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Wednesday, September 19, 2018

After God (Story)

Written by: Muoka Chibuzor

"The God we seek is in us if we can see and believe." – Muoka Chibuzor.

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” – Richard Bach

The story am about to tell; would only be of relevance to men who actually tell themselves half the truth. I have lived in the United Kingdom for twelve years, but still, the doctrines of my ancestors have always been in me, that not even a brain transplant if possible, would ever change me. My case was like that of the proverbial leopard, which would always have its spots present, no matter how many baths it takes.

My name is Dioka, a young man full of strength and vigour, the only son of Uzorka the revered chief priest of Umuogu village. My village had the tips and bits of what any African traditional society would encompass, until the coming of the white men in the 1970's. They came with fascinating items and drew the last breath of our dull imaginations away, and under the guise of western education and Christianity, they tampered with and obliterated the original ties and values keeping the people as one.

When I was growing up with my two junior sisters; Nnenne and Nmachi. I always watched closely the way my parents lived, and the way the traditions of the land placed several boundaries on several aspects of human life. While the boys lifted hefty sacks, hoes, matchets and left for the farm with their fathers. The girls cooked, laughed, painted themselves, told stories and followed their mothers to the market. All was natural to me, for that was what I saw life to be.

The men lorded over their household and their wives revered them as though they were gods.  But this was the exclusive reserve for males who have actually distinguished themselves as men, for there were cowards, who always hid and crawled shamelessly behind the wrappers of their wives.

Although several men loved polygamy, I once heard my father telling his two friends Ikoro and Amadi, "I can't take more wives, because I don't want my heart turned away from the dedicated service of the gods, and then losing the mandate of the gods just like my predecessors did. The power of a woman is like the steady and persistent drops of water that often tears lands apart. From history which seems to repeat itself, it’s very clear that the fate of a man often depends on the type of woman in his life." 

But his friends looked at him in amazement and laughed unrestrictedly, and then they said to him, “You speak as though the white men have bribed you into believing their lies. You have to look around and discover that the more sons you have the more farmlands you cultivate and the richer you become.”

“If I need to cultivate, I would hire lots of labourers. I think I love my life the way it is.” Father said to them, and they gave up on the argument.

However, I never believed in total that his response to his friends was the only reason alone. Looking at my mother, I discovered that she loved, respects and admires father a lot. To the extent that she often tells me to grow up and make sure I become like him. In fact, mother even worships the ground father walks on, and I often felt mesmerized as to what warranted such an unalloyed loyalty.

But amid her extreme submissiveness, there was nothing she ever wanted, that father never did for her. Father bought her lots of jewellery and wrappers, and always called her "Ugo di ya" (the husband's pride). In fact, some villagers even rumoured that she held my father with super-powerful charms. But then, how can a chief priest who dwells in the secrets of the powerful gods, be charmed by a woman? A question I asked, but none of them could answer.

And when my mother calls him, "Nnanyi" (our father) I always saw my father as a demigod, and from then on I believed that wives should worship their husbands after they have acknowledged Amadioha our village god. Whatever my father instructed, I did, because I saw him as a god, the humanly god I could see. It was no longer a tale to me that when you respect a man, he will do more.

Today, being the 27th of June, 1983 marks my 20th birthday. But am not at home, because my father sent me on a journey to the white man's land to go and learn from them. 

He said to me:

"My son when I look at you, I see a greater me. When the time comes I shall descend from the throne, but a greater nature of me shall ascend the throne, but then; he must be a different greater god not like me, for I don't have much strength anymore. For the past 16 years, the white men have been in our land. I sent you at your tender age to their small schools and now you look very different from me. It’s now time, you must go with the white men who came to our land, go to their land and discover their secrets."

"If you look around our neighbouring villages, you would discover that several of the boys who left with them came back as great men. They can now read bigger books, write bigger words and speak bigger grammar, and when they come back home, they become our leaders and drive around in houses that have wheels. Although I have never entered those houses with black wheels, I would want you to bring it to our hut so that we can have a closer look at it, perhaps touch it and dance around it. When you come back, you shall uncover their secrets to us, and only then shall I see you as a god, whether am dead or alive."

With those instructional and motivational words from father, I was determined to come back home as a god and make my parents proud. And all those while when father spoke, mother was nodding her head in support of what father said.

Three days later, Mr Fredrikstad who convinced my father about my safety as I go abroad to study, visited our home, and after several dialogues with my father and mother, he took me along as he left for the United Kingdom. Already, my mother and sisters had prepared my big iron box. And as I left with my box placed on my head, my family stood still behind me, watching every step I took, watching me disappear from their sight.

As I walked away from home, the last facial memory of my mother flashed through my mind, and then I could recall that she was smiling. But when I turned the next minute to look at her from a distance, I then saw she was now crying, while my sisters were sobbing. Immediately, I dropped my box and ran back to my mother. 

Mr Fredrikstad called on me, "Stop! Stop!!" but I never turned to answer him. When I got close to my mother, I embraced her so tight and wished we never went apart, and then she whispered to my ears, "Go and succeed my dear son, and do not forget us or forget the son of whom you are. May the gods be with you in everything that you do."

As I was reassuring her and my sisters not to worry, my Father sounded in a terrifying tone, "How dare you!! How dare you be weak so emotionally? You must pass through the fire to become the god we dream of, not by curdling in the arms of a woman. Go back to your Teacher before I get my matchet!"

Immediately, I left mother and ran back to Mr Fredrikstad who stood still all those while, watching my soap opera.

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