In a village popularly known as Ewedogbon, there lived a young maiden named Ewatomi. She was the only child of famous Ayanwale, the drum maker. Ewatomi was a beautiful lady who was old enough to get married but her father turned down all proposals. Ayanwale refused to give out Ewatomi’s hand in marriage to either a rich or poor man.
Everyone in the village began to wonder the reason why he wouldn’t let his 25-year-old child get married. Some said he wanted to marry his daughter for himself while some said that he used his child for money ritual and was told not to let her leave him. Over the years, there have been many hateful comments towards Ayanwale but he refused to let those words get to him.
Several times, Ewatomi questioned her father rudely, asking how why he wouldn’t let her get married but Ayanwale would say: “You deserve better, Ewatomi.” His responses to her over the years weren’t good enough for her to accept her fate.
One sunny Saturday, Ewatomi left home out of frustration without knowing where she would go. She just wanted to be free from her father. Unfortunately, Ayanwale found out the truth from Ewatomi’s maid before she could leave the village. Ayanwale sent out his men to search for his daughter and to bring her back home safe and alive.
Ewatomi was brought back home to her father’s house. She locked herself up in the room, refusing to eat or talk to anyone for days, and all she did was cry her eyes out. She was really mad at her maid for spilling her escape mission to her father, not knowing Ayanwale had threatened to kill her maid if she didn’t disclose Ewatomi’s whereabouts. She was tired of being mocked by the villagers because she was not married to any man whereas most of her childhood friends were in their husbands’ houses having children.
Two moons after Ewatomi’s escape mission failed, the town crier went round the village announcing the arrival of the Crown Prince who just came back from the white man’s land. He delivered the king’s message to the villagers.
“The king has asked me to share the good news that there will be a consort contest coming up in seven days days. All interested maidens are to gather in the palace for the contest, in which the Oracle would choose a bride for the crown prince,” he cried.
On hearing this announcement, Ayanwale was so happy. He rushed to Ewatomi’s room where he met her toying with her hair.
“Did you hear the town crier’s words from the king?” he asked but she gave no response to his question.
“Baami, I want to be alone.” She lay on bed quickly to avoid talking to her father.
“This isn’t the right time for you to be alone. The Crown Prince is back in the village!” he said, excitement in his tone.
“What should I do when the prince is back?” she frowned.
“You are going for the consort contest!” he said but Ewatomi laughed out.
“Ewa, this isn’t a joking matter.”
“Of course! It sounds like a joke!”
“Am I a clown?” he asked.
“Baami, you are funny!” she laughed. “You want me to join the consort contest?” He nodded. “No, I don’t want to marry the prince. I don’t want to be a Queen,” she said seriously.
“Ahhh, Ewa! Why say such a thing?” he exclaimed in surprise.
“Baami, let me remain in your house, grow old and die unmarried without kids too.”
“God forbid! I reject that for you!”
“No, Baami, I am not interested in getting married anymore.”
“Ewatomi, don’t talk like this. I have been preparing you for this day.”
She looked at him. “Preparing me?”
“Beeni, omo mi.”
“No o. The last time I checked you never wanted me married.”
“No, no o. Why won’t I want you to get married? I mean it is the joy of any parent to see his child get married.”
“Then you should have marry me off all these years.”
“I want you to be a Queen.”
“What!” she gasped out. “So you turned down all those proposals because you wanted me to be a Queen!”
“Ehn … ehm … Ewatomi, don’t get me wrong.”
“Ahhh, Baaami! So you are just concerned about yourself! You want to be referred to as an in-law to the king! This is very unfair! Baami, all these years I thought you had a better reason but it’s only greediness!” she spat angrily.
“Don’t talk to me like that Ewatomi! I am your father! A good one at that because everything I ever did was for your own good!” he snapped back at her.
“Good father? Good father my foot!” she hissed.
“Don’t you dare walk out on me!” He grabbed her upper arm when she was about to the leave the room.
“Baami, let me go.” He released her with a sigh when he saw tears in her eyes.
She sat on her bed slowly, her face in her palms. “Ewatomi, listen to me —”
“Don’t touch me,” she sobbed.
“I have a good reason for not giving you to any man.”
“What reason do you have?”
He heaved a sigh. “You’re destined to marry a king.”
“No, Baami —” She shook her head in disagreement.
“Ewatomi, my beautiful child, these were the words of the Oracle.”
She looked up at him. “Words of the Oracle?” He nodded. “What are you saying?”
“I will tell you everything you don’t know today.” He sat next to her.
“We are not natives of Ewedogbon Village,” he started off. “We are from a village called Ayanyemi, a popular place known for making the best drums in the world. Your mother was from this village but we met in Ogbon Village. We got married with the hope of spending the rest of our lives together but unfortunately death took her to an early grave. Your mother died few hours after you were born. I became so sad but I knew I had to be strong for you. And since I was left with the responsibility of raising you, I decided to relocate to Ewedogbon on your mother’s dying wish.”
“And what was her wish?” Ewa asked.
“It was as if your mother knew she was going to go. During the few years I spent with her as a happy man, she asked me to bring you to Ewedogbon so Iya Agba would get to see her grandchild.”
“Why are you just telling me this story?”
“Iya Agba said it is best to keep it from you. That knowing about your mother’s death was enough to make you sad.”
“So what happened after Maami died?”
“Two days to the day I was to leave my hometown, I carried you to Baba Awo, who is the herbalist in Ayanyemi Village.”
“According to the custom of Ayanyemi, any indigene who wants to leave the village must seek the permission of Oracle.”
“So what if the Oracle says no?”
“That means the journey won’t be a successful one. It’s either the person dies or not make it in wherever he relocates to.”
“And what if it is a yes?”
“Then you’ll make sacrifices to the gods of Ayan and Baba Awo would shower blessings and pray for you.”
“The Oracle agreed permitted you to leave?”
He nodded. “The moment Baba Awo consulted the Oracle, he smiled and said I should leave my hometown because of you.”
“He told me that the crown isn’t supposed to dwell outside the palace. I asked him what he meant, then he said you are destined to dwell in the palace,” he explained.
“I asked if you are to serve as a maid in the palace but he said no — a Queen. I didn’t believe him even as I journeyed to Ewedogbon. All I wanted was to devote my life to rasing you to be a good woman.”
“Is that all?”
“I met an old man who asked me to give him a beancake. It was the last one I had on me but I gave it to him because he looked like he was going to die. When I was about leaving, he asked me to give you to him.”
“I refused at first because I was scared he would disappear into the thin air.” He laughed. “But the old man said he just wanted to receive blessings from a blessed child. And for the second time, he said you are meant to be in the palace, and that I shouldn’t let you out of my sight for any reason.”
“Is that why you never let me move around without your men with me?”
“Ewatomi, I was only trying to protect you,” he responded.
“It didn’t take me up to a year to establish my drum business and I became the successful Ayanwale, the drum maker of Ewedogbon Village.” He paused to touched Ewa. “When you clocked five, I wanted to be sure of what I heard. So I took you to the Oluwo of this village. Then he made it clear to me that you will be a queen. He warned me to never let you be with any other man except he was a right prince to the throne or a king. I had to be really protective over you because as a queen you have to be well-trained and clean. That’s the reason why I never remarried because I was scared I would stop paying attention to you. And since I have heard stories of stepmothers doing evil to their stepchildren, I didn’t want anything bad to happen to you.”
“Baami, you should have explained all these to me.”
“Ewatomi, I want the best for you. And I was asked not to tell anyone about it.”
“So Iya Agba doesn’t know?” she asked.
“She only found out when you clocked 20. She was bothered about why I wouldn’t let you get married. So I was left with no choice than to tell her.”
“Accepted that I am to be a queen, Baami did the Oracle state that I would be the queen of this land?” Ewatomi cried out.
“The Oracle didn’t say any land in particular, but I know it is Ewedogbon palace.”
“How? And why do you think it is this land?”
“Baba Awo already told me my greatness is in this land.”
“Maybe he was only talking about your trade.”
“He was talking about everything that concerns us.”
“But why didn’t you let me marry the prince that came around?”
“No, listen to me, there was no prince among those men who came to ask for your hand in marriage.”
“But what about Prince Adesegun?”
Ayanwale laughed. “That one?”
“Yes, Prince Adesegun from Aje Village,” she added.
“He’s not a true prince! He just calls himself a prince!” Ewatomi’s jaw dropped. “I did my research very well on him. Remember when I travelled to Aje Village?”
“Yes … when you went to your friend Bankole to request for the money he borrowed from you,” Ewatomi answered.
“Bankole didn’t owe me anything. I went to make enquiries about Adesegun. Bankole made it known to me that Adesegun calls himself prince because his mother is the younger sister to the king.”
“He can’t be king.”
“But he told us that he would be the next king.”
“Yes! Such a liar!” Ewatomi spat.
“That’s why I didn’t let you marry him.”
Ewatomi sighed. “Baami, I never knew you had my best interests at heart,” she said in a low tone. “I thought you didn’t let me get married because you don’t want to be alone when I moved to my husband’s home.”
Ayanwale laughed. “What a childish thought!”
“I can’t do that to you. Ewa, I didn’t tell you because I know you might spill it your friends that you can’t marry anyone because you are destined to be a queen. And you don’t know who is who, the walls have ears too. An evildoer might decide to tamper with your destiny.”
She nodded in agreement. “Baami, I am sorry for misunderstanding you.” She went on her kneels. “Forgive me for every word I said to you over the years.”
“Ewatomi, those word didn’t get to me.”
“I said alot of things to you —”
“Forget about it. I am just happy the time has finally come.” He helped her to sit back on the bed.
“Baami, I am not sure that Crown prince would want me to be his bride.”
“Your destiny is in the hands of the Creator and not the prince.”
“I know, but you who knows if the prince has a white bride?”
Ayanwale laughed. “Ewatomi stop doubting the words of the Oracle. I have held on to these words, knowing that someday they would be fulfilled.”
“I am just thinking —”
“The prince can’t marry a white woman. The tradition says that the queen must be a part of this village. And your mother is an indigene of this village.”
“Baami, there are other beautiful maidens in the village.”
“None can be compared to your beauty, Ewatomi.”
“There are wise maidens too.”
“Ewatomi, put your fears aside. I have just one question for you.”
“Are you still a virgin?”
“Why? Are you doubting me?”
“No… no… but you know your attempts of running away —”
“I haven’t been with any man. Baami. You taught me to never let any man touch me if he hasn’t paid my bride price and done the necessary rites.”
Ayanwale smiled heartily. “That’s my daughter! You’re qualified for this consort contest. All we need to do is prepare you for the contest. I will get the best hairmaker to come over and I will also personally go to the market and purchase the best taffeta dress made by Aduke the popular taffeta maker.”
“Baami, all for the consort contest!”
“Baami, what about beads?”
“Yes! Yes! I will get beads too! For your wrists, waist and ankles, so the prince won’t be able to take his eyes off you when you dance in the presence of the whole villagers.”
“Baami!” Ewatomi laughed.
“The time has come!” He danced happily.
“Baami, thank you.” She hugged him. “I promise to take care of you when I become the queen.”
“Ewa, I just want you to be happy. You know what again?”
“I can’t wait to be called Baba Agba!” They both laughed.
“May you live long, Baami!” she prayed.
“Ase!” he answered.
“Baami, I need to visit Iya Agba so she can teach me traditional dance moves that would entice the prince.”
“Remember that you are not to tell anyone about it,” he warned.
“Yes,, Baami!” She rushed out.
“Eledumare mo du pe o! Mopelola, I hope you are happy wherever you are?” Tears formed in his eyes as he called out the name of his late wife.
Ewatomi danced so beautifully that the prince fell for her at first sight. He was enticed by her beauty, wisdom and how she carried herself gracefully during the consort contest. He prayed Ewatomi was the right one for him because it was left for the Oracle to decide who the next queen would be.
Fortunately for Prince Adelana, Ewatomi was the right bride for him. They got married and lived happily.