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Umuonda By Aniebiet Effiong

POSTED 01/15/2018 11:38:13
2823 Reads Umuonda By Aniebiet Effiong, short story on Tushstories
"All we are saying, give us our right..." the people of Umuonda chanted a song of protest as they marched to the Palace of the King with different colours of cardboards in their hands.
"Ike!" the king called his chief guard as he heard a sonorous voice.
"Here i am Your Majesty" he arrived.
"Go out and check who are those barking like mad dogs." He commanded Ike the chief guard.
He walked hurriedly with his lion coloured matchet to meet them outside the palace.
"What is it?" Ike asked.
"We want to see the king!" They all chorused as if they had rehearsed the lines.
After hearing what they said from the palace, the king decided to go out and meet the people with perplexity written all over his dark skinned face.
"What is your problem? Why have you decided to go about the entire kingdom singing and shouting like mad men?”
A 47 years old man who led the group stepped out and spoke on behalf of the people.
"Your majesty, I greet you. Your majesty, like our elders do say, a frog that jumps in the day time has something running after him or he is running after something. Your majesty we have come out to speak our minds. We are tired! For the last twenty years we have not been chosen to rule this kingdom. We have been sidelined for so many years. Our children are dying of hunger. Your majesty, if you look at the cabinet presently, even the elders, there is no single person from our village. Tomorrow they will say we are one. We are tired. We need equity. If not so, then you divide the kingdom we go our way"
"I have heard you, you can now go." The king responded.
"Solidarity forever, solidarity forever... We shall always fight for our right." They sang the song as they departed the palace as if they were back from war.
The king of Ekadieze kingdom was known to be a tyrant who suffered many to death. Anybody who spoke against him faced the consequence in one way or the other. No one would easily forget how he arrested and almost killed a villager from Umuonda for naming his dog after him. "That small fool thinks he can come to my palace and insult me and go free..." The king soliloquized.
The Umuonda village group leader who also appeared to be the village's youth leader was arrested and sent to the prison by the king. The arrest of Omehia caught the attention of the neighbouring villages even the whites came for the intervention of Omehia.
After six months, after many trials, he was finally released from the prison with some conditions by which he had to abide to.

***************


Few months later, after the release of Omehia, they continued with their fight for division.
"I know we have been cheated, but, 10yrs ago, our father, Ohanem, fought for the division of this kingdom but never succeeded, it only led to the killing of the people of our village and destruction of our properties. I think we should remain like this so as to avoid trouble for no one knows what the wicked king of this kingdom has as a plan for us" one of the villagers who was among the agitation spoke his mind during the meeting they had.
They never heeded to him but they continued with their protest and agitation for the division of the kingdom for they were all bitter in the heart. The close villages of Umuonda never supported the idea of dividing the kingdom for the feared being suppressed by the same Umuonda if they succeeded, some said they want the kingdom to remain one.
Hatred for the village of Umuonda grew bigger in the hearts of the people of the neighbouring village. The king hired men from other kingdoms to join force with the guards of his kingdom and his village precisely to tame and stop the people of Umuonda from their agitation. They hired men stormed the village of Umuonda. The villagers ran helter-skelter into their various houses. The men came with guns. Their guns were diseased with tuberculosis, coughing bullets. These men were pythons spreading venoms in the whole village.
Many people who went out for the agitation fell victim to the inhumane act of these men. I remember seeing a man being compelled to drink the muddy stagnant water like a cow drinking dirty water after chewing grass. This reminded me of the book I read concerning the military rule.
"Mama, papa is dead..." a 7years old boy whose father was shot dead laments before the mother who was already swimming in an ocean of tears.
"My son what have we done to deserve this?" she sprawled on the sand as she continued lamenting sorrowfully looking up to the sky. "God! Do we really deserve this? We only protested for equity. See what these hoodlums have done to us. I stood watching my husband swim in the ocean of his own blood for no reason. I hear the voice of his blood crying..."

***************


The grumblings and agitation of the people of Umuonda seemed to have been brought to an abrupt silence due to what they experienced in the hands of the king and those he hired. Since then we've not heard from them. Maybe the king of Ekadieze kingdom had his own way of silencing people who seemed to be stubborn to him.
Maybe that was why he failed on many occasions he contested to be the king. But this time, the people of Ekadieze deluded themselves into thinking that the king loved and cared for them when he came up with the "change and fight for justice" slogan as his promises. Many were cajoled with sweet words into voting for him.
"Biadigbo my brother, this kingdom is nothing but a zoo where animals live. The higher animals rule while the lower are ruled. In this kingdom we have Lions, Goats, Dogs, and Hens. The hens are butchered anytime by the Lions. The goats are the praise singers. They keep clapping and praising the Lions for killing the hens forgetting they might also be used as a prey by the Lions. But the dogs keep barking at the actions of the Lion." Emezu a villager from Umuonda spoke to his friend in the bush while cutting some firewoods.
"Emezu my friend, I have known you to be so intelligent. That sounds interesting! But, who are the lions and the goats?"
"Tufia! You want to hear from my mouth? I must be on my way. My wife must be waiting for me."
The stiff necked king of Ekadieze who happened to have had an ear defects sometimes ago and was flown to the land of the whites for treatment leaving the kingdom to be controlled by his kinsmen, is paying deaf ears to the cries and wails of the people of Nuebe village. Maybe the white men had finally blocked his ears. Who knows?
Last time it was the people of Umuonda, today it is the people of Nuebe village suffering in the hands of the cowboys who happens to come from the same place as the king.
The cowboys paraded themselves with cows and sticks in the hands about the village of Nuebe village. Behind their sticks were knives and guns used to gun down the villagers of Nuebe. One of the incidents that got my heart sunk into my stomach was when I saw a boy of about 16 years being stabbed to death by the cowboys. Maybe the cowboys thought they were butchering one of their cows. These happenings reminded me of the book I read last year, "Men with hearts in the hand" by Towa Fobi. Their actions and killings brought so many into silence.
The two friends from Umuonda met again but this time in a very convenient place where no one would hear them.
"Emezu my brother I greet you! How are you and your family?".
"Biadigbo my friend we are all fine! We thank God for everything. That reminds me, remember the conversation we had last time in the bush..."
"Yes..." Emezu cuts in.
"Emezu after pondering on those words and what is happening in our kingdom, I finally puzzled out everything."
"Thank God you were able to do so. You know we, especially those from Umuonda must know how we talk so as to avoid what happened to Okele who named his dog after the king. You know one must learn from the fig tree." Emezu responded.
"My brother, have you noticed that the killings of the Nuebe villagers by the cowboys have brought many into silence. The goats are no more clapping" Biadigbo spoke with his small wrinkled face frowning.
"Yes Biadigbo my brother. But don't forget that the silence of the goats in this zoo is still a symbol of go ahead and appraisal to the lion."
"But the king should at least say something. Or is he still on the words that he belongs to nobody?" Biadigbo spoke as if he wanted to cry.
"Maybe the son is the problem"
"The son? Is the son now the adviser?" He became more inquisitive.
"Biadigbo where are you? Haven't you heard that the king's son is in a very critical state?"
"Hehehe..." Biagidgbo laughed scornfully. "His evil deeds have finally caught him. Karma is a bitch. Please tell me more. What happened to him?” Biadigbo asked gleefully.
"I heard he was driving that big okada. The one he bought abroad. He went into a race with his rich friends. On the way, while he tried to overtake the friend, as we all know how they always want to overtake people in life, he collided with his friend and fell down. I heard he was seriously injured. He is lying in hospital lifeless. The people are still praying for him".
Biadigbo jumped to his feet and began to rejoice. "I pray the son dies so the father will feel the same pains so many fathers are feeling when theirs sons were killed in Umuonda and even in Nuebe village. And this will be the last king from that village"
"Hmm... God help us. My friend I think I should be on my way. It’s getting dark." Emezu said his last words as they shock hands and parted ways.

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