An Open Letter to the Broom Deity – Ogunyemi Bukola

Broom 2When I was young and naïve, accosting the threshold of manhood; the scales had just fallen off my eyes, and I was appalled by the pervasive darkness that has long ensnared our land. It was no anathema; in all other lands far and near, history pages testify of progressions from darkness to light. And such light, by reason of the discovery of some brighter light, would soon wane into gloominess and be condemned as archaism. But it’s too intense here; impervious and formidable. Cockcrow is no omen of dawn. Night reigned and ceded not power to day. But night by day, and day by night, with tyrannical viciousness, darkness prevailed.

Many plagues, lowly esteemed in other lands, proved incurable, even snails have venom and evoked fear like snakes. No god had been denied it’s due. No deity was offended. No taboo broken. Nevertheless, the number of failure increased with the number of rituals to liberate the race.

Father said it was not always like this. He told me the once upon a time tale of when our land was rich, blessed and peaceful. The people served the deities and denied them not their rights. Then the white deity came and said our people were backward and uncivilized. So they dethroned our kings, disrobed our priests and ruled over us. And all manners of abomination followed. Fathers began to sell their sons for the white deity’s gifts. Brothers sold themselves into slavery. The people abandoned their deities and followed the white deity.

The incursion of the white deity into our land wasn’t all a tale of tragedies, his priests did bring some good with them. Our children had access to the white deity’s knowledge, with which they have been able to cure diseases and build machines. But his priests plundered our land, turned the people against their deities, made us forsake our language and the culture of our land.

A hundred years ago, father said, a certain priest of the white deity which ruled over lands in the North and South decreed us into one land, and his woman gave us a strange name, which we bear till this day. More than four decades later, our people won the battle for the rulership of our land to be transferred back to the priests of our own deities.

The priests of the white deity left, but the seeds they had planted in our land had taken root. Barely three years later, the priests of the deity of force took power from the priests appointed for us. They cited corruption and bad leadership as reasons for the takeover. Then war. The people of the land on the East said it was time to go their own way. The rest of the land said there was no way. Like a people cursed, brothers took up arms against brothers, children died in their thousands. But the priests of the deity of force wouldn’t give up power. One generation after the other, one batch after the next, each citing corruption and bad leadership as reasons for leaving their posts to rule the people. Terror reigned supreme, the people lived in fear. Other lands mocked us, some even shut their doors against us. The few that could speak up against evil in the land were killed, others fled, the rest kept mute, and the men in them died.

Then the gods came to our rescue, the priests-turned-dictators agreed to hand over power to the priests appointed by the people in line with the traditions of the white deity. So the people gathered and formed deities among themselves. The priest of the deity of raincover was then appointed leader over the people, for he promised to protect them from rain and sun, and be a shade over them. So the priests of the deity of raincover reigned over the land one dozen years. But the people of the land were dissatisfied, for the priests lived in opulence while poverty pervaded the land. And the priests of the deity of raincover formed over themselves canopy of comfort and plenty, while the raincover was turned into a weapon of oppression, thrusting into the people. And other deities in the land couldn’t oppose the deity of raincover, for there was much division amidst them.

Then a wicked priest of the deity of raincover arose in the land, and deceived many till he became leader over them. And he did much wickedness in the land, and desecrated the shrines his fathers had built, and frittered away the resources, and caused much disunity among the people. In his time, the deity of terror became strong, and there was much death in the land, as was the case in the days of the deity of terror.

So the people cried unto other deities in the land to deliver them. So the deities gathered themselves from the North, East and West and after the similitude of a broom renamed themselves for the progress of the land. And they came to be known as the broom deity, signifying unity for the purpose of sanitation.

Oh broom deity, you promise to sweep the corridors of power and sanitize our land, to keep us united and progressive. You promise us a better society, jobs for our children, jobs for our adults, and food for all. You promise to build our schools and hospitals, to recover the loots carted away by leaders before you. We want all these, but would we know you won’t turn on us later like other deities have done?

But oh deity, we heard some of the corrupt priests of the deity of raincover now worship at your shrine. All the priests of the deity of raincover have found space in your abode, with their dirty hands and evil hearts. Oh deity, we rejoiced at your coming, but why is it that we can no longer see any difference between you and deities we are wishing away? Your priests have been going around begging high priests which wrought terror in the land to worship at your shrine. How is it that the enemies of the land have become your friend?

And one of your priests even went to wine and dine with the high priests of the deity of raincover while we were mourning the death of our people. Some of your priests which rule in the regions within the land have not done any better the priests of the other deities. Some have said your priests want power only for themselves, while others said your some of your priests are behind the terror in the land, all for power.

Oh deity, what shall you do with our sacrifice of votes in 2015? Shall this broom turn around and become another cane on our backs? Oh broom deity, are you the savior we expect, or shall we await another?

Ogunyemi Bukola (@zebbook) writes from Lagos, Nigeria.

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