It has been observed that the vulture has not been seen again in Khana of Ogoni. Of what significance was the vulture in the African traditional religion, which was and still practised by the people of Khana?
The vulture played an important role in the culture and tradition of Khana people in those days. Infact, the vulture was a symbolic bird. How?
Apart from being a scavenger bird, the vulture was a messenger bird between the people and their gods, goddesses and deities.
The vulture was in this tradition what the dove was in the tradition of the Israelites. For instance, when the people had sacrificed to their deities, it was the vulture that would descend and eat the sacrifice to show that it was an acceptable one.
How were the vultures invited? The invitation was done by clapping the hands. This clapping took place after the sacrifice has been placed, either on the ground or on a person’s head, depending on the type of sacrifice been performed.
If it was the one called “Awop-Pee”(goat sacrifice), which is done especially on the burial of a core traditionalist, the sacrifice, a racket of fish, a particular fish, was placed on a person’s head. Then the person would clap to invite the vultures. The person must be faithful and holy, bare bodied and barefooted but tied a specific wrapper around his waist.
The clapping would be done with caution and concern for the vultures to descend. Because if the sound of the clapping is too high, vultures wouldn’t respond.
That’s why there is a saying, “Too much claps distracted the vulture”. Sometimes, the clapping might be well done, but if inspite of that, the vulture still refused to come down, it would then means the sacrifice was unacceptable. In that case, the elders would consult the oracle to find out what was responsible.
There are so many proverbs in the area to support that the vulture was truly symbolic and significant in the tradition and culture of this people. Some of them are listed below;
“The day it rained, the day the vulture is angered””.
“The vulture has no face, yet vulture tattooed”.
“The little vulture does not struggle for fatness”.
“The vulture says, ‘side-stepping is not running’.”
“‘There is a day’, the vulture says of a swollen man”
“A community where there is no elderly person, the children eat vulture’s egg.”
“When a vulture stays too long in people’s home, they are pursued with a gun”.
There are times when the vultures gathered and formed a circle in their flight in the sky. The people used to say that the vultures are trading, and there was a particular song they sing to that effect.
“Vultures are in the sky trading,
Vultures are bad!
Vultures are in the sky trading,
Vultures are bad!
Hair has not grown on the head
But grows on the anus
Vultures are bad!”
Again, vultures are not purposely killed. But if killed eventually, the person involved would buy wrapper and coffin and a befitting burial would be given, the people believed.
The question is, now that the vulture has gone into extinction, what will happen when this people will sacrifice to their deities?