Urhobo Historical Society


By Ochuko Tonukari

It is time for me to go, Onime; I am going.

When in the paling darkness of the lonely dawn
you stretch your arms for Omowe in the bed,
I shall say, “Omowe is not there!”
Onime, I am going.

I shall become a delicate draught of air
and caress you; and I shall be ripples
in the water when you bathe;
and kiss you and kiss you again.

In the gusty night when the rain patters on the leaves
you will hear my whisper in your bed,
and my laughter will flash with the lightning
through the open window into your room.

If you lie awake, thinking of Omowetill late into the night,
I shall sing to you from the stars, “Sleep, Onime, sleep.”

On the straying moonbeams I shall steal over your bed,
and lie upon your bosom while you sleep.

I shall become a dream, and through the little opening
of your eyelids I shall slip into the depths of your sleep;
and when you wake up and look round startled,
like a twinkling firefly I shall flit out into the darkness.

When, on the great festivals of Efa Igwe at Orhoakpor or Egba at Kokori,
the neighbours’ children come and play about the house,
I shall melt into the music of the flute
and throb in your heart all day.

  Oseme will come with our Efa Igwe or Egba presents and will ask,
“Where is Omome, Ayeme? Onime you will tell him softly,
“He is in the pupils of my eyes,
he is my body and my soul.”

Onime, when I go away
Being angry with You,
Without telling You,
Will You look for me?
I know I shall tremble in fear
If I look behind and see
That You are running after me
To catch me with Your Heart’s
Endless Affection-Compassion-Love.
If you call me, I know, Onime,
I shall have to surrender to You.
If You smile, Your Smile will compel me
To return to You.

Onime, Are you but a figment of my imagination?
Are you like a mist ascending from the
surface of a lake, only to disappear into
the night. Will you suddenly fade like
the foam on an oceans wave? Has the thought of
your love intoxicated me like too much wine,
and left my vision blurred and my senses
numb. Who are you, my veiled Oni
in the darkened night?

It matters not, thought you are real or not.
The quest for love remains my reason for being.
Life without love, is merely existence.
For is not love the one true reason for

O Onime of Compassion,
I am Your sweet infant child,
Like Jesus looking far into the skies
From the lap of Mary.
You love me infinitely more
than anybody else.
Friends and neighbours wonder
at your loving preference.
I call You Onime,
You call me Omowe.
I give You a sweet little smile
And kiss Your Feet again and again.

Onime, If I were hanged on the highest hill,
Onime, Onime,Onime!
I know whose love would follow me still,
If I were drowned in the deepest sea,!

Onime, Onime,Onime!
I know whose tears would come down to me,
If I were damned of body and soul,
I know whose prayers would make me whole,
Onime, Onime,Onime!

Onime, I bow to you!
Rich with thy hurrying streams,
Bright with thy orchard gleams,
Cool with thy winds of delight,
Dark fields waving, Onime of might,
Onime free.

Glory of moonlight dreams
Over thy branches and lordly streams,
Clad in thy blossoming trees,
Onime, giver of ease,
Laughing low and sweet!
Onime, I kiss thy feet,
Speaker sweet and low!
Onime, to thee I bow.

In your soul, with jewelled hair
And your glorious smile divine,
Loveliest of all earthly lands,
Showering wealth from well-stored hands!
Onime, Onime Onime!
Onime sweet, I bow to you,
Onime great and free.


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