Ages ago, men were meant to undergo certain activities that will demonstrate their manliness before a women is betrothed to them. The performance poetry by Yusuf Balogun Gemini is a reminiscence of this culture. In this performance poetry, the King’s prerequisite for marrying Abebi, the bride-to-be, was to eulogize her. It became a debate amongst men who had eyed her for many years. The bold, Alabi, was willing to bell the cat.
Alabi, the praise chant crooner, was bold enough to eulogize her, however, he was envied by elderly men who were not comfortable with his attempt to win the heart of Abebi, they schemed but it did not materialize. The love eulogy was so charming to Abebi and it kept ringing in her ears. Eventually, she was forced to ask Alabi, her suitor, if he was the person who was doing all the chant.
The poetry rich in Yoruba flowery words is made up of many adjectives to describe the lady; her beauty; the attraction to the young man and the endless use of the features of animals to convey other deep meanings. The poem that had its title “Lagidigba” from the waist bead won by ladies.
The eulogy reflects the satisfaction of Alabi by being in a relationship with Abebi. One of the lines of the poem reads, “ti moba ti ri Abebi mi, abusebuse” and another line reads “iran Alabi koje gbagbe Abebi” both loosely translated as “once I have seen Abebi, all is settled” and the other as “the lineage of Alabi never forgets Abebi.”
The performance poetry directed by Yemi Elesho, was set in various beautiful locale such as waterside, a hamlet. The performance poetry is full of the praise chant for the Olalomi clan of Offa, a town located in Kwara State but the clan has extended into various Yoruba towns.
Yusuf Balogun Gemini is the renaissance poet that will delight the new generation of Yoruba cultural afficionados.