The Gods Must Be Crazy By David Oluwasegun Ogundipe
The 7 pieces of cowries shells landed on the dusty ground as the Chief priest fixed his gaze on them to figure out the voice of the god. ‘Ask them- ask the gods of my forefathers what will become of my only son and how his journey in life shall be.’ The old king of N’baani kingdom charged forward from his royal seat as he staggered front and back right before the villagers. For the first time, Dibia, the popular diviner was confused- the gods appeared to be speaking in tongue this time. The curiosity was boldly written on the face of the villagers as they all gazed at the cowries shells which had became brown from years of consultation. ‘Whaaaaaat are the ancestors saying? Did my fathers attest that he-he-he would le- le- lead N’baani to where they desire?’ The stammering King questioned as he moved from the Dibia to the baby who was placed by a scary statute. Still uncertain of the god’s message, Dibia picked the cowries shell one after the other and turned to the King with his two hands directed to his mouth. ‘Your majesty, ask from the gods and they won’t fail you.’ Then again, the King moved his mouth to Dibia’s hand and mumbled a few words.
Swiftly, the Dibia bent down and separated his hands at the centre of a circle drawn on the quick sand. The cowries shell dropped consecutively as Dibia heaved with relief. He turned to the curious king and smiled, then walked a few steps to the baby with a cup of white substance, he painted the baby from head to toe and lifted him up. ‘Here is the pride of N’baani, here is the one sent to do our kingdom proud, here is the white one whose mission is to cleanse the land, here is liberation.’ A stridency of celebratory clatters emerged from the crowd as the king gallivanted up and down in happiness.
The night was troubled with cold as the frogs croaked rhythmically on the path to the stream. The moon was fainting as the dark cloud struggled to swallow its illumination completely and the earth was left with little light for marauders to operate. Ibe, the King’s nephew had walked towards the path to the stream with his cutlass firmly held to his side by his arm. A moment after the dark cloud won its battle against the moon, another man whose identity could not be identified took the same path. For Ibe, it was a routine- to check his traps if a successful catch has been recorded. However, one could not figure out the motive of the other man whose identity has been firmly concealed by the absence of the moon. The night passed and was greeted by a morning of mourning- the villagers abound at the palace wailing and making side comments.
Remember Ibe? His body was found just beside that of an antelope in the bush- his head was shattered by what is suspected to be a bullet from a gunshot. This time, the villagers would get to the root of this- they could manage to stomach their numerous loss of properties in recent time, but not the loss of a man like Ibe. In fact, they wanted to know the one who robbed Bulu’s house four nights ago. They needed the gods to tell them who set Mensa’s barn on fire for unknown reason. And the gods must reveal, which kind of animal is responsible for the sudden disappearance of the livestock.
The Dibia drew his circle again before the frail king who was already in his mid-nineties. In alertness, the villagers watched as the Dibia made to disclose the vision. The Dibia looked up and beckon on the Prince who was sitting right beside his father. The Prince majestically moved to the Dibia who held him by the hand and announced, ‘the gods spoke again, the King is old and like he took over from his fathers, as said when the Prince was born, the Prince will take over before the next yam festival. He is our liberation. It is him that the gods assigned to cleanse the land.’
The villagers felt relieved and departed for their various homes. The Prince walked inside slowly mourning the incumbent King in advance as the tradition demanded. He got to his room, bolted the door and lifted a slate up a basket, then happily, he removed his confidant and placed it on his right thigh. Then he smiled at it for the wonderful performance in the execution of his potential rival to the throne.
David Oluwasegun Ogundipe