Categories
Africa culture/tradition folklore Igbo culture lifestyle Nature Pastoral Series

Diaries of a Village Boy: The Leopard Spirit 6

That night I had another attack. It was midnight and everybody was settled for some sleep. The moon was white, there were no stars and the evening brought mild breezes. Wild dogs and wolves howled from the hilly distance and the night was deafened in their terrifying noise. Night was nobody’s friend those days. Travelers were adviced not to travel by night. If they do they risk being attacked by wild animals or if unlucky may be taken by slave or head hunters or even worse, as the villagers believed, killed by wandering spirits of dead men.

I can’t recall exactly how it started, but in few minutes I fell off my bamboo bed and continued struggling with some invincible power on the ground. The twist and turns created a scene. The fall and noise woke even the heaviest sleeper and my sentinel, Nene. She yelled in fear and ran out of the room. Her dog followed her. From the passage I heard her cry for she was afraid to leave the hut that night.

I heard someone call Papa, ‘Where you deh Papa? Come fast please! It must be your boy.’ It seemed that this man heard Nene’s cry and woke to find out what the matter was. A rush followed as Papa and some men came. I felt hands all over my body when they tried to lift me up from the ground. I felt everything but couldn’t move. My body was stiff, I couldn’t even blink an eyelid.

‘Place him on his bamboo bed, so that his chest will be elevated.’ A voice adviced. Then my body was taken up to my bamboo bed. I sighed in pain. I felt palms pulling away at my legs and hands, massaging my body with some hot ointment. Few palms rubbed mmanu aku into my eyes, nose, ears and mouth. I sneezed, heavily, again and again. The pain was indescribable but as a man leaned over and made incantations I fell asleep immediately. I learned later in the morning, that father hired a dibia.

***

Morning was picturesque and dramatic as usual. Palm trees started a happy procession with the wind, that may continue till noon. Tree leaves fall, scattering with the flirty wind all over the hamlet. Little girls wished away the leaves so they could lazy around without sweeping. Activities resumed, older boys to farms, older girls to streams, younger boys to check rodent traps, younger girls to sweep. The women and men left for their various chores; dogs, cats and poultry played in the early sun. The whole village sent an emissary to my father’s compound to hear the latest news. My father who didn’t like much drama sent most away with assurance that I was fine.

‘Papa.’ I called from my room.

‘I’m here, my son.’

‘My head hurts badly.’

‘I’m sorry nwam, ndo. You’ll be fine, you’ll see.’ He consoled me. ‘Woman bring him some breakfast!’ He called to my mother. She wasn’t allowed into the room initially but the food gave her the chance to.

The aroma of yam and goat meat pepper soup rented the room when Mama brought the food. As Mama put the tray on the table she started crying. Papa asked some women to lead her away from the room…

To be continued…

Categories
Africa

Diary of a Village Boy: The Leopard Spirit 2

It was evening when I reached Mazi Kenem’s house. Father had asked me to return a basket borrowed from the old man during the new yam festival. It was an old basket, most of the raffia used to weave it was damaged.

The evening breeze and cloudy skies painted a vague but hopeful imagery in my imagination. Birds flew in echelon. Their cries sounding across the horizon. I wished I could be like the birds, flying from troubles and people who create them to lands far, far away. I shrugged at the thought of leaving town. What if the Leopard spirit followed me to wherever I run to and there was no Dibia to pacify and cage it? I sighed.

Mazi Kenem was preparing to leave when I arrived. He had tattered white hair all over his face and held a walking stick as if it was his third leg. His hands shook with age and one eye lid sagged.

“Mazi, ndeewo sir,” I hailed him.

“Ndeewo, my child. I can see your father finally agreed to return my basket after so many months!” He gave a short laugh which made his moustache look like twigs sitting on his upper lip.

“He sends his greeting and gratitude as well.” I smiled and handed the basket to him.

“Come, my son.” He held my arm as I turned to leave. His grip was strong and for once I felt something, something extraordinary taking over me. It seemed I had blood pumping through my veins. My nerves tightened and I perceived a presence of something I’m yet to decipher. “Take it easy,” he said. “I just want to talk. Come sit with me for a while”. He felt my pulse and the tightening nerves and strange feelings went away. He smiled again.

“Do you know about me, sir?” I asked.

“Sure, my son. Do you think your father will send you to return an old useless basket?” He smiled again. He brought out an old box and generously fed his nostrils with snuff, shaking his head to hit his mark home. Some minutes passed by and it seemed like hours to me. When he finally got hold of himself he narrated the mysteries I feared most and how I can even control and bid the Leopard spirit to do my wish. “You see, I was your grandfather’s best friend in this village. He was a great Dibia of our time and no one dared challenge him. Once a stranger from outside this village challenged him to a race and when the day for racing arrived, a heavy storm came. The stranger attempted to run in the storm and was struck by lightning. Your grandfather ran all the way through lightning and thunder, through seven hills and across seven rivers and eventually won. He killed a Leopard during a hunt and the spirit of the animal was invoked on him as is our tradition” Mazi Kenem was nodding as he told the story. His eyes were nearly closed.

“But why did he chose me?” I asked.

“No warrior with an animal spirit dies without transferring his powers to living relatives. Your grandfather would have hidden this power or transferred it to someone not related to him but it can only be given to a blood relative. If he died with the power it will turn to a curse to his generation. He could have given it to your father but he chose you and there must be a reason! He was a great medecine man, he could conjure and feast with spirits of the dead. People rumored he could flood the village with rain and can make rain fall for a week! You might not know this but you bear a power, greater than a kings! But my child, this power comes with costs. You are very young, with time you will understand. There is no cause for panicking, if you follow my instructions nothing will harm your leopard or even you.”

I was scared to hear that if any harm came to my spirit animal then I will be harmed as well. I shrugged remembering the unexplainable pain I had one morning. My left arm was broken but when the physician who set bones came he discovered no physical wound…

To be continued

Categories
Africa culture/tradition folklore Pastoral Series Uncategorized

Reintroducing the Legend of Wawadomea

1

Now I write you a piece of my heart, tonight

In the growing Harmattan and her temperament

I am cut in two- halved in your Providence

One for your happiness, another for Your happiness

2

This piece of heart tells a tale of the sea folk

a story of survival, a war of loneliness and luck

Of a boy caught and taught by the sea, somewhere

A legend of the wild, of a land called Wawadomea

Permit me reintroduce this piece I’m working on. A fiction and fantasy of pirate life. The Legend of Wawadomea is a story and my creation which I hope to finish soon. I won’t give all details here but trust me it will give you the oldy tymey feel when you read some excerpts!

My major character is a poor boy, Yitzak who worked in a ship yard, located somewhere, on the Horn of Africa. One fateful day, he was kidnapped by sea pirates and had to live with them through their epic sea journey. Luckily, he had a pen, a booklet and some memory for his diary. He told of the sea and her strange ways, the love he missed at home, the hopes he has and the queer life of the pirate. He talked about the cannibals they met, the wars they fought, the Pirates’ seafaring competitions and more. You can read some parts of the story here:

The Legend of Wawadomea: The Cannibals of the East

Far out the lonely seas of the Indies
Our maiden vessel sailed
Hitting the strongest winds
Surfing the wild oceans
And at all times; bumping into the skies

In this quiet piece of the ocean
A strange sea of some sort
Where there stays a blue sky
An evenings journey with the Cods
A short lived companionship
For there came the black sharks
Gliding majestically; cunningly shy

But this time there was a sigh
A horn; calling from the masts top
“Ahoy, land! Ahoy, land!”
And those excitements that followed
“Aye!” the Lifnante growled thru raised binoculars
“That is some land for sure.”

An hour and some seconds
The Wave was tethered gently
Along those lonely coasts
A great vegetation stood before us
Strangely; the forests seem to have no life
We set about making some fire
For night was on its way
But we dared not stray near the woods…

The Legend of Wawadomea: Blue Horizon

The sunset drew a picture
Which lived with me,
Thru my younger life-
A strange uproar heartfelt
It was aye, very strange
That aye, I mean I
Will be amongst this lot
This people forsaken kind of clan
Living the life of a sea pirate,
Out in the weirdest part of the ocean

The blue horizon, carved on the skies
With birds returning, to their homes
And we, in a strange-looking island
Somewhere off the vast ocean
Caught and cautious, seldom willing to prowl about
A fading horn sounded, not so far away
All looked up, staring at each other
“I afraid, I wonder, what may that be?”
Tusky, wanting a left hand said
He must have spoken so loud
That even the half deaf Cron
Swiftly swerved around to look at him,

The Lifnante was glad we were off sea
I felt so, on an errand sent from Sundjata
The Lifnante was high on bottled spirits
“Git here boy, havee som rhum, will ya?”
I could feel the uncalled-for excitement
He was at the extreme end of the camp
There was a group of rocks
Bordering the beach and the forest
And he cared for less
“There’s a horn sire, a sort of bugle sire”
I delivered my message, but he
He waved me off with the hand
And grunted as a pirate filled his cup

The night was stormy, but all was calm
Just lightning and flash all the way
I was awake, I was scared all the time
But then I slept when I knew not…

©Oke Iroegbu

Categories
Poetry

The Castle called a man’s Heart

Have you heard or seen the dens or prisons where free men were kept? 

If not, let me tell you about it, about the little details which no man told

First, those men put their trusts in imaginations and false hopes 

Clinging to the mirror, others casted for them for self discovery

The colors they see are crazy, the views about the future vague

Painted illusions, thoughts of what-would-be light the heart

Giving a moment of hope in the Castle’s rooms, that is how it began


Hope threw charcoaled sickles up the spiky ceilings and spikes fall

Thorns weave their way out of creepy mistletoes, as wrinkled roses shrunk

When a ghost pass, her breeze push over the old tray, tumbling the ashes

And when the old clock chimed the hour zero, strange figures came to trade, 

Pricing their wares- fear, sailing through the wind like a piece of paper!

At all corners, spider webs generously stood to greet any newcomer, 

The soot from ages of Chimney burns design the walls with grim ferocity

Black hues, some on the floor, some seeming like a reddened blood patch

Also the windows were not spared, the beauty could be seen ages past

At the end of each hall, rat colonies thrive, with lots of hay and dust

In the dark evening, the night lit up with fireflies scaling the ceiling

Dancing to unheard music, blinking their lights at ghostly galleries 

No, no one, but few would actually see the imagery that lived there, 

The blood of prisoners of war, their cries and sputum and mangled flesh, 

Innocent sighs, disillusioned spirits, become a great piece of disappointment


Now men live in various castles created in their heart of hearts

The taste of defeat lure the endless stream of men to those castles

Forcing some to accept Destiny, as their only mentor and citadel 

Those who knew the tricks played by the heart of hearts of men

Will chose to stand just outside the Castle’s walls to see more

Categories
Uncategorized

August night

I shall sing like the nightingale for you
Throwing flowers before your feet
And make for you a fine cuddly seat

Tonight I will stand behind the mango tree
And I shall call out to you, so we can meet;
So we can hold hands and walk to the square*

I shall tell you my favorite folklores and stories,
I shall tell you about the night and why the moon is half
And how she got herself eaten by the tall giraffe

Tonight I am going to tell you how I feel,
I will tell you all I have for long kept in me
And if you do that your laugh I will run away

There is a marrow of love I have for thee
I shall let you have it and let go of my wit
If you agree to play the strings of my joyful heart

Commentary.
Welcome to my birth month of August everyone. I will like to give a shout out to Lize Bard, she has been reading this blog as far back as I can remember. Thank you Lize and to all my followers, loving and liking my works even at my worst performances I say a big thank you. Have a blessed new month of August. I love you all.

Square: Village square, town centre.