(Special thanks to @osizurunkle for the AfroSays Mascot, we love that retro graffiti)
Demon Dance by darkBetty
A hush has fallen over the audience, the lights have been dimmed. The bright beam of the floodlight illuminates the set on the stage- red background with potted plants aligning the edges.
As if from a distance, the drums pick up. It is a slow tempo.
Back stage, the actors rub their hands together or pace or do breathing exercises to ease the anxiety. It is a larger crowd than the last, they want to perform well.
She is standing in a corner, her forehead against the wall. She barely acknowledges the first group of dance-dramatists as they flock out to act out their scenes. The sounds of theatre drift to her and she smiles, slowly moving her head from side to side.
She is small. Her slim arms hang down both sides of her tiny frame, almost disappearing into the wall.
“Ten minutes.” Someone whispers to her.
She moves away from the wall. She has just black aso-oke wrapped around her, baring her bony shoulders and reaching just above her knees. Facing the long mirror, she reaches for the white paste and smears a healthy portion across one eye. She stares at herself in the mirror. Her eyes are large and dark; they look out of place on her long face.
She is no longer Wuraola Sekoni; she is Asake now. Asake, The One who summons the Spirits- the script says.
She wraps the white cloth around her head. From the front to the back, twists it and brings it back forward, knotting it and tucking it in. She is ready.
The returning actors unconsciously leave a wide berth around her as they fill the back room once again.
She walks slowly into the lights; leaving the normalcy that is her to a realm she can only achieve on the stage.
The drummers pick up the tempo.
She moves to stage-center; looks up to some point just above every head in the hall then smiles an evil smile. They were ready.
She starts to move from side to side. Then flinging her hands to her sides, she turns her head up to the bright lights.
But she doesn’t see the bright lights; she sees a dark sky. She is no longer in the auditorium, she feels the wet grass underneath her feet instead and the cool night breeze whirl around her. They are ready.
She opens her mouth then lets loose a piercing scream. “Cooooome!”
The voice is too large to be coming from such a small person and it does not, because she is no longer small. She is no longer a person. She has no body there. She is one of the spirits, bidding her sisters come.
“Coooome! From the far East, come! I beckon thee of the West! Come to me, my Northern One! Do not be far behind, ye South!”
And they come.
She is moving faster now. And as they come to merge their spirits with hers, her hands lift and her head is flung farther back.
“Aaaaaaah! Welcome!” She shrieks into the heavens. “Welcooome!” Her chest heaves and shudders ravage her. Tingles run from the tips of her fingers to the bottom of her spine.
“She is an evil child.” Her grandmother used to say when she was but a child. She would look into those big eyes then announce it to the consternation of her mother. The grandmother had seen it.
Her sisters were always there, waiting. It was this way she got to be one with them. In front of an unsuspecting audience. She was born for this- to be one with them. On this altar, they perform the ritual of their communion; their little dance of union.
Her breathing slows and the drums quiet as if of their own accord.
Her head falls to her chest and she poses there, quiet for a few moments. Letting her soul seep back into her body through her nostrils.
Then Wuraola Sekoni walks off the stage amidst loud applause.
The Tale of Superific Majestic Fantabula by AfroSays
My hat is long and filled with a thousand tricks. Its length is ridiculous. It is striped with all the colours of the rainbow plus black. It’s a funny one, my hat.
I am a magician.
So you can guess how I look.
No you can’t. I’ve pulled together quite a redoubtable assortment you see? I made my collage-patched pants into a superific fitting shirt. It’s the colour of fireworks.
You guessed right! My shirt has been cleverly re-constructed to offer the service of fitting pants. I have nice colourful, mis-matched buttons on my bulge. A zip should be there but I created the most beautiful earrings out of them. I am fashionado fantabula! Perceive the sheer awesome-ity of my brilliance!
I smell like adverbs.
That’s what they always tell me, “Mr Fanta, you smell like adverbs”.
I don’t know what adverbs smell like you see but I guess that they smell like me.
I have a happy soul. Sanguine and altogether merry like my outfit and this soul is what I’m called to share every time someone wants to see my magic. “Fantastic Mr. Fanta” they’d say, “Show us some magic, would you kind sir?”
And who am I to refuse?
And did I tell you about my bag of tricks? I leave it at home. A real magician needs no tricks.
Magic. Is. The. Superific!
My hat? Oh! It’s for the kids! Today I was walking on Brightsburg road, singing my merry song, when a happy couple – a farmer and his wife – happened upon me. They observed me with a curious awe and called on me.
“Kind magician, sir? Traveling Kind Magician Sir?”
I granted them audience. My smile touched my ears and my forehead touched my sandals and my hat adjusted itself to the back of my head as I bowed to greet them.
“Yes, happy people! Good weather it is! Aye! And how may I help you on this Sunny day?”
“Our little John, we are having a birthday partay for him today. Would you be so kind as to share some of your tricks with our John and his friends? We have food aplenty and a place for you to stay the night”
I sprang to straight body!
“Yeeeeehhhhhssss! Mr Farmer and his wife, let us go!”
I took them both in each arm and we walked merrily to their cute little cottage. I had some fresh bread, milk and eggs and my hat had some too. They found it curious. Farmer whispered to his wife, “Maybe he stores some food there too”, I laughed. “My hat lives too, like you and I. Shall we partake of the partay?”
John and his friends played outside in the sun – hopscotch, cakery and so so. I called them together.
A horde of calfs stampeded in delight. They came as one, John and his friends.
“Want to see any tricks”
“Aye! Merry Magician sir!”
“Call me Mr. Fanta, I loved to be called so”
“Aye! Mr Fanta sir!”
“I have a thousand tricks and ten thousand magicks but I have a favorite for little kids. Want to see?”
“Yehhhhhsss! Show us kind sir!” “Magick us Mr. Fanta!” “Share your tricks Mr. Fanta!”
“Do as I tell you. DO SO OR NO TRICKS! NO MAGICK!”
“We shall obey your instructions, kind sir!”
“Hold your tongue out! Hold it to your lips, with both hands”
I showed them how and then they followed. Slowly at first, but eventually they all did.
“Unhold it now”
They could not. I pointed at them all and laughed. Some started crying; they sounded funny. A few ran around with both hands attached to their tongue, obviously frustrated at my mild joke.
Some stayed. Curious.
“Do you want me to help you unhold your tongue?”
They all nodded. None of them held at heart their good spirits from earlier. Why didn’t they get my joke?
“Mr. Superific Majestic Fantabula shall perform the grandest trick ever! Just for kids!”
The top of my hat opened and sunlight flew in several directions as two big pairs of milk-dripping scissors floated out. Fast. Sharp.
The scissors chased down John and all his buddies. Quickly and helped them. It was a grand trick and I cannot fathom for the life of me why John and all his friends were cross. They ran all over the bright red and green in random see-saws, wailing.
I had other tricks to share. I would make them delirious with gladness.
“Hulloooooooos!” I called out to Farmer and his overly excited wife at the mouth of their cute cottage. She was crying at the beauty of my creation. His mouth hung open.
“Join me please, let’s get the calves together, I have 998 more tricks, we have just begun this partay!”
Out of my hat floated 998 milk dripping needles. I smiled.
“This, Sir Farmer and Madame Farmette, is not just for kids.”