Baba who was supposed to take us to Bilikisu sungbo wasn’t home according to someone I suspect was his wife. She advised we waited since he hadn’t gone far. “Like I had another choice”, I thought within me. Before long, we beheld the frail looking man whom I suspect would be close to his eighties, adorned in a white lace material which has actually lost all attributes of a white cloth. The closer he moved, the more I feared he was going to collapse because the nylon bag containing 4 oranges hanging confidently on his right hand looked to be overpowering him. But to my dismay, Baba made it home all by himself. Hurray! We must have exclaimed as we both greeted him by prostrating very flat.
Whether or not he saw us, we couldn’t tell because Baba just passed by without responding to our greeting. My heart skipped. “Was he deaf?” I wondered. “Even if he was, he should have at least seen that some people were greeting naw”, the wondering continued.
Myself and my biker followed him in. greeted again and alas! He answered this time. And what followed was an absolute silence. I broke it by telling him we had come to see the grave of Bilikisu sungbo. Baba’s countenance changed, as though I had just reminded him about the death of a loved one. He became instantly moody. Whether he was acting it out or he was truly emotional, I couldn’t decipher. All I cared about was that he should get up from his sitting position and take us to see queen Sheba.
He asked if we had gotten permission from bale and we replied that we had gone to te baale’s place but found out he was sick.
After much persuasion, Baba stood up, went inside and came out with a bunch of keys. Then he moved out without telling us to follow him but we raced after him without invitation, caught him halfway and we all got to our parked bike. At this point, it was obvious my biker was enjoying every bit of it. I forgot to mention that when I asked why he decided to drive me down here, he replied by saying he has never been here before. So he sees it as an opportunity.
We soon got to the secluded location. Gentle and green wouldn’t be enough to describe the serene environment. Subtracting the uncontrollable whistling of the birds on the trees from the equation will equal it to a perfectly quiet site.
Baba alighted gently from the bike since he insisted he was going to sit behind me. He still hasn’t uttered any word since we left home. I became more apprehensive, but I couldn’t reveal this to since I’m not ready to experience what his wrath looked like. If anything should happen to me in this thick forest, I doubt if anyone would know my whereabouts. So I kept my cool and as chamber’s issue crept in again, my heart pounded as though my rib cage was tormenting it.
Baba recited some words which I couldn’t tell whether they were prayers or incantations. All I was concerned about was that the gates have to be opened.
“E bo bata yin (take off your sandals)”, Baba spoke eventually! We obeyed like we’ve been hypnotize. As we followed him, passing by an uncompleted bungalow, I gave a reasonable distance just in case anything was going to happen.
After trekking through the damp narrow path of the thick forest for about 3 minutes, we eventually got to the place. This place was covered with a large rectangular metal roofing sheet. The White sand beneath it was designed by doodle bugs in their hundreds and my fears intensified. “What if Baba wanted to use us for a ritual?” I thought as I heaved a sigh of relief on knowing that he can never overpower the 2 of us. On the second thought, I remembered Baba could also hit us with charm. Then I arrived at a 50-50 possibility.
At that point it dawned on me that we’ve gotten to the historic grave of Bilikisu sungbo, I grew pale as my stomach grumbled incoherently. Though I couldn’t hear what it said, but I knew it was reminding me that I hadn’t eaten.
We stood still as baba moved closer to the grave which was surrounded by faded white concrete pillars and an iron gate. The pillars surrounding the grave had rows of iron connecting them together. It was indeed different from all the graves I had seen in my entire life.
photo credit: nubia africa.tv
The story behind the legend of Queen Sheba
“Oju oori Biliki ree o (this is the grave of Bilikisu sungbo)”, baba said in a nonchalant manner with his moody countenance swinging from bad to worse. So I asked that he told me about her, but he instead flared up saying he couldn’t, that since we only said we wanted to see her grave, he couldn’t do more than we had requested. So my partner fumbled inside his pocket to tip him 500 naira. And just like the sun setting, baba’s face calmed.
Then he started by telling us how wealthy and influential Biliki was.. Bilikisu Sungbo according to baba was Sulaimon’s wife (it took me few minutes before knowing Sulaimon in the Quran was King Solomon in the bible).
She was one of those people who went to visit the great king Solomon to shower him with gifts (especially precious stones which Biliki had stupendous possession of) in that period.
At that time, King Solomon had no heir, hence, became troubled. (“Maybe that was why he had so many wives”, I thought inside of me). Due to this predicament, he promised his brother that he was going to be made heir after his demise.
Everything soon changed when Sulaimon married Biliki, she bore him a son which made King Solomon’s brother grew jealous. So, he made life unbearable for her through constant frustration.
When Queen Sheba (i.e. Biliki) got fed up, she told Solomon she was going to leave for her home as soon as her son came of age and immediately her son got matured, Bilikisu packed all her belongings and maids, and then set off for her home.
“Nobody in the whole of Nigeria (dead or alive) knew when Bilikisu got to this place.” Baba emphasized
Expantiating on how powerful Bilikisu sungbo was, baba said she personally dug her grave using just a needle, after which she lay down inside all by herself and refilled the hole with the sand she dug out.
Till date, no plant has grown on that surface. Baba also pointed to a similarly barren surface some meters away and told us that was the spot where she had her last bath before burying herself.
For every Muslim festival, Muslims from far and wide usually come here to pray and worship Bilikisu Sungbo. While come for requests, others come for thanksgiving. I got amazed when baba said her grave vibrates till date whenever it’s time for every of the Muslim prayer time.
When I inquired if there was any taboo relating to the grave of Bilikisu sungbo, baba quickly interrupted by telling me that women and dogs are not allowed to enter there. When I asked why, baba said he didn’t know but that a long time ago, a white man on hearing about the legendary Bilikisu sungbo, set out to come behold the site. So he came with his wife and dog. On getting to the village, he was warned not to take his wife and dog along but he refused. They did all they could to persuade him but all their attempts got confronted with heavy gridlocks. He was eventually allowed to bear the brunt. And as expected, he didn’t go home with his wife and dog because they were struck dead before leaving the village.
Dare’s call reminded me technology was still in existence because I was already so entrenched in the revelation of Bilikisu Sungbo. He wanted to know my whereabouts (what a caring soul).
I immediately became less afraid of my fears, death and all. At least if Bilikisu couldn’t kill me despite all my misdeeds, who else will aside God. Lol. We eventually left the spot and headed for the gate.
As we got to the gate, Baba muttered a few words which I guessed were to thank Bilikisu, locked the gates and we both hopped on the already ready Bajaj mlotorcycle as we headed back to the village to drop Baba.
The time was far spent, so I pressed on ‘Solution’ (yeah, that’s my biker’s name) to move faster and he obeyed. We sped past Pogil College of health and we in no time got to Ijebu Ode where I quickly gave solution 2,000 naira after withdrawing more thousands from a nearby GT bank for standing by me. ‘Solution’ deserved more because he even doubled as my photographer.
I quickly joined the next bus destined for Kuto and like we teleported, we touched down by 5:46pm.
NB: Kuto is a popular motor park which is also a market in Abeokuta.
I connected with another cab which took me straight to Alake’s palace since I still have an unfinished business there.
Featured image credit: naijatreks.com