Richmond and Kingston went to the square, while the others remained at the palace. They preached the gospel and taught the people the word. So many had gathered, even one of the King’s daughters, Princess Olamma
King Oghala had heard about this; about the people of Uduje, and his Princess, gathered in the square. He sent his guards to fetch them and ensured they didn’t go unpunished.
“Father, you cannot punish the people. Our people! They’ve done nothing!” Princess Olamma was vexed. She couldn’t believe her father, the King, meant every word, about punishing the people, just because they gathered in the square. “Father…”
“Shut it, Princess! Orders have been given that they’d be punished…”
King Oghala barked. “I said shut it! Do you not know the kingdom is in mourning?” asked the King. “You should be ashamed of yourself!”
Princess Olamma bowed her head.
The King called to his strongest guard; he asked for the royal cane to be brought. “Mbaku!”
The able-bodied man huffed.
“Flog them all!”
Mbaku did as he was told. The koboko made slashing sounds as it landed on their body. Even the King’s daughter was not left out; she cried in pain.
“Father, please!” Princess Olamma couldn’t hold back her tears.
King Oghala asked for the White men to be brought before him. He questioned them and had them tell him what their real intentions were.
“Why are you here?”
“To preach the gospel,” One named Harry, answered. He wasn’t terrified by the King; he was going to tell him all that he needed to know.
“What’s the gospel?”
Another named Dickson answered. “It’s the first part of the New Testament,”
Harry looked at him. “We are missionaries…”
“We have come to spread the word.”
The King scoffed. “So spreading ‘the word’ is putting lies in the people’s head?”
Richmond replied, “They are not lies, my Lord,” the first he had called him. “The Holy Bible,” he reached for his pocket. It was a pocket bible he had placed in his pants. He lifted it for the King to see, and the King laughed and clapped his hands.
They stared confused.
“Our visitors have finally gone mad,”
The White men were pained.
“The Messiah,” Kingston proclaimed, “will lead you to The Father. He is the son; the one true son… of God.
King Oghala clapped his hands again.
“So you want me to believe… this Messiah,” he gestured with his eyes. “will lead me to The Father?”
“Well, where can I find this man? Is he a part of my kingdom?”
“He is with the King.”
This angered the King. “Well, I am the only King. I certainly do not see anyone beside me,” he looked around, and back at them. He knew they were telling lies; he hated when anyone spoke falsely.
“He is with the King…”
“Silence!” the King thundered, running out of patience. He picked up his sword and raced towards the one who had spoken foully. Slash—his head went off.
* * *
People gathered in the square to pray. They hadn’t seen the White men, and this got them even more worried.
“Where are they?” A murmur broke out. “Are they not going to come today?” The people wondered.
A boy of about seventeen said in their midst: “Let us pray,” he said with outstretched arms.
Meanwhile, two kingdom elders, Ekpe and Ishii, stood watching what was going on. They spat and shook their heads in disapproval. “Our people have really gone mad,” Ekpe said to his companion.
“Words have it the White men have them under a spell,” Ishii said. He grunted and shook his head again, turning to his friend. “I am going. I cannot stay and watch this rubbish!” He left.
The path that led to Ishii’s house was surrounded by vultures and creepy blackbirds. Ishii hastened his steps, scared to think something bad has happened; he got home in time and found his wife peeling melon seeds.
“You will not believe what I saw,” Ishii sat on the stool beside her. “Eh-eh. Where is Nkem?”
“He is inside.”
Ishii fanned himself with his hand. “Tell him to bring water for me,”
Uli turned and called out to her son.
“So what is it?” Uli turned back to her husband.
“I saw vultures on the road.”
Uli lowered the tray. The village had never seen vultures in years. What can this mean, she thought and said to her husband, “Vultures hardly come here,”
Ishii had his hand under his cheek. “My dear, that is what I saw.”
A calm, gentle boy came out, clasping a cup of water. “Here is your water, papa,”
Ishii thanked him, and he went back inside.
Uli couldn’t sleep after what her husband told her. Udene was hard to come by and, seeing one meant something wasn’t right.
“My husband,” Uli called. “My husband, get up, let us talk.”
Ishii groaned. “Ohh, what is it…?”
“My husband, I cannot sleep,” Uli frowned her face. “I cannot sleep, my husband. This thing has been bothering me.”
“What thing?” Ishii asked. He hated being woken up from sleep. Getting up from the little mat they had spread, was the only way to make his wife start talking.
“Eh… the thing about the vultures.”
Ishii’s temper rose.
“E-eh… I woke you up because of them,”
“So I cannot sleep peacefully again?”
“No, my husband. It’s just that it has been getting me worried.”
Ishii sighed. He knew how his wife could be; telling her about what he had seen was a terrible mistake. “If I had known, I wouldn’t have told you about this,” Ishii spoke in a gruff tone.
Uli clasped his hand and stared into his eyes; the candle beside illuminating his face.
“Why will you be scared of vultures?”
“Cause we have never seen one in this village before,”
What his wife said was true. “Uli,” Ishii called.
“Yes, my husband.”
“Go back to bed, tomorrow we will talk,”
Uli frowned and made to lie back down.
It wasn’t long that they slept, that a loud cry woke them up. “What is that?” Ishii jerked up and looked at his wife.
It was Nkem shouting. The boy was rolling and holding his stomach. Ishii got up and his wife followed. They ran to their son’s room as they found him groaning, with tears coming out from his eyes. “Hei. My stomach! My stomach… é!”
Ishii was confused. He was fine just before they went to sleep. What could have gone wrong?”
Uli clasped her son. She was crying as she held onto him. Nkem was her only child; she didn’t know what she’d do if anything happened to him. “gods of our land. O’ Amadioha! Come to our aid.” she prayed.
Nkem kept shouting, rolling and groaning as his parents watched; they watched with fearful eyes, their hearts nearly torn from their chests. Nkem couldn’t survive the night. He passed away not long after and left his parents in a sad state.