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Ajé, Òrìṣà Of Wealth

Ajé is the Yoruba divinity of abundance.

It is the divinity of money.

I flunked my first Ajé test.

I passed subsequent ones, but I flunked the first at age 5.

My mother said, “Moyo, go into my handbag. You’ll find it in the sitting room. Get me a tọ́rọ́ (three-pence) coin from it. Look in the side pocket inside the bag. Quick.”

I saw the bag where she said it was and opened it, and looked inside the side pocket.

It was full of coins! All denominations: One-penny coins, three-pence, six-pence, and shilling coins.

And there were lots of them.

I had never seen so many coins together before.

I already knew the power of money to procure what you desire, such as ẹ̀pà (peanuts) and gúgúrú (roasted corn).

With this heap of money, only Olodumare knows the quantity of EPA and guguru you could buy with these coins in the bag!

I took the three-pence coin that my mother requested and closed the bag.

Then a brilliant thought occurred to me: why not take a shilling coin from the bag for your pleasure, and spend it during a break at school tomorrow?

Imagine all the gúgúrú and ẹ̀pà you could buy with one shilling! It would be enormous, and I would share it with my friends and we would all rock together.

Certainly, mom wouldn’t notice, with all the money in her bag.

I grabbed the shilling coin and slipped it into my pocket.

I gave my mom the three-pence coin.

She took it from me without a word or even a look.

I couldn’t wait for the lunch break the following day.

Once our teacher, Mrs. Durojaye released us for a lunch break, I raced to the Iya Elepa, who always brought roasted epa and guguru to our school.

“How much?” Iya Elepa asked.

“One shilling,” I said.

She looked at me funny.

She must have misheard me and asked the question again.

“Sile kan,” I said with some irritation. Did she think I didn’t have money, or what?

I brought out the coin from my pocket and showed it to her.

“Ó fẹ́ ra ẹ̀pà ṣílè kan?” she remarked with incredulity.

“Yes,” I said.

“Who sent you?” She asked.

“Nobody,” I said. This was beginning to get complicated. “I am buying it for myself.”

“Ẹ̀pà ṣílè kan?”

“Yes.” She was beginning to get on my nerves with her manner.

She took the coin from my hand.

“How did you get this money?”
“It’s mine.”

“I know,” she said. “it’s yours. But how did you get it?”

Things are beginning to get k-leg o. If it were in the US, and you were a crook, this was where you should plead the fifth, right?

But I was just a five-year-old gangster without legal representation.

My mouth was dry. “My mother gave it to me,” I lied.

“Iya Moji gave you a shilling to buy epa?”

Oh my God! Does she know my mother? Things have gone out of hand. It was planned to be a simple negotiation.

I will cut a very long story short.

Iya Elepa left her ware and dragged me before Mrs. Durojare.

Mrs. Durojare escorted me home after school closed and told my mom the entire story.

My mom asked me how I got the money.

I started to cry. “From your bag, yesterday.”

She thanked Mrs. Durojaye who returned the ill-fated shilling coin and went home.

My mom didn’t say a word about it to me after she left.

Her silence felt like terrorism. I expected her to yell and scream at me and flog me to death, at the very least.

But, nothing. I couldn’t look her in the eye. I made myself as small as possible in the home.

My father asked me, “Moyo, you ok?” I nodded yes.

About a week later, my mom asked me to get her a shilling from her handbag.

“It’s in the bedroom,” she told me.

My heart skipped a million beats. That THING again? That bag. Those satanic devil’s coins?

I went into her bedroom, and my hands were shaking as I touched her bag.
I opened it.

I carefully reached inside it and retrieved the shilling coin from the mountain of money, my fingers trembling.

I went straight to her and stretched it out like it was some accursed article unfit for human touch.

There was a faintly amused look in her eyes. Perhaps even a smile.

She pulled me toward her, and hugged me, crushing me to her breasts.

I sobbed.

I learned my Aje lesson the hard way.

Aje is the divinity of violence that sits quietly like she is without a clue.

Aje, the divinity that is not lost, but which everyone is avidly searching for like a kidnapping victim.

I recommend giving your children the Aje test when young because you don’t know a fellow until tried by Aje.
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Prof. Moyo Okediji

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