THE SYNOPSIS of the Novel
The Novel tells of the life of Ikeobi, a typical African boy, who was brought up in a rural village, Ozubulu. Ikeobi’s mother, Ugomma was raped and the incident resulted to the birth of Ikeobi, exposing him to the stigma that follows his birth, hardship, poverty and life in a polygamous home. Ikeobi’s grandfather married two wives that constantly quarrel almost over everything including things as little as water. The two distinct women are described as a tigress and a peacock keenly contesting for the attention of one man. Ikeobi suddenly runs into the deadly spirit; ‘Akataka’. Akataka is a deadly spirit that roasts people alive and also entered into the evil forest that no mortal enters and comes out alive. Udenkwo is being hunt by his shadows as he was inflicted with a deadly and incurable disease known as ‘Ibi’, which was as the result of the atrocity he committed against Ikeobi’s mother, Ugomma.
Ikeobi became a beneficiary of the early missionaries that came to their village. He wins the heart of the Reverend Father with his little gift of fresh fruits. He makes blunders that earned him funny names like: ape man, sample face and scavenger at the missionary school. After five years, Ikeobi graduated from the missionary school with the best result. He came back to Ozubulu, his people welcomed him home as a brave son. They cheered him up as Odogwu the village masquerade displaying its best dance steps. The next year, Ikeobi leaves for the university where he studied Medicine. Ikeobi’s life was full of challenges and discouragements as typical of African society, but was he able to face them all and he became a success? Find this out and much more in this captivating African story deftly told.
Ikeobi had a tough time growing up. He was born of a peasant single mother. His Mother Ugomma took seed of him at her teen age, after she was raped on her way back from the stream alone, one ill-fated afternoon. It happened that on that day, Ugomma came back from their farm beside the evil forest, Ndiekwili and there was no drop of water in the house, not even for drinking. It was a polygamous home, where her father married two wives. Her Mother, Dika was the first wife, but her father’s second wife, Nkemdilim was the one her father loved more than her mother. Nkemdilim had used up all the water in the house. Ugomma, the first and only daughter of Dika dislikes the quarrel that usually ensues between her Mother and her step mother “My Mother will soon be back and she will need water for cooking and bathing” With these thoughts on her mind, she was bothered.
So she decided to go down to the stream to fetch some water with her earthen pot balanced on her head, with the aid of a piece of cloth that would cushion the effect of the weight and the friction between the pot and her head, despite how tired she was, she set out to the steam with her beautiful wrapper strongly tied across her chest, covering her upper body down to her knees.
. Ugomma’s beauty is too charming to behold that makes every man that passes her on the road to look at her the second time even up to her old age ,her beauty were still there. Ikeobi took a big chunk of her beauty to himself. She has height endowed by the creator with long legs and arms like a super model. She was blossoming and alluring like a budding flower; little wonder her name was Ugomma meaning the ‘Beautiful Eagle’. Her peers and admirers call her “Mma” which simply means beauty. Ugomma is fair in complexion, she is the envy of her peers and desire of most men. She walks with enthusiasm, always respectful and cheerful even though she knew she was that beautiful, she never allowed it to get into her head.
Her humility and courage was the things that kept her mother going. She was her mother’s happiness and consolation, after when her husband care and attention was directed to Nkemdilim the younger wife. After ugomma’s birth,
Dika failed to took in again. Her husband waited for years in futility before he went to take the second wife Nkemdilim. Nkemdilim has given Ejikeme her husband both male and female children. She had succeeded in stealing her husband’s heart away from Dika by the reason of her and fertility. Though Dika love her husband, and have tried to show him that, but Nkemdilim always misinterprete any kind gesture of hers to him. Ejikeme hardly spend time with Ugomma and her mother as he is used to, before Nkemdilim his second wife came into the house. Nkemdilim turned his husband heart against the senior wife and daughter.
It was on Nkwo market day that Ugomma set out to the stream, The day that altered her entire life. Every Nkwo day, villagers usually goes to the market to sell or buy their wares. All other days of the week are use to gather together ncluding livestock will be brought to the village market. People from neighbouring villages come in numbers to buy or sell their wares which was mainly local farm produce like vegetables, cereal, grains, tubers, palm oil and other essential commodities the villagers need. The market starts as early as 6 o’clock in the morning and runs till it dark, the hurricane lamps come to aid till about Mid night.
Every evening before the market day, some villagers who have so many wares to dispose start to convey their goods either by foot or bicycle as to meet up earlier. Other activities wait still on the market day. People do not go to the farm or to the stream. It was said and known that most debtors pay their debts on Nkwo market days. I will pay you on Nkwo market day was a familiar say. This made the villagers refer to the market as “Nkwo na akwota ego” meaning the Market that mints money.
There was a man known as Kachi. Kachi was a local business man who had made his money through hard work and diligence. He dealt on brooms, rattan baskets, beds and chairs. He always took his wares to Nkwo and other big markets in Ozubulu, a village in eastern Nigeria and its surroundings. Kachi sold one of his rattan beds on credit to one of his neighbours Uwadiegwu who was a palm wine tapper. Uwadiegwu was a good palm wine tapper. His wine was acclaimed the best palm wine in Nkwo market. The villagers would first make sure that his palm wine is finished or that he didn’t come to the market before they would ask after other palm wine in the market. If only Uwadiegwu could come to the market, selling his product required no effort; there was a ready market for his palm wine. But despite the opportunity of having a ready market Uwadiegwu was a pauper. He is often plagued by laziness, getting out of his rattan bed early morning to go and tap palm wine was a very big task for him. He would always make excuses for his laziness by saying that the rains fell over the night making the palm tree too slippery for him to climb, even when there was no rainfall, or that the wild animals is back in the jungle where he taps the palm wine or that he sighted the head-hunters while on the palm tree the other day. He will always have an excuse. Kachi had tried several ways of retrieving his money from Uwadiegwu without hurting him but to no avail. He is always ready to open up his pockets and purse, and even throw his doors ajar in other to prove to him that he has no money to pay him, and of a truth he had no money to pay him. Kachi decided to help him by being at the palm wine market each Nkwo day to collect the money he made from his palm wine sales directly, before he goes spending it on anyone who asks him to buy him a bottle of drink. Uwadiegwu spends much faster than he earned. He was ever slow and reluctant to make money but ever eager and swift to spend it. Uwadiegwu will not hesitate to buy drink for anyone who asked him for it so far he is with money to do so. On his way from palm wine tapping, he would start giving people free drink from his keg. So far you can identify him and call his name, you are sure to get a cup of palm wine. He was an ardent believer in being popular than in making money. For him, one that has people is far greater and wealthier than one that has money.
It took the ingenuity of accosting Uwadiegwu at the Nkwo market just at the spot and the point where he was being paid for his palm wine. Kachi would be watching him keenly from a hidden corner of the market targeting when he will collect money from a buyer. Immediately Uwadiegwu collected money from the buyer of his palm wine, Kachi emerged from no where and wrestles part of his money from him before he squanders it as usual. That was how he was able to collect part of his money for the rattan bed.
It was already noon before Ugomma set out for the stream. The stream path was very lonely; she met no one on her way going or coming back from the stream path, She could only hear the whistling trees and the pealing birds. At a point she became afraid of the whole scenery, but she was not surprise because she knew it was Nkwo market day. Her mother had taught her that for a woman to retain her position and possession in life she would shun every acts of cowardice. She revealed to her that it was her little act of cowardice that opened the way and gave Ejikeme the impetus to take in another wife that had virtually taken him away from her. Of a truth, Dika and her daughter would have been sent packing a long time ago, if not for the acts of bravery she started putting up lately. Dika always held down her position and assert her rights and privilege as the first wife with her bravado.
“Mama must not quarrel over water issue again. She will not take it lightly with Nkemdilim if she discovers that she had used up all the water in the house without sparing a thought for her,” she encouraged herself and moved on.
It was a downhill journey. The pathway was not as slippy as it used to be during the rainy season. Uncountable earthen pots break during the rainy season due to the slippery of the stream path. The path was rather dusty because it was the dry season. The leaves of the shrubs by the pathway were heavily covered with dust. Just the stamping of feet of people treading the path was enough to raise dust.
The first portend that Ugomma got was when she got to the stream, there was no sign of any living being except the plants, fishes and birds. She could see fishes swimming up to the river bank in search of food, because there was no one scaring them away. The stream was as peaceful and pure as ever. She decided to fetch water into her earthen pot first, when it is in its purest state. Afterwards she decided to swim for some minutes and at the same time take her bath at least to cool her body from the tiredness and the afternoon sun. Untying the wrapper around her body, little did she know that there was a naughty young man watching her from the gigantic mango tree on the other side of the river bank. This young man has been feeding his eyes on her nakedness. The perfectly shaped and supple body of a young lady at her late teens got the young man into scheming on how to have a taste and to feel of what his eyes had seen. The full erect and alluring breasts that shot out like a paw paw fruit, beckoning on him to come and caress them. The enticing curves and cleavages that was irresistibly compelling. The young man could no longer bear the rush he was experiencing down his groins.
When Ugomma was through with her bath, she dressed up, balanced her earthen pot now with water on her head and was heading home refreshed. Few steps up the hill, sudden fear descended on her like a dark swoop that made her wonder what was creating the fear in her. She couldn’t just fathom what the fear was all about. She was still wondering when she dashed her left foot against a stone that was half buried on the path, she staggered and nearly fell but for her smartness, she was fast enough to hold the earthen ware on her head with both hands. This sent a greater fear into her; she knew that dashing the left foot against a stone while on a journey is a bad omen. One can dash the right foot and not bother about it. But not the left foot, it is a sign from the gods that the journey is not well. She quickly looked all around her, there was still no trace of human being; the path was as quiet as it has been. It was just the pealing birds and the breeze that blew the tree leaves around that she could hear. She hastened her steps out of fear. Ugomma wished she could see someone who would keep her company on the lonely path. It was then she remembered her mother’s warning to never go to the stream alone especially on Nkwo market days. Now she was seeing the reasons why she shouldn’t have disobeyed her mother.
Just as these thoughts were on her mind, Udenkwo, the young man that has been watching her from the other side of the river bank emerged from the bush. Her heart leapt to her mouth, she needed no prophet to tell her that the young man was up to some mischief. It showed in his eyes that he wasn’t there for good. The masquerade does not appear in vain; neither does the toad run at noon time for nothing, it is either the toad is pursuing something or that something is pursuing it.
Before she could find her voice to say anything, Udenkwo had carefully taken the earthen pot she had on her head down. She tried running away into the bush and hiding from him but he was faster, stronger and smarter than she. He grabbed her from behind and ordered her not to make a noise, but to cooperate with him. She ignored him and raised an alarm, as far as her voice could go and tried to free herself, but there was no one around to help her. Udenkwo took her further into the bush under a palm tree, overpowered and raped her despite her pleads, struggles and tears.
She struggled to free herself from her him as she shouted, kicked and pleaded but to no avail. As he overpowered her and was having his way into her, Ugomma’s eyes was filled with tears, she looked up for help but no help from any were, she just wished that Ndiekwili or Amadioha the gods of the land will strike the rapist to death and set her free at that moment. Unfortunately for her there was none to help her. The only living thing that she saw was a kite that perched on the palm tree looking down to her. She also wished that the kite could come to her rescue but the kite was as helpless as she was. The kite could only muster a drop of its faecal sample which marksmanly landed on Udenkwo’s bare back. It later squealed out series queer howls for over thirty minutes before it flew away, as if it was crying in sympathy for Ugomma who wept profusely. If only tears could bring back her innocence and her highly prized virginity, she would have gotten it back but it was so sad that the two highly cherished virtues were irreplaceable. The trauma seemed invincible as the day went by. It took a great deal of courage and bravery to keep her from committing suicide.
For Udenkwo, she was too tempting to resist and was so sweet to let go, but for Ugomma it was a horrible experience she would live with for a life time. She did not want to disclose her ordeal with Udenkwo to anyone not even her mother Dika. She knew that her mother had warned her severally to never go to the stream alone, not to talk of going alone on Nkwo day. She knew that her mother would blame her. But what could she do; her mother must know about it someday.
The way and manner that Ugomma helplessly cried home after the rape incident took peace and sleep out of Udenkwo’s life. Her cry kept reverberating in his ears, hunting him day and night. Though he showed remorse and sincerely apologized to Ugomma immediately he satisfied his lust and regained his sense of orderliness. His apologies didn’t salvage anything. Slowly, the guilt of his evil deed started hunting him day and night. There were nights he dreamt of where the gods visited him with Ibi. Ibi is a disease that leaves the male folks with a painful and well swollen scrotum. Some call it elephantiasis of the scrotal sack. Ibi can make a man’s scrotum grow as big as a fully pumped football. It’s a disease that the gods visits evil doers with in Ozubulu and it can only be cured by the native doctors. A man called Mbazu in Umuonwuka clan in Ozubulu developed this disease, Ibi. His scrotum was very big like Isi Ukwa – breadfruit ball. The skin of his scrotal sack was reddish and as smooth as a nylon wrapper. Mbazu was a rich farmer so he could afford the best medical assistance from the surrounding villages, so he consulted the famous dibia called Okaibe. Okaibe was well known and respected for his magical powers and the potency of his medicine. When he consorted the gods, it looks as if he handed the sacrifice directly into the hands of the gods. The next thing that would follow the sacrifice would be the results, and the manifestation of the acts of the gods that took the sacrifice. He was known to have cured madness, epilepsy, stroke, infertility, impotency, blindness, deafness, and even hunchback. Okaibe would always come around to administer his potent medicine to Mbazu every evening himself. That he did it himself because he would not want any other dibia to discover his trade secrets. It was a hard earned trade secret that cost him dearly. He once told his son, who was learning from him how he slept several months at the burial ground, went several weeks without food and water. How he later broke his fast by eating all sorts of unpalatable things, and slept with repugnant creatures and beasts in the wild forest to acquire the knowledge and power he has.
Though Okaibe was administering his potent medicine the best way he could but the Ibi was not getting better rather it was getting bigger and more painful. That Mbazu could no longer sleep at nights was a stale news, no one in his neighbourhood sleep too, as his wailings and moaning out of the excruciating pains grew. He kept persuading Okaibe to continue with his treatment, praying and hoping that one day the medicine would work on him. It was until one evening that Okaibe visited Mbazu as usual and noticed that his stomach had suddenly protruded like that of a pregnant woman that have less than a week to deliver.
“Tufiakwa!” Okaibe spat out, shrugging his shoulders and using his right hand to draw imaginary circle around his head before fringing the hand as if he discarded something repugnant.
“Mbazu’’, you offended the gods and they are out to finish you! There is nothing my medicine can do for you now”, Okaibe spoke without fear or favour, looking into Mbazu’s eyes.
Confess what you did, maybe, just maybe, the gods will forgive you. But from what I am seeing now. They are out to finish you up, he further said without showing any sympathy. He took his medicine bag and hung it back on his shoulders and took up his staff that had so many knots tied around it with white, red and black pieces of cloths. The long staff had some metals the resounded when ever it touches the ground as he walked. He left Mbazu’s hut with his back. Turning sharply to his front and stabbing his sharp pointed staff into the earth, he muttered.
“He that is being treated of elephantiasis of the scrotum and he is developing protruding stomach, surely, the gods are anxiously waiting for him in the evil forest!” Okaibe had seen that the gods themselves had hands in what had befallen Mbazu and he was not ready to draw the wrath of the gods to himself and his household. He discontinued his herbal treatment and never returned to Mbazu again.
Few days, Mbazu called the entire neighbourhood to his hut and confessed on what he did that brought the wrath of the gods upon him. Though it was so hard and shameful to open up on what he did, he just had to do it as there was no other remedy known to him at that point. As he lay helplessly on his sick bed, he narrated the evil he did. But before he started his confession, he asked for their forgiveness for the trouble he has made them to go through in so many ways, especially those he had hurt personally and those he betrayed their trust. He sincerely begged for their forgiveness and that of the gods.
He told them of how he made Uzonna his younger brother impotent after he saw his beautiful wife the first day he brought her to him as his elder brother for his consent. How he got jealous because he was greatly attracted to her beauty and as well her endowed body. Her bossom was full and her buttocks well rounded. How he was captivated with an uncontrollable lust that made him thought of knocking Uzonna off and marrying his wife as Ozubulu tradition encourages a man marrying his late brother’s wife in order to sustain his lineage. But he couldn’t bear to murder his younger brother outrightly at that time, so he went to a Dibia in Umuagwu to obtain a charm that made Uzonna impotent for years. The dibia locked up his manhood with his magical powers and threw the key into the deepest part of the Ulaasi River and told him that the spell will be irreversible. Uzonna did all he could to impregnate his wife but all to no avail. Instead of opening up to him on what he did, he kept asking Uzonna to give him a chance to sleep with his wife and raise a son for him. Assuring him that no one will ever know of it except he tells them. He kept pressurizing him and his beautiful wife Acharaugo separately, such that none of the two knew what he has in his mind. Several years of waiting for the fruit of the womb in futility and coupled with the mockery, jest ,and insults Acharaugo was getting from men who are jealous of her husband and the love that exists between them, and more especially the women who were bent on making her realize that they were better than her, even though their husbands quarrel and beat them up everyday. These men and women feasted happily on her calamity that at a certain stage, she gave in to Mbazu’s advances just to avert the stigma of barrenness she faced everyday. The accusation of having aborted children severally when she was still a maiden, and the fear of having her replaced with a fertile woman who could give Uzonna his husband children even though no one cared to find out, that the fault of not giving his husband a child wasn’t from her.
Mbazu and Acharaugo then agreed that they would keep it secret, a top secret that even Uzonna her husband would not be aware of. For her, she wanted to end the whole trauma and give Uzonna a surprise package by being pregnant for him, and making it look like it was him. She had thought of how happy her husband would be when he finds out that the gods has decided to put a smile on his face with a son. But for Mbazu, it was just to satisfy his age long lust for her. He had always imagined how soft her skin would be, how succulent her breast, how enthralling her buttocks and also, how warming, welcoming and entrapping she would be. He envisaged it would be a never-let-go experience. Mbazu was right in his predictions, she was sweet to be with and they make love severally at any slightest chance they have, until the chances they have was no longer enough for them any more. They had to go extra miles of creating chance for themselves.
Mbazu devised a way of ensuring that Uzonna would not stand in between him and Acharaugo at nights. As he noticed that Uzonna’s predicament had led him into drinking so much alcohol, so as to forget his sorrows and plight for some moment. He decided to always give him cash. He made sure he took Uzonna out to a local drinking bar owned by Leekwa-Ukwu, a single lady in her fourties. This lady who had been in Lagos city, where she owns a bar before she relocated back to the village and started the business again. Leekwa-Ukwu had a massive hip and buttocks with a tiny waist that can make any potent gentleman lose his composure. She wasn’t so beautiful facially; she had a big and flat nose, very big eyes like that of a toad and very big lips like the petals of a hibiscus flower, but her shape is a perfect figure eight. Her bosom was massive too. Most of the men that came to drink in her bar only came to see her well endowed body, that could temporary keep them away from their worries.Like a dock, she walks around tending her customers cheerfully as her body assets bounces to the admiration of her admirers. One of her customers, Ofeke confessed of the day he came to drink, luckily for him Leekwa-Ukwu was less busy and so she came and sat close to him and he was having a closer view of her. Leekwa-Ukwu was copiously endowed by nature.
“I was lost in vain imaginations that I didn’t know when I finished two gallons of palm wine alone”. Another Customer, Efulefu confessed that he didn’t realize how far he has gone in his lustful imagination until a loud moan left his mouth and he wetted his trousers with some accidental discharge of his semen.
It was at Leekwa-Ukwu bar that Mbazu took Uzonna almost every night to buy him drinks and to ensure that he drank to stupor before they lives the bar. Uzonna would head straight to his bed and sleep off till late hours of the morning. Then Mbazu and Acharaugo would have the whole night for themselves a night of an endless pleasure. At the start Acharaugo was reluctant about her sexual affairs with Mbazu but as time goes on she began to like it, enjoy it and eagerly look forward to it. I guess it is because stolen water most times tastes sweeter. But there is this African proverb that says “everyday is for the thief but one day is for the owner of the property”.
The sexual escapades between Mbazu and Acharaugo continued without the knowledge of any one, but somehow Uzonna began to observe her wife’s recent body language and behaviour towards his elder brother Mbazu. How she giggles in his presence and make some unnecessary excitement whenever he is closer to her. At first, Uzonna waved off the thoughts of infidelity that came to his mind. But as he kept noticing the suspicious gestures he decided to take the thoughts serious. The more serious he took it, the more of the signs he saw. The more signs he saw, the more he resented their actions. He would not confront any of them, he needed to catch them red handed. At a time, he knew that something fishy was going on despite all the effort Acharaugo was putting up to ensure that he would not notice.
On that ill-fated night, Mbazu once again took his brother to the local bar to play his usual tricks on him. He was buying him the drinks as usual but failed to observe that his brother was not consuming them as usual. He was cunningly emptying the drink on the earth each time Mbazu looked away or got his attention drifted. He pretended to be in a state of stupor as before, when they were going home, he acted with the saying that says “Play the fool to fool those who think that they are fooling you”. Inside their compound, Uzonna made straight to his hut and to his bed and pretended that he had dozed off. Less than an hour later he heard a systematic tap on the window besides her wife’s bed, her wife responded by tapping back once. Soon after, Acharaugo came to Uzonna’s bed to check on him, he was fast asleep she thought, and covered him well as he pretentiously yanked off his wrapper to make it look like he has travelled very far into the land of sleep. She then quietly unbolted the door and closed it back as she tiptoed into Mbazu’s hut. Mbazu left his door unbolt for her easy access. As she entered Mbazu’s hut she bolted the door as if she belongs there. This made Uzonna’s blood boiling. How could his brother and his wife decide to bury him while he was still alive? Even though he can’t impregnant his wife, he is entitled to her. With the anger of a snake that its tail has been chopped off, he rushed into Mbazu’s hut only to be hearing his wife’s stifled moan. A hot blood rushed up into his brains, he open Mbazu’ window and threw himself into the hut like a mother who went to rescue her child that was in a burning hut.
Uzonna caught them in the act, in the heat of the action. Acharaugo wished it wasn’t true, she wished the ground could open up for her to fall inside or that she could just vanish into the thin air. But it is true, there was her husband at the scene with mouth agape like a man who caught her wife sleeping with an ape.
“I was only trying to help you, I wanted to be of help my brother please don’t be offended please”, Mbazu found himself pleading as he scampered out of Acharaugo waist to the corner of the hut. Uzonna was infuriated the more by his calling him brother at a time like this.
“Did he remember that I am his brother and he still went ahead, guzzling my wife almost every night?” he asked himself.
Uzonna’s plan was to raise an alarm, to attract neighbours and expose them, but just as he wanted to raise his voice in that quiet night, Mbazu foresees what he was up to, and jumped on him with his massive weight that flattened all the rattan bed he had tried to use. With pillow in his hands, he imploringly tried to muffle Uzonna’s voice. They struggled for a while before Uzonna was overpowered. Uzonna was a skinny tall man who avoids troubles, while his elder brother Mbazu is very bulky, short and adventurous. People said that is what the gods failed to give to Mbazu they gave Uzonna and vice versa. But before the physical tussle started between the two brothers, Acharaugo had laid her hands on her wrapper and fringed to the corner of the bed in the heat of the action and ran out of the hut for safety. She was not there when Mbazu unintentionally suffocated his brother to death as he was trying hard to muffle his voice. He did not only silence his brother’s voice that night, Mbazu succeeded silencing his brother forever with the pillow that did not only cover his mouth but also his nostril till he passed out.
When he suspected that his brother has given up the ghost, waiting for him to make a move or say something. He shook him hard and tried to read his pulse. It was then he knew that he had committed murder. It was not just committing murder but murdering his blood.
“What am I going to do, how am I going to explain this?” different thoughts were racing through his mind as he stared at the lifeless body on the floor. Cleverly and courageously, he lifted Uzonna’s lifeless body to his shoulders and carried him back to his hut. Luckily, Acharaugo wasn’t in her husband’s hut. He carefully laid her husband on his bed. He didn’t care to look out for Acharaugo to know where she ran to, he had a more serious issue at hand to handle. Mbazu could not sleep throughout that night, he was thinking of the way out of the mess he found himself in.
After a while, Acharaugo observed that calmness had returned to the compound and assumed that the two brothers had resolved their differences amicably. She quietly sneaked into her husband’s compound but not yet into the hut. She knew it would be foolishness trying to appease him that night that his anger was hot and fresh. So she sat quietly on the floor thinking up how she would pacify her husband in the morning. Little did she know that her husband was already was dead.
In the morning when she waited for her husband to make a move or say something about what transpired last night, nothing was coming from him. She then walked on her knees to his bed side to placate him, being full of guilt. It was then she noticed that his dark skin had turned ashy and his lips dark. She shook him and shook him hard, screaming his name to wake him up but his lifeless body dangled to the rhythm of shaking. She ran out of the hut like a rat that snake entered his hole, calling everyone to come to her aid that the gods had killed her.
“Chi m egbuo mu oh!, chi m egbuo mu oh!” She kept shouting not knowing where to start her story from. In a few moments, the entire neighbourhood emptied themselves into the compound only to see Uzonna lying lifeless on his bed with Mbazu acting the most grieved person.
“I said it, I said it, I said it but no one listened to me.” Mbazu kept saying as he paced up and down the compound in full glare of everyone. Tears were racing down his eyes.
“Now this is it, this is it, this is it, everyone can now bear witness to it!” he paced around some more. As Mbazu was talking, many of the sympathesizers heard him but none muster courage to ask him what he meant by those words. It was Mazi Uchendu that called Mbazu and asked him what he meant by “I said it but no one listened to me”. Mbazu turned sharply to face Acharaugo where she was, held down by some sympathizers that felt she might hurt herself if left alone.
“Yes, I said it, Acharaugo is a witch. She was sent to this family to destroy it, see the condition he left Uzonna my brother after failing to give him a child for so many years. I wonder if she has not done enough evil to Uzonna by denying him children, must she kill him outrightly,” Mbazu spat out.
“From the first time I saw her, I knew she was an evil wind that blows no good to anyone, she must leave this compound at once”, he continued unabated. Mbazu was so afraid Acharaugo would open up on what led to the death of her husband and implicate him. So he decided to outsmart her. He decided to act out the saying “attack is the best form of defense”.
Silence descended on the compound like an eclipse that suddenly occurred at noon time. The claims that Mbazu laid on Acharaugo were heavy . It was ear tingling. Some mouths were left agape as all eyes were on Acharaugo. Some of the sympathizers who compassionately held her gradually started withdrawing from her as if she just went leprous. Leprosy was another disease the gods bestows on evil people in Ozubulu and it was believed to be incurable. Gradually some of the sympathesizers started leaving the compound. It was then that Mazi Uchendu, the oldest among the sympathizers addressed the people and told everyone to maintain peace with one another as the claims that Mbazu made would be looked into in the next two days by the elders before Uzonna would be buried. Uzonna’s body was taken to be preserved by local embalmers as sympathesizers dispersed to converge on the next two days.
Mbazu knew from that moment that he had started a fight with Acharaugo, a fight he might not finish but he was determined to finish it at all cost. He knew that if Acharaugo decides to give the fight all she got, he might not win the fight. If she decides to fight dirty by going to those elderly men that would judge the matter by night promising them a piece of her well rounded waist and her voluptuous breasts; they would fall for it. Acharaugo was really a beautiful African woman that no potent man could easily say no to. If she dares tell the elders that she is offering them her bed every night till the day of the judgment, especially now that she is a widow the judgment will just sway to her favour and Mbazu would be cast out of the village for killing his brother according to the customs of Ozubulu people. The casting away of Mbazu will further give these men the opportunity to frolic with Acharaugo as they like as she would live in the entire compound alone, with no one checking her movements.
“What more could be worse than what I have done already, sleeping with my brothers wife, killing my brother for it and turning it on his wife”, Mbazu encouraged himself as he went to see Isi-udene, the notorious Dibia from Umuagwu that made Uzonna impotent. This time around he went to cast spell on Acharaugo. A spell that would make her insane, he was specific about it.
“Make her suffer from acute and very severe schizophrenia. A type of insanity that would made her not to remember her name, not to talk of remembering what happened between she and I, and Uzonna that ill-fated night, he requested from Isi-udene. Isi udene was very notorious for his evil and wicked charms. His charms were very potent and he was feared because of it.
Later that same night, a loud scream was heard from Acharaugo hut as she was shouting and screaming about her head being on fire. From that point, Acharaugo started misbehaving and talking senselessly. She was worse on the day the elders fixed to investigate Mbazu’s claim. Her words could not make any sense and she couldn’t compose herself at all. Mbazu had a field day. He insisted that all his claims were right and that the spirit of his dead brother Uzonna is so furious that he could not wait to be buried before he started to torment Acharaugo. He has started taking revenge already on her and had made her mad for her numerous atrocities of not giving him children and finally killing him. That was how Mbazu covered up his evil tracks, thinking he was smarter than the gods until they visited him with Ibi – elephantiasis of the scrotum and later augmented it with protruding stomach. He died of the two ailments some weeks after his confession and was not buried. He was thrown into the evil forest as the customs of Ozubulu people demand. Evil people that the gods themselves killed by plaguing them with incurable diseases or by making them commit suicide were never buried, they belong to the evil forest where evil birds like vultures and owls feast on them.
It was a taboo to rape a woman in Ozubulu. Anyone found guilty of rape must cleanse the land to appease the gods. If not cleansed will result to death, pestilence and poor farm yield of crops in the land which will ultimately result to famine. A rapist is to be treated like a thief. They young men would strip the culprit naked, tie him up, flog him, and unleash soldier ants on him under the scotching sun. The rapist would still be under the sun in his tied state till he has shown enough remorse for his peccadillo. Udenkwo was a promising young man who had never been associated with evil doing till this incident. He was rather known to be adventurous but not unscrupulous. The nature of his occupation tells more of his audacious life. He fells gigantic trees in the forest and have they sliced into smaller chunks for firewood and building constructions with the aid of sharp axes and machetes. Surely he was an industrious and energetic young man
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THE SYNOPSIS of the Novel The Novel tells of the life of Ikeobi, a typical African boy, who was brought up in a rural village, Ozubulu. Ikeobi’s mother, Ugomma was raped and the incident resulted to the birth of Ikeobi, exposing him to the stigma that follows his birth, hardship, poverty and life in a polygamous home. Ikeobi’s grandfather married two wives that constantly quarrel almost over everything including things as little as water. The two distinct women are described as a tigress and a peacock keenly contesting for the attention of one man. Ikeobi suddenly runs into the deadly spirit; ‘Akataka’. Akataka is a deadly spirit that roasts people alive and also entered into the evil forest that no mortal enters and comes out alive. Udenkwo is being hunt by his shadows as he was inflicted with a deadly and incurable disease known as ‘Ibi’, which was as the result of the atrocity he committed against Ikeobi’s mother, Ugomma. Ikeobi became a beneficiary of the early missionaries that came to their village. He wins the heart of the Reverend Father with his little gift of fresh fruits. He makes blunders that earned him funny names like: ape man, sample face and scavenger at the missionary school. After five years, Ikeobi graduated from the missionary school with the best result. He came back to Ozubulu, his people welcomed him home as a brave son. They cheered him up as Odogwu the village masquerade displaying its best dance steps. The next year, Ikeobi leaves for the university where he studied Medicine. Ikeobi’s life was full of challenges and discouragements as typical of African society, but was he able to face them all and he became a success? Find this out and much more in this captivating African story deftly told.