REVIEW STORE: Did you enjoy Chika Onyenezi's short story? Please tell him so. We know he will
appreciate your feedback. Chika Victor Onyenezi was raised in Owerri, Imo State, Nigeria. This is an
excerpt from his first book, A Season of Loss A Season of Gain. CLICK HERE to write a review of
NEW REVIEWS: Yes, more a Novella than a short story. Onyenezi writes with a vengeance. I could not
stop reading this daring piece written by a bold man. I am not certain just where the fiction ends and the
truth begins. His work bends and snakes like a hypnotic serpent entwining fables with history and certainly
personal experiences. This is a powerful writing by a powerful man. To be read and enjoyed again and again.
"Bacco, tabacco e Venere riducono l'uomo in cenere." Magnifico, Onyenezi!*****__Anthony M. Gullatta.
Onyenezi's work reads like a Greek tragedy and as such proffers more than one true lesson. The abdication of
the honored "old ways" by the elders of the village makes it too easy for their children to choose a path of least
resistance in their ethical decision making. Better to adhere to old steps than to dance to a poor new music. It
is not unusual for a perpetrator of evil to be visited in dreams by the evil that has been perpetrated. And, of
course, "Money is indeed the root of all evil." A tragic end to what might have been a sweet love story. Written
with passion and great courage at the hand of a rising star. *****__Alan V. Galloway.
Mesmerising! That is the word that comes immediately to mind. A wonder work that provides an equally
wonderful read. A piece that does need to be read more than once to fathom all of the clever messages
provided within. As said before, you are a welcome addition to the authors at the Website. We hope to have
more of your writings to enjoy soon. Welcome aboard, author! ****__Captain Apple Jack.
This is such a sad and tragic story. On so many levels. I was dismayed by the suffering of the natives of the
village at the hands of their own people as well as the white men. I cringed at the murder of an innocent man.
I cried at the end. There are so many good lessons to be learned from this one good piece. Well done, Mr.
Onyenezi. Well done! *****__Su Chang-Wu.
If we go back far enough, we are all one. Similar men like similar histories merge over time. I was most
captivated by your Uncle Ikuku. When approaching danger my Uncle Jack used a short-handled axe rather
than a machete. But the outcome of the use of either would be pretty much the same. I enjoyed your story.
I know about the time and patience it takes to research such fine family trees. Congratulations on an
exceptional piece of work. ****__David W. Carpenter.
Well, it all comes to no good at the end. Rantings and ravings, dancing and prancing, hiding and sliding, running
from evil spirits as our humanity slip slides away . . . great slippage here. Great slippage! Would that we had
made a better, more thoughtful start and not slipped from our true path. That's about all I have for now,
except it is a provocative story. ****__Richard L. Sassoon.
The quest to claim one man's love leads us down a story full of struggle and regret, and with wrong choices
made do we find a character conflicted and haunted. The love that he so dreamed to have was more bitter
than sweet, and with blood on his hands did his life begin to fall apart. Remarkable, indeed. ****__Melissa R.
"The moon has ascended between us,
Between two pines
That bow to each other."
~ Love Apart ~by Christopher Okigbo
We called it Porto Kiri; they called it Fernando Po. That’s where I set out early to prove a point in my life,
maybe to prove a point to my loved one, Adaure. She was the loveliest of all fruits in the largest of all trees,
succulent and stunning in appearance.
My village Umuaki was the largest village among the six clans. That’s why the old men described it as
Okeosisi--big tree. In this big tree a beautiful fruit hung. Every passerby would want to pluck it including the
Whiteman in our town, the district officer; we called him Nwadishi. He would ride in a Volkswagen car around
the village. Children would happily pursue Nwadishi’s car just to touch it. Then you could hear them shouting
in Ibo: "Emeturum moto Nwadishi aka--I touched Nwadishi’s car." It was the first car to set its wheels on
Umuaki, my hometown. On a Sunday you would see him in his car, his white hair swinging like palm trees on
a windy day. From a far distance, the first thing you would notice was his color, like a ripe mango fruit. His
back would bend upwards as though the car was made to give people hunchbacks. Nwadishi would ride down
the dusty road that led to Adaure’s house. I noticed how Nwadishi’s eyes riveted round Adaure’s body
whenever he came to their house. Papa Emeka, Adaure’s father, would limp, nodding his head like a lizard and
bring kola for the Whiteman who visited his house. His tobacco-dyed teeth would hang on his lower lip, smiling
and absorbing the sun’s radiation. Adaure’s father would usher the Whiteman into his obi, a place where the
people of Umuaki receive visitors. It was a thing of pride for the Whiteman to visit your house, because he
only visited a few of our village people, mostly those in the royal family.
I was betrothed to Adaure from birth. We grew together. Our grandfathers fought the Whiteman together,
and from history they died together at the market square where the Whiteman hanged them. Before their
demise, my father and Adaure’s father agreed to seal the relationship between our grandfathers by their
children getting married in future. My father told me that the day Umuaki was conquered by the Whiteman,
that day the spirit of Umuaki died at that market square--he would point at the shrine in our market. I
believed him that the spirits were really dead. Our ancestors were no longer with us. The Whiteman now
wanted to take what belonged to me and Papa Emeka received him well, forgetting what our grandfathers had
died for, forgetting what our tradition stood for, and he now goes to church. He came back one day and told the
villagers that his name was no longer Okoro, but now Jamis--James.
The Whiteman turned Adaure into a miss. She became one of the educated few in our village and taught in a
primary school at the neighboring village. At times, after the day’s farming, I would pass through their house,
just to give Adaure the squirrel I had killed at the farm. With her smiling face and beautiful sets of teeth, she
would say, "Ndewo--Thank you" in our Ibo language. I wanted Adaure beside me forever. I wanted her in my
life, and I didn’t like seeing Nwadishi beside her.
As a young man with blood in his veins, I wanted to marry Adaure. I wanted her in my bed forever, a place for
a queen like her. Early one morning I woke up my father and told him about my heart’s desire. I told him it
was time for me to pluck the fruit that belonged to me. My father agreed, and even congratulated me for being
a man. He sent Obioma my only brother to tell the Diochi, our palm wine taper, to tap fresh palm wine for the
visit to Adaure’s parents. Early the next morning Diochi hung four kegs of palm wine on his neck, whispering
the legendary palm wine tapping song in Ibo: "Ihe’m huru na elu osisi, emechiela mu anya--what I saw on top
of a tree has blinded me." He went straight to our barn and dropped the keg for which my father had paid him
with some few pennies, and he left with the song on his lips.
The Ibo people say: "Ofu onye anayi alu nwayi--Marriage is not one man’s affair."
At the first sunrise, six elderly men from my kinsmen, including my father and me, set out to fulfill my fairy-
dream. The eldest among them was my kinfolk and great Uncle Ikuku. He was a titled Nze man and called
Dike Na Aha, one of Umuaki. Nze was a sacred cult in Ibo land which elderly men join. If you were a Nze, you
were expected to live by certain guidelines and principles, but the one they were popularly known for was that
a Nze always stood for truth in those days. Uncle Ikuku was a warrior. That’s why they called him "Dike Na
Aha", meaning "a warrior in battle." Even in his old age he still tied his machete on his waist wherever he was
going, his gait as though he wanted to pounce on someone; but old age had added some limping. And many
times he did pounce on people even in the market places. He was a man who believed that everything comes
from the strength of the hand, even your survival.
When we got to Adaure’s house, we were warmly received into the obi by her father whom we called "Papa
Emeka" owing to his refusal to answer to Okoro and the villager’s unwillingness to call him James. A lion skin
hung at the back of the seat where Papa Emeka limped and sat. For me, papa Emeka was too weak to have a
lion skin at his back; such a strong animal skin should be given to men like my living, legendary Uncle Ikuku.
Uncle Ikuku brought out his bag and turned it into a seat. (That’s another thing with these Nze’s--they didn’t
sit on a chair in any ceremony or meeting they attended. They bring their own seats along with them. And this
seat was locally constructed to serve a bag’s purpose. In the bag he would pack everything he needed,
including his Chi--gods.)
Everybody sat down and was smiling, but inside me I knew that Adaure’s father was not happy. At the same
time, as the cunning man he was, he didn’t show any of it. All you could see was his tobacco-stained teeth
absorbing the morning dew. I sat in between my father and Uncle Ikuku. Adaure’s father went and brought
kola as tradition demanded. The kola’s were passed to Uncle Ikuku as the eldest man, who blessed it by saying
in Ibo, "Ya diri onye ukwu, diri onye nta mma. Ndu nmiri ndu azu, ugo bere egbe bere, nke si ibe ya ebele nku
kwa ya--Let success tail the rich and poor, mercy upon the sea life and the fishes. Let the eagle perch; let the
kite perch; who ever refuses the other, may his wings break." To this they all replied: "Iseeeee--Amen."
Uncle Ikuku broke the kola into pieces and gave the tray to me as the youngest to pass it around. It went
around from the eldest to the youngest. Adaure’s father cleared his throat and spoke after chewing his own
kola, "My elders, I greet you all."
They all responded to his greeting, "Our fathers say that the toad does not run in the afternoon for nothing; it
is either that something is pursuing it . . ." and my father cut in to complete his proverb for him, "or it is
pursuing something. But before we speak, every drop of wine in this keg must be finished. Papa Emeka, drink
first and don’t forget our custom."
Papa Emeka first poured the drink into his iko, a cup carved out of wood or cows horn and said "This must be
from Diochi Itu." And my father replied, "Exactly."
They all drank and chatted. Uncle Ikuku didn’t drink from the public iko; he brought out his own iko from his
bag--as a reserved man-- and drank from it. As the youngest, I drank the nethermost of the keg as tradition
demands; by this, the last drop was consumed.
Uncle Ikuku cleared his throat so that nothing would block the flow of his speech. In an old tenor that sent
sparkles of voice even into holes like the ogene, a metal gong, he said: "Papa Emeka, you inquired about our
mission to your house through the sayings of our fathers. But then the wine didn’t fulfill its own tradition, so
now the wine has. And now is the time for the mouth to speak for itself. There is something that brought us to
your house. We saw a ripe fruit in your house and have come to pluck it."
With these words Adaure’s father fully understood our mission. He cleared his throat and spoke also, "It is
true that our fathers were great and died great friends. They fought great wars, from Umuali to Okelu the last
kingdom, where Itoku the great Dibia, a medicine man, lived. They conquered them all. It is also true, as they
told us, that our two children must marry--for which we both planned and agreed. The words of our fathers
are supreme. But when the beat of music changes, we change the dance steps. The music has changed,
Christianity is now here, and I am one. And also it teaches us many good things . . . "
Uncle Ikuku cut in, "Papa Emeka, please, we are not here for your preaching. Our culture still stands supreme.
Go straight to the point."
Papa Emeka continued in a harsh manner "That is it then. A good man has been sponsoring my daughter’s
education, the Whiteman in our land of course, and he wants to marry my daughter. Nobody will like to see
my daughter taken to a Whiteman’s land, to see her no more; but I can’t help it. He is a good man. He turned
my daughter into a miss. And through him I have been surviving. So if I am to give my daughter to another
man, I must first repay him for his deeds in a thousand pounds or I will pay with my daughter." Then he bent
his head, not looking at any of the elders.
Uncle Ikuku spoke then. "Well said. Then we must leave. But you have played a trick on your fathers; you
smell like spirits!" Then he shouted his name in a way that it would annoy him, "Okoro! Prepare for market,
let me also prepare, on the market day let us see who will take each other to market."
Adaure’s father stood up and looked at Uncle Ikuku with disdain and said, "Is that a threat? All of you are
FOOLS." I could remember the Whiteman always saying that word--FOOLS. He used it on our people when
they blocked his car. Maybe that’s where Emeka learnt it. None of us knew what it meant then, but we knew
it was an insult.
Uncle Ikuku was the first to leave, followed by my father and me, and then the rest joined grumbling. That
was it. I thought about it. I could never make a thousand pounds, even with my hard work. The next morning
Uncle Ikuku called me to his house. His face was painted with anger. His first word started in fury "If it was
when Ikuku was Ikuku, I would have given him the beating of his life. But yesterday I found that age is no
longer by my side. My bones are weak." He continued, "You see our market?"
I answered, yes.
He continued, "Many years ago, before the coming of the Whiteman, that was where our gods lived and
disputes were settled there. There was this dispute settlement, a famous one that took place there between
two men struggling for land. So, all the elders gathered there. My own father was among them and he was an
Nze, so I always carried his bag for him everywhere he was going. And I happened to be there.
The chief priest of Agugu presided over the case. Before the case started he warned them that if you must
speak in this case, speak the truth. He looked up and said: 'The gods have arrived,' and immediately a big
snake crept out of that bush and stood in their mist. Fear gripped all the elders that were for the man who was
lying and they didn’t talk, but the man insisted on lying. The snake bit him and he died there and then. That’s
how the truth was found out. Well, that was then. Today no such thing happens. The gods no longer administer
justice, and the Whiteman has ruined our land. So I had to agree with Adaure’s father when he said, 'The
music has changed.' So, if you must get what you want, you must change your steps.” He spoke no more, and
waved me away.
I left and thought about his words, and then I knew that the words of our father didn’t matter any more. What
mattered now was paying the Whiteman a thousand pounds, which I could not afford.
I was a farmer and a trader. I sold my farm produce at the market, which was how I earned my very honest
living. My products ranged from cassava to pumpkin to yam--in fact any food that the season offered in our
family farm. Today my farm offered me yam. I took twenty tubers of yam to the market and sold them all out
to different buyers. As I was leaving a man approached me. He was dressed like the Whiteman, but he was a
black man. He wore a long sleeved shirt with a tie on his neck, and he put on a long brimmed hat. From his
looks he wasn’t an Ibo, although he had a tribal mark that showed he was a Yoruba man. He spoke to me in
broken English, which I could understand well.
"You must be a hard working man," he smiled.
Well I had nothing to say other than to give a smile back.
"Can you work abroad? The pay is good," he said.
"Where?" I asked.
"Panya, Fernando Pó," he said.
"No," I answered, considering my position as first-born in the family.
He brought out a tiny paper and gave it to me. He informed me that he was a government agent. He also told
me that if I happened to change my mind, I should come to their headquarters at Calabar. I had heard about
people that traveled abroad and made the money that jingles, ate with the Whiteman, and spoke through their
noses. The only woman I loved had been made a miss, so my journey to a foreign land wouldn’t bring her to
me either. I could never be a gentleman, wear a coat, or speak through my nose.
Early the next morning, before the cock crowed, I went to Uncle Ikuku’s house. I met him performing his
early morning prayer to the gods in his obi. He laid his entire "Chi" on the ground and worshipped them, and
then asked his ancestors to intercede for him before the gods. After his prayer, he called me into the obi. He
brought a kola, and blessed it before I could tell him why I came. I told him about the black gentleman that
approached me. He smiled and called me "Ebube."
I answered him, and then he began again, "Many years ago, when your fathers were still children running
naked in the village, my name spread throughout the clan as a warrior. I was feared and respected among the
people. But today the kids pass me without even greeting me."
He put his hand under his seat and brought out his machete. "With this machete I returned the head of King
Alandu of Ochiaha, a land known for their warriors. But today they no longer require my services; the
Whiteman now fights all our wars. Not with hand or machete, but with intelligence."
He looked into my eyes and continued. "My son, the strength of your own hand will fail you. If you must
marry that girl, you must acquire the Whiteman’s sense and know his ways, not only because of marriage but
to learn about life. You know Samuel, Mr. Njoku’s son? He now uses only his pen to write all the money into
his father’s house. So go and learn the Whiteman’s way. Go!"
I thought about his words in my quiet times. I saw truth in them. Uncle Ikuku was a great advocate of the
strength of the hand, but now he encouraged me to learn to use my intelligence. My father also depended
solely on the strength of his hand, and yet he was poor. For me to live by the strength of my own hand would
be to live in poverty. So that was how I decided to go to Fernando Pó--to make money and learn the
Whiteman’s ways, and then to marry Adaure.
Early the next morning, I called my father and mother and discussed it with them. They welcomed the idea as
a way for me to better my life and experience the trend of modern development. I packed my belongings and
the next day I went to town. There was this friend of mine who now drives a lorry for the white people; luckily
for me I met him at the park. He greeted me in our local accent, which is thicker than the town people’s own.
He said, "Ndewo." He embraced me tight and after we had greeted and asked each other a couple of things
like: "How is the village? How is your business?" I answered him, and also told him of my desire to go to
Calabar to the Anglo/Spanish Employment Agency.
He said he knew the place and that he had seen a couple of guys go there, but had never seen them return.
Even though they continue to send money to their people here. He said I should wait and let him go and talk
to the manager and see if there was anything to transport to Calabar. He came back and informed me that he
would be transporting some food stocks to the market at Calabar tomorrow, so I should prepare. That was
how I fell into luck; and then I knew that I was really meant to be there, and I would never come back empty
handed. I was now determined to learn the Whiteman’s ways.
Early in the morning I left Umuaki. I had few a people to say good bye to, just my family and my lion Uncle
Ikuku. I wished Adaure were there. I imagined her crying to see me leave. Anyway, she wasn’t there, but
because of her I was taking this step in my life. Maybe with that money that jingles I would be married to
her some day.
I trekked to the town and before the sun rose I was at the park. Our lorry left around nine o’clock. We got to
Calabar around four in the evening. My friend personally took me to the migrant’s office. That’s why I will
never forget my dear friend, Theo. I presented the card the government man gave me at their office. The
Calabar girl at the reception went away and called him. Still dressed like a Whiteman, and with a smile in his
mouth, he welcomed me.
At his office I was presented with two papers and asked to sign in a space there. I didn’t know what to sign.
They said I should just dip my hand in an ink pot and print it at the space, which I did. Then he gave me a
sealed paper that I would present at my destination. That was how I left for Fernando Pó in search of a
white collar job. He put me on a ship sailing to Santa Isabella Port.
My knapsack contained my little items, shirts that looked like the Whiteman’s own, and a pair of trousers, and
also some other important things I would need. All my life I had being hearing about ships. That day was my
first day of setting my eyes on such a large beast that could swallow a multitude of people. There were
important men there who died for the people. There was the captain who always shouted at the white sailors,
There was an Ibo young man with a round face and cunning look who laughed at me for saying that I was
going to find a white collar job in a Whiteman’s land, Fernando Po. He only said, ‘"Nwanne I na aga iko ubi na
ala nde ojii--My brother you are going to farm in a black man’s land."
There was the English professor who was going to study in Fernando Pó. He talked a lot, some of which I
understood and other words I didn’t. Like when I was on the deck looking far into the sea as if I would see
land, but I only saw horizon of sky and water. As I turned, someone was beside me, and he said many things
that I didn’t understand, but I did hear him say, "Professor Sam Mark." And from what I knew a professor
was someone who knew a lot of things. From the knowledge of my own broken English, I heard him say,
"Fernão do Pó, was an explorer, and he really saw a gold mine there. You know of him?" Since I didn’t reply,
he continued, "He sailed to the island in 1472. He was a captain like that man," pointing at the overzealous
captain who was still ordering his sailors.
There was one thing about this particular professor. He seemed good and humble and he didn’t look at me
with disdain like other white men who looked at me as if I was a piece of feces infecting their beautiful ship.
When I realized that he wouldn’t laugh at my broken English, I started to reply to him. When I looked at him
closely, I noticed that his head was bare. Maybe knowledge ate up his hair, I thought.
He asked me where I came from and I told him. He asked if there were some important things in our village. I
told him about the warriors, palm wine taper, our history, and how we migrated to our present location. He
became excited to visit my village and study it. He asked me where I was going. I told him I was confused.
After hearing my story in broken English he pitied me.
There were sections of the ship where we were told not to enter. These places were filled with white men. The
upper class was there. That’s were the professor took me by my hand past the aggressive captain who didn’t
utter a word, but muttered something beneath his breath like naughty professor. He introduced me to
a man as his good servant at Calabar. The man was the manager of Ariago farm.
That was how I fell into luck again, which was how I stayed at Santa Isabella. That changed things. I was paid
twenty pesetas, while other workers received less than that. Ten given to me and the rest kept for me at the
headquarters at Calabar, and also a comfortable accommodation. Also with my hard work I was made
Capertise at the farm. Capertise was what they called the farm’s head boy.
When we anchored at Santa Isabella, everything looked mountainous and the azure sky was bright and
beautiful in November. I was taken to Ariago Farm in Santa Isabella and given a cabin. There I met the Ibo
man I had seen at the ship. Truly he had told me correctly, there was no white collar work to do and the place
was populated by the indigenous Bubis and Fang whom we met in the town and communicated with in Pidgin
English. We learnt how to plant cocoa, harvest it, and process it to some certain extent. I took him into my
cabin as my bosom friend. He said his name was Nonso.
The farm was a very large one covering not less than twenty-two hectares of land. Some part of it was used to
cultivate cocoa. Soon I learnt all about it and became a skilled laborer. But still I never had that money that
jingles to pay off the Whiteman at home. Most of the workers there were Ibo and a few were from the
indigenous Bubis and other parts of Nigeria. At some farms there were cases of maltreatment by the white
supervisors. At ours they overused us, for we worked from morning to night without rest. And we could not
show any sign of weakness before the supervisors.
The local police were also there to punish anyone who went contrary to their rules. For example, once Nonso
fought at the farm. Afterwards he was flogged five times with a long whip.
My supervisor saw how hardworking I was and made me the head boy--Capertise. My work was also to
oversee the affairs of my follow workers and at times to report to the inspectors from Nigeria. Their lands
were very fertile.
Later I realized there were differences between Whiteman. I learnt that the Whiteman here were the Spanish,
and they spoke their language when they were together and communicated to us with Pidgin English. The
place was also full of life, drinking, dancing and sleeping with harlots was common among the farmers. That’s
why many workers died of sexual diseases. You couldn’t resist such a life.
Nonso advised me to follow him to town one day. “Stop thinking about someone who is not thinking about
you,” he told me, as he referred to Adaure.
So I followed him to the town and we danced with the Bubis girls and made love to them. Later, that became
our life there every weekend when we went to town and enjoyed life. The indigenous people thought of
nothing, only how to enjoy themselves. A good gramophone was enough for their life and enjoyment. Soon I
became a costumer of the harlot named Elizabeth. She was from Liberia. She was a wild one and wore wild
things, wild hair, and had a wild lifestyle. Truly I loved her but not as much as I loved Adaure. During the
weekends, I took her by my hand and walked up the mountains of Santa Isabella. I would point, showing the
way I would sail back one day. We would sit at the mountaintop talking, at times making love. That was the
story of me and Elizabeth.
At the farm, I had a good relationship with my supervisor called Amadeo. He took me like his own brother. No
Whiteman ever did this to any other person at the farm. He loved me like I was his own brother because he
was a young man about my age. By this time I had become accustomed to his accent, but it was a bit slippery
to the ears. In the evening we would sit at the farm and talk about the world beyond, like how the products
were shipped out of Fernando Pó. He once told me how the British came to have a station there, and also how
he had come to terms with bringing us in as laborers. He told me that the British had a share in the money,
that we were paid more than fifty pesetas. He said all this.
At times we slept at the farmhouse with bottles of rum in our hands. The farmhouse was well built as the
official house for the farm. He had his office there, alongside the manager’s office. His office was a simple one
with seats and a table; some African art hung on the wall. I didn’t know what they meant, but some were
masks. Often he told me about this particular girl that he would like to marry named Angela. He told me that
after his service here, he would travel back to Spain and marry her. This similarity of our stories of love made
our relationship stronger than glued weeds.
"That beat the natural way
In every culture and ideals of life.
Let me play with the Whiteman’s ways
Let me work with the black man’s brain
Let my affairs themselves sort out."
~ Young Africa’s Plea by Dennis Osadebay~
Days had passed. Elizabeth was still there and a little bit older in my eyes, but what other choice did I have?
My white friend Amadeo was also there. With a bottle of rum in hand, we told tales about ourselves. Nonso
now stayed at my house and joined us anytime he liked.
One day I saw something, something that could fulfill all my dreams. In the evening I saw Amadeo and some
Spanish men move thousands of pesetas into the farm house. It was kept at Amadeo’s office and locked. I
hadn’t any interest in the money; but when I got to my cabin and discussed it with Nonso, he said in Ibo
‘"Nwanne moo! I wu ewu?--My brother! Are you a goat?"
I answered him "Kedu kwanu Ihe I choro ka mu mee?--What do want me to do?" His eyes fluttered round
me, as though I should know what to do. I could read it saying kill him even before he mentioned it.
"Ka anyi gbuo Amadeo . . .--Let’s kill Amadeo." It rang like the chirping of an okwa, a guinea fowl, in my ears.
Amadeo was a very good Whiteman. He didn’t treat us with disdain. In fact, he had made me his own brother.
We had shared our dreams, but at the same time I remembered my need for money and I knew that money
could change my life forever. Even so, I couldn’t go to the length of killing Amadeo. But Nonso was a great
orator. Coupled with his cunning attitude, he knew how to push his visions into a weak mind like mine. For at
that moment, I agreed that I was a weak man.
"My brother," he said, "many years ago this Whiteman used our fathers to make money. Even today they use
our toil to develop their land and economy. Why should you think about one man who is to die where our
fathers have been murdered by them? Hanged and killed like fowls. Why should you bother about Amadeo?"
It was like a spell upon me, and anger and hatred overtook me. Every Whiteman seemed the same to me--
exploiters. I had a mind to bring my dreams to reality. I could see myself driving into Umuaki with a
Volkswagen just like the district officer. Then I could pay him off and have my bride.
That night, with a bottle of rum in our hands, Amadeo and I shared more dreams of being with our loved ones.
He told me that he would like to see me again. "Ebube, you are a good friend," Amadeo said with all sincerity.
When he was drunk, he told me that he wasn’t feeling fine. I helped him remove his shirt. I wasn’t drunk at all
because I had a bitter kola in my mouth, which kills the intoxicating effects of wine. So I was ready for it.
Nonso crept into the room with a knife in his hand. Quickly Nonso went for his throat and cut it open. The
blood of a Whiteman spilled on our clothes; it covered our hands. As he struggled for his last breath, Nonso
cut the artery on his neck open. Then I knew that Nonso was a professional killer; he even licked the blood on
I thought that was the end of my friend Amadeo but I was wrong. Tears rolled down my eyes, but I wanted to
sound like the stories I had told Nonso about my Uncle Ikuku. I wanted to show that I have his blood flowing
in my veins. So I made a swift move towards the safe. I broke it and brought out a bag full of currencies.
Behold, in my hands were thousands of pesetas. Money that could fulfill my dreams. I took them out of the bag
and arranged them in a sack bag.
We didn’t carry the sack to our cabin. We made our way to the mountains beyond the city and buried the
money. We cleaned our clothes and pretended not to know anything about the murder. It was never traced
to us, because Whiteman didn’t have any relations with the black peasant farmers. The suspects were those
who knew about the money--mostly his fellow whites. The police never questioned us. I and Nonso went to
farm the next day. Work was as usual, and quickly our supervisor was changed. That was my story at Ricardo
Since we were on two-year contracts, renewable after two years, we didn’t bother to renew. I had already
spent six years of my life in Fernando Po. Nonso wasn’t ready to spill my blood, so we stood with our
agreement and split the money in two. I got ten thousand pesetas, and he also got ten. My life seemed fulfilled;
I could see Adaure before me begging me to marry her.
We made our way back to Nigeria. He left for his home town and I went back to my village. With all my hard
work I had fifteen thousand pesetas to spend. When I got home, I realized that I wasn’t getting any younger.
Adaure was still teaching at the primary school. A lot of things had happened by now, like the death of my
father and my great Uncle Ikuku. It seemed to me that I had lost the war of love. I wanted my father and
Uncle Ikuku beside me, to ride in my car. I cried at the news of their deaths.
My village had not even changed, but the country had. The Whiteman had gone back home, including
Nwadishi--the district officer. So I had nobody to pay back now. Our people now ruled themselves.
My mother said it like this, "Nwamu, anyi ewetago independents--My son, we now have independence." I
became the richest man in Umuaki, now riding in a Volkswagen like the district officer had. I became famous
and relevant in the society. Even the King in our village came to me for advice.
Then to fulfill my dreams, I married Adaure. That was my life with my loved one. But our married life was
very unhappy, right from the day we said, “I do” until this moment. The gods didn’t bless us with any child.
Soon something bad happened to me. One night I saw Amadeo in my dreams asking me why I killed him. He
lay in a pool of blood.
I thought the Whiteman had no spirit. But he hunted me until I ran mad. All the money I had made was used
in taking me from one medical doctor to the other. Still my illness persisted. Then I knew that I had made the
greatest mistake of my life by killing Amadeo, a bosom friend, a good Whiteman, a person that never treated
me with disdain.
"But now, when swords are not yet ploughshares,
And spears still spears,
Hearken you, my little ones."
~ Apocalypse by Frank Parker~
So young men from university, this is the story of my life. Today I lie down on a tattered mat. Although I
recovered from the madness, I had an injury on my leg. It’s a very deep one, so I can barely move. There is
no child to look after me. My wife was killed in a car accident. My old age brings suffering and grief to me.
I will lay here until my dying day. I lived the rest of my life knowing that the blood of a Whiteman was in my
hands. I was dying for love that I never enjoyed.
No one saw me, not even a single eye; but I tell you that if they had caught me for the crime and punished me,
it would have been better for me. When facing God’s case, truly there is no appeal. Go in peace and follow
destiny with patience, and remember that things have changed. Read your books carefully for without their
knowledge, you remain irrelevant in today’s society. The beat of the music has changed. We have had our
share of coups, seen war, and seen hardship. Hold your ears so that you don’t die like me. Follow life with
patience, even if you lose what you wanted most. Let it go, for it is not yours.
Copyright 2008 Chika Onyenezi
|Literary Masters, Inc.
Publicists for Short Stories, Books, Poems and Songs
Long Island, New York 11971
By Chika Victor Onyenezi
Monday, July 26, 2009
Rated "R" by the Author.
The death of a single man diminishes us all.