the bush meat and I entertained my friends with it and we started dancing and singing . The evening gathering was turned to Tales by Moonlight as friends told stories and the most interesting one was why an empty palm wine gourd should not be placed sitting like the full one . I told them the story behind it “One day Ogun was coming from the farm , and the sun was hot , very hot. Ogun was thirsty , very thirsty. Ogun passed a palm wine joint ,passed a palm wine joint( repeat) but was neither greeted nor invited for a drink by these drinkards , and this was according to the instruction and rule that there should not be greetings at that Ajo Oriki Spot, and this was according to Ogun’s instruction too!. While Ogun moved on but suddenly he heard them laughing hysterically. Ogun thought he was been mocked . In annoyance Ogun went back to these drinkards and beheaded all the nine .As he finished the massacre he sat down to drink from the ‘sitting’ palm wine gourds.But lo and behold , all were empty , but the deed has been done. Ogun lamented.He regretted his action. and since then he instructed all palm wine drinkers to always place the empty gourd lying down”.
As I finished the story shouts of Babalawo of the Nation (BoN), Bobo T, T Bobo, Babalawo of the World (BoW) , Babalawo of the Universe (BoU) rent the air .
WHAT HAPPENED TO ME IN BRANSON
My head in bandage
As I opened my eyes at the hospital bed I discovered my head had been bandaged as well as my nose and my left eye. The surgeon said my skull had cracked .My left eye was to be replaced with artificial eye.My left hand was as heavy as lead and in plaster of Paris ( POP) .Will I be able to move the hand again? Will I regain my eyes again?.I looked at the doctor and broke into tears.I am finished ,I soliloquized. I looked up and saw Intravenous Fluid (IV) hanging loosely .Haa! , my right leg had been ‘decorated’ with Plaster of Paris (POP), and according to the doctor ,the right leg has fracture and it may be amputated. My head is ringing like a church bell .I did not know when I said ‘Kai my enemies had eventually captured me’.
What happen? When and how did I get here?.All I could remember was when I was in my velvet suits and at a gathering entertaining my friends who came from Texas and Chicago to visit us . I told them the story of my Owo trip and how we ate delicious food ; pounded yam, bush meat and egidi ;and how we all gulped it down with fresh palm wine. Then I started showering panegyrics on palm wine ”emu abirawarapa abito funfun lenu, Ogun Onire Oko mi, Ogun olomi nile f’eje we..” We were dancing to the music of Orlando Owoh’s music of Money for hand …Ero ki yeye mi oo,E get as E Be …..Suddenly a fight broke out between two ladies .One of the ladies who was pregnant traced her husband to the gathering , they exchanged hot words and this led to fisticuffs . The husband of the first one threw a broken bottle while the other man drew out his pistol from his waist band leather holster .The whole place was in chaos. Mr. Ade brought his sword from its scabbard while Mr. Ahmed in annoyance brought out a keg of petrol and wet the living room. Insanity took over as everywhere became the Devil’s home! .Their eyes turned red, some were screaming , others were shouting that it was Devil’s work. A woman was seen kneeling down in a corner praying and speaking in tongue to let God take control. Suddenly one of the ladies fighting fell into labour , she was screaming as she held her waist. Before you say Jack Robinson we heard the blaring of siren from Police Cars , Fire service vehicles and Ambulance .The noise of the siren buried our noise as the Fire fighters were trying to put out the fire as the whole building was in flame.
I called my neighbors for help but nobody turned up!.I called friends on phone the phone was dead!. infact I called the Pastor of my church. 20 of us were arrested . The house was razed as the gas exploded and sparks from electricity did not help matter cum the lightening that came with thunder . It was bad as 20 cars were burnt .
Many were arrested .It turned out to Court case. The woman who started the fracas and fell into labour later delivered twin babies but was fined. The man with sword was sentenced to two years imprisonment with hard labour while the man with gun had fled into the thin air and was never seen again.The other man was on Watch list.
My underwear was cold and ‘water’ was flowing from the mattress .Then I heard my name from a female voice calling , ”Babalawo of the Nation , get up its time to go and catch our flight back home, its now 11 o’clock .I realized this was Ronnie’s voice. I remember we came to the tourist town called Branson where we visited Silver Dollar City ,a big amusement Park where I rode the roller coaster and visited the Cave of ‘No Return’ . I had taken some oyinbo kain kain .I now remembered that I ate bush meat, pounded yam, cornmeal , egunsi soup, in Owo about two years ago .Then I burst into tears and started another song
Oooh my home
Oooh my home
When shall I see my home
When shall I see my native land
I will never forget Mama Elemu , sorry , I will never forget Owo my home