Published by Williams Michael Manja ,at Shakespir.
© Copy right 2016: Williams Michael Manja.
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I dedicate this work to my mother, Mrs Afodia Manja, for being the best mother to me and many other people.
Congratulations……great piece of work…I love it…wow, great writer and a mentor in one inspiring people to know their worth in the society…. I appreciate how you presented your mind…it’s simple, readable and full of lessons to learn..May the message be an inspiration to all those who will read it. God bless you.
Mae Amalia B. Pilarta
Abra state Institute of Sciences and Technology,
Langangilang Main campus, Langangilang, Abra-Philippines.
The Frightened Soldiers
Knowing your ambition
The sepulture of ten people in ten graves a day.
The blood hunters
The beginning of the school problems
Andrew in the new school
The reward of the ninja gang
The tiger’s attack
The struggling for survival
Andrew’s detection in the school
Andrew helped his mother and sister.
The poor girl neglected by her family
The robbers in the fiering squad
The higher institution’s girls
Poverty as a school
The woman who was running from her shadow
Passing through hell
Ghost in the garage
The green helicopter
Final Exhortation to Student And Parents
I want to thank Professor Mae Amalia B. Pilarta, for going through this work carefully and sparing her time to edit it. Thank you so much for the role you are playing in promoting education in different continents.
The Frightened Soldiers
Korope who sat quietly, begin to talk to his wife. “surely, the world is unlimited, during that time, we used to walk even in the night in the thick forest with our riffles ready for any attack from our enemies,” said Korope. He then sat quietly leaning his back on his wooden chair and was looking at his wife Longdi, who was weaving a mat with her ears wide opened to what Korope was saying. “Did you use to get enough chance for bathing at all?” asked Longdi. “Ha! ha!! Ha!!! Ha!!!! Did we have enough time for eating, talk less of bathing? When it was raining our arm-bush, position must be maintained; our plans must be carried. We saw a lot of corpses, a lot of injured soldiers, but yet, we wore hearts of metals. Three soldiers including my friend were caught trying to escape to the east of Lake-Chad, after removing their uniforms and that was exactly the time that the war grew so tough; it was the night that bomb fell on four of us in our arm-bush position.” “Bomb?” asked Longdi. “Yes bomb,” replied Korope . “That bomb, pieces two armies and that was when I lost my right arm,” Korope was explaining while touching his broken arm. “What happened to those soldiers trying to escape?” Inquired Longdi.“Ahaa! Those armies were killed in front of other soldiers, to serve as a deterrent to others who might be thinking of escaping. We watched how bullets rent their stomachs into pieces, with even their intestines forced out to the ground.” “Intestine? Aaash!” Exclaimed Longdi. ”The most dangerous thing in war is, when your commander is killed, if the enemies aim your commander, then the remaining soldiers will all scatter like lost sheep, except when there is a second commander, in case of eventuality. I have seen how tough being an army means, that is why, I have put in my mind that our only son Andrew, will be schooling so that he will become a teacher, doctor, lawyer or a pilot,” said Korope.
Andrew came in with his school bag hung around his shoulder, as he returned home after school. “Oh welcome my son,” said Longdi. “where is your sister?” “She is coming together with her friends,” answered Andrew. Longdi quickly rushed into the kitchen and brought ‘Gwom’ for him with vegetable soup. ‘Gwom’ is made from maize flour. Andrew who had gone into the room to change, is now coming out from the room with a smiling face. “I know you will enjoy this food.” “Yes mummy,” replied Andrew. Suddenly, Esther came in, and bowed to greet her father and mother. Korope sat quiet, as he looked at his daughter with great admiration, and feel of fulfillment, for the display of good upbringing in greeting her parents. “Yes you are a good girl,” said Korope. He then turned to face his son; he stared at the boy, and looked as if he didn’t want to talk. He finally broke the silence, “Andrew , I was just quiet to see what you will do, after you greeted your mother, you did not greet me. Were we together in your school?” asked Korope. He paused a little, as if waiting for an answer to his rhetorical question, and he continued, “Anyway, your mummy did not teach you to be greeting elders and your parents. Your teachers should have taught you all these, or maybe they taught you, and you have forgotten. You are in class four but your sister who is in class two greeted us unlike you!” Shouted Korope. “Oh, please don’t be shouting too much on little children like that, I think he has understood his mistakes. Besides, is it the duty of a woman to teach her children to be good citizen alone?” Asked Longdi.“Hee! Do you know what it means for an ex-soldier to train a child? In our own case, we train but not teach. If you leave me to train him in learning enough lessons, he would have been doing frog-jump for that silly mistake,” groaned Korope. “Doing that to this boy will mean killing him. Do you think you are now in the battlefield? Asked Longdi . We train boys to be good soldiers in the future, and not to become good women; did you hear me? That is the training, a male child needs to be a good soldier, or an active man in the society..
Korope then called his two children and ask them what their teacher taught them in school. He helped them with their arithmetic assignments, and exhorted them to take their studies seriously. He told them more about the follies and woes of life in general. He made them to understand that, it is only through education that the social, economic and even political status of a slave can change to that of a king. “Had it been that I had the opportunity of going to school, I would have not seen all those bodies, slept in the cold and witnessed bloodshed in the battle field. My children, I will like you, to be important people in future. Though it is good to join the army and defend your own country and its integrity, war, is a do or die affair, which I know is for the sake of the country. But, I will like you!” Pointing at Andrew , “ to be a doctor or pilot or teacher and so on. And you,” turning to Esther, “it will be good if you become a nurse or teacher or lawyer, or how do you see?” asked Korope as he suddenly turned to face Longdi. “Oh yes, it is good,” replied Longdi and they all laughed.
One evening Longdi was busy washing their clothes under the tree in front of their house, as wind was blowing and the village was busy. Everybody was preparing to meet the forth coming night with joy. Andrew and his sister Esther, were busy playing with the toy guns that Korope bought for them, suddenly Longdi saw Korope coming while talking to himself, “My husband, what is the matter? Who have loosed your temper?” Asked Longdi, but Korope kept quiet for a while, while staring into the tree like a wild demons; the legion that attacked pigs in the days of Christ. He moved his legs and made a perturbed hiss? “What is the matter?” Enquire Longdi. “It is this stupid and ugly man with his head like a land-rover of the 18th century”, gaggled Korope. “Who is that man that you are talking about?” “That man who allow his wife to be trampling him like a foreign rice; that ‘ye-ye’ man who call himself Jagus. This man thinks he will play over my intelligent. By the time that I begin to punch his land rover head with my clinched fist, he will know that I am Korope,” said Korope with anger.
“Oh my God!Jagus is also an ex-soldier do you think you will find him as simple like ABC as you think?” Replied Longdi. “If I will be that type of soldier, then I will not be making noise as Jagus is doing now, that I am an ex-soldier also. Was Jagus not an ordinary cook who cooked for the third battalion? “Wasn’t Jagus the man who fainted after hearing the bomb explosion about seven kilometers from where he was cooking? And now, he got the mouth to talk to me with authority,” concluded Korope. Longdi laughed and told Korope to be patient. Korope seemed not satisfied yet, he needed to splutter his anger to his wife’s hearing, as he confided in his wife, and believed she had influence on his feelings. “Jagus was that type of soldier that when they heard a story of what took place in the battle field, they will begin to urinate and dropped down like riped tomatoes. If not because of retired captain Luka pleaded with me to be patient, ha!” he raised one of his index fingers up with anger, “by now, he would have known whom exactly I am, because I would have removed the remaining twenty eight teeth in his vocal cavity,” continued Korope . “You always lose your hot temper anyhow, you are no more in the battle field, you have to be exercising patience with people and don’t mind them all,” said Longdi. “Well, thank you my good wife,” cluttered Korope, as he smiled and then moved into his room.
KNOWING YOUR AMBITION
Andrew was in primary six while his sister, was in primary four. His father became so proud of him because of his hard working in school. His teacher and even the head master became so proud of him. One evening, Mr. Henry who was Andrew’s class teacher visited Korope and Longdi in their home. The aim of his visit was to encourage Andrew’s parents about allowing Andrew to further his education after his primary school. “Your son is very intelligent, his performance in school is excellent,” said the teacher to Korope and Longdi. Korope was glad to hear that, he promised the teacher that Andrew would continue with his school, “If I am alive, there is nothing on this earth that can stop Andrew and my only daughter, Esther from schooling,” promised Korope. “I also forget to tell you that Esther is also doing well in school,” said the teacher. Esther who was sitting beside her mother, smiled as her mother, embraced her on hearing what the teacher said. She called Andrew who was leaning on the wall near the door and embraced him too. Andrew was shy of his teacher, before his teacher got in, he was sitting down reading his book, but when he saw the teacher coming in to their room, he vanished to a leaning position by the wall where he seemed invisible to the teacher.
The next day, Andrew told his father about the registration for their common entrance examination. Korope, paid for the common entrance exam fee, and encouraged Andrew to work harder in school. “What is your ambition now in life?” Asked Korope to Andrew. Andrew who stood gazing at his father for some times replied, “A doctor of course.” Longdi who was weaving her mat jumped on to her son with joy. “So my son is going to be a doctor. You will buy cars for your father and I, and you will build a big mansion for us, if we are still alive by the grace of God,” demanded Longdi in a way that her son understood, she meant to encourage him to continue to work harder. “Mummy, we wish that God will give us long life and prosperity,” said Andrew. “Amen our son,” answered Korope and Longdi.
Korope turned and saw Esther who was thinking hard on what she wanted to become in future. Esther thought over what she wanted to become for a while. She first thought of becoming a nurse to save many lives, especially the lives of children and the helpless old people, but yet she realized that she didn’t like seeing blood or corpses in her life, hence becoming a nurse may not be all she was capable of becoming. “Mummy and daddy, I will like to tell you my ambition,” said Esther with a smiling face, after series of addition and cancelation in her mind. “Very good my daughter, we are waiting to hear it now,” said Korope. “A lawyer!” said Esther. Korope and Longdi embraced their children with joy. “Because of this, I am going to slaughter a big cock for my children!” exclaimed Korope, who then moved in to the compound in haste, and later returned with a big cock which was already slaughtered in his hand. “Take this cock, go and prepare it for us to eat and be merry, to remember this day that our children told us their ambitions.” He handed it to Longdi, and rose his thumb up as he looked at his children, “But children,” continued Korope, “You have to read hard in school to see that these ambitions, which you have chosen, become real in your lives. I and your mother will continue to support and pray for you so that God, will have mercy on you.”
The next day, when Mr. Henry entered his classroom, he noticed that his students were quite ready for the day’s lessons. He went straight to the chalkboard and wrote ‘knowing your ambitions.’ The students wondered which sort of lesson was that and in which subject? But, Mr. Henry turned to face his students, and greeted them as usual. “This is the most important topic that I think, will be helpful to you, since you are passing out of this school soon,” said Mr. Henry. The class six students were surprised and attentive to what teacher Henry had to tell them. “I will like to hear from you one by one, about what you will like to be in future; I will like to start with the students in the front seats,” said the teacher. The students stood up one after the other and told their teacher their ambitions. Asabe stood up,” I will like to become an engineer.” The students told their teacher their ambitions one after the other as he required from them. Bala was was the last person in the last raw to speak, stood up calmly, “A teacher!” Bala said after some thoughts. The teacher was impressed with what he heard from his students. “Very good!” the teacher commended his students. “I think Bala, is the last person to speak, Is there any one again?” he inquired from the students. “Nobody sir,” replied the students.
“Okay, understand that, in this year we have a lot of students who wants to become teachers than in the previous years. Though, eight students wanted to become accountants; five students, doctors; two girls and a boy, nurses; some few, engineers, but the rest wanted to become teachers. “Honestly speaking, the reward of teachers is in heaven, because the government of this country would not be able to pay teachers their wages completely; teachers made everybody whom they want to be,” said the teacher. The students laughed, thinking that the teacher, who was always passionate about teaching was biased, but Mr. Henry told them, “Some of you wanted to be doctors, some engineers, while others, nurses and so on. If a teacher does not teach you, would you become the doctor or what you want to be? “No!” answered the students. Then the teacher paused a little as he nodded his head with satisfaction for the chorus answer given to him. “Even Jesus Christ himself, was a teacher; he taught his disciples, how to pray.” He taught a lot of people about the mystery of heaven. Mohammed also, taught his people about moral acts; they were good teachers.”
“Besides, I will like to exhort you all to work harder and pray to God to make you what you want to be. If you always sleep without reading or doing the assignments required from, you will hardly or will not be what you want to be in future. “Thank you sir,” appreciated the students. “I wish you the best in your forth coming common entrance examination. “Thank you sir!” replied the students.
THE SEPULTURE OF TEN PEOPLE IN TEN GRAVES A DAY.
Korope got up early in the morning preparing for the market, because in Kanto village, if a person is delayed at home, and does not go out early in the morning, he will not get lorry that will carry him or her to the market. Longdi, also woke up early that morning, and prepared breakfast for her children, so that they will not be late for school. Korope, affter taking his breakfast, asked his son to go and get the goat in the room where they kept them, for he wanted to go and sell five of the goats in the market, to pay off his children’s school fees, and to buy some clothes for the children and his wife. Andrew quickly went to where they tied their goats, and he brought them to his father who was busy putting things in order for the market. “Tell me what you will like me to buy for you,” Korope asked his children. “Buy pen, books and banana for us daddy,” replied Esther. Andrew who was then smiling came closer to his father, as his mother was waiting to hear his request. “I will tell you in secret, so that no one can hear it,” requested Andrew, as he smiled and turned to look at his mother and Esther who were standing by. “Son, come closer to me; come and tell me your request,” said Korope. Then Andrew dragged himself to his father who bowed down with his ear towards the mouth of his son, to listen to what he had to say. Then Andrew whispered into Korope’s ear.”Ohoo! I have heard all that you have told your father,” said Longdi, as she laughed and held her daughter by the hand firmly. “Esther, didn’t you hear what he told your father?” asked Longdi. Esther nodded her head to mean no, she did not hear the secret. “He said, ‘I want you to buy some books and a toy gun for me,’ I heard it all,” said Longdi. They all laughed, “That is why I always say it, what you think is secret, may not be secret at all, because even the walls, have ears and mouths and reveal secrets to people,” said Korope with laughter. They all laughed, as Korope put his hands by his children’s shoulder and the union among them was excellent and strong.
Tumburi entered Korope’s compound, “Are you still here up to this time? Don’t you know that a lorry has arrived?” asked Tumburi. “When?” inquired Korope. “Just now,” replied Tumburi. Tumburi was a very good friend of Korope. They always like moving about and chatting together. “Which lorry between them?”Asked Korope. “God is greater,” replied Tumburi. That was the name given to the lorry according to the inscription on it, by the villagers. “Okay let’s go, I was about to go out when you came in,” said Korope. “Safe journey daddy,” the two children said to their father. “Bye until I come back,” he said that as he waved good-bye to his children. His wife looked at him and blushed a little; the kind of love that existed between them was like that of new lovers. “Save journey,” wished Longdi. Korope with his friend, Tumburi left for the market.
Later in the evening, it was heard that the lorry which Korope with his friend and many other people entered made an accident, but people heard that ten people died flat immediately but no one knew exactly the people who died among the passengers. Dorathy, a woman who was known so well in the community for her hearsay, was seen talking to herself in bewilderment and amazement. “Things within this village are becoming somehow o! Devil has begun to put his leg in this village o!” said Dorathy. “What is the matter?” Asked Dorcas; a wife of Korope’s neighbour, as she stopped Dorathy to inquire from her the cause of her confusion and desperation. Dorcas, was also known with gossips in different nooks and crannies of the community. She liked listening to rumours, and she can spread the rumour like wild fire. “Haven’t you heard about the accident that occurred with ‘God is greater’? That lorry has pieces just like an airplane that clashed with the sun and got melted.” “hhee!” Exclaimed Dorcas. “I even heard that ten people died immediately at that moment,” added Dorathy. “My God!” exclaimed Dorcas as she can’t help but put her hands on her head unconsciously. “But who are those people that died instantly?” asked Dorcas. Dorathy, looked more terrified; she turned around to search with her eyes, as if to assure herself that no one was listening to their conversations. She took two steps forward closer to Dorcas, and whispered into her ear, “I heard that Tumburi and his friend Korope, and that boy down there, near that big mango tree,” pointing her finger to a mango tree across the road, “were dead,” concluded Dorathy. On hearing that, Dorcas became so confused. “Do you really mean what you are saying?” “Yes!”-replied Dorathy. “They said that, the car hit a cow just below that hill closer to the narrow bridge, and both the car and the cow, got into pieces.” “That witch….that witch…! I know she will not leave her husband, alone, whispered Dorcas.” “Which of the witches?”Asked Dorathy. “Longdi,” replied Dorcas. ”Ahap! I have heard enough of that woman,” replied Dorathy. “Ah! Let’s go our ways, less people begin to suspect what we are saying and begin to raise their eye-brows against us.” Advised Dorcas, after being satisfied that she got all she needed to hear. The two women departed, each to her way.
Rumors filled the village, but Longdi did not hear the complete news, she only heard that her husband hit his head on the screen of the vehicle and he was in the hospital. he news was circulated in every nook and cranny of the village that, Korope, Tumburi and eight others were dead in the accident. It was late in the night when Longdi and her children were about to eat their food. She gathered her children to pray as she used to do. She told her children that, she and her son Andrew were going to pray for them and also, they were to commit their father whom they heard was in the hospital in the prayer, so that God will heal him and other people that were injured. Ever since Longdi heard that her husband had an accident, and he was injured, she repeatedly felt sharp cuts through her heart. The palpitation of her heart kept inflicting pounds on her chest. She in moments felt helpless, but kept assuring herself that, she needed to be strong as the Living God, the almighty lives. She felt that something was wrong, but aligned herself to believing that, her husband only had mild injuries in the accident. Her plan was to get ready with food and some fruits as early as she could, to go and see the condition of her husband. She told her daughter; Esther to cover her hair so that they would pray, and they heard footsteps approaching their door. Longdi prayed in her mind that let the footsteps be that of Korope, her husband. The footsteps came closer to their door in the silent night that seemed to have been stroked by death, to quietness. It stopped by the door, and they heard a knock on the door. “Come in! Push the door!” said Longdi expecting her husband to enter inside. Suddenly, retired captain Luka came in; he greeted them and he reluctantly took some strides and sat on a wooden chair. “What is the matter? I heard that my husband is in the hospital! Is he all right? Why are you quiet? Answer me now!” Longdi asked those questions serially. Captain Luka kept quiet staring into the roof of the house. “It … it’s unfortunate that, your husband glad fully made the journey without knowing that, death waylaid him, just like flies on a tailless cow,” Cluttered the captain. However, before he concluded his statement, Longdi fell and fainted on the floor. Her children began to cry on top of their voices, as captain Luka was himself confused on whether to help the woman who was lying still on the ground, or the children that were by then screaming in to the death night. Some neighbours heard the crying, and came rushing in to the house only to realise that Longdi was lifeless on the ground. When Longdi eventually became conscious again, she burst into a helpless crying. Captain Luka and the women who had just came in after hearing the crying, tried in vain to calm Longdi. That was how she remained sleepless, with few women who stayed with her throughout the night, to encourage her to maintain tranquillity.
The next day in the morning, four Toyota cars arrived at Kanto village with the corpses of the people including that of Korope. The whole village was confused with crying. Longdi, if not because she was held by some women, she could have committed suicide to die with her husband. The burial of those people was memorable in that village, because ten graves were dug to burry each of the corps in its separate grave, as suggested by the elders of the village. Many people came from far and nearby places around the neighbouring villages, to sympathize with the people of Kanto village. People sympathized with Longdi and other people who lost their beloved ones also, in the accident. Longdi who was marred by the cloud of disbelief, spoke to herself just like a mad woman. “Did you tell me that you were going and won’t return? How do I do with these children now? Who will pay their school fees? Please who, as you took a French leave away from this life?” She busted into a strong crying again. Longdi, did not believe that Korope was dead; it seemed to her as if he was coming back soon. Even though, she saw his dead body before he was buried, she did not believe that he has gone forever. She always wished that someone should tell her that everything was a joke. She wished that, that ugly occurrence was all but a dream. She was waiting for someone to come and wake her up, and told her that all was a dream. No, it did not happen that way, for her husband, his friend Tumburi and eight other village members were dead. Her relatives from distant places came too, to condole and comforted her.
THE BLOOD HUNTERS
After the burial, Longdi with her children, always dreamed about their late Korope. That continued for about two weeks. “Ten people, in ten graves?” That was the question that the oldest man; Dikaam Hirzok, in Kanto village, who usually sat on a stone, warming his body near a set fire, said. The old man wondered, he said even in those days that people served gods and not God; they had never encountered these sorts of troubles in that village. The old man talked to some groups of men who went to greet him, as it was the culture of Mwaghavul people to respect elders, and get close to them for final blessings. Dikaam Hirzok told them that, perhaps the gods were angry with the land, and a man told him that, no one believe in gods any more. People believe in one God, and that God is not wicked to the extent of annihilating people in their villages. Most of the people believed that it was the work of demons or, it was time for the people to die at the appointed time. Death, which they believed, is a powerful spirit that was given the power to plan timetable for every living creature. The timetable is planned right from the birth of an individual. If a person’s name appears in the register for a particular month or year, he or she never escapes that year, month, day or hour. When it is time, the spirit comes to take one’s soul to the creator, to await judgement. The spirit harvest souls, and leave the body to be buried by fellow human who still awaits their day or time too.
Dorcas and a woman went to fetch water in the stream, because during dry season, the wells in the village usually dry, and people had to embark on some little trekking to fetch water in the nearby stream. “Hhee, this is awful! I heard that, it is the witches and wizards of this land that needed a drum of blood,” said Dorcas to a woman when they were going to fetch the water in the stream. “It was so I heard o! My sister,” replied the other woman. “No wonder, that was why I saw the church filled with people last Sunday; even Jagus, that ex-soldier who had never gone to church since his coming from the army, was sitting at the fore front of the church, beside the Pastor’s pulpit,” Explained Dorcas. “Ah! I heard that it was only quarter of the drum that they have gotten o! To fill that drum, you know, it will mean killing the remaining people of this village, so the best thing to do is to surrender one’s life to Christ, if not, we will be the next meat to those blood hunters. We have decided that, we will go and repent with our family in the church so that when the blood hunters come, they will not find us to fill the drum with our blood o!” said the woman while clapping her hands in great amazement.
The whole village was full of rumours and fears; children after school, no longer moved out to play with their colleagues again as before. One old woman, whom people considered, the prime suspect of the blood hunters, confessed that; almost all the children in that village were members of the blood hunters. The blood hunters were witches and wizards that worked in the spirit to inflict pains and sorrows on their fellow human, usually to suit themselves. They usually kill family members, or cause poverty or stagnation or illness of all sorts. Children did not accept any food from any child anyhow like before, because most parents advised their children never to collect any gift of food items from any one. The witches and wizards can initiate people through exchange of gifts. They usually initiated young and little children. No one knew for sure, if the confession of the old woman was true or not, but people resolved to taking precautionary measures for their safety. People were always scared when they saw children playing in a large group, because it may mean falling victims to the plans of the merciless people. Women became so frightened, and were quite vulnerable than any other people. Longdi, who has been praying and sharing with her children in the word of God, since before the epidemic of the confusing calamities that engulfed the village like swine of flies in a dust-bin, continued with her Christian activities with her children every morning and every night.
Children became the modern “mosquitoes “that sucked the blood, and even ate people’s meat in their secret world. The group of the ‘hunters’ was a form of secret society, found from generation to generation. Pastor Ishaya, advised every parent to give their children adequate parental care and teach them the moral ethics of life. In one of his sermons in the church, he warned that, it was because parents careless about the spiritual life of their children, that the devil was snatching the children to his kingdom thereby causing fear and panic in the hearts of God’s creatures. He advised parents to remain faithful in the Lord, and to stand firm into guiding the young ones in to the kingdom of God so that they will never belong to the devil.
One evening, Jagus who was tipsy and was going back home from his friend’s house and as he reached the blacksmith’s house and heard a lot of children singing a song and coming out of the house in an array. He became terrified, thinking that it was the “mosquitoes” children, but it was birthday party of Iliya. Jagus ran seriously, even tumbling on stones to see that he escaped from the “hunters”. Jagus entered his house with such an incentive velocity. He leaned on the wall of the room, breathing hard like a slaughtered goat that was gasping for air. His wife was also frightened after noticing the fear in her husband’s face. She asked him whether he had seen a ghost on his way coming. Jagus, with quaver in his mouth told his wife, “Really, the world has turned topsy-turvy.” He then tottered to where his wife was sitting with his mouth wide opened forcing some words out. “I saw those blood hunters,” continued Jagus.”Hheei! Since the times that people were talking of the ‘hunters,’ I have never seen any with my naked eyes, but today, I saw them with my eyes. Today, they tried to attack me, oh! Those children, in a broad day light? They think they can catch an ex-soldier like me. They were mistaken; I fought many wars than I can be killed by mere mosquitoes like they are.” His wife laughed at him, “Then why are you running from them? You should have given them a war, so that the people of this village will rest too.” But after he told his wife exactly where he saw them, his wife laughed at him seriously; “It was Iliya, the son of the blacksmith’s birthday party, and almost all children have gone there to celebrate with him, it wasn’t the ‘hunters’ as you thought,” explained Jagus’ wife. Jagus stood there shamefully for his terrified attitude. Jagus, was the most fearful ex-soldier among all others, and people knew him that way.
THE BEGINNING OF THE SCHOOL PROBLEMS
When Andrew graduated from his primary school, he took the first position in the common entrance examination. The death of his father caused the beginning of his troubles in his quest for education. A brother to their father; James, who had a wife and seven children already, tried in vain to marry Longdi, Andrew and Esther’s mother after the death of their father. Longdi had promised never to marry any man again instead; she will be taking care of her children to see that their goals in life were achieved. James, after all struggling, claiming his right as a brother to the deceased, to inherit the property of his brother including the wife, noticed that Longdi would never change her mind to marry him. Hence, he collected all the properties that supposed to be helpful to the family of the deceased; he also snatched from them the bank documents of late Korope, thereby leaving the family empty handed. He thought that, that was the way of punishing Longdi. He did not stop there, he went on broadcasting that; it was Longdi who killed his brother and that was how the news was spread everywhere and people were calling Longdi; “witch.” Longdi however, did not bother, she said, everyone was entitled to his thoughts. She promised herself that, by the body of her late father and husband, she will never abandoned her children to be a laughing stock before all other people. The man was doing all those things, to scare her so that she can return to her patrimonial home, so that her children shall be turned to working servants or slaves in homes of their uncles. They shall be turned to the farm slaves. Longdi who was educated to some extent, because she attended primary school to class seven; she can read, write and had enough common sense to hatch the common conspiracy against her and her children.
Longdi called her two children, and told them to sit with her on the mat. When they were seated, she told them all the circumstances that they found themselves. Their ambition shall not be achieved with ease as when their father was alive. She urged them to buckle up their belts, and work hard focusing their minds only on God and their ambitions. She encouraged them to remain faithful to the Lord who can turn a stone to human beings and can make ways where it seems to be no way. Despite, how kind, honest and caring Longdi had been in the village just as naturally as she was, people thought that she was a witch, and that she was the one who killed her husband. Longdi told her children that, God in heaven who created human and everything, knew the secrets that human never knew. He will judge every one according to his deeds in the last days or the judgment day. Since most of the people were treating her badly and calling her names, she wondered how her children could go to school with those sorts of conditions, as there was no one who was ready to help her out of her problems without trying to take advantage of her condition.
One day, Andrew went to fetched water with Iliya, the son of the blacksmith. Iliya told him that, his father has bought him his school uniform and by the coming week, he was resuming his new school. Andrew on hearing that from his childhood friend became extremely sad because, he was thinking of his own condition. He saw no way left open for his progress in the world. Their closest uncle has ceased all their properties; their mother was not well, she had high blood pressure that became worsen after the death of her husband, their father. Who then can pay his school fees? Andrew thought over all the available sources to get money for his education, but could not find any. He concluded in his mind that, he was one of the unluckiest children in the world. Every time that Andrew sat alone, his mind was always recalling the good moment they had with their father and mother as a happy family. He recalled the time that their father was telling them stories of wars, and peace times. He recalled, the good moment they had with their father, when he was asking them about their ambitions in life. He did not forget the promises their father made to them that if he lived, he will sponsor their education to whatsoever level in the university, even if it meant walking necked without clothing, just to ensure that his children became important people in the society. Andrew remembered all those moments, and he could not help himself, but broke in to tears. He later decided that, he had to go and see one of their uncles in the nearby village for help. He thought in his mind that, even if he learnt carpentry, he could use what he could do with his hands to help himself, his mother and sister. He thought within himself that, the minds of all the uncles shall not be the same and wicked hence, he reached a conclusion that, he will go to the next village to see his uncle in order to learn carpentry because to him, the door of school has been shut before him.
One night, Andrew thought it wise not to hide his decisions to his mother. Longdi was surprised that as young as he was, he was able to think about the future with detail analysis of the needs and possibilities. She believed in her mind that, her child was an exceptional person that when given the opportunity to go to school, he will be unique and important person in the society. Tears rolled down her cheek, when she knew quite well that she was helpless, and she did not want to give in to the demands of the men who wanted to help her conditionally, because to her, her relationship with God was the best for her than all the things of the world. She did not want to displease God in order to please man, for man is a visitor to the world, if man will not live all his life or her life to praise and worship God through actions, beliefs and perseverance, then man is not different from animals. She thought over everything and concluded that, God who knew all ends from the beginning of everything will surely find a way out to their predicaments if going to school was his will for her children. Longdi told her children that she would try her best in all descent possible means she could. She told them to have faith, that God, who can resurrect the deads, can do it for them. “God, that saved Daniel from the jaw of lions, and saved Daniel’s friends in the lake of fire, is not deaf, dumb or blind like all other gods. I know that he will surely do it for us,” said Longdi, as her children listened to every word that came out from her mouth. Longdi took seven mats that she weaved. She has been weaving mats whenever she was at home. She took the mats and moved from door to door looking for whom to buy it from her, but the villagers refused to buy even one from her because they thought that she was a witch. Longdi became exhausted with the problems; she began to think that it was better to die than to live in such problems. She could not help to see the children of other people in the village going to school but her own children could not go because she had no money and no one was ready to help her children. She thought that it was better for her to die than to watch her children suffering ceaselessly, but a second thought came to her that, if she die, her children’s condition would be worst. She then concluded that she was going to continue to try her best for her children; maybe her presence can strengthen them and urge them to continue to face life with optimism.
ANDREW IN THE NEW SCHOOL
One morning Andrew and Esther ate the porridge, which their mother cooked for them before she left for the next village. In the evening, their mother returned from the nearby village. She looked happy and had some books and piece of clothes in a polythene bag. She told Andrew to get ready so that next Monday, he will go to the new secondary school. She showed him his new school uniform and books which she already bought for him and Esther who was still in the primary school.
Andrew was overwhelmed with joy, but he wondered where their mother was able to get the money from, for his school fees, books and even uniform. Longdi told them that, she had saved some money from the tin mining they did together. In Kanto, the people were involved in tin mining, though they no longer got the tin as plenty as they used to get, but some moments of toiling can result to getting some tin that can be sold to get money. She also told her children that, the second source of her money was from selling her mats in the next village. The people of Kanto village refused to buy her mats, so she took them to the next village; Manguli and she sold them all at the rate of nine hundred and seventy naira each. That did not stop there, her elder brother; Mr. Istifanus, was a carpenter, and a very good mason there, after she met him and explained to him how their problems were, he pitied her and the children. He was surprised that people could be wicked to the extent of not helping widow and her orphan children, under the pretext of false accusations of witchcraft. He said, he knew his sister very well, he wondered why his sister Longdi did not kill her children if she was a witch. He showed his indignant anger with people who knew nothing but lying and spreading false rumours about a saint. He gave her five thousand naira to add to that money she made from selling her mats and tin. She told her children that, she believed, it was God that provided the money for the school, and not her might or wisdom. She said, the moment they continued to believe in God, he would continue to use people to come to their help as their needs arose.
On Sunday in the evening, Andrew out of anxiousness wished that the time should fly for him to see the Monday, which he was going to his new school. Esther was also very glad that she was going to primary five. He slept that night and dreamt that they were writing a test in the class in his new school uniform and a girl was staring at him, but before he realised, his mother woke him up to take his bath to go to school. It was morning already; Andrew excitedly took his bath and got ready quickly like an army in the war front. He had slept and woke severally thinking that it was Monday morning already, it was around three in the morning that he slept off completely forgetting where he was, but in his dreamland. He got ready with the help of his mother who kept his clothes in orderly manner within his box.
That morning, his mother’s brother; uncle Istifanus who was residing in Manguli, village came early. He asked Longdi if Andrew was ready so that they can go. Andrew came out of the room with his black bag hung around his shoulder, as his mother came out with his box, which contained his books, school uniforms, and other school paraphernalia. His mother came closer to him, and held his right hand, “Please if you go, remember your background and work harder in school, don’t be playing like other children of the rich people that you might meet. Don’t forget your God,” said Longdi to her son with tears in her eyes. She was so happy that, finally her son was going to school. She assured him that God would be with him, if he did not forget about God. She did not hesitate to give him a small New Testament bible. Esther waved good-bye to Andrew who raised his hands and also waved good-bye to them and they left. Uncle Istifanus urged him to be fast so that they can get the first bus to Mangu Halle, the town where the school was located.
Andrew enjoyed the journey in that bus, and soon they arrived at the town and they called a motor cycle that was popularly called “okada” or “goingman” to carry them to the school. As they stepped into the school gate, Andrew saw a lot of students moving in their school uniforms like him, he moved glad fully like mongo Park who explored River Niger. Uncle Istifanus held him by the hand, and as he asked a senior student in long sleeve uniform, about where the principal office was. They moved to the office that the senior student showed them. Uncle Istifanus talked to the principal about his admission. The principal carried his records, which were some typed sheets of papers. He wore his eyeglasses and searched through the paper and he stopped reading abruptly as he raised his head, “you said your name is Andrew Korope?” asked the principal. “Yes sir, I am Andrew Korope,” replied the young and eager Andrew. “Congratulations! You came position first in the common entrance exams to join our secondary school,” revealed the principal. The principal directed them to the office of the school’s cashier after giving them the admission letter, to go and pay his school fees. Uncle Istifanus went and paid Andrew’s school fees to the cashier. Uncle Istifanus exhorted Andrew to work hard, read his books well and take note with the kind of friends he was going to associate himself with, not to join bad friends. Andrew’s uncle also advised him to remain a good boy in the school so that his mother’s effort and toil shall not be in vain. He gave Andrew some “pocket money” so that he can buy something when he needed to use it. He waved good-bye to Andrew, as he left and moved out of the gate where he vanished to Andrew’s sight.
The staff who introduced himself to Andrew as Mr. Pius, told Andrew that he as of that time belong to the school, as he was going to be under the school’s guidance, protections and care. The teacher called a senior student to accompany Andrew first, to his allocated hostel where he kept his box and bag. He dressed up in complete uniform and the senior student walked with him to his new class; JSS 1D. As Andrew stepped into the classroom, he felt like a Martian landing on earth. He was in a different world, he wondered where he was going to sit in that class, but the class monitor of JSS 1D, which was his new class, who was told by the senior student that Andrew was a new student, took him to a particular seat closer to his. The boy introduced himself to Andrew as John David; a son of a pastor. Andrew was very happy that he belonged to a class made of some students that were kind and friendly. Andrew and John became good friends and they were always seen moving together.
THE REWARD OF THE NINJA GANG
Andrew and John became very good friends, as they guided each other to be serious with studies. John realised that Andrew was quite serious and determined in his studies. He associated himself with the fellowship of Christian students (F.C.S), which he found quite useful in his Christian upbringing and support in the school. He was always encouraged towards doing good things. He took his work very serious; he never liked joining any bad gangs in the school. He liked playing football, especially during games time in the school. Andrew did not like playing in the class as other students were doing. On the last day of the first term, students were asked by their house masters and hostel patrons and matrons, to sweep the school environment to keep it clean and tidy. To Andrew, everything about the time was speeding as seconds turned to minutes, hours, days, weeks and months without him noticing that the time had gone far. He was very overwhelmed by his studies as he enjoyed everything about the school. It seemed hardly believable to Andrew that the end of first term was only a matter of minutes away. After the students finished sweeping the school environment, the school bell rang and every student rushed to the assembly ground as it was the norm in the school. Andrew looked along the rows of children besides him wondering what the future held for them and what he himself had achieved over the previous months. As the students were waiting for the principal and other staff of the school, they were strictly under the control of the school’s prefects. For a while, the principal and other staff members of the school arrived. The J.S.S.1 students in front row jumped to attention. The remainder of the school ambled to their feet with all the elegance of camels with the care of the world upon their backs.
The principal addressed the school; he thanked the students for their hard working throughout the term. He also advised the students to use their Christmas holiday in helping their parents at home. He required them to be hard workers all in everything that they found worth doing. In addition, in his hand was a list of students who performed very well in their examinations. The principal called the names of the students in S.S.S.3 who took position first, second and third and he offered them some prizes. The person who took position first in the sss3 was the head boy of the school followed by the girl called Laraba and Christopher the labour prefect. He called the names of the students from class to class until he reached J.S.S1D. The student who took position first in that class was, John David, as announced by the principal, and students clapped their hands and John ran forward with much elation written all over him, to receive his reward. Andrew stood quietly and his heart’s palpitation increased, but he had the confidence that, he shall be at the second or third position. The principal went ahead to call the next student for the prize. “The person that took the second position in the class is Andrew Korope!” exclaimed the principal. The students clapped their hands and calling Andrew with the nick names, ‘the searcher … the searcher, the search!’ Andrew felt a kind of a great ecstasy in him, he felt the blood in his veins running faster and unusually good, as he continued to thank God for making him to see that time that he was publicly recognised. The person who took the third position in the class was a female student; Elizabeth Oknokwo. She was an exceptional student among all other females. She never took her study for granted.
The principle went ahead and told the entire school populace that, in everything in this world, there must be the good things and the bad things. “I am sad to call on five students who are the ‘devils’ of the school,” the students that he was about to call, were involved in many dubious and criminal activities. The students were, “Grace, James, Sunday, Naanpan and Rengtu!” exclaimed the principal while the assembly ground was quiet. The five students who formed the gang, called the “NINJA” moved out to the front, before all other students. The last person to move out to the front among them was Sunday; the son of a hunter, but contrary to his father’s, cares giving, Sunday was the most stubborn of the NINJA gang. After his name was called, Sunday walked majestically with some air of pride and unhidden stubbornness. While he was moving out, students were charring him by calling his nickname “black arrow…. the black arrow… arrow!” The principal was disappointed in the students’ attitude, “These students that you are seeing before you now, are the wicked students in this school. They watched Chinese films, and form a bad gang called the “NINJAS.” They are the thieves of this school, the fighters that disturbs the staff and students in the school. They are the students who always hang around to attack girls like devils. For that, I am going to give them their rewards also.” The principal then called on Mr. Pius whom students feared the most, to administer the punishment to the erring students. They made the students lied down on the ground, in front of all other students and beat them severely. Mr. Pius used almost all of his might and strength in beating those students. The students regretted forming and joining the bad gang. From there, the principal finally announced to them the resumption date, and the students were given letters containing their school fees for the next term. They were to take the letters to their parents as they went home for the Christmas holiday. The principal prayed, and wished everybody a happy Christmas and a prosperous new year. The students rushed out in an end-of-term disorder. The term had ended.
As Andrew was moving to take his bag and baggage out of the school for the Christmas holiday, Elizabeth gave him a Christmas card. As he opened it, he saw “I WISH YOU A HAPPY CHRISTMAS,” written boldly on the card. There were Christmas wishes among students. Some of the students shared gifts from what they had remaining in their hostel boxes. When Andrew and John were moving towards the school gate, they saw writing at the right side of the gate; “Lord, dismiss us with thy blessing, thanks for mercies past received.” That statement excited them and made them to reflect their minds back on their experiences in the school. To Andrew, there was no other best place to be than the school, but he was too eager to go and see his loved mother and younger sister.
THE TIGER’S ATTACK
As Andrew arrived home for the holiday, he saw his mother and sister waiting to welcome him, and he was very happy to see them. They embraced him dearly as Esther collected his bag and box in to the room. Already, his mother has cooked his best food for him. He liked eating their cultural food; “Gwoom,” with the famous soup; “PuukKam.” It has been a while when he has not eaten the food which he missed for the sake of his school, Andrew ate the food all, and thanked his mother. He sat in the room for a while, and he asked Esther if his friend Iliya the blacksmith’s son has arrived for the holiday also. Andrew met with his friend Iliya, who has also arrived from school for the holiday. The village looked so good and busy. The joy of the Christmas season was, a person would meet with many other people that have not been seen for a long time. Every one tends to return home for the Christmas. There was a lot of Christmas’ preparations, as it was just a week to the Christmas. Girls helped their mothers in bringing firewood from the bush or farms. Boys took care of the herds of sheep, for those that had plenty sheep. Those that did not have plenty or single sheep, went and bought one or two for the Christmas and New Year, from the market. Most people contributed money to buy one cow, so that at Christmas Eve, they can slaughter it and share the meat equally among those that contributed the money. Longdi was very happy to see her son returned home from the school. He looked more bright and well composed and confident in the way he was undertaking his domestic roles as the male of the house. They had some chickens ready to be slaughtered for the Christmas and New Year.
One morning, as Andrew and Iliya went to fishing in the River near their village, they saw many women moving in groups to fetch water. Andrew’s mother and sister were also among the second group of the women. Andrew with their fishhooks moved south of the riverbank. Soon, they saw Pasuki; the father of Sunday who was among the NINJA group in the secondary school where Andrew was a student. Pasuki was a great hunter with his rounded and well developed muscle.”Good morning children!” greeted Pasuki. “Good morning sir!” replied Andrew and Iliya. “I thank God that I met with hunters today. We are all hunters,” said Pasuki to Andrew and Iliya. “We are not hunters, we are fisher men,” replied Iliya. “You hunt for fish, while I hunt for bush animals. While you are hunting for aquatic animals, I am hunting for terrestrial animals, so we are all hunters,” explained Pasuki. The boys then realised the truth that, at that moment they were hunters also, and they all laughed. “We now know that, we are hunters also,” said Andrew.
Andrew and his friend were on the bank of the River trying to locate the best site for their fishing, as Pasuki was heading towards the bush for his hunting, and suddenly, they heard the women shouting, “Tiger…. tiger…. tiger!” The women were scattered as every one of them, was trying to escape from dying in the jaw of a merciless animal. Andrew and Lliya were frightened and confused. They threw away their fishing hooks; women threw away their pots and buckets. The tiger was about to tear a girl who had been pushed by other women at the course of their escape struggles and she fall flat on her belly when pasuki interrupted the tiger with his spear, and the tiger ran away. Pasuki knew about the tiger since, and has been hunting for it for quite a long time, because the tiger has been killing goats, sheep and other domestic animals from the village. Though the tiger has escaped after it made an attempt on the life of the young girl, Pasuki was determined to trail it and kill it if possible. He was a brave man who was determined and hardly give up on things he set to accomplish. He set forth into the forest where he had seen the tiger ran into. He knew the habits of the tiger; He knew where he came out from, to drink water or to attack weak animals that might be at the water point to drink water too. Most animals usually like hunting for other animals at a water point where they know that, most animals prefer to go for water there. They will wait until they see other animals; if the animals are many, they can observe and select the weakest animal among them and scare others away, and attack it. That tiger choose to attack the young girl. It might have been extremely hungry or probably, it had stayed for a while without food. Tigers hardly attack human, except in odd conditions. Pasuki decided to trail the animal by carefully following its visible spurs. The marks it left on the ground, has betrayed it as Pasuki will never stop trailing it.
Pasuki, crept quietly with his spear ready for action. Soon, he saw the tiger lapping water in that forest like a great cat, and he held his spear poised ready to throw, he moved quietly and closer to the tiger which did not see him, he noticed that the tiger was a huge one, but just at that moment, Pasuki heard a slight rustle in the tree beside him and glancing out of the corner of his eyes, he saw a great king cobra with his hood spread wide, ready to strike. Pasuki knew the danger of such situation, for to be struck by the poisoned fangs of the king cobra meant almost instant death. He took one look at the cobra and leaped to the ground almost at the feet of the tiger. As he leaped, his spear fell out of his hands and landed some distance away, back of the tiger. For a second, nothing happened. They stood staring at each other; the tiger looking dazed, then snarled and Pasuki saw his big yellow teeth. Pasuki was scared and his blood turned to water.
Pasuki staggered a pace, and with growl like thunder, the tiger sprang upon him, he lowered his head to the tiger’s attack, then the tiger bore him to the ground, where he laid pinned under his body; Pasuki was almost suffocated by the fur and the stench of him. Pasuki, realising that he was not quite dead yet, managed to get his hands around the tiger’s windpipe. All the while, he clung to his throat, pressing harder and harder with his hands like a steel trap. As soon as the tiger’s body suddenly went limp and toppled over his side releasing Pasuki; but it was not dead. He immediately grasped his spear and plunged it into the tiger’s heart.
Just as Pasuki finished slaying the tiger, the men of the village who have been searching for Pasuki and thought that the tiger had killed him or carried him away, arrived with their guns, machetes, swords and big sticks. To their surprise, they saw the great tiger lying dead at the feet of Pasuki. The head of the tiger was slashed, and the dead animal was carried by four strong men to the village. People gathered to see the great tiger. The father of the girl whom Pasuki had saved her life from the mouth of the tiger thanked Pasuki for saving his daughter’s life. The men of the village carried Pasuki on their shoulders and they danced round the dead tiger. Pasuki who slained the tiger single-handed, was given the honour, and called the greatest man of his time.
Andrew and Iliya were surprised, they have never seen a tiger in their lives until that very day, so they brought a long tape and measured the dead tiger and found it to be seven feet long. An old woman asked them the reason for measuring it, “We want to know, so that when we are asked in school, we can answer it correctly,” said the children. “Good, that is the work of scientists,” replied the woman to the children. The children were very happy. People thought that the tiger was out to get its Christmas meat too and it lost its life out of adventure.
THE STRUGGLING FOR SURVIVAL
Andrew wondered how he was going to get his school fees for the second term. Even before the Christmas, he had been working for people so that he can get some money. He followed women for harvesting in the farms of rich men in the village and he saved some money. Still his mother had only three mats, which she sold in the village and since people knew that she had urgent need for money to send her child back to school, they bought the mats in lower prices.
Now that the Christmas celebration was near, the problem baffled him the more, because after the Christmas celebration, the school will resume. Where was he going to get the money for the next term’s school fees? Andrew continued to ask himself without any satisfied answer in his mind. However, Longdi was so Economical, instead of buying for them Christmas clothes like other children, she bought them some books with the little money she saved. Andrew decided to be following his mother and other women to be fetching firewood in the forest. When they sold them, they saved the money for his school fees. Andrew knew that uncle Istifanus had many children whom he catered for, though that uncle was a philanthropist, he liked seeing children progressing academically, but he had his six children that he paid their school fees hence, his problems were over-whelming to him also. Longdi has decided that she will not disturb him with much of their problems again for he has been helping them.
One day, as Andrew was bringing the firewood that he fetched in the bush, he met with his friends who were playing their football in the village’s primary school football field. When the children saw him, they stopped playing the ball and began to laugh at him. They were telling him that; “Males do not go to bring firewood from the forest like women.” As they were laughing at him, Andrew knew that this was the only way he could use to get his school fees. However, as the children continued mocking him, even trying to hold the firewood on his head, Iliya stopped them from doing it. He reminded them of what their Sunday school mistress told them; “She taught us that, there are some children that are very poor, some children are orphans, and some have no food to eat or clothes to wear. She told us that we should help those children. She admonished us never to mock or laugh at them, because each of us can find himself in this condition. If our parents die also, we shall need help to support our lives,” concluded Iliya with love and empathy. “It is true,” retorted one boy, and as if a spell was casted on them, the children demonstrated their remorsefulness by apologising to him and promised never to repeat such things again. Later, as Andrew was going back to carry the other bunch of firewood that he left in the bush, the children had decided among themselves to go with him and assist him in carrying some of the firewood. They were taught in the Sunday school by their teacher, to be helping the needy. The children brought about four bundles of firewood for Andrew. Longdi was very glad and thanked the children. She was overwhelmed by the thoughtful decision of those young children. She thought within herself that, if everyone’s mind is like a child, human would not be facing so many problems as the world is facing today. She thanked the children, and prayed that God blessed them and give them a brighter future. Most of the children after returning home, their mothers punished them for helping Andrew, because most of the parents were saying that Andrew’s mother was a witch, hence nobody should help the son of a witch.
After the Christmas and New Year’s celebration were over, Longdi, put together the money she realised from selling all her firewood, and she noticed that she had no enough money to pay Andrew’s school fees. She needed three hundred naira to complete the school fees, and it seemed there was nowhere she could raise that money. She moved from one door to the other to borrow some money from the people whom she thought could help her, but she got no money from any one. Most of the people gave excuses that they had spent all their money during the festivities. They told her that they were only left with the money that would help them send their own children back to school.
On Saturday evening, just two days before schools resumed, Andrew sat under the tree behind their house. He was thinking of where to get the remaining school fees. He began to weep as he was thinking about their late father. Had it been that Late Korope was alive, he could not have been suffering like that. His father did not want anything to touch them. Andrew knew that, he had to struggle to survive, because he remember what his mother once told him that, it was through education that the poor children can change their status to a prestigious one in the society. School can make the orphans and the poor people to survive and become rich and fruitful since education commands power. He really appreciated the struggles of his mother towards his education and he wished that God will save her life, gave her long life so that whenever he finished his school, he would be of great help to her in making her free and happy throughout the remaining days of her life. Food was not even easy for them to get and eat like other people. They had to struggle to get the food to eat. Their house leaked when it rained. Everything about them was a struggle to survive.
While he was under the tree, he saw a taxicab roaring down their bare road and soon the cab stopped and a man came out of the car and asked some children who were playing besides the road on how to get to Manguli village by description. However, the children could not communicate well in real English, “Oga, na after you pass that big tree, you go see the road, continue de waka go straight. Na from there you go branch…,” described the eldest child among the children in Pidgin English. The man did not understand what the boy was saying in that sort of language. Andrew, who was sitting under the tree, went closer to them. “Good morning sir,” greeted Andrew. “Good morning, little boy,” replied the man. “Where do you want to go, sir?” enquired Andrew. The man was very surprised to hear the fluent and good English that Andrew was speaking to him. He then told Andrew where he wanted to go and he did not know the way. “When you move down close to that tree, you will see another road by your left, take that road and go straight. You will then cross a bridge, keep going, just as you go down a slope, you will see a small stream beside the road, and you will see a village about two kilometers from there. Go straight for that is the Manguli,” described Andrew to the man. The man was almost shocked after hearing the English Andrew used in the description unlike the one used by the other children. The man then rewarded Andrew with the sum of four hundred naira and he further thanked him for describing the place for him. After asking of Andrew’s name, he left for the village, as his car roared unceasingly following the description of the boy. Andrew was very glad, he ran home and showed his mother the money, Longdi was very happy and she believed that it was God who sent his angel to rescue them from the problem concerning the school fees. Now that Andrew’s school fees were completed with even enough transport money for him again. He bought soap and washed his clothes and that of his mother and sister. He is now going to resume back to school like any other child.
ANDREW’S DETECTION IN THE SCHOOL
Andrew resumed back to school with other children; he enjoyed the school very well that was how he continued struggling with the help of his mother and uncle Istifanus, to see that he achieved the goals of his education. He continued working harder and always took position first in the class. When Andrew was in senior secondary school two (S.S.S.2), he became the most intelligent student in the school and both staff and students liked him. One day Andrew went to one of their classes that the school no longer used for teaching, to read. The classroom had only some broken seats and three wooden benches. After he had prayed to start his reading in the classroom, he began to smell Indian-hem in that class. As he looked under the benches, he saw many papers with some pieces of smoked cigarettes and wrapped papers, which he believed to be Indian-hems. He again looked carefully at the positions of the three benches with keen interest and noticed that, they were purposely arranged in a circle-like manner. He wondered who could arrange them in that form. It seemed to him that the seats had been long in that position there, he noticed that those who arranged it had done that long ago, but as he observed the pieces of the smoked cigarette, he noticed that, they were newly smoked just like yesterday.
Andrew thought wisely, that if it were students, that arranged those seats for reading in the night, then how about those cigarettes’ ends and smoked wrapped Indian-hems under the benches? A conference of inveterate chain smokers must have held an endurance meeting in that class, he thought. He went round and counted nearly seventy cigarettes ends before he became bound with addition allowing ten minutes for a cigarette smoking it looked as though five men had sat there at least one hour in smoke and talk. Andrew had no doubt at all a group of criminals had met there to discuss something. A careful scrutiny of the floor showed him that, one of the criminals had played idly with his knife as he listened to the talk. The knife scratches the cement floor a little. He observed that, there was a mark of the sharp knife on one of the benches, and with those evidences, Andrew concluded that, it was a group of dangerous criminals that met there.
How can he do to know those people? He went back to the hostel and lied quietly on his bed thinking of what to do. He thought that perhaps, those criminals would hold their meeting again so, a thought came to him to use his audio-tape-recorder to record all the discussions of the people. He was excited with that plan. In that night around 10:30pm after preps, he knew that, the people might have been coming after preps so that no student can notice them. He crept into the classroom where they will never notice it, after pressing the play button of the recorder he left. It was about ten minutes after he left the classroom that he saw some people entering the classroom. The people have switched on the light. He then went to bed in that night. The next day early in the morning, he went and took his audio recorder from the class. He set it, and replayed. He heard the men calling one another by names and some nick manes. To his greatest surprise, the people whom he recognised some of the names including some of his classmates, were planning to go and rob their principal and some members of the community, he heard them saying it. The next thing he did was, he rushed to the office of their government teacher and told the teacher all about what he knew of the criminals. The teacher, after listening to the recorded cassette, rushed and met the principal who also listened to the audio cassette. “It is clear these criminals are planning to rob me and other people tonight, oh my God!” exclaimed the principal. The principal immediately took his phone and called the police who immediately came and arrested the students. After interrogation, the arrested students revealed that, they were not alone, among them were other men who were not students, and were staying in the town where the school was located. The criminals were all arrested, and after interrogations; they confessed many crimes they did, which included robbery, raping and burgling of houses. They were arraigned before the court of law; they were convicted and sentenced to fifteen, years in prison each.
The police inspector sent for Andrew. Andrew was initially scared; he thought that he was incriminated by any of the criminals for revealing their plans, but the government teacher told him that, there was no problem. The teacher accompanied him to see the inspector. On arrival, there was D.P.O and the inspector sitting in the inspector’s office. On sighting them, the inspector told the D.P.O that, Andrew is the boy that detected the robbers. “You are a very good detective. It will be useful to the country if you become a detective,” said the D.P.O. to Andrew. He then handed the inspector some money in an envelope. Your bravery and wisdom has reached our commissioner of police in the head quarter, and he told us to give you this money.” the inspector gave Andrew the money in the envelope. Andrew bowed with respect and happiness to collect the gift. “That is thirty thousand naira in that envelope,” added the D.P.O. Andrew was speechless, for the large sum of money was the first of its kind that he received as a gift. “Thank you so much,” the boy appreciated the kind gesture. “When you complete your secondary school and if you want to be a police detective, come and meet the inspector in this station, he will in turn inform the headquarter to tell them that you are ready, and they will give you an automatic employment to work for your country,” said the D.P.O. The teacher also thanked the police officers for recognising and acknowledging the demonstration of patriotic effort by the student. Andrew was very happy, and he believed the money given to him would help them so much. His mother shall jubilate on hearing that they will no longer struggle for his next term’s school fees and that of his sister; Ether who was in junior secondary school three (J.S.S.3).
On reaching the school, the principal, Dr. Naanpet, had already ordered the whole school to meet in the assembly hall. The entire students were already waiting with all the teachers, in the hall. The principal without wasting any time stepped forward before the calm students. “I am always sad to punish students for bad behaviour, but today, I am very glad to reward a student for good behaviour and wise exhibition.” He called Andrew to stand before the entire school, and the principal narrated to them all that happened. “For saving my life and protecting my property, I want to promise that from now henceforth, I will be paying Andrew Korope’s school fees to the university,” announced the teacher. The entire students shouted and clapped with surprise and happiness. Most of the teachers came forward and embraced Andrew glad fully. Andrew was very happy, and all the while, he was thanking God within his mind for making the impossible to be possible in his life that day.
ANDREW HELPED HIS MOTHER AND SISTER.
It was a very hard time for Longdi in the village. She encountered many problems ranging from lack of food, to leaking roof of their house when it rained. There was no food for them, and no money to pay the children’s school fees. Within that week, Esther was sent away from school for school fees and that alone made Longdi to be sleepless throughout the week. She continued to wonder where to get the school fees so that Esther will go and write her tests in school after been driven away for the fees. She seemed to had reached the peak of her endurance in that village. It seemed like walls of hardness was built all around her. Nothing was working out again, as it should; people were not buying her mats again, probably because things were hard to everyone. No much money in circulation among the poor members of that part of the world as it used to be. Longdi went for tin mining, and could not get anything important. She worked for some people in their farms to earn some money, but they did not get the money to pay her for the work in good time. “This is all the work of the devil. He is trying to tempt me in to giving up, and as long as my God live, I will remain faithful and prayerful to my God,” thought Longdi aloud.
On Friday evening, Esther went to fetch water at the nearby well, she then saw Andrew coming with his bag from a distance. She then ran back to her mother neglecting her bucket at the well, just to inform her mother that he was coming. Esther did that out of joy; she thought that she needed to tell her mother the good news about his arrival. Esther then ran back to go and embrace her brother. She collected the bag in his hand and galloped before him happily like a young goat experimenting on its newly discovered limbs. Longdi became so confused the more, her heart began to pound hard like a pestle in a mortar. Longdi was very sad, thinking that Andrew was bringing complaints or problems for her from the school. “My God how do I the daughter of the innocent people of Mupun land do in this world? I have not yet solved the school problems of my daughter, and my son is here again with probably heavier problems,” lamented Longdi with tears rolling down to her check. When Andrew and Esther got in, they saw their mother crying. “Mummy, what is the matter?” asked Andrew. “Nothing my son, you are welcome,” Longdi tried to hide her fears within her despite being betrayed by her honest tears. She quickly wiped the tears in her eyes, as she was putting up a forced smile. “Mummy you are crying, tell me what the matter is. Has Uncle James disturbed you with much troubles again?” asked Andrew calmly. Longdi nodded her head-meaning no, and then Andrew moved closer to her and wiped the tears from her eyes with his hands. “My son, the problems in this world are too much; happier are those who have not been given birth to because they will not witness any of the evil things and troubles of the living in this life,” explained Longdi. “No mummy, God’s time is the best. Anyway, my school fees from now until I complete my secondary school and university will be paid by our principal.” On hearing that, the tears in Longdi’s eyes dried with surprise. “That is not all mother, the police D.P.O gave me huge sum of money amounting to thirty thousand naira,” added Andrew happily. “I helped in detecting the arm robbers that were planning to rob our principal and some people in the town. When the robbers were arrested and they confessed, I was given the gift of this money, and our principal said he would sponsor my education to the university because he believes I shall be an important person to the society in future.” Longdi was still looking pale like someone who has seen a ghost in the daytime. She did not believe what her ear was hearing. “Take this thirty thousand and pay Esther’s school fees to the next classes ahead and keep the rest,” said Andrew while giving his mother the money. Longdi on seeing the money, she became awoken to the reality of what she had heard. She realised that she was not seeing trance; what her son just handed her, was money. Andrew gave her an introduction letter from her principal, informing her of his promise concerning her child’s school and the responsibility, which he had promised to take. “My God, No other God is as living and responsive to human’s problems as you are!” exclaimed Longdi. She screamed with joy as she hugged her son. Esther, who was sitting beside her brother too, did not hide her joy, as she jumped on to her brother in decisive, but hearty celebration. “God bless you my children; my purpose of living in this world, is because of you. God is really alive!” exclaimed Longdi.
On Sunday, after church service, both Andrew and Esther went back to school in the evening because from the money, Esther’s school fees would be paid. Her mother paid her school fees, to S.S.S.3 from the money her son gave her. Longdi used some of the money and bought enough food. She went and told her brother Mr. Istifanus about the good news. Mr. Istifanus was very happy too. The money brought a lot of relief to longdi and the entire family.
THE POOR GIRL NEGLECTED BY HER FAMILY
When Andrew reached senior secondary three (S.S.S. 3), there was a graduating party organised by the school for their students after finishing their final exams which was popularly known as the Senior Secondary School certificate Examination (S.S.C.E). Andrew was very happy for he was graduating from the secondary school. The entire out-going S.S.S3 students were very happy and that day was the happiest day for them in the school. Professor Mrs. Ezekiel, who was the country’s honourable minister of education, was invited by the school, through the governor of the state, who was also an old student of the school, to present a speech before the students on that occasion. She honoured the invitation by attending the occasion. The minister arrived in a tinted glassed lemozin car. Armed bodyguards and some few police and aides were part of her convoy. There was high security around the school and in the ceremony arena. The minister was received by other dignitaries, which included the Principal of the school. She was led in to the school hall where students, parents and other invited guests were already seated calmly. The governor later arrived amid his convoy. He was warmly received, and led in to the hall by the Principal and other dignitaries too. Students were very happy for their graduation seemed a very important moment of their lives.
The ceremony began with words of prayer from a Reverend, and the master of ceremony welcomed all invited guests and dignitaries. After some welcoming displays from the graduating students, the head boy of the school presented his speech, and it was time for the guest speaker to speak. The minister was ushered up the stage for her presentation; people clapped and cheered as she stepped forward. She acknowledged the governor, principal of the school, all parents, students and other invited guests in her greetings. Reporters and camera-men were struggling to snap her and to record what she had to say. She had white eye-glasses hanging on her nose, most of the students were very quiet to hear what she had for them, but some of the, students were making micro noises, as they were passing comments and vote of confidence on the unchanged way that she wore her eye glasses. They used to see her hanging her eyeglasses during national and international assignments. That day in the hall, they saw her face to face with her manner of dressing as the way she usually did when they saw her on the national or international television. People also knew her very well as ‘the iron lady.’ She was famous in the country for her honesty, good works and support for the education of the less privileged people of the society. “Stop making noise and listen to what I will tell you!” the minister said. The whole arena became so quiet as if the bomb of quietness was detonated in the hall. “I am very happy seeing that, you are now graduating from this great secondary school. I hope you will behave yourself well wherever you find yourselves as good ambassadors of this school and your nation. The school will be proud of you, if it hears, or see you doing well in the society.
“I will like you to be working harder; no body among you should think that because he or she is from poor parents, then there is no hope for him or her to excel in life. Girls should never think that because they are females, then they would just get married at this level without going to graduate from the university. Though, I know some parents have bad attitudes toward the education of a girl child, but listen to me, I will tell you the story of a poor girl,” asserted the minister as she faced the direction where parents and guardians of the students were well seated. She looked at the parents, and then she continued. “There was a rich woman and her loving husband with their daughter, the woman loved her daughter very well and the daughter too, enjoyed seeing her mother closer to her. One day, the rich woman died after a mild illness.” “Ooohooo!” exclaimed the students. The minister paused a little, waiting for the students to be calm again, before she continued. “That woman left behind, her lovely daughter in this world of wants, struggles and unpredictability.
“After a year, the husband of the woman who died, married another wife with an aim that, she will take good care of his little girl whose name was Clara, but as time shall tell as it passed, the woman turned to be a ‘she-devil’ in that house. After she gave birth to two male children, she began to plot against Clara just because she thought her husband was giving more attention to the only female child he had. She did not give the girl food anymore and she did not stop there, she advised her husband that, the education of a girl child was useless, since she will later get married to another man in a different family and leaved her parents.” “Aiyaah!” Pitied the students and other audience. The minister paused again, adjusting her glasses to settle almost on the tip of her nose, as she looked not through the glasses as if trying to confirm that her audiences were in an anticlimax. ‘’Hence, the father of the girl refused to pay the girl’s school fees. When Clara noticed that, she tried by herself to help herself by going to fetch firewood in the bush to pay her own school fees. That wicked woman observed that the girl was paying the school fees by herself, with the help of God, she lied against the girl that, the girl stole her money and a new pair of shoes. The man did not hesitate to chase his daughter out of his house; he said he would not shelter a girl who was a thief in his house. He did not wait to hear any word from Clara in her truthful defence.’’ ‘’Aiyaa!’’ Pitied students and other people listening to her. ‘’But that girl Clara, went to her friend in the next village,” continued Professor Mrs. Ezekiel. ‘’When the friend saw her, she was very sad, and she told her mother what befall Clara after the death of her mother. The mother of the girl agreed for Clara to stay with them. The woman that accommodated the driven girl, was a God fearing woman, she paid the school fees of both her daughter and the poor girl who was driven out of her paternal home by her own father due to the counsel of a wicked woman. She paid their school fees up to university level with high enthusiasm and sense of duty to God. One day, Clara after completing her university to masters’ level, went in her car, to see her father. When her father saw her, he did not know her. Clara noticed abject poverty surrounding the once rich and famous man. The woman, whom he married, had eaten his wealth like a worm for her love for luxury life and living higher than her status. Her father stared at her as he was trying to recall where he had ever seen the beautiful rich young woman before him. He tried in vain and did not know whom she was until Clara introduced herself to him and he was shocked. He was not bothered to know the where about of his daughter as if he was possessed by the spirit of his new wife, until the girl went to see him after several years. Her father was old and poorer when she went to see him. He called that his wicked wife and asked her if she knew the young and beautiful woman standing before him, but she stared at the woman and did not know her. When the man mentioned the name of the woman, his wife was shocked with tears in the eyes; she bowed down and seek for forgiveness from Clara. Clara observed that, due to poverty, her father and his bedevilled wife sold their former house to go and stay in a dilapidated thatched house in a village. She had to ask former neighbours about the where about of her parents before trailing them to the village. Clara forgave them all; she gave them many gifts, and bought a mansion for them in the town. Her half brothers that were born by her father’s new wife all abandoned their parents. They joined bad gangs and were in to illegal drugs, and illicit drinks. Through her good caring and love for her parents, the good acts reminded her father and stepmother that, the notion about a female child marrying another man and neglecting her maternal or paternal home and family, was very wrong and not true. She was the woman that planned evil for Clara, and God protected Clara and made her a jewel even in the society. Clara took care of them throughout their old age lives. She gave them a befitting burial after their deaths. She searched for her half brothers, and ensured that they were rehabilitated from their drunken and wayward conditions; she took them to see the graves of their parents. Clara did not forget her foster mother too; the God fearing woman that raised her to the status she became. She respected the woman, and took good care of her too as her mother,’’ said the minister while smiling. The minister encouraged the graduating students to persevere in every condition where they found themselves. She told them that, in the society, everything happen as real as it should be, but they were well equipped by the school to face the reality of life in the society. The minister understood that her audience wanted to know if that was all to know about Clara. ‘’That poor Clara neglected by her immediate family after she mourned her biological mother, is the woman standing and speaking to you now.’’ ‘’Heeee!’’ growled students and parents with amazement, ‘’Despite what happened,’’ said the minister, “it did not make any difference in my life today; I am the famous minister of education of this country today. So ladies and gentlemen, no matter what happen, we should know that, a girl child will never neglect her parents because she is always emotional and sympathise easily with people’s conditions and situations even more than most male children. No one has any justifiable reason for not paying the school fees of a girl child. Remember, when you educate a man, you educate just a person, when you educate a female, you have educate a society, because from a woman comes every man or woman. Distinguish ladies and gentle men; I think this is enough practical lessons for all of us seated here to learn. Be conscious and responsible to pay the school fees of our daughters as how we can pay that of our male children because we do not know whether they may be the people who will help us from our problems in future or not. Females have sympathy than most male children. Thank you,’’ concluded the minister, Professor Mrs. Ezekiel. Students including their parents who were there to witness the occasion clapped their hands for the minister, as they all stood up with respect and cheers. Most women did not hide the tears rolling down their cheeks, as the truth of the true-life story hit them with the whip of truth and frankness.
The party ended joyfully. Some graduating students were thinking that they were free from wearing uniforms every day. They were free from the punishment of senior students and teachers such as; the frog jump, angle ninety, spinning and many other sorts of punishment, which they disliked. Indeed, graduation from the school was a true liberty to them. Andrew was very happy; he had several photo snapshots with his mother, classmates, some staff and principal who was sponsoring him in school. The students had pictures together with the governor, minister and other dignitaries and staff.
THE ROBBERS IN THE FIERING SQUAD
There were certain arm-robbers who were terrorising the town and villages close to Kanto village. Everyone in different parts of the state feared the bad gang of the robbers. The news was heard that the notorious robbers were arrested by the police (operation fire for fire), on a high way, while they were robbing, raping and killing their victims. Those arm robbers were convicted in the court of law and the chief judge sentenced them to death by firing. The seven arm-robbers were tied on big drums in the “Filin-Sakuwa,” a place where horse races took place in Jos, the tin city, but it was also the execution ground for notorious people such as the robbers who were convicted to death by firing. Many people travelled to Jos; the state capital to witness the death of the robbers that inflicted so much unforgettable injuries of the mind and body to the peace loving members of the society. Seven soldiers were seen squatting with their guns ready to kill the thieves. Red robs were tied at the tip of the guns. Opportunity was given to the thieves to say their last words. The first who was a dropout student from secondary school, pleaded that his father be called to him for he had something to tell him; he said he wanted to tell him a secret. When the father bowed down with his ear to what his dying child had to tell him, the boy caught his father’s ear tightly with his teeth until he cut the right pinna of the ear. The father shouted with pain and blood oozed out of the ear. The boy threw the part of the ear on the ground and the people there were very surprised of what their eyes saw. The father ran to one side scared and humiliated. That boy told his audience and spectators that he deliberately did that to his father, so that it can serve as a deterrent to him and other parents. Through the narration of the robber, people came to know that his father was a very rich man; he always gave his son a lot of money not minding how the boy was spending it. The boy, who was a student, kept on bringing bad friends and girls in his room and his father uttered no words, leaving only his mother to keep playing the role of counselling and cautioning her son. Since the father did not bother to talk to the boy about his friends or ways of life, the boy thought his mother hate him. The boy later dropped out of school for the money ruined his life as his financial needs for drugs and girls increased to the extent that he needed to drop out of school to look for more money that can support his wayward and extravagant life. That led to his joining the arm-robbers to get more money. The robber said, had it been that his father stood firm to his responsibility as a true father, perhaps he would not have joined the bad gang that led him to wearing the new identity of a robber who was going to die that day. The boy wept and spat his father’s blood from his mouth.
The second robber said it was because his father died and he left behind seven children in which the robber was the eldest son, so poverty overwhelmed the family. Their mother had nothing to do to help them to further their education. That was the reason he joined the armed-robbery to get enough money to pay his younger brothers’ and sisters’ school fees and then, it was because of that, that he was awaiting death by firing that day. The third arm-robber blamed no one but himself for his parents sent him to school, but he joined bad gangs in the school and when school fees was given to him, he extravagantly spent it. Hence, his friends convinced him to the extent that he began to smoke cigarette followed by marijuana and finally he joined the group of armed-robbers who were later caught and were awaiting death. The rest of the thieves did not have anything to say. Then a pastor and an imam were called to preach to the robbers before their death. They preached to them according to their religions, six of the armed-robbers repented and prayed that after their death, they will enter the kingdom of God. One among the robbers, spat on the pastor and laughed at him while saying that he needed no Christ in his life and people were shocked seeing that, the man behaved wrongly even at the point of death. He neither showed remorse for the sins he committed, nor thought of where he was going to spend his eternity in a little moment ahead after he might have died. The pastor and the imam prayed for them and left.
The army commander matched forward and the seven soldiers were squatting in front near the robbers. A black sack-like cloth was used to cover the faces of the robbers so that they would not see the people that will shoot them. After the final command from the commander, the sound of the guns were heard blasting in to the still air. After five minutes of shooting by the soldiers, the intestines of the armed-robbers were seen swinging on the ground while their heads all dropped down to their chests. That was how the robbers in the firing squad were killed.
Hence, the incident in the firing field should indeed serve as deterrent to parents. Parents should not win their children with money and they should not allow their children to lack certain fundamental things in life. Parents should work together without taking sides in caring for their children. Caring for children does not require money or materials alone; it requires psychological support, counselling and advice wherever necessary. Children should also note that, even when your parents are dead, you should not join any bad gangs to get money to solve your problems or your younger brothers and sisters’. In a person’s struggling for survival, everyone needs to work positively to earn his or her living. God that created you in the world will not neglect you. Children should also know the type of friends they are to associate themselves with even in the school, so that one day they would not fall victims to be condemned to death either by hanging or by firing squad.
THE HIGHER INSTITUTION’S GIRLS
When Andrew struggled hard to see that, he secured admission in to the higher institution, his effort finally yielded results; he got the admission in to the famous university of Jos. Dr. Naanpet, the principal of his former secondary school, kept his promise of sponsoring him until he graduate from the university. Andrew’s first month in the university, was one of his eye-opening months, as it was quite revealing in his life. His experience in the school indeed, was quite memorable; in the institution, he noticed that there were many people that were in the school as if just for fashion parades and jamboree. Most of the girls in the higher institutions usually wore trousers and mini-skirts. Most of the girls went in to the higher institution just for prostitution. Many of the them were tactfully lured by bad friends in to joining bad groups and gangs, which became too demanding on them to the extent that they had to neglect their studies.
Among the higher institution’s girls was a girl whose parent cared for her very well, they warned her not to associate herself with any boyfriend, but rather she should concentrate on her books and study. That girl was convinced by one of her friends to join a group of cultists called ‘’the daughters of Jezebel.’’ Prostitution, destruction, intimidation vengeance, fighting, robbery and many bad characters, were what those group of students were doing in the school. The girl became pregnant but she aborted it the first time. She failed many courses she was studying in the school due to lack of attention because when the leader of the group usually called, the “kapon” called them for any mission of vengeance or robbery, they all had to go or else there was a serious punishment for them. The punishment ranged from serious beating with canes to even dead by machete slashes. The girl became pregnant again for the second time; she tried in vain to abort it. Her cult members tried with her to see that they got rid of the pregnancy but all effort seemed vanity. One day as the girl was sleeping, she saw a little boy talking and laughing at her, the boy told her that if she aborted the pregnancy, then that was the time she will die. When she got up from her sleep, she discovered that it was all but a dream. She meditated on that dream and decided to allow the pregnancy without aborting it. As the pregnancy grew, when there was increase in the size of the foetus, she went and met the boy that impregnated her, but the boy denied it all hence, her parents heard what was going on. They decided not to pay her school fees any longer for her disobedience to them. After further investigation in the school, it was revealed that she was not attending classes and she failed virtually all the courses she was studying. The cult members went to the man who impregnated the girl for vengeance. They killed the man in his room, and covered the dead body with a white blanket. They dipped their fingers in his blood and wrote many warning signs to other men on the dead man’s walls before leaving. However, the school security agents were alerted. The securities called armed mobile police officers who joined hands to investigate and arrested the ‘’daughters of Jezebel.’’ All twenty-eight of them were expelled out of the school by the university before been arraigned in the court of law, where they were charged with murder, robbery, harassment of innocent people and prostitution. They were found guilty, and were sentenced to life imprisonment with hard labour. Their parents became very angry with their daughters for wasting their money doing nothing than causing havoc to other people.
Andrew was so surprised noticing all the negative and good occurrences in the university. Some parents suffered to sponsor their daughters in school, but the children instead of concentrating on what took them to the school, they indulged themselves in to doing certain things different, and later they may end up wasting their parents’ money without achieving their purpose of being there. He realised the truth that, children should be very careful with the type of friends they associate themselves with in the school or anywhere. Every student need to read very well in school as there is time for everything. He observed that students that joined cultists will one-day blame themselves, as cultists are group of students that work as the agent of the devil and they have no positive goals to achieve in life. They usually try to see that they initiate many students in this act just as how the devil is trying to see that he deceive a lot of people to join the everlasting condemnation with him.
With all the occurrences within the institution, Andrew remained faithful and a hard working boy in the school. When he remembered how his mother suffered to assist him in paying his school fees, then he promised to leave no stone unturned to perform very well in the school. He associated himself with group of Christians’ fellowship student. He became a very good student whose moral ethics were very good and plausible in the institution. In all his life, he never forgot his mother and his only sister who will be graduating from her secondary school very soon. He wondered how Esther’s S.S.C.E registration fee was going to be gotten; though his school was sponsored by Dr. Naanpet, but his sister’s school fees was a concern to him too. He thought it good to think of the way of helping his only sister with her school too.
POVERTY AS A SCHOOL
It was Friday, the staff in the secondary school where Andrew graduated, were very excited and most of them were resting in the staff room after some hour of working. There was some staff that gossip, was their informal obligation. They always sat together in one corner of the room gossiping. They made sure they tuned to all the news channels from their ‘newscasters,’ who usually fed them with either true or false information, before they moved away. They liked talking about events or the people that have done one thing or the other, or those that have made mistakes in one way or the other. Sometimes they will sit down analysing how certain people among the staff dressed. Whenever they were discussing about a person, and when the person mistakenly met them abruptly, they usually kept quiet and pretended as if they were not talking about the person. The gossiping staff who were busy talking on one of their staff whose mode of dressing they said, was like a harlot, wondered why Mr. Timothy; the Geography teacher could not join them for that Friday afternoon’s ‘news casting.’ Mr. Timothy sat quietly, on his seat with his head down. Later on, a frightening slapping sound was heard. Suddenly, all discursions and slants in the office stopped at once. Every staff turned to the direction of the sound’s source. Mr. Timothy was the one that produced the sound with the palm of his hands against a table. “What is the matter?” asked Mrs. Maktal. Mr. Timothy who was then starring at the group of staff who were looking at him expectantly, smiled. “Can poverty be a ‘school’ on its own?” asked Mr. Timothy. “Why did you ask that question?” asked Miss Jummai who was one of the staff. “In fact, poverty usually teaches correct and successful ways of life to those who endured its suffering,” explained Mr. Timothy. “Of course, I think poverty is a school,” said Mrs. Chinedu, who was the only sexagenarian among the female staff. “Most of those who succeed in life are mostly the poor ones. Most of the rich children usually end up becoming nuisance to their schools and even to their parents, and shall later end up as drop outs from school,” continued the woman.
The room was satiated with the discursion that needed an evident to authenticate. “The rich children also succeed in life because they shall not lack anything that can cause problem to their educational pursuit, and…” but before Mr. Audu could conclude his point, Mr. Christopher snapped the words. “The children of the poor people are usually sharp in memory. Their brains are very active. They are usually the mathematicians, the computer wizards and the best thinkers this latest century needs. They are used to calculating, in order to find solutions to myriads of life threatening problems that they face in their lives, and that makes them to do well in school, unlike the rich children who get everything they need in abundance, and get no serious problems that will need them to think very deeply to solve hence, they develop a shallow memory and cannot later do well in schools, and in the society that needs creativity.” “Oh yes! Mr. Christopher, you and Mrs. Chinedu have gotten almost the whole marks, I’d wanted to give for the excellent explanation of ‘poverty as a school’ right now,” declared Mr. Timothy with joy. All the staff laughed and clapped their hands. “But, I will like to add that, poverty is the parent of revolution and crime, when not harnessed toward the understanding of the meaning of life, and foresight of what a true society should be,” added Mr. Timothy. Almost the entire staff clapped their hands in agreement to his postulations.
THE WOMAN WHO WAS RUNNING FROM HER SHADOW
The teachers in the staff room enjoyed their discussion, as they seemed to be waiting for the last bell. The most difficult thing to do among serious teachers in schools is waiting for time. However, some teachers find that the easiest thing to do than going to class, especially when they have exhausted all that they have planned in their lesson plans. The teachers seemed to have enjoyed their discussions. ‘’Well, it is not surprising that poverty is a school that can mould people’s character according to the explanation of Mr. Christopher. I had once seen a woman who was running from her shadow; is that surprising?’’ asked Mr. Gideon who was busy marking some papers. ‘’She must be a mad woman,” said Mrs. Maktal. ‘’sure, I think that the woman was mad but I noticed that, she is not mad as we may call it, only that, she had a wrong idea on her mind, which makes her to think that, she can run away from death.’’ ‘’ Heee?’’ exclaimed other staff. ‘’Run from death?” asked Mr. Christopher. ‘’That is incredible.’’ ‘’When the woman heard that someone is dead in the town that she lives, she would run to the next village so that death will not get her. When she heard that someone is dead in that village again, she will run to another area and so she continued. Hence, I see her like someone who was running from an inevitable thing in life; it was just like, she was running from her shadow,’’ explained Mr. Gideon.
‘’ Only mad people run from their shadow; seeing that death comes to every one where ever and no matter whom the person is. Only those that are ignorant of what life is all about, that run from death,” added Mr. Audu. ‘’But I want to believe that a lot of people today, are like that woman. They try to run from their problems without knowing that as far as a person is alive, problems and challenges never end except when the person is dead,’’ said Mr. Timothy. ‘’I agree with your fact,’’ said Mrs. Maktal. ‘’That is why I believe that, wonders shall never end until human ceases to exist on earth. How can a person run away from his shadow? A lot of people fail to understand that the best way of solving a problem is to confront it rather than running away from it, if a person runs away from inevitable problem, then the person is the same with the woman who was running from her shadow,” contributed Mrs Chinedu. ‘’You are right Mrs. Chinedu,’’ said the vice principal who just came out from his office which was an inner room attached to the staff room. ‘’If a person confronts the problem that disturbs him, and if the problem does not overwhelms him, he shall get a solution to the problems. Only those that do not know where they will spend their eternity after death fear to die. If you are sure of your life after death, we shall sometime be surprised to know that, ‘life is death and death is life.’ When it is a physical problem, confrontation is always the best reaction toward solving it,’’ concluded the vice principal, Mr. Michael, who was the government teacher that always took care of Andrew during his school years in that secondary school. He was the one that accompanied Andrew to see the police D.P.O. for the gift from the commissioner of police. The government teacher was promoted to the rank of the vice prinipal because of his hard work and dedication o duty. Then the whole staff clapped their hands to the vice principal, to some because he made a decisive point in the conversation, while to others, because he joined them. The vice principal did not usually participate in most of the staff’ conversations, because he considered most of the conversations to be wayward and full of gossips which he did not like.
The vice principal asked of three staff which he did not see them in the staffroom, and he was told by the other staff that they were teaching their classes; they had last period with their classes. “So you mean all of you seated here have finished your lessons for the day?” asked the vice principal. ‘’yes sir’’, answered some of the staff. In a short while, the timekeeper rang the bell, declaring that it was after school, and every staff began to pack his/her paraphernalia to go home.
PASSING THROUGH HELL
During long vacations, Andrew usually went to Abuja the federal capital territory to look for either skilled or unskilled job to assist his mother in paying Esther’s school fees. Andrew worked as a labourer who loaded the tipper to get some money. Despite the fact that he was a year three student in the university, Andrew did not consider himself as anything but a person struggling for survival. He associated himself with other tipper labourers and he did not show any discrimination. He stayed with other labourers in the tipper garage sometimes sleeping with them under the tipper and in cases of rainfall; they remained standing on some veranda. Andrew got adapted to living in the garage, which was very congested with people of different languages, ethnic groups and religion backgrounds. After they came from loading the tipper, they will go and pay money to bath, buy food and later in the night, they will use the tarpaulin that were used to cover the sand on the tipper to sleep on it under the tipper. Some times when it rained heavily, they usually run to some safety places and stood awake until the rain was over. The loading was a very hard work that a lazy man cannot do. They worked all day from morning until evening before they will return into the garage from the bush. The work of loading the tipper is a very hard job for human to do; most people would had wanted to just sit in the office doing mental work, but the opportunity and support to do so was the expectation of the few privilege educated people. Andrew was so determined that he usually safe some money every day. They faced the problem of police brutality and arrest in the garage. After some hours, police were seen moving in groups into the garage to arrest criminals and sometimes-innocent people were mistakenly arrested, and taken to the station for detention.
One morning Andrew saw people gathered near a ten-tired tipper, he went closer and pushed himself through the crowed and what did he see? He saw a boy lying on the ground with his head crushed and flattened like a slipper. The previous night while the boy was sleeping under the tipper, no one knew what caused the tipper to move. Its large and heavy tires smashed and crushed his head when he was asleep until the head flattened. Tears stood in Andrew’s eyes as he saw the corpse. The Tipper labourers’ union leaders in the garage, told the labourers never to sleep under tippers again. Most of the labourers had nowhere to lay their heads to sleep. If they did not sleep on the tipper, or under the tipper, where can they get refuge for themselves in the congested environment? That was the situation in the garage.
One day Andrew went to buy food in a restaurant in the garage, he heard some people describing the garage as a ‘hell.’ “You see, when a person come and work here without trouble then that person must be lucky said one man. “Sure, there are plenty of problems and troubles in this garage. Yesterday, a boy died mysteriously in the night; police brutality is on the increase, no house to stay, if a person does not get money, he will starve to death. We live with criminals of different kinds, but we may not know. Police will come in their normal operations to wipe criminals out, but at the end, it is the innocent people that are usually arrested and detained in the police’ custody. In fact, this place is a ‘hell’ and if not for my impoverish condition, I would not have come here in the first place,’’ concluded the other man. Andrew sat quietly, knowing that what they were saying was true. He reflected his mind back home, imagining how his mother and only sister were doing. He planned to go back home since he had saved quite enough money which he thought shall be enough for his sister’s school registration and he can even help his mother.
GHOST IN THE GARAGE
One Monday morning, after Andrew had spent six weeks in the tipper garage, he got ready to go back home. He was very happy for he was going to see his mother and Esther his only sister again, after a while away from home and school. He carried his troops’ bag, which was already loaded with his clothes and certain gifts for his mother and Esther, his sister. As he was moving glad fully, immediately, he saw a lot of people running helter-skelter, but suddenly what came into Andrew’s mind was a thought of a religion’s or group clash. Many people had been trying to escape with their lives. Shops and restaurants were shut without any delay. Andrew stood still looking at how the garage was turning topsy-turvy as people ran up and down trying to escape from the unknown danger. A first thought came to him, to drop his bag and run but a second thought came to him to ask other people about what was going on first as he wondered where to run. Andrew stopped a man who was running with a kettle in his hand and asked, but the only word that came out of the man’s mouth was, “ghost,” and the next thing Andrew knew of the man was, he had swiftly ran away. Before a second thought came to him to run for his life too, he found himself already running with fear. When Andrew was running, he saw a police officer busy shooting out tear-gas with fear towards a certain direction. Andrew seemed more confused; he was chuckled by the tear gas, but he managed to move closer to the police man whom he thought should have the better knowledge of what was going on in the garage, but to his greatest dismay the man did not know exactly what was going on too. He went closer to the police officer and asked of what happened; “Me, I no know oo!” was the only thing that the police officer uttered. Soon, Andrew heard some of the scared and running group of people shouting, “Ghost ,ghost, ghost!” The incident was made known to him, by a lady who told him that, it was a man who unknowingly carried a lady into his wooden room, thinking that she was one of those prostitutes that were very rampant in the garage, and little did he know that, she was a ghost, until she started her enchantments and later, she disappeared before reappearing as a lion in the room, and that made the man to realise, that he had dined with the devil. The man’s realisation was too late; the devil needed his life at that moment when everything was all going wrong and late to take decision. The roaring lion to pieces tore the man, and his blood dried up mysteriously. Hence, people said that the lion had run out into the garage, in search of whom to kill next. Everybody continued running until the team of people among which Andrew was also running for his life, met with another group of people running towards the direction which Andrew and his team of runners were coming from. As they met, they all wondered where to run to next. Some people were saying that the ghost was in that direction while others were saying that the ghost was in the other direction. They were all confused; if a person was running to a particular direction, he will meet with others, running towards his direction and that made the ghost matter a tedious problem to the entire garage dwellers. Until troops of police officers were seen running cautiously into the garage before people became calm and believed that the problem of the ghost was over. Many people went back to search for the properties which they threw away in the course of escaping from the ghost which turned to a lion. Even after that day, people lived in fear of the ghost and many men did not want to associate with any lady that they did not know any how as before.
As she was walking near the big sea, Esther saw many people on their boats. Most of the people were fishermen. She went closer and sat on a stone just beside the sea, wondering with surprise, the largeness of the sea. The water was making splashing sounds as the wave approaches the shore. She heard a boy who was helping his father shouting, “Father, I have caught it!” and the father quickly rowed his boat to where the boat of his child was. Esther stood up properly to see what the boy caught. Immediately, she saw a big fin-like wing as if of an ‘airplane,’ and wondered what that thing could be, then she saw the mouth of that thing like a gate of a house, then suddenly, she heard the man and his child shouting with fear, “shark! shark!” Everybody fishing in that sea started rowing his boat away in order to escape. The shark did not allow them. It snapped and crushed many people with its white jaw. It swallowed many people and destroyed their boats with its teeth that were sharp, long and protruding when it opened its mouth. What irritated her the most was how the shark killed a man. It first cut the head of the man and left his body swinging with the boat. The shark swam back to a very far distance before coming back with an incentive velocity, and carried the remaining bleeding body of the man before it vanished into the sea. People had already ran on to the sea shore where they stood shivering with fear, for their eyes saw what it should not see under normal conditions.
Everyone was calm for a while; they were wondering about the deadly fish that just killed many people. For some minutes, nothing happened and later as they were still looking into the water and they heard great splashing. Esther rose her head to see clearly and to know exactly what that was, and she saw a very huge crocodile which the size of a house approaching them and before she could turned to point and show what she saw to other people who might not have seen it, she was alone; everyone has vanished. She did not know exactly where the people had run to or entered, she then saw the crocodile opening its mouth and approaching with an eager gait to swallow her. It was already on the shore too and coming for her with all determination and swiftness. She did not know what to do at first, but the thought of dying increased her heart’s palpitation, and before she realized, she saw herself running. The crocodile was determined, and could not allow its food to escape. It pursued her with all swiftness and determination to catch her. She heard its footsteps pounding the ground behind her just like the hoof of horses during war. She became so tired, but she did not want to be an easy prey to that ugly creature. A salvaging thought came to her to run and climb a nearby tree, and she ran further before making a swift jump, and caught one of the branches of a tallest tree around that area. She quickly climbed up with such a horrified and premeditated move. The crocodile tried stretching its neck to catch her, but it could not reach her. It then decided to wait for its food under the tree, as it lied down with its belly on the grasses under the tree expectantly. Esther looked at the back of the ugly creature, and compared it with a football field. When it opened its mouth to attract flies, she saw the mouth ran deep leading to the throat, behind the red tongue. The hollow of the throat was just like a well; she noticed that the saliva in the mouth of that creature was flowing in a channel just like flowing water in a river. The coarseness of its back formed thorn-like protrusions that resembled spears and its tail, very long and broad like a rough bridge. It was quite wonderful, should she allow that wonderful creature to consume her? Esther felt sorry for the waiting creature and she started climbing further. The crocodile opened its prominent eyes, and saw where its prey was climbing.
She held a branch tightly with her hands to rest, as she felt the cooling blood in her, trickling through her veins slowly. She was very tired and her eyes began to close. Soon, she started dozing and before she could know what was happening to her, her hands lost their grip on the branch and she saw herself flying down to the already opened mouth of that ugly and waiting creature. She tried in vain to catch a branch of the tree with her hands. The crocodile opened its mouth the more to accommodate the soon falling prey. However, Esther felt some little, little hands around her shoes. She was made to pause just closer to the mouth of that ugly creature, and soon as she was pulled up to her former position on the tree, she wondered who the people that rescued her from death were. She turned to see, and saw very little, little people. Their heights were just like that of a pen. The small people had lined up during their tug of war which they tied some strings on her shoes and rescued her from reaching the mouth of the crocodile. The little people then showed her a big bridge, which she thanked them with unbelievable gestures on her face as she crossed to the next tree and moved down on the ground at the other distant end of the tree, just far from the huge crocodile. She was sure that she had left the creature far from her but suddenly, she heard a great laughter and on turning to see where the laughter was coming from, she found herself face to face with a monster. It was not the crocodile, but something that looked more dangerous and evil than the crocodile. She tried to run away but that monster was very fast. It started tugging her cloth with its deadly fist. Esther had lost all confidence and hope of surviving, but her eyes immediately opened, and she was very surprised to see herself lying on the bed. It was a nightmare; Andrew had woke her up from her nightmarish sleep, for her breakfast. She got up and stood staring at Andrew, “what is it?” asked Andrew. Esther blinked her tearful eyes, and looked at Andrew as if trying to be sure, of where she was; she opened her mouth slowly as if with shock. “I thank you very much, for saving my life from the hands of the monster,” said Esther to Andrew, with pale eyes, which revealed the horrified situation she passed through in her dream. Andrew didn’t understand what she meant, but Longdi told him to allow her for a while, for when a person first woke from sleep, the person would be confused and begin to say certain things. Esther’s case was not like that, she knew that she was not confused or still dreaming; she had seen a great shark, dying fishermen, huge crocodile, very little, little people and a monster in her nightmare.
THE GREEN HELICOPTER
It was morning and a market day in Kanto village; their little market was just located at the out skirt of the village. People were actively buying and selling goods in the market. Longdi who was older than she used to be was sitting under the tree close to their house and she was hearing all sorts of noises from the market; bells, loudspeakers, human voices, drums etc. The noises from the market square was clearly heard by Longdi, who thought that it was good if she took some of her mats to the market for sell; in a market like that, the demand for the mat and all other goods will be high. She stood up and started going to carry her mats in the room with uneasy steps, and she hit her right foot on a stone. “I wonder what goodness way-lay me,” said Longdi to herself. It was the belief of the people that when a person hit his right leg on any object mistakenly, then something good awaits the person, but if it was a left leg, then something bad shall happen to the person. They also believed that when something enters your right eyes, you shall see something good, but if it was a left eye, then you shall see something bad. They believed that, when you wake up in the morning, and the first person you saw was an old woman or old man, then a bad luck awaits you, but if the first person you saw was a little innocent child, then good luck awaits you. Animals, also were signs of good or bad omen in the village; if you saw an owl or cat in the night or at any time, it means witches and wizards were trailing you for an attack, you have to be careful, but if you saw a dove or pigeon, it means there is good luck for you in the near future.
Soon, a roaring sound was approaching the sky of the village. The noise kept on increasing and becoming louder and louder as a helicopter approached the village in the sky. The people in the market place were frightened as they saw the green helicopter coming down to the level of buildings. Many people ran and hid themselves, for they had never seen an airplane coming closer and more visible as that one they were seeing. Most of the people had different views about the helicopter, some were saying that maybe a pilot who was learning and who might have missed his route, was trying to land in the village; that was the view of some old armies who had seen helicopters before during their service to the country. Others continued saying all what they could say in their hiding places. Longdi, who was coming out with rolls of mat in her hands for the market, threw them all away and ran into her room with fear for the roaring object,. The helicopter moved to one part of the village closer to Longdi’s house and it started coming down little by little just like a vulture until it properly settled on the ground. Many people fearfully moved to where the helicopter had landed. “Hee! The helicopter is at Longdi’s house,” said Jagus, the ex-soldier. People gathered a little distance away from it, to see what was going on. Most people were looking at the complete structure of a helicopter closely for the first time. Its main rotor blades were turning like a fan; it was well attached to the rotor mast. Its landing skids were already on the ground and its tail boom was a little longer and led to the tail rotor, which resembled a dove’s tail. Its cockpit was tinted, but people were able to see a figure of a man well seated with something like a headphone over his head, through it. There was a whirling wind caused by the landing of the helicopter, which threw dirt and dusts of the ground into the air and nearby areas. Soon a tall man came out from the helicopter as the main rotor blade was still turning. He was dressed in black suit he had a long suit-case in his hand. People wondered who the person was, the man entered Longdi’s compound. Longdi, who has hid herself in her room, was busy peeping from one side of her closed door; she was surprised to see the man coming in to her compound. The peephole, through which she was peeping, could not give her a complete view of the person or what was going on, she then moved to one of her windows to have a better look at the man, as he stood in the compound with his suitcase, looking at the compound all round as if asking himself if he was in the right place. The man took some steps, forward and turned to look at the direction of the whispers he was hearing. It was as if the whole people from the market had assembled themselves fearfully behind the man. Some were also by the gate of the compound, while others were standing by the helicopter outside the compound. “Mummy, mummy!” The man called. When Longdi heard that call, she stared at the man very well. The man called again and immediately from the voice, she recognised the man, it was Andrew her son. She hastily jumped out of the door and when Andrew saw his mother, he ran to her like a kangaroo and embraced her. Longdi hugged her only son firmly, with tears of joy in her eyes. “So it is you?” Asked Longdi rhetorically and she embraced him again.
People left their goods and properties in the market and went to Longdi’s compound to see her son. Andrew stood for a while in the compound just looking at it to notice if it had changed; it was just as he left it, except that the thatch house was a little older, with many lizards of different sorts playing on the dilapidated walls of the fence. He entered in to the room and moved directly to the wall where his father’s picture was hung. He wished that Korope were alive to see what he became. He remembered when his father was asking him about what he was going to be in future. He removed the picture, held it on his chest and tears rolled down his cheek, as Longdi put her hands round him and wiped his tears with her hands. Andrew After his University, travelled abroad for his further study. He read aviation, and moved from country to country for different courses in his field. He excelled very well in where ever he went for his study because of his humility and hard work. He came out as one of the best pilots in an institution in Europe, and before coming in to Nigeria again, the federal government employed him with good pay and allowances. A driver and two bodyguards were attached to him to ensure that he was safe as he was an intelligent man that the country did not want to lose in any circumstance. Andrew however, did not want moving about with his body guards because their presence attracted attentions to him, and he would not be free to do things among people as any other normal person.
People came in to Longdi’s house to greet her son. Many people were surprise to see a poor boy became a rich and very important icon of the village in particular, and the state at large. Andrew recognised many people from the village and the neighbouring villages. He shooked Jagus firmly, and hugged his uncle; Mr. Istifanus, his mother’s brother who had assisted them during their quandary time. Mr. Istifanus was also in the market, when they saw the helicopter approaching his sister’s house. “So it was you who scared us in the market,” said one man while laughing. Half of the villagers were looking at the helicopter in great amazement. “Mummy I am a pilot now and I have come to take you with me to Abuja, the federal capital territory of the country,” said Andrew to Longdi. Longdi was very happy just as her brother and many other people. Andrew went back and brought a lot of clothes in seven boxes from the helicopter; he distributed the clothes to the people of Kanto village and other lucky people who peradventure were around. People queued in the compound, pulling and pushing one another, as they were waiting for their turns to collect their share of the gifts he brought. Children and women were given theirs in a separate line from that of men who were pushing one another. Andrew gave uncle Istifanus many gifts of clothes, wristwatches, colour television and a huge sum of money. His uncle was very happy to see an abandoned child in the village returning as a king. Many people had called Longdi with all sorts of names ranging from witch; to the poorest widow and many other fabricated names, but that day, she was seen like a queen because of her child. Longdi was preparing to go with her son to Abuja happily, everything seemed like a dream to her. Many of the villagers wished that they were in her position at that moment, because it seemed that all her predicaments and toils were over. Andrew gave some money to some building engineers to demolish his inherited dilapidated thatched house, and to construct and erect a two storey building in its place. He also gave a contract of rebuilding a befitting big church for the villagers. A roaming of a car was heard near the helicopter. As people within the compound rushed out to see who the person was, and they saw a lady alighted from the car. It was Esther the daughter of Longdi. Esther after studying law in the university, proceeded to her law school in Lagos, where she graduated and was called to bar. She went to her mother purposely to take her to Lagos where she was working. Esther and Andrew on meeting again, embraced each other like two fraternal twins. They had been communicating on phone ever since Andrew was schooling abroad. Esther was the one who went and received him from the Lagos airport where the airplane that he boarded landed. “What brought you here?” asked Esther, ignoring the fact that her question was rhetorical. “I telephoned your office and they told me that, you took permission to come to the village,” continued Esther. “Yes, I have come to take mummy with me to Abuja,” said Andrew. “No, I am the one who will take her to Lagos,” argued Esther. They continued arguing on who should go with their mother, Longdi. Andrew claimed that it was the responsibility of a male child to take care of his parents hence, he was the one to take her, but Esther disagreed with him she responded that, it was the last child whom the parents will live with hence, she was their last daughter and she will carry their mother to Lagos.
The controversy continued, until an old man interfered in the matter, he told them that there was no need arguing on it like that, “If she stays with one person, then after some months, she will go and stay with the other person again as she wants,” advised the old man. “This is the fruit of education, the slave is now the king,” said the old man to the people who gathered in the compound with surprise and admiration. “If you send your children to school and pay their fees, no matter how poor you are, they will help you in future. This woman was almost the poorest accused and neglected woman in this village; yet, she tried and sent her children to school, not minding about luxuries or clothes. Her aim was for her children to be educated alone. Her children went to school and now, here is their fruit of labour,” continued the old man while pointing at the helicopter and the car outside.
People stood speechless when Longdi waved goodbye to them and entered the helicopter to go with her son, as Esther entered her car to go back to Lagos. “Andrew, don’t forget that I am coming after two weeks to take mummy with me,” said Esther. “No problem, but after a week I will be going to take her along with me again,” replied Andrew, and they both laughed. Esther gave some money for a mansion to be built for uncle istifanus. She also gave the contract for Kanto road to be graded and tarred for ease of transportation and for accidents to be reduced. The king and people of the village were very happy, because those were the best things that had ever happened to them as a community in that village. They waved good-bye to them as the helicopter first took off like a vulture then followed by Esther’s car. It was from that day, that people of Kanto promised to be sending their children to school without hesitations again.
More schools were established in Kanto village by Andrew and his sister; Parents sent their children to the school with an aim of making their children to be educationally alert and sound, to be great people in future, and there was peaceful progress among the people of the village.
Lastly, students should be hard working and be ready to pursue education to the end, do not think that because you are poor, then that will prevent you from progressing academically. Even before everybody is born, God had already planned a better future for everyone. Except a person, refuses to work hard, nothing can hinder every child from becoming a great member of the society. Andrew and Esther his sister did not give up in life after the demise of their father when they were still little children. You should not see poverty or neglect by the side of your parents or other community members, as an excuses for not living to expectations until the end. There are many good ways; a person can use to get sponsorship for his or her education. God, never abandoned anyone who trusts in him, and work honestly wants to be great in this life on earth. No one should steal or join any bad groups for means of livelihood, because you shall hasten your life to an abrupt or untimely end.
Parents should try their best to assist their children by paying their school fees. Parents should also stop the habit of using gender difference as the prerequisite for sponsoring their children’s education in their families, whether it is a boy, or a girl, no parent knows their future. No one knows surely, who among the children can help the entire family in future. If that is true, then why do people select among their children those that will be sent to school and those that will be denied the access to the school? Both boys and girls should be assisted, to go to school up to higher institution. Esther in this novel was a girl that went to school even under stress, but she became a great person later, and even helped her parents and the entire community. Children in whatever level should remain faithful to their parents and other elderly people so that the days of their lives will be many on earth. There should be no religious, ethnic, political, economical and social discrimination among students, we should learn to unite with one another to uplift our educational status. May the almighty God, the God of the poor and the rich alike; the merciful God be with us from now on, and forever. Amen!
WILLIAMS MICHAEL MANJA, studied Biology/Integrated science in Federal College of Education Pankshin , Plateau state , Nigeria, and was the overall best Biology student among 2002/2003 graduating regular students. He obtained his B.Sc. Ed. in University of Jos where he studied Biology Education, and graduated as one of the best students in 2012.He is currently undergoing masters degree in Biology Education, in University of Jos, Nigeria. He studied and accomplished extended courses on, “Critical thinking in Global challenges”, with University of Edinburgh, UK, “Astrobiology and the search for Extraterrestrial life”, also with the University of Edinburgh, UK, “Drugs and the Brain” with California institute of Technology (CALTECH), all on the platform of coursera. He has been teaching Biology and Integrated science for more than ten years; and received several awards in 2012 and 2013, for hard work. He held different positions including the Head of the Department (HOD), sciences, and JETS patron for his input in Integrated and functional science. The Author is a young and curios writer, who has interest in both fictions and nonfiction works.
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Struggles of a family that needed to survive.