Yorubas are a people in whose DNA lies the gene for celebrating the goodness of the Most High. In Ondo, a part of the celebration is “àsun” (goat barbecue).

Not just anybody can prepare àsun. The person must be trained. The àsun set comprises a flat wooden platform, big enough for a “native” goat (ewúré ìbílè or “èkéègbè ‘bílè” in Ondo tongue of the Yoruba language) to be placed. The àsun is normally the first thing done in the morning, even when the main food is still being prepared in its earliest stages by the women.

The àsun, on the other hand, is men’s business.

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The goat is slaughtered and the blood drained into a slightly dug pit. It is roasted on live fire from firewood on the spot. The limbs are held by four men who turn the goat this way and that way to ensure all parts are properly roasted.

After the goat is well-roasted comes the real “dissection.” The elders who are directly connected to the celebrant(s) would have been seated in a semi- circular formation.

The entire assembly of elders sit, keenly watching. When the knife is somewhere going in the wrong direction, one or more elders would say, “no, not that way! Take it down a little bit” and stuff like that! There’s a particular way to do the cutting at every part of the goat! It’s a particular science/art; you are trained for it and have to be good at it.

There are specific bulk portions that go to certain people. There’s a part that goes to the celebrant. The neck region is the portion for the àsun man.

Then the final roasting of the remaining portions after being cut into smaller chewable sizes. The fat in the goat is used to facilitate the roasting. When all large pieces have been roasted and cut into those chewable sizes, the women bring the pepper, tomato and onion.

The Indigenous People of Yoruba are a people in whose DNA lies the gene for celebrating the goodness of the Most High

The àsun man adds this as appropriate to all the small chewable sizes, with salt (a prelude to this is thorough washing of his hands in the presence of all the elders). He thereafter begins actual squeezing of the pieces of barbecue together, rubbing the condiments into them in the process.

Then the women bring the small-size dishes into which servings of the àsun are placed. The eldest elder (all of who are seated all along in their sweet- smelling traditional aṣo-òkè dànşíki) is the one to who the first dish is taken; it is both a test of what good work the ȧsun man has done, but more importantly it is the magic moment when as the eldest, his very pick of a piece of the àsun, putting it into his mouth and eating, is like the blessing of the heavens on the entire ceremony!

One after another, according to their seniority, the other elders take their first pick (followed, of course, by more servings later). Every other person takes a piece or two, including the children around. The remaining servings would be put aside for the main serving when the ceremony of the day proper begins.

You cannot attend a ceremony in Ondo and feel satisfied if the àsun has not been served.

There’s something spiritual about it; something fulfilling; something cultural.