WINDS OF CHANGE: CHAPTER SEVEN

By Okolo Chinua 10 months ago

 

CHAPTER 7

The plan was simple. Okoro needed Mazi Emeka to gather some youths who also felt like he did, that the system had failed and a change was necessary. He was happy with any amount that Mazi Emeka could bring but he advised him to keep the amount of youths called, to a minimum so as to avoid attention. Although most of the male youths had the same mindset as him, he wanted to keep the number low to avoid inviting saboteurs and for the deliverance of a better and effective result. The task had been difficult for Emeka. Though most youths he knew felt the same, he had to be careful as some were over loyal to their parents and would not like to overrule them. Some were the scared ones who could not hurt a fly so he had made his pick of youths meticulously. He made sure not to disclose the plan or intention behind the recruitment to even the willing youths. He made it sound to them like he wanted to carry out a peaceful protest and needed some people to accompany him. Those who accepted, he told to assemble at his house at a particular day once the cock went to sleep. His house had been selected as the ideal meeting zone because his place was quiet. His family had travelled to his wife’s family house to visit and stay for a few days. It was no mere coincidence as the journey had been his idea. Once he had been able to convince ten fearless and willing youths for the protest, he informed Okoro of his success. Okoro, as he had promised earlier, came to Emeka’s house early, before the cock went to sleep. He was seated with Mazi Emeka and watched as the youths arrived individually, each at his own time. He waited until all ten had arrived and settled before he began to speak, “I thank you all for being here today. I’m aware that…” he was still speaking when one of the youths, Dike, interrupted him, “I don’t understand, we were called here by Mazi Emeka and yet here you are addressing us. We had no idea you were involved or that you will be the one talking to us. It seems confusing, what is going on?” Okoro was offended because he had been interrupted but he did not show it. Mazi Emeka immediately spoke, “Dike, son of Omenuko, it is wrong for you to interrupt your elder when he is speaking…” he wanted to go on speaking but Okoro signaled to him that it was all right. Okoro spoke, “Dike, son of Omenuko, I love your perception and boldness. You remind me of my youthful days when all was well. I was about to clear you on that before you interrupted me so listen. Yes, Mazi Emeka was the one who called you but we both made that decision together. He left out one part of our desire for calling you, a part that was left for me to explain to you, but first of all, if there is anyone who cannot take the bull by the horn, let him leave now because once I start telling you my main purpose for calling you all, there will be no turning back.” He stopped and looked at each one of them individually. None of them moved and each of them had the look that showed that they were prepared for anything that was coming. Satisfied with their looks, Okoro continued, “Very well, I’ll begin by taking us back to our roots. Long ago, before the advent of the white man, Umuoba was…” he trailed off, telling them about the history of Umuoba, the way it was oppressed and the rising of his father Igwenagu to crush his oppressors, their neighbours, called foreigners. He explained to them the events that led to the white man’s coming, the betrayal at the meeting and the shrine event. He took his time to explain carefully to them, the way the system had decayed and their tradition, vanishing. Most of them had no knowledge of all that so Okoro’s explanations opened their eyes. They began to feel disgust for the white man and the village that was abandoning its roots. They all began to feel the desire to change it, to return the system to what it was before, to be heroes and that was what Okoro wanted them to feel. Okoro also took his time to explain to them the fruitless diplomatic attempts he and Mazi Emeka had made to bring the system back, how he had once fought a white soldier who came to collect what they called wife-tax from him when such type of tax was  unheard of. After explaining all that to them, he stopped to look at their faces. Dike asked, “I understand it very much now Sir and I also wish to change the system, but if you and Mazi Emeka, two great elders of this village failed at restoring things diplomatically, what then can we, unknown villagers do? How can we change it when it was not possible for you two?” Okoro replied, “I understand how you feel. Yes it seems impossible but I assure you, it is not. There is one last solution. Our people say that if you have taken care of a sick plant for long and it refuses to recover, cut it down and let another grow. That is what I intend to do, to cut down this decayed system, the leaders, the white man and let a new one grow. To do that however, we’ll have to carry out a coup.” The faces of the boys lit up at once. They had not expected a coup to be the optimal solution. Despite the cool breeze, some of them started sweating at once. They were all tensed up and Okoro could see it. He kept on speaking to them, calming them down and telling them the need for the coup. He assured them that he had a plan and that none of them would be killed in the coup so long as they accepted and followed his plan. “My brothers, I have no power to force you to join me in this but I need your help. I plead with you to understand the crucial need for something to be done to avoid further decadence. Our people say that if a man hates the smell of a corpse, he should bury it. If we do nothing about this, it will grow worse, stink worse than a corpse, choke us to death and affect the coming generation. This is for our future. Now I ask, if you do not accept my view and cannot help me, please you may use the door, I will understand.” Okoro stopped to look at the youths. They were all in deep thoughts. Suddenly, they all stood up and headed for the door, moving outside. Mazi Emeka tried to stop them but Okoro told him to let them be. He was downcast, thinking of the next thing to do now that the boys had left. Surprisingly, the boys came back inside few minutes later. Unknown to them, the boys had gone outside to rub minds together and see if they were all in or not in support of Okoro. They came back in beginning with Dike, to Onu, Nzeogwu, Ihejika, Ajuna, Ebuka, Obimderedu, Ozoemena, Ngwu and Chibuike. This brought back smiles to Okoro’s face. Looking at Dike he thought, 'He’ll make a fine leader one day.’ Dike exhaled and then spoke, “I am neither the leader nor the eldest among my folks here, however I have been chosen to act as the spokesman. We went outside to rub minds together concerning what you told us. It was not easy for us to decide but we have all accepted to support you. You are not just a role model but a man of peace. If a man like you believes that that is the only solution to this failed system then it means that it truly is. We are not worth much but we promise to stand by you till the end to see that your wish comes to fruition. May Amadioha strike us dead if we ever rescind on our promise” he concluded and all the boys struck their chests hard with their fists, showing that they were indeed, in support of what Dike said. Mazi Emeka was smiling. He had thought it was over when the boys suddenly left and was wondering what might happen if the boys report them to the officials. Okoro was pleased and he thanked them for choosing to side with him, “There is no time to waste, the longer we wait, the likely we are to be discovered. Come closer, I shall tell you the plan so that we can begin working towards it from tomorrow. They all came close to him at once. Emeka was seated at his right hand side while the boys sat in a semi-circle around him. Okoro began, “Fourteen market days from today, on the Eke day, this town will be celebrating the amalgamation. The celebration will be done the usual way as it has been for the past two years. At night, the elders and the white man will retire to the Central building to feast after the event. That day is the only day that the white man’s men will be off-duty. The soldiers will not be on guard that night,they will retire to the military building early. That is the only day we are sure of where everyone will be and the day there will be less guards. That's the day we strike. Dike, select two of the boys, it will be their duty to watch the movement of the elders and report anything odd. Pick another two to watch the military basement. It will be their duty to sneak into the armoury whenever the guards are less on guard and take a few guns and explosives for our use. Station two more to the village. It will be their duty to move around, listening to every discussion to make sure our plan is not leaked. The remaining four will be the vigilant ones. They can report anything they feel is odd. All reports should be made to Dike, he’ll be the one to relay them to me later at night when the eyes are not watching. In this operation, the white man and the fake elders bear the highest priority. They will be taken down first. We will burn down those administrative buildings built by the white man.” Okoro concluded. ”Okoro, what happens when the white man’s people do not see him for long? Certainly they’ll want to contact him” asked Mazi Emeka. ”Certainly, his people will notice his absence if he does not return after some time, however, we would have taken charge of things by then, if they should come looking for him, we will speak for ourselves telling them that he was involved in a fatal accident which claimed his lives and those of our people. The burnt buildings will serve as evidence. We’ll eliminate the white guards so whenever that happens, we’ll be ones speaking. That way we’ll be able to speak for ourselves to the white man and reach out to them before any vagabond does. We will be ready and prepared diplomatically and military-wise if they come but they will be no need for bloodshed again as they will likely believe us. Our village will be stable once again but for that to be actualized, we’ll have to eliminate the crocodile in the stream” replied Okoro. Everyone nodded, satisfied with the plan. Okoro warned them not to speak of what they had discussed to anyone. They were to carry out their missions before the Eke day discreetly, doing it while going about their daily activities. He told them that on the day of the operation, they were to gather at his house once the moon was high in the sky. His reason for the change in venue was because he did not want to endanger Mazi Emeka by drawing much attention to him. Though Emeka supported him, he did not want him to be in trouble. The boys promised Okoro that they will succeed, smiling happily as they took their leave. Okoro was filled with joy as he happily embraced Emeka thanking him for his help. He too left few minutes later.

Amadi was on his way home after his duties at the Central building when he heard footsteps in the path he was treading on to his home. It was late at night and he was not expecting anyone. The footsteps quickened and it seemed like the person was coming after him. Amadi was alarmed at once and started walking faster, being extra vigilant. He hoped it was not some wild animal. The footsteps quickened and approached nearer. As it drew nearer, Amadi confirmed that it was that of a human and not a beast. He wanted to run but something kept him still. He turned, looking cautiously at the direction of the movement. It drew closer and minutes later, it stood in front of Amadi. Amadi drew a deep breath and exhaled, ”Ha, and I thought it was an animal. Seeing you here is quite weird, what do you want?” The individual advanced towards Amadi and he took steps backwards at once on instincts. The individual spoke up, “Do not be afraid, old one. I have come to tell you something of high importance.” Amadi stopped and listened, “Go on, I’m all ears”. The individual continued, “A certain fish wishes to become a shark overnight. I have come to inform you of an impending coup. Your life is in danger. “Immediately, Amadi froze, ’A coup? How? Why? Who? Who could have thought of that? Was this true?’ the thoughts flooded his mind and he spoke, “Who? And how...” but the individual interrupted him, “I’ll explain as we walk. You may not believe me but I got this information as a witness. I witnessed him and his friends plan the coup, the man, Okoro…” the individual trailed off explaining everything to Amadi as they walked to his home.

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