In “Ikoko Akufo”, a song initially written for “Narrow Path”, a Mainframe film directed by Tunde Kelani, Beautiful Nubia began his rendition with a soulful dirge. His voice, stringed with sadness, would absolve you into melancholy. He lamented the fate of a broken pot, how it’s become a thing to be casted to the dump.
The metaphor here is cladded with many interpretations. But it’s the emotions for me, the mood his voice and the lyrics projected as he sang:
Monomono ya lu’gi, oro wo ‘nu ilu o
(Lightning struck against a tree, calamity entered into the town)
Itiju bi aso akisa lo ma ri o
(Shame like rag was seen)
O d’oro agbagba o, o d’eru f’ologbon
(It’s now a matter of the elders, it’s now a load for the wise)
O d’owo awon agba o, o d’eru f’ologbon
(It’s now left in the hands of the elders, it’s a load for the wise).
Then the piano accompanied by percussions, with guitars and horns giving an undercurrent, would wade off the melancholy, bringing upon you happy feelings as he painted with words the picture of a happy village:
Ilu Orita o, ilu alaafia
(In a town at the T-junction, in a town of peace)
Mo ni t’e ba de’be, e ba mi ki won o
(I say when you get there, extend my greetings to them)
Gbogbo wa la o f’ayo de ‘le
(We shall all get home with joy)
At some point, the song became a praise to a certain virtuous Awero. The singer begged:
Mo ni t’e ba ri o, e ba nki Awero yen o
(When you see Awero, greet her for me)
Omoge awelewa to nda ni l’orun o
(A beautiful damsel that appeals to me)
Ile owo ni o wo s’aya
(Come into the household of money)
Ile ola ni o wo s’aya o
(Come into the household of wealth)
His poetic lyricism and his Afrocentric style aside, Beautiful Nubia’s is an artiste who recognises his many roles. He’s not only an entertainer, he is a teacher, a prophet, and he wears this many robes perfectly. His songs are sometimes existential, “Owuro L’ojo” comes to mind here; they are sometimes satirical like in his ‘Small Peoples Anthem’ and they’re didactic as well.
It’s why in “Ikoko Akufo” and its myriad of emotions, he sang:
Seb’ade ori oko ni won, obinrin to n’iwa t’o l’ewa
(They are the crown of their husband, women that are dutiful and beautiful)
Iwuri obi ni won o ma je, mobinrin to gb’eko to mu lo
(She will be the pride of her parents, a woman that is well-behaved and acts it)
Ori re dara, ori re sunwon, o d’adufe olori oko
(You are fortunate, you are the most sought after jewel)
Ori re dara, ori re sunwon, o d’abefe o
(You are fortunate, you are priceless)
This was him praising ladies of virtue. They are their husband’s crown, he sang, the pride of their parents. This is the singer being didactic.
Then he took us back to the melancholy of the beginning:
Ikoko to fo i s’oun a mu to’le
(A broken pot is not worthy of decoration)
Ikoko to fo i s’oun a mu r’odo
(A broken pot can’t be taken to the river)
Ikoko to fo i s’oun a mu yan’gan
(A broken pot is not worthy of pride).
When he sang, Ibadi aran d’eni a mu se yeye
(The lady with big buttocks is now an object of jest)
Bi eye ti o l’apa
(Like a bird without wings)
Ibadi aran d’eni a mu se yeye o,
(The lady with big buttocks is now an object of jest), he gave the impression of a soiled virgin who didn’t end up well. This is where the story of the song became glaring. Who is this “Ikoko?”
In a moment of emotional vulnerability, the percussions slowing the tempo of the song down, Awero would be revealed to be someone close to the singer as he launched into a dirge once more, this time, mourning Awero, asking why she wouldn’t wait to do the things they do on earth:
O ba ma i lo o, Awero
(You shouldn’t have left yet, Awero)
O ba ma i lo o
(You shouldn’t have left)
Duro se’un obinrin nse
(Wait to do what women do)
Gb’aye se’un obinrin nse
(Live and do what women do)
And though the percussions tried to launch us back to a happy mood, at the end of the song we would be left with no doubt that this was not a happy song, it’s sorrowful, mournful and the singer had scores our heart with his sadness. In truth, “Ikoko Akufo” is a “Lamentation for a Broken Pot”.
Listen to the beautiful song 👇
Translation from Yoruba to English by Noah Oladele
6 thoughts on “Lamentation For a Broken Pot”
I enjoyed reading this.
Thank you Juwon and Noah, you’ve boosted my desire to learn the Yoruba language too.
Heheheee… Learn fast so I can stop speaking English to you😁
That will be awesome!😂😂😂
This is beautiful. Listening to the song now
Awww… Thank you! Did you enjoy the music?