In Kuta, a sleepy town in Osun State, anyone who ventures to hawk groundnuts will die in the process while those who pound yam have signed a pact with poverty. Tunde Ogunesan who visited the town presents a genesis of the development
WHAT the head of the family does not take, the wife dares not prepare it, says a Yoruba adage. But if a wife tries to prepare delicacies that her husband does not take, then she must be ready to withstand the reaction of the head of the house. This adage could best describe the situation in Kuta, a small town in Ayedire Local Government, Osun State, where it is forbidden to hawk groundnuts and pounded yam.
When Tribune Features learnt that someone cried to death for hawking groundnuts in Kuta, the curiosity to know why such happened led to the journey to the town. Though the head of Kuta kingdom, Olowu of Kuta, Oba Shittu Bamgbade, was not available to comment on the matter, Tribune Features met a man whose voice on such issue could not be discarded. Raimi Ojeyemi, known as ‘Baba Sango’ is the head of the hunters in Kuta and he said growing or selling groundnuts is a taboo in the land as well as selling pounded yam.
As they say, where there is no law, there is no sin. Why did such things become an abomination in the land? He said the town has a deity called Anlugbua which they worshipped before the modern day religions – Christianity and Islam came, this deity , according to Baba Sango, was worshipped with groundnuts and pounded yam, so it is forbidden for anyone to make mockery of the sanctity of Anlugbua’s items, hence selling these food items became an abomination to the residents.
Baba Sango said, “the name Kuta came from a saying “Iku ta mi ti omo odo agba. The town Kuta was established by Anlugbua, a hunter, who today the entire community of Kuta is worshipping. He left the town during a time of war that ravaged the land, for the place known as Anlugbua forest till today. Since then, we’ve been worshipping him as the founder and leader of the town and as we all know because his trait (being swallowed by the ground) was an uncommon one, it showed a powerful person whom Eledumare (God) empowered. Some of the things we give him annually during the festival are, pounded yam, kolanut, cows, white or black rams, anything he requests for.
“Till date, the town still continues to worship him as a deity. No king in the land will ascend the throne and stop worshipping him. It is our symbol of unity, uniqueness and source of existence. Also, we have Ose tree that we worship, it was then located at the Mosun market, you must have seen a big round about when you were coming into the town that was its initial location. But when modern religion came, they fell it.”
How did selling groundnuts and pounded yam become a taboo? And have the people been able to sustain the taboo now that modernisation or modern religions are in vogue? Baba Sango said a true native of Kuta would not try contravening the taboo because they all grew up to know it, though he said there had been trials and they are all witnesses to the consequences.
Baba Sango said there was a notable incident of a move by a section of some modern religious practitioners in the town to show that the taboo could have no effect on them. According to him, “they asked a child to hawk groundnuts but the child that hawked the groundnuts cried to death, ask anybody in town. In those days, when they said something was a taboo it would be regarded as such, but what do we have today? Because of foreign religions we throw away our culture and make ourselves sacrifices to the deity. Tell me, the child that died, was he not used by his sponsors as sacrifice to the deity we’re using rams and cow to worship?
“For groundnuts, anybody that tries to sell groundnuts will have to pay for it with his life but whoever that pounds yam for sale will die a poor person. Cultivating groundnuts in the land is forbidden, selling it is also forbidden, though we eat it. Nobody from the land will dare cultivate or sell it. Those who tried it in the past now live with the consequences. That is our culture and as a traditional leader and head of the hunters, I am entitled to worship the deity as I’m doing it now, I also have an Ogun shrine in front of my house that I worship as the head of the hunters in the town.”
Saliu Famuyiwa, another elder in Kuta, corroborated Baba Sango’s claim that both groundnuts and pounded yam are forbidden for sale in the town. He said the norm is still in vogue.
Famuyiwa said for as long as the town exists, the taboo will subsist. He also admitted that those who had the courage to break the taboo faced the consequences.
“A taboo is a taboo. In Kuta, we don’t sell groundnuts and pounded yam, anybody that tries it will die. Those of the modern religions who once claimed that they had broken it now live with the consequences. They cannot say such things do not exist, the taboo has been since the time of our forefathers who told us of its sanctity because of Anlugbua deity, and as long as we worship it, the taboo will continue to exist.
“Although several attempts have been made to silence it, those against it have never and will never succeed. It is not what somebody just woke up one day and cooked up. It is a long standing tradition,” Famuyiwa noted.
Culled from : Nigerian Tribune