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Tuesday, January 30, 2018

The gods might be confused

Written by: Muoka Chibuzor G

Ikenna the doyen of Okonta land.

Kom kom kom… Kom kom kom Iyaaaaa... Obinigwe screams as he spreads four cowries representing eke, orie, afor, nkwo, the Igbo four market days on the red soil that made-up the floor within his shrine. He vibrated forcefully, making it clear beyond reasonable doubt that he was under the influence of supernatural powers.

Hmmmm I sense the drums of disaster! Wise king. You have come to inquire about the future of Okonta land, but I see instability and vengeful activities in the land. Obinigwe one of the famous village high priests told Esema the king of Okonta land.

Obinigwe was a man of the people and was well known for his expertise in herbalism and spirituality. His good deeds prompted Amadi the father of the most beautiful woman in Okonta land to handover her only daughter Udara to him, instead of the King who also showed interest. The marriage of Udara to Obinigwe was a bitter pill for King Esema to swallow, and since then, he kept hidden malice towards Obinigwe.

Still, at Obinigwe’s shrine, King Esema was thrown into abrupt confusion.
How do you mean? Esema asked with intense curiosity.

Am afraid… I sense calamity, but only the return of a rejected stone and the uprooting of a fig tree shall bring stable peace in the land. Obinigwe answered.
You speak in parables, wise one, can you please explain the wise words of the gods. Esema pleaded.

I wish I could, but the parable is also a mystery to the messenger. Obinigwe spoke while swaying his head in utter disbelief. He knew the interpretations but was afraid to render the meaning to King Esema who was known for deriving happiness in people’s misfortunes.

Then you are unfit to continue occupying this position, perhaps your old age has affected your sense of responsibility, speak for the king commands. Esema demanded.
I wish I have clear answers to this mystery, but I don't. When you visit a toad and he offers you no seat, it will be wise to also observe that the toad is squatting without a seat. I pray the king to understand. Obinigwe spoke in shivers.

Guards! Guards!! Esema called while engulfed in anger, he instructed the guards thus, "Throw this old fool into the Nkuku dungeon, perhaps he needs more time to think about himself and his ancestors, than the community and the life of its members at large. His god is confused!" While Obinigwe was incarcerated, King Esema made clandestine plans to make his wife Udara who was also having a secret affair with him as a second wife.

A long time ago in the year 1655, the struggle for supremacy among the villages of the current south-eastern part of Nigeria today was bloody and full of sorcery and black magic. The people of Okonta land revered a vengeful god called "Ojiabaliahu" which means "the eyes that see in the dark" and they made mandatory yearly sacrifices of human blood to it. Failure to appease this god leads to the occurrence of mysterious deaths within the community.

One fateful day, Esema the king of Okonta, called for all the able men who were married with children to come out for war because the warriors of Obima land, their persistent enemies were at their doorstep. As every man including the weaklings obeyed the king's command, Obase pressurized her husband Egwuatu to hid and stay behind to take care of her as she was quiet due for labour.

Egwuatu who loved his wife so much decided to ignore the king's command about the drums of war. Although he hated going to wars, his philosophy that says “let the hawk perch, let the eagle perch; the one that tells the other not to perch, let his wing break” has made him see his personal satisfaction as the first priority.

Ogbaoso who was Egwuatu's antagonistic neighbour discovered and quickly ran to the king’s palace secretly to tell the king about Egwuatu’s absence. It wasn't long; Obase gave birth to a baby boy whom Egwuatu named “Ikenna” which means”the power of the father”.

Suddenly, they heard loud thuds of aggressive footsteps approaching their mud house. Egwuatu peeped through the holes through which light permeates the hut, it’s the king's soldiers! He whispered to his dear wife, while leading her and the newborn baby through a hid out at the back of the house, leading straight into a bush.

While Obase and the newly born child ran away, Egwuatu decided to display himself and delay the soldiers. He was interrogated intensively, but he refused to mention the whereabouts of his wife and child, he was killed immediately by the slitting of his throat with a sharp knife.

The soldiers went after his wife and child but couldn’t find them, when the report that they weren't found came to the king, Esema declared them wanted and banished from Okonta land, he placed a bounty on them and promised to reward anyone who caught them beyond imagination. Thus the villagers swung into action and became bounty hunters.

Obase took her male child and ran through the evil forests of Obande, the boundary between Okonta and Obima land. She nearly died at the hands of vicious sinisterly monsters but Ani the god of the soil was with her. She persevered and struggled to preserve the life of her child amid adverse weather conditions, fortunately for her, she was accommodated by an old madman who lived in Obande forest.

20 years later, in the year 1675, Ikenna the only son of Egwuatu, was moving with tremendous audacity and his fame grew both near and far, for he was one of the finest warriors of Obima land. His fierce look, height and gait were quite intimidating. Whispers went across the boundary that the new champion of Obima sleeps in the Obande evil forest and the people of Okonta started fidgeting.

From where did the monster of Obima come from? They asked in curiosity.
He who must cross the river must firstly ensure good friendship with the crocodiles, but Ikenna dealt will Ikpeama the crocodile of Okonta land without thinking twice, during the Igede new yam festival. His dexterity in the use of weaponry was strikingly remarkable. King Esema heard of it and started inquiring seriously on how to kill him.

At the mention of Ikenna the deaf heard and the dumb spoke, the weak took to heels and the obstinate embraced humility.
"The gods have indeed sent us a saviour!" Outcries Obinigwe from the Nkuku dungeon. He has spent 27 years in the dungeon, he looks so old with white hairs even in his nostrils, and his wife had already bore king Esema, sons and daughters. But who will speak? Who will challenge the king?

To be continued...

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