ETUA ARISE (REVOLUTION SERIES)
A SHORT STORY BY EVANS UFELI
The hamattan blows horrendous in Etua and this left the weather hazy. It was those times when you count down to Christmas. Farmers were in the yam harvest season, cassava harvesters do their trade in no particular season, and it was continuous year in, year out. The hunters were rather engrossed chasing games. After the Independence Day celebration is the new yam festival, then the Christmas merriment. It was a busy time for the villagers. The rituals of farming and hunting expedition were heavily felt in Etua at times like this.
The Adofi Street looked deserted and the foot path that led into the bush had emptied the villagers to itself. No lazy man finds his stay in Etua worthwhile he will be mocked until he finds his hands busy or get himself ostracized. The history of Etua was written with sword. She fought wars, conquered territories before it found its stead.
Etua, with its rich myth and mysterious deities implores all pleasant sense of forthrightness towards its choice of food and drinks. Etua forbids two animals, two fishes and two kinds of woods. The reason attributed to this ancient practice is deeply seated on traditional religious shamans drawn from precedents across generations.
If a man’s anger forces him to pick up a matched against his fellow man, a stringent penalty is melted out on him without mercy. The legal writ is unwritten but very effective. It has had it force for a very long period of time. The criminal Jurisprudence is such that, villagers held as sacred. A weighty size goat, ten tubers of yam and wine .Then all its necessary condiments for a savory delicacy or an option of fine are required. These were the cost implication for those who contravenes the law. By the probity of these conditions; men would rather row back their anger and toll the line of peace.
It is out rightly forbidden to pull the matched recklessly, however repulsive the offence of the adverse party was. The gods see into the enforcement of this rather resplendent punitive ordinance and it ensures it is carried out to the latter.
At peace week, no man is allowed to make a noise or trouble the village with sounds of music, squabbles or church talking sounds.
The otu – uge is an age grade and the customary law enforcers. Those who contravene the rules of engagement at the peace week will have to pay for chicken caught by the age grade on their behalf as sanction for the breach of peace.
It was two weeks after the peace week and Ishoma was due for the shedding of her kindred spirit. The ritual was to take place that afternoon; The “Ebo – Obanje”; tracing through spirit realm to get freedom to live among men and marry to a suitor of her choice; Like appeasing Abiku to let her live within the flaking region of existence. She had been costumed that morning, her succulent breast nicely rapped with linen, her waist made of white skirt revealing her sexy navel which gave her radiant soft soothing eyes a magic look. Her hips stood lively and bounce fabulously as she walks around. Her eyes was completely poised out in sex reflective, the eye ball socketing graspingly and possessed with sin. She had trifling intake of alcohol to keep her tipsy. She was extremely beautiful that the debia performing the rituals had his eyes fixed on her breast throughout the exercise.The shadow of death has darkened the peoples’ face to a puzzling proportion. It was amazing that the setting chosen for the rituals is less than five kilo meters away from the scent of death. Ishioma’s suggestive curves showed even in the uniform designed to reduce feminine charm to the bearest minimum. She smiles with the very soul of her youth and the fire in her eyes has settled into a steady glow. The drum beats tickles her stance and she wiggles her hips to follow her kindred spirit. She dug deep into the earth to excavate the substances that will grant her liberty from the obanje dynasty
It was a sojourn into the spirit enclave to correct and appease the force that controls her physical existence. It must be done or else a tragedy of some sort awaits her if she evades the sacrifice. She danced as the spirit drum sound raid the air. Her body responded to the beats and she giggled her waist hysterically with intrigue speculation and wonderment. She performed the dance-rituals appealing to the kindred spirit to show her the spot where her key is buried beneath the earth.
Her body swung luxuriantly as she quivered through the spot that pleased her kindred spirit. She slipped and stood up staggering, and then she went on her knee. The debia poured libation on her, then on the earth to appease the custodians of her destiny. The crowd cheered her; men with ravenous eyes watched her body dribbling.
“Bring me the wine jar” the debia shouted. His boys hurriedly brought the wine; he poured a large size into a calabash, chanting incantations. He gave it to Ishioma who drank the content. She staggered helplessly and went no her knee, her lips muttering incomprehensive lyrics, her well sculptured face now wore a new look. There were stripes of white chalks and mud all over her body. Her thigh blistering and voice hoaxed.
Now the spirits has taken possession of her soul. She cat walked to the digging spot and sat down there and began to dig the earth. The heaven broke loose and the rain came down in torrent as she digs the spot. Her friends stood by her and watched precociously. They were all engrossed at her displays. Ebere wept. She’s Ishioma’s childhood friend and they had their fears on the rigors of a day like this. Others girls stood speechless imagining the callousness of the spirits-beings who have chosen not to let the living stay without chains.
Ishioma slept that night and dreamt, she woke up furious and panting. Her spirit husbands want to have their usual turns on her but the bounds appeared broken. So they only chased her in the dream, striped her naked but before they came on she woke up. One last sacrifice and she will be free from the virile libido of spirit men.
Her eyes stayed wide opened, she prayed, her legs and hands kept shaking side splittingly. She was pressed. While staggering to the toilet, her sleepy eyes brought some horrible images to her. Men like monsters chased her demanding for sex and ownership of her of her innocent waist.
* * *
Onwubegbu; a politician with the ruling party had been elected as the chairman of the Local Government Area in time past. Now he is a member of the state house of assembly. He will not give up the ambition of marrying Ishoma. The youth wing of the community detested such ambition given that he had done nothing for the community since his adventure into politics. Igwebike; the youth leader made it clear that they will not let him have Ishioma because of his insensitivity to the plight of the community.
Ishioma was ripe and ready for marriage. Now she has broken loose from the clutches of the spirit world but she is indifferent at the choice of marrying Onwubegbu given the overwhelming rejection of the union by both the old and young in Etua. Igwebike is Ishoma’s cousine. She has so much respect for him, because at some point,he saw Ishoma through school and the family ties that bind them together should not be traded for a malignant politician whose greed is repulsive to the Etua Community.
Onwubegbu is an orator, a sugar-coated wordsmith who can convince anyone to bend to his side of every debate and exchange.
“A community should not decide for you who your daughter marries. That is should be a family decision, it is not in their place to intrude into your privacy, and it is an insult to you. It is to say the least, most unfortunate’’
. Onwubegbu said, as he discussed with Ishoma’s parent at their sitting room; Mr. and Mrs. Ossai Eke.
Ossai Eke is a gentle man who is exposed to community development and the workings of government. He knew Onwubegbu had done so poorly for the community and he wants his daughter happy. He does not want to choose for his daughter a husband. She will have to make her choice. He looked at Onwubegbu right into his two eyes and spoke.
“You have not done well for Etua. The grievances of the youth wing of this community have risen to the high heavens. The gods have heard them cry. You were voted into office to make a change but you have brought us impoverishment. I will speak the truth in this matter, I will speak for the youths but I won’t speak for my daughter concerning you. She will decide on her own without interference whether she will marry you or not. You will have to meet her on that. I have spoken”.
Onwubegbu, stood there confused, regrets written all over his face. Ossai Eke called Ishioma and she came out that afternoon parading with splendid smiles that lighten up the sober mood that pervaded the living room, she wore a long gown that transparently reveals her radiant skin. Ossai Eke excused the duo. Onwubegbu spoke softly and persuasively and Ishoma listened. He shared his feelings and how he loves her and made lofty promises to her as he did during his political campaigns. He asked her to marry him.
“I know you must have heard what people are saying about me and how I have disappointed this community. But you must know that governance is not as easy as many people think. There are so many forces that are beyond our control. We are at the mercies of some powerful top bosses. They won’t let us be”.
Ishoma looked self-possessed and irritated.
“You should have done something, just one thing!
Our villagers travel to other places and they have seen what is going on in other places, you didn’t do well at all, I must say the truth”.
“Yes I know ‘’
‘’But I need a second chance to right this wrongs. Marry me and together we will build a great community”.
“Before I say anything, go and meet the youth wing, let them know you are sorry, and then I will marry you”
Onwubegbu was happy to hear her say she will marry him.
“I want to marry you for a reason I cannot explain, but for the sake of our land. I will be with you only on the condition that this community must get what belongs to her by right”.
* * *
The Etua Ukpo road was blocked. Traffic hold up!
It was Ishoma wedding. And all the politicians in Ndokwa land were present. The roads were utterly bad. The politicians reeled on their jeeps splashing mud on pedestrians. They were not remorseful at the conditions of the people. It was time for merriment and that is all that matters now. Villagers came out of their mud houses, with faces wrinkled at the pangs of poverty and hardship. Some cheered the politicians in their exotic cars occupied with fat butt women from other clans which they lavish the community money on. As twitness how Ishoma’s hand will be given out in marriage. The master of the ceremony made wonderful remarks about Onwubebgu as an illustrious son of Etua Land. He sang his praises and everyone nodded in jubilation. There was food, drinks, meat and water .There was a heavy supply of goodies so they feasted. The youth wing had arrived with their leader Igwebike. He was smiling his way to his seat when the bridegroom beckoned on him with pleasantries and he ordered the waitress to serve him food and drinks. The sonorous voice of Ubulu raids the air into the stratosphere.
“Olu ekwo eku iyin ezuwe .Ayin Kwo te eku ayin, ana” Aha, olu ekwo eku iyin ezuwe … Bia ni ka yin dozi, ni obodo eyin.
Ossai Eke nodded at the apt rendition of Ubulu. The villagers danced, the women swing their waist, breast dangling flippantly at the rhythm of excitement. The men cheered the politicians. The governor of Delta State was amazed at the joy the people shared with their own man in power. The security operatives drank to stupor. Ishioma was lead out and the crowds hailed her. They lifted her up in joy and jubilation. Then Ossai Eke was called out as traditions demands, to hand over his daughter to the bridegroom, Onwubegbu. After his speech he called on Onwubegbu holding his daughter by the right hand. Onwubegbu stepped forward.
“Today before my people of Etua Kingdom and before the gods I hand over my daughter Ishioma Eke to you Onwubegbu and I pronounce you man and …”
Ossai Eke was cut-shot.
Igwebike, shouted the youth wing hailed him.
“We will take it from there. We welcome you politicians to our community, I am impressed at your turn out today. We like to thank you for your good works. As you can see you came in through a nice road and you have meet people that are well fed; the people you represent, you did not only disappoint us you have also come to mock us with your big cars and big bottom women. You are welcome”
The whole place became quiet and the politicians stared at one another and shivered at what will come out of this. Igwebike resumed.
“Now, Etua Kwe eke! Etua Kwe eke! Etua Kwe eke!!!
All the youths picked up stones.
“Pick up your stones Etua”
Igwebike shouted, so they began to stone the politicians. The youth took Ishioma away, they stoned the politicians to the point that some broke their legs, some kill and a few escaped into the bush with scars all over their bodies. The governor ran and Etua mobilized her people to beat the politicians until they all lost their voices. Stones were used to re-write the history of Etua. Not too long from then change came to Etua land.
P.S. Ishioma is a symbol of you and I. In 2015 let us be the metaphor that will obviate the norm and change the status quo. They cannot come and take you all the time, let them pay now. NOW IS THE TIME!