Sunday 3 April 2022


My mom transitioned today and she is now an ancestor. She drew her last human breath today, this morning. My baby sister, Banke, informed me, “Maami left at 3:53 pm.”

I knew she was departing. I was ready for it. My mother is now an Ère, the perfectly beautiful being.

“Ènìyàn ò sunwọ̀n láàyè. Ọjọ́ a bá kú là á dère,” as Iya Oyo said one rainy evening.

It means “A human is an ugly being. The day we transition is when we become beautiful.”

A young woman ran from the rain, with lightning flashing and thunders rumbling, into my grandparent’s house to announce the passing of Iya Alakun, an elderly woman who sold beads and other jewelry in the neighborhood.

Calmly, Iya Oyo said, “Ènìyàn ò sunwọ̀n láàyè. Ọjọ́ a bá kú là á dère.” 

The proverb baffled me and I asked Iya Oyo to explain it to me.

“Doesn’t Ère mean sculpture?” I asked Iya Oyo.

“Yes, the meaning of Ère includes sculpture,” Iya Oyo explained, “but it is more than sculpture. The root of Ère comes from ‘re’ which means good, marvelous, excellent, beautiful, fabulous, stunning: anything that is delightful. It is from that same ‘re’ that you find “Ire,” which means something delightful. When you repeat “re” it becomes “rere,” and that means whatever is wonderful, pleasing, great, brilliant, amazing, magnificent.”

So my wonderful is no longer human. She is now an Ere. She has returned to the ilé  Ire (the mansion of goodness), where ẹni rere (good ones) live, for ever and ever.

My mother who taught me to love, not so much with words, but from the way she bathed me as a child, the way she touched my skin, looked me in the eye, and smiled at me.

My mother never caned me. If she was mad at me, she simply said so as softly as possible. 

Even as a child, she taught me to find and cherish my own space, to respect other people’s spaces, their rights to their opinions, and my right to express mine.

She taught me to empathize with others, by showing me empathy; to listen to others, by listening to me.

The only woman who left me in no doubt that she loved me is gone from this world, and she has now become an Ère, the perfect beauty. 

Sùn un re ò o, Yèyé mi rere. (Sleep well, my good mother).

The painting here is an Ère, a representation of goodness, marvel, beauty and delight of motherhood. 

I was finishing the painting when my sister announced to me, “Maami left at 3:53 pm.”

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