THE MYSTERIOUS LIVER
Copyright Mike Effa, 2017
No part of this work may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form by any means, without the prior written permission of the author.
To God be the glory and honor for a dream fulfilled.
To my wonderful son- Asher Effa, may you reach the zenith of your dreams.
TABLE OF CONTENT
The last crow of the cock signaled the final warning to those yet to finish their early morning chores. The sun was rising steady and its early morning rays could be felt by anyone outside at the moment. While the birds sang, the animals chewed on what was left of last night’s dinner as they prepared for another outing in the fields. The villagers were not left out of the morning’s activities. The farmers hurriedly prepared to leave for their farms, the herdsmen prepared to leave for the grazing fields before the sun sets. Indeed it was daybreak in Boma village.
Every day break meant the beginning of a new day plus a host of challenges to overcome. But this particular day was going to mark the beginning of strange events in this once peaceful village.
Just before sunrise, Udago one of the men living in the outskirts of the village had been up. As he rushed to the river for a quick dip the sight of vultures attracted him.
“These vultures and their desire for flesh”, he said softly as he drew closer to take a look at the carcass on the ground. Animal carcass was not a new thing in Boma village, at times a cow or sheep would stroll and fall into the river where they would drown and will be washed onto the beach. At other times a cow could be bitten by some of the poisonous snakes common in the area and will die from the venom injected into its blood by the snake.
Thus in the morning the villagers will wake up to discover one of their cows dead. Being very strong worshipers of deities, a live cow will be buried as a gift to rorche their god. Rorche was the deity associated with protecting the people as well as their belonging, from all kinds of evil attack.
Udago pressed forward with the intention of identifying the object that had made the vultures to gather so early in the morning. The vultures were not unaware of the intruder moving closer to them.
As Udago drew closer the vultures continued to shift uncomfortably away from what they perceived as danger preparing to take flight to safety should the intruder become violent. But the sight a few meters in front of Udago stopped him dead on his tracks. Instead of the usual tail and the hind legs, Udago saw human toes and torn clothing’s. He screwed his eyes and come closer to take a better look.
I’m sure my eyes are not deceiving me, it is a human being – a boy! with this reaction he ran back towards the village as fast as his legs could carry him.
This sudden action frightened the vultures badly and caused them to fly off issuing cries of protest at having been disturbed from what would have turned out to be a fantastic meal.
Shortly after Udago delivered his news, it spread like wild fire. The men of Boma village gathered fast and began moving towards the spot where the corpse was sighted by their kinsman. The group was divided in their minds some felt it was true while other members of the group believed it was a false alarm and were already thinking of a possible punishment for Udago. A punishment that will serve as a deterrent to any other person who might want to raise a false alarm in future.
“It’s a corpse indeed and a boy too”, Ogadi announced on reaching the spot. “Udogo was right, it’s not a false alarm” Abokito added. Accompanied by the men, Abokito and his men came forward to examine the corpse. “The vultures have not done much damage yet”, Abokito said. “But apparently the boy has been dead for long and it is clear he had been killed”. This fact was incontestable as there was a large hole on his chest.
“What is this?” Abokito asked the men with him “What is that? Ogadi replied pushing forward. Ogadi was the second-in-command of the group, himself and Abokito had similar traits. Both men were good hunters and efficient herdsmen and the fruits of their hard work could be seen. Pointing to the hole on the boy’s chest, Abokito turned to look at Ogadi. “What kind of animal may have done this?” Abokito wondered. “I don’t know but there are many wild animals in this area”, Ogadi answered scanning the area as if the killer was hiding somewhere around.
Abokito was not convinced. “It’s not an animal this is the work of a man”, he blurted out. “Are you sure?” Ogadi asked “let us not raise an alarm yet, it’s too early for that”. Looking around “where is Udago?” Abokito asked, “I am here”, Udago said stepping forward. At this point the other men now fully convinced were pressing forward to see whose son the boy was “Udago, I want you to tell us everything that you know about this dead boy” Ogadi demanded having received the mandate of his leader to ask. Clearing his voice, Udago once again began narrating how he had come out and was on his way to the river when he saw the vultures. “On seeing the vultures I was curious” he said, “I came closer only to discover it was a human corpse and then I ran to the village to notify you all”.
Nodding his head in reaction to Udago’s story, Abokito turned to the men. “You and you there”, he said pointing at Jumba and Mumba. “I want you to go to the village and tell the chief that his attention is urgently needed”, he paused and waited for Jumba and Mumba to take their exit. “Well men of Boma village as you can see the dead boy is Halima Atanda’s son, the widow whose husband died twelve months ago”.
Some of the men shook their heads in pity muttering incantation invoking the gods to protect the whole village from such gruesome murders in future. “But who really killed this boy?” One of the men whose name was Toma asked, “It’s an animal that killed him”, one of the men replied. “Animal indeed”, Toma sneered. “Then that animal must be very skilful with a knife as to carve such a hole on his chest”.
Ogadi smiled and nodded his head like a redneck lizard while drawing hard on his pipe. “This kind of brutal killing has never been witnessed before” he said exhaling smoke, “we must find out how and what happened here and also put a stop to it, tomorrow it could be another villager’s child or even wife’ Ogodi warned. “May the gods forbid that it should happen again”, one of the men, prayed.
Tikayo arrived the scene of the killing like a windstorm flanked by the chief priest and Mumba, Jumba brought up the rear. The chief was about asking a question but the wailing of women as Halima and some women sympathizers from the village also arrived to take a last look at her son interrupted him. The sight was too much for her to take she passed out but was immediately revived. Two tragedies in such a short time was a great abomination”. That is not my son” Halima said on opening her eyes “my son is not dead, he will return to the house when he has finished playing with his mates Atandaa–a–a where’re you? She screamed “Take her away” Abokito said to the women. Halima refused to budge.
“Why should I go and leave my son, I must take Uriji with me can’t you see he’s all that I have?” She burst into another round of wailing. This time the women succeeded in leading her away. In Boma village women were not allowed to touch dead bodies not to mention participating in the actual burial. It is a taboo and any woman who violated this order will have her hair shaved and will be isolated for three months.
While the wailing lasted Tikayo watched without interest and as soon as Halima was taken away, Tikayo cleared his voice and began to speak, “men of Boma village something terrible has happened to us”, he began. “May rorche never allow it again”. The men chorused their agreement to his prayer.
“Maybe the gods are angry” the chief priest chipped in. “Then we must offer a sacrifice to rorche for protection”, Tikayo suggested. Any way I’ll advice that you all watch over your families like the mother hen protecting her chicks” he advised. “I know we shall catch the killer sooner or later”, Ogadi said.
A burial team was raised on the spot and equipped with digging implements the four man team moved towards the burial spot to commence digging. It was a taboo to keep the body of anyone who died mysteriously for a long time. “Men we must be careful with this corpse and let’s hurry the burial so that the evil spirits hovering over the corpse will go away” Abokito said. When the digging of the grave was completed the body was wrapped in a mat and the men walked round it three times each, smacking their chest each time.
Then Ogadi with the permission of the chief priest stepped forward stopping a few inches from the corpse. “Uriji son of the late Atanda twelve months ago your father died and was buried. Today you too have embarked on this journey to another land”, he paused for a while “we’ll miss you even as you‘ve left us so early we know that something or somebody has caused you to go on this journey and as we bury you we hope that as you unite with your father – the great hunter together you’ll hunt down the killer so that he does not kill more. We pray you and your father to watch over us who remain and with rorche’s protection may this never happen again” As Urijis corpse was lowered into the ground; the men stamped their feet and clapped their hands until the last earth was dropped.
The Wangoo River is one of the longest rivers in Africa and was discovered a long time ago by the inhabitants of Waroko village. Wangoo River flows through many villages before entering Zamba village from where it moves on and on. Nobody in the village knows where it ends, the Wangoo river is rich in fishes and it serves the various communities in many other ways such as providing them with a good source of water supply for all their needs. Then after the rains as the water recedes due to flooding it leaves behind a rich layer of silt, which helps to enrich the top soil thus paving the way for a good farming season.
The Boma people are not found near the riverbanks like other villages. They dwell in the rich plains of the Wangoo river valley where there is green grass in abundance for their teeming herds of cattle. But the Wangoo plans are also infested with tse tse flies and mosquitoes. Compared to the lush green grass these pests are of little or no problems at all to the Boma people.
Boma village is uniquely positioned by nature. To the north, is the Wangoo river while to the south are the rolling plains of green grass better known as the Wangoo river Valley to the east and west is a thick forest rich with all that makes a forest but to the average Boma man you’re looking at the evil forest. As a result of the people’s perception nobody farms there, rather it is seen as a place of punishment for doers of evil. If a man is guilty of sleeping with another man’s wife he is banished into the forest for five moons but if the man is guilty of killing another man he could be killed too by hanging or by being banished into the forest it all depends on the decision of the chief priest and the people of Boma village.
Where the punishment for murder is banishment, the murderer is taken to the evil forest and left there to live out his wretched life till he dies and is eaten by wild animals. If during the course of his banishment he is found near the village, he will be arrested, bound and taken back to the evil forest. Thus, the people of Boma village always avoided committing heinous crimes because the punishment is better imagine than serve. Banishment into the evil forest meant certain death the average Boma man is not a coward but he would rather die for a worthy cause like protecting his territory from any aggressor than be banished into the evil forest for adultery or murder and there to die without a proper burial.
Occupation wise Boma people are cattle rearers and their cattle dot the Wangoo river valley. Unlike the Fulani herdsmen who move from place to place the Boma cattle rearers lead a sedentary life taking out their cow in the morning to the valley where the cow eat grass to their satisfaction and in the evening they lead them back to the village.
Boma women are mostly subsistence farmers growing crops and staple foodstuffs, which they sometimes trade with other villages for their own needs. The Wangoo river valley support their lifestyle in that the grass remain green for the good part of the year and when the dry season arrives they provide the cattle with other alternatives available.
This could range from allowing them graze around the perimeter of the evil forest to feeding on anything edible within the fringes of the village. Due to their way of life Boma people have remained where they are for a very long time and it is obvious that they are there to stay.
The people of Boma village are known for their peaceful and quiet disposition but when provoked they always rise to the occasion. But so far they have been enjoying peace and prosperity with the neighboring villages. Except for skirmishes with slave merchant who attempted to enslave this people a very long time ago there has been peace. But peace and joy as the saying goes has a slender body which does not last forever the mysterious death of Uriji Atanda’s son marked the beginning of problems for the villagers until the killer is unmasked and punished life will never be the same again for the people of Boma village every man and woman knew that very well.
Kolumba Tikayo was the seventh chief of Boma village. He had been picked among the six contestants to succeed Omari Kondo the sixth chief of Boma village who had gone to join his ancestors. Picking a successor to a dead chief in Boma village was based on two criteria. At the time the chief dies, the man with the largest herd of cattle plus the biggest farm was picked as successor to the late ruler.
This was significant to the people of Boma village because they believed that the chief being father of all must be able to cater for his family adequately as well as provide for any helpless villager from his reserves. After the death of chief Kondo, Tikayo was found to own the largest herds of cattle as well as the biggest farm in the land. Thus he was made the seventh chief of Boma village. Men from time in Boma village are chronic polygamists and Tikayo was no exception. The new chief of Boma village had two wives Mako and Akko with eleven children to make the family complete. Tikayo’s compound was the largest in the village. But this morning Tikayo was not a happy man. He had brought his cattle for their morning ration of grass but his mind was not at rest. Many things were happening in the village and he was at the center of it all. Though the villagers did not know yet. But for how long will it last he wondered. Leaving the cows to fend for themselves, Tikayo moved away a bit and went on to sit on a big log of wood where he once again did a flip to the past. Boma village had been in existence for many years, he was born and bred on the exact spot where the village currently stood.
He had grown into boyhood then into manhood taking on big challenges and overcoming them like when he killed a big lion that was troubling the village. Within that period he had gotten married to his wife – Mako while Akko his second wife had followed shortly after and since then he had sired eleven children. The responsibilities were enormous but he had shown that he was equal to the task and worthy to be the next chief of Boma village. While his family grew in leaps and bounds, Boma village prospered too. There had been good harvest in the farms and the animals, especially the cows had increased tremendously in the past years.
The chicken and the goats were not left out either; all had grown in large numbers. But above all the people had known peace and happiness. There had been deaths in the village, but this had not deemed the fact that Boma village was indeed favoured by the gods. Growing up Tikayo had watched chiefs succeed each other things had not changed rather the people of Boma village continued to prosper. But suddenly ten years after his ascension as chief of Boma village the slender body of joy was suddenly beginning to break and he was at a loss over what to do to arrest the situation. If the problem had been from one of his subjects he would have dealt with it. Had it been a case of aggression from the surrounding villages he would have decisively dealt with it and closed the chapter long ago. But the problem was not from his subjects neither was it a case of aggression from the surrounding villages. The problem was within him – in short he was the problem plaguing his domain and there was nobody to save him and neither could he save himself.
The incident, which had so dramatically altered his life overnight and was gradually pushing him to self-destruction, had occurred not too long ago. He had taken his cattle to the valley for grazing all had gone well so far. The cow’s had had their fill of the juicy grass, as the sun began to go down. Tikayo had rounded up his cows and the journey home had begun. They had not covered up to ten yards when he sighted a big bird that looked like an eagle, wedged under its claws was a medium sized object, which he could not identify immediately. Just then the bird came under attack from its aerial neighbors, in a bid to fight back, defend itself as well as its dinner the object dropped and landed on the ground with a slight thud.
‘What could this bird be carrying; he wondered. With the question in mind. Tikayo raced towards the object while the bird flew on making lots of funny sounds probably its own way of protesting the loss of its dinner. On reaching the spot Tikayo bent down to examine the object but it was not necessary as he soon discovered it was flesh and still fresh”. Where could this bird have gotten this? He wondered. The bird may have picked it from the carcass of an animal probably killed by a lion or some other stronger predator. Well it was his luck at least this would mean more meat in his soup bowl. Picking up the piece of flesh, which he discovered was a liver of an animal he returned to his herd of cattle and the journey home continued.
Reaching home, Tikayo sank his bulky frame into his favorite seat. His intention was to rest for a while before going to take a wash. “MAKO” he called “MAKO” he called a second time. This time his children heard him clearly one of them ran into the inner yard to fetch Mako. While Tikayo reclined his back on his chair and continued mulling over the day’s activities. His thoughts were interrupted when Mako tapped him lightly on the knee to announce her presence. “Welcome, my master”, she greeted kneeling. Tikayo grunted a response just as he picked up the package and gave to her. “Its liver”, she said on opening it. “Of course what else did you think it was?” Tikayo fired back. “Master where did you get this liver?” she asked. Tikayo pretended not to hear “My master did you go hunting today?” Mako persisted. Tikayo looked her over from head to toe and that was it as she fled towards the kitchen. “Foolish woman”, Tikayo remarked while wondering why she did not wait for him to answer, as it would have turned out to be an evening she would wish to forget in a hurry. Instead of rushing to prepare his evening meal she rather wanted to know first where the meat came from. He cursed her some more asking the gods to visit her in their fiery displeasure. Mako was Tikayo’s first wife, more like the wife of his youth. Mako was given out in marriage to Tikayo due to the latter’s bravery as a hunter and for being among the few in Boma village to kill a lion at an early age. Mako’s father was a village elder and a big farmer. Finally his evening meal was served by Mako his first wife and assisted by two of her children. After laying the dishes the children withdrew while his wife sat opposite him so as to answer to any queries that may arise from the cooking. “Ehm”, Tikayo began “let me warn you, the next time you question me again in this house you’re finished.”
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Set in Boma village, this is a story of human tragedy and greed. Tikayo, the head of the village, one dayon his way back from the fields, comes across a large piece of fresh liver which has been dropped by a bird. He orders his wife to prepare a delicious meal from the succulent liver, which he then devours, savouring every mouthful/ Tikayo cannot forget the taste of this wondrous liver and soon begins to crave more, leading him into serious trouble as he attempts to satisfy his voracious appetite by killing his subjects to obtain their livers. will the people of Boma village remain forever the victims of this vicious killer? will they ever identify the enemy amongst them or will they remain food for Tikayo as he continues his barbaric mission.