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First Story


High up above the hills of Africa, the dark-winged clouds of the night were still folded above the village and surrounding valley. Man and the domestic animals that were his slept. But the antelope of the forest and the small fleet-footed gazelle were wide awake.

In a short time, early morning dew descends from ancient hills. Darkness plays with light. Dancing figures of thick fog conceal their fight, and the good or bad that wait for strangers. Giant trees stand like knights armed with branches and shield-like barks, their vast roots like the fingers of a masquerade waiting to grab their victim. Farther away, creatures of the dark retreat back to their caves and hideouts. The light must not befall them. Hunters retrace their step home.


When the sunrise, she threw her golden blanket over the land. Hills rise with it waking the inhabitants of green forest and man. Down the valley, birds began a chorus, strong enough to wake the heaviest sleeper. Bees, wasps buzz, crickets, hoppers quiz, and reptiles hiss, every life has got a role to play. There are joy and peace. The joy that comes with a beautiful sunny day. Peace that brought harmony between man and nature, which he called home.

From afar pretty images of green submerged in bowels of earthly grey decorate the hilly scene. The smell of flowing stream rent the air above. Hawks call to the sunrise welcoming daylight, and bush rodents nibble at cassava roots. The forest turns to a circus where Nature play her tricks. Tree leaves shade the streams, so when fruits fall into the quiet water, little fishes scatter in excitement or fear. Waterfalls and huge rocks watch the quiet green below. Shy crabs watch too, amused and drunk with water. It is dead silent in the morning but for birds building big nests in the forest. Few people went to the stream and farm. Little girls swept their compounds, older girls weaved baskets, little boys sat with their fathers, older boys visited traps, and mischievous pets ran about playing. Up the trees monkeys muse picking fruits from trees. Babies yell while mothers gather materials for breakfast. Fathers chew their kola or take tobacco snuff, as they prepare to visit farms. The weekend was a holiday, and the villagers knew best to keep it so.

When the sun heat become mild, the play stage is set. Children roll out their games; football, cricket, chase, wrestling, high jump, sand games and more. Women visit their friends or market to buy provisions. Some men go to the beer parlour. The morning brew was ready, and they must attend to it. Palm wine was healthy, and fresh ones taste better than water. Many youths wait for noon to bath at streams and waterfalls.

The evening was the best time for reflection. Older men and women sat quietly, reflecting on the hills they call home. Sunset brought memories of the days’ stress. It brought home the market women, the farmer and fishermen. When the sunset, hills throw their warm shadow of comfort upon vales and the village. Birds fly home, greeting the evening as they go, lizards seek refuge on cracks and holes while owls prowl seeking a quick snack. The scent of cooking rent the air and children challenge each other over the hut with the best smell. Sweet vegetable soup adorned with the periwinkle, snail, crabs and crawfish sits on dinner tables under the full glare and admiration of children and adults—cold water from traditional pots or freshly fetched from the spring sit closer to the dishes. Providence knew many ways to appease the hard worker; good food was one of it. The night might have a folktale if the mood was right. Life could be simple and sophisticated still.

After evening came the cold night, Dew return, the path is lost in thick fog. The night was nobody’s friend. Quietly lights go out in the valley. Sleep was the next play for children and adult, yet the ancient hills slept before everyone, forever. As the village sleep, creatures of the night walk. But man and day must retire back home, to start the cycle all over again tomorrow.