Thursday, October 6, 2011

they could see from his color and his language.The way into the shrine was a round hole at the side of a hill.

'Ogbuefi Ndulue
'Ogbuefi Ndulue. He was a man of action." said Ekwefi. should bring to your mother a heavy face and refuse to be comforted? Be careful or you may displease the dead. cooking and eating."Ezeudu was a great man. Okonkwo always asked his wives' relations. A baby on its mother's back does not know that the way is long. vibrating heat. but six. "I thought he was a strong man in his youth.In this way Akuke's bride-price was finally settled at twenty bags of cowries. There was the story of a very stubborn man who staggered back to his house and had to be carried again to the forest and tied to a tree. what do I do? Do i shut my eyes? No! I take a stick and break his head That is what a man does. and the dry. looked forward to the New Yam Festival because it began the season of plenty??the new year. As she knelt by her. Dazed with fear. Then came the voices of the egwugwu. When all was laid out. stood near the edge of the pit because he wanted to take in all that happened.""Anyway.Soon after Ofoedu left.

meanwhile. And so on this particular night as the crier's voice was gradually swallowed up in the distance. But Okagbue said he was not tired yet.Ezinma did not call her mother Nne like all children. They only saw the red earth he threw up mounting higher and higher. Kiaga stood firm. and something seemed to give way inside him. And then it became known that the white man's fetish had unbelievable power. But they soon returned and everyone was gazing at the rag from a reasonable distance.After the wine had been drunk Okonkwo laid his difficulties before Nwakibie. my friend. He could not understand what was happening to him or what he had done. Ekwefi had nothing but good wishes for her." said the joker." came her voice." Okonkwo asked himself. It was evening and the sun was settingUchendu's eldest daughter. She was rewarded by occasional spells of health during which Ezinma bubbled with energy like fresh palm-wine. It was quiet and confident. And you. anxiety mounted in every heart that heaved on a bamboo bed that night. with which he carried the brown snuff to his nostrils. On her arms were red and yellow bangles.

He neither inherited a barn nor a title." they said to the women. Anasi was the first wife and the others could not drink before her. A great evil has come upon their land as the Oracle had warned. There was so much food and drink that many kinsmen whistled in surprise. he sat down in his obi and mourned his friend's calamity. the troublesome nanny goat. It was very much like Obiageli. in the same way as they would meet if a death occurred . Here was a man whose chi said nay despite his own affirmation. But the Christians had told the white man about the accident. "Yaa!". Now and again the cannon boomed. killed his animals and destroyed his barn. and only one or two men in any generation ever achieved the fourth and highest." said Ekwefi."Go and bring me some cold water. and he was not afraid of war. "Tortoise and Cat went to wrestle against Yams??no. Okonkwo. His enemies said his good fortune had gone to his head. afraid to go in. Whenever one of these ancient men appeared in the crowd to dance unsteadily the funeral steps of the tribe.

"He gave his mother seven baskets of vegetables to cook and in the end there were only three. that was how it looked to his father. it is play'. who was greatly perplexed. When everything had been set before the guests. and prayed that the rain might fall in the night. he thought over the matter. It was the ekwe talking to the clan. She was afraid of what might happen if Chielo suddenly turned round and saw her.""I think she has."Everybody thanked Okonkwo and the neighbors brought out their drinking horns from the goatskin bags they carried. reached Okonkwo from his wives' huts as each woman and her children told folk stories. He wanted first to know why they had been outlawed. The church had come and led many astray. and they beat the men. led out the giant goat from the inner compound. the women who had gone for red earth returned with empty baskets. He heard Ikemefuna cry." Okonkwo was specially fond of Ezinma.'to bring out all the soft things in my house and cover the compound with them so that I can jump down from the sky without very great danger. Anyone seeing Chielo in ordinary life would hardly believe she was the same person who prophesied when the spirit of Agbala was upon her. Iweka." he said.

He shrugged his shoulders and went away to tap his afternoon palm-wine. silencing him. slit its throat with a sharp knife and allowed some of the blood to fall on the ancestral staff.' 'You must return the duckling."Because I did not want to. "You might as well say that the woman lies on top of the man when they are making the children. I married her with my money and my yams. He immediately set to work digging a pit where Ezinma had indicated." said Okonkwo.But Ezinma's iyi-uwa had looked real enough. of all people. She pulled again and it came off. but he stood beckoning to them.Okonkwo's wives.The priestess' voice was already growing faint in the distance.""Do you think a thief can do that kind of thing single-handed?" asked Nwankwo. There was a famine in those days and Tortoise had not eaten a good meal for two moons. Fortunately. He was reclining on a mud bed in his hut playing on the flute.""All their customs are upside-down. But although it had happened so long ago. But I want you to have nothing to do with it. When the moon rose late in the night.

So much of it was cooked that.""That is so. The faint and distant wailing of women settled like a sediment of sorrow on the earth. She miscarried after she had gone to sleep with her lover. but not overmuch. But he was struck. Obiako. She must have heard a noise behind her and turned round sharply. Old men nodded to the beat of the drums and remembered the days when they wrestled to its intoxicating rhythm. But she had got worse and worse. but Okonkwo sat unmoved. "It is enough. She turned round on her low stool and put the beak in the fire for a few moments. But when she finally appeared holding a cock in her right hand. as her mother had been called in her youth. It had not happened for many a long year. waiting for him.And the little church was at that moment too deeply absorbed in its own troubles to annoy the clan."The medicine man then ordered that there should be no mourning for the dead child. anxiety mounted in every heart that heaved on a bamboo bed that night.""Don't cry. I greet you. and who like a madman had cut the anklet of his titles and cast it away to join the Christians.

None of his converts was a man whose word was heeded in ihe assembly of the people. "So look after him. gods of wood and stone."I have heard. all the same. She prepared it the way he liked??with slices of oil-bean and fish. which had been dutifully eating yam peelings. The law of Umuofia is that if a woman runs away from her husband her bride-price is returned. The two judges were already moving forward to separate them when Ikezue. how many twins she has borne and thrown away. when the sun's heat had softened."Your half-sister. who were putting the last delicate touches of razor to her coiffure and cam wood on her smooth skin. These sudden bouts of sickness and health were typical of her kind. But it turned out to be even bigger than we expected. If it ended on his left. But you were rich. and two others after her. Chielo's voice now came after long intervals. At last the man was named and people sighed "E-u-u.Evil Forest began to speak and all the while he spoke everyone was silent."Come along then and show me the spot.'When Ekwefi brought the hoe.

after the rains." he said. From a distance the noise was a deep rumble carried by the wind. One of them was so old and infirm that he leaned heavily on a stick. which were passed round for all to see and then returned to him. he broke it and they ate." He paused." said Ekwefi. "He hardly ever walks. who then unrolled the goatskin which he carried under his arm. Nobody knew how old. It was a cry in the distance: oji odu aru ijiji-o-o! (The one that uses its tail to drive flies away!). And what is the result? An abominable religion has settled among you. He would build a bigger barn than he had had before and he would build huts for two new wives. She was. And so the two of them refused every offer of marriage in Mbanta. She explained to her why they should not marry yet. he took with him his flute.Suddenly Okagbue sprang to the surface with the agility of a leopard. but there is too much of his mother in him.Ezinma took the dish in one hand and the empty water bowl in the other and went back to her mother's hut.But there were many others who saw the situation differently. The young men who kept order flew around.

There was foo-foo and yam pottage. But his whole life was dominated by fear. or "Mother is Supreme?" We all know that a man is the head of the family and his wives do his bidding. Ogbuefi Ezeugo was a powerful orator and was always chosen to speak on such occasions. but now sat with Okonkwo in his obi."Agbala do-o-o-o! Agbala ekeneo-o-o-o! ??" Chielo began once again to chant greetings to her god." he said. Nwakibie brought down his own horn. setting up a wave of expectation in the crowd.Okonkwo was well known throughout the nine villages and even beyond." they said. A snake was never called by its name at night.""If we leave our gods and follow your god. Their fathers had never dared to stand before our ancestors. The crowd then shouted with ainger and thirst for blood.As he broke the kola. might have noticed that the second egwugwu had the springywalk of Okonkwo. But they always returned to the long rope he trailed behind.' he said as they flew on their way. with which they sat on the floor. She was very friendly with Ekwefi and they shared a common shed in the market. My mother's people have been good to me and 1 must show my gratitude. the god of the sky.

Kiaga's joy was very great. From then on. or ndichie.""Oho. and when there was no work to do he sat in a silent half-sleep.""Yes. The women weeded the farm three times at definite periods in the life of the yams." He sipped his wine. for in spite of their worthlessness they still belonged to the clan. and at his death there were only three men in the whole clan who were older."Don't you know what kind of man Uzowulu is? He will not listen to any other decision. The interpreter explained each verse to the audience.And so nature was not interfered with in the middle of the rainy season. He did not know who the girl was.""It is so indeed. It was a deep bag and took almost the whole length of his arm. He began to wonder why he had felt uneasy at all. and was full of the sap of life.- instead of thirty there were now only fifteen.It was going to be Okonkwo's last harvest in Mbanta. They then set about painting themselves with cam wood and drawing beautiful black patterns on their stomachs and on their backs. We did not see it."Leave her to me.

We have albinos among us." said one man." resumed Obierika.Qkonkwo ruled his household with a heavy hand. Many years ago when she was the village beauty Okonkwo had won her heart by throwing the Cat in the greatest contest within living memory. and then passed two shares to Nwoye and Ikemefuna. which had been dutifully eating yam peelings.Unoka."After the kola nut had been eaten Okonkwo brought his palm- wine from the corner of the hut where it had been placed and stood it in the center of the group. which was strengthened by such little conspiracies as eating eggs in the bedroom. all its metal taken out of it by the vast emptiness of the cave." ';." said Obierika.Sometimes a man came to consult the spirit of his dead father or relative." said the old man. He fell and fell and fell until he began to fear that he would never stop falling. just beyond the borders of Mbaino. They were grieved by the indignity and mourned for their neglected farms. But as the dog said. pushing the air with his raffia arms."Your buttocks understand our language. "And so they killed the white man and tied his iron horse to their sacred tree because it looked as if it would run away to call the man's friends. and when he recovered he seemed to have overcome his great fear and sadness.

" He paused. go in peace. But a few years later she ran away from her husband and came to live with Okonkwo. He ran a few steps in the direction of the women. So they made a powerful medicine. "Use the fan. "I do not blame you for not hearing the cock crow. Two elderly neighbors were sent for. came first. She wore a black necklace which hung down in three coils just above her full. After a few more hoe-fuls of earth he struck the iyi-uwa."We shall be late for the wrestling. and of the forces of nature. The personal dynamism required to counter the forces of these extremes of weather would be far too great for the human frame.And so the neighboring clans who naturally knew of these things feared Umuofia. There was no festival in all the seasons of the year which gave her as much pleasure as the wrestling match.' replied the man. And when he got there he found it was a man making a sacrifice. His love of talk had grown with age and sickness. At first Ekwefi accepted her. He just carried her into his bed and in the darkness began to feel around her waist for the loose end of her cloth. It is almost dawn.Ekwefi was tired and sleepy from the exhausting experiences of the previous night.

"Ozoemena was." said Obierika." he said."That is not the end of the story. and went away. who sat next to him." he told her. and then. It was therefore understood that Ekwefi would provide cassava lor the feast." he said. Of course they had all heard the bell-man. who stood beside her." said Obierika. closely followed by Nwoye and his two younger brothers. Ekwefi. He was determined that his return should be marked by his people. "Now they are behaving like men. But they have cast you out like lepers. So he began to plan how he would go to the sky. and they ran for their lives. Does a man speak when a god speaks? Beware!"She walked through Okonkwo's hut into the circular compound and went straight toward Ekwefi's hut. Okonkwo's son. He.

So Okonkwo encouraged the boys to sit with him in his obi. Okonkwo was among them. He went into Ekwefi's hut. waiting for the women to finish their cooking. "The world has no end. waving their palm fronds. She had borne ten children and nine of them had died in infancy. I did not hang myself. "I have heard that many years ago. Uchendu before her. The rainbow was called the python of the sky. But Tortoise jumped to his feet and asked: Tor whom have you prepared this feast?'"'For all of you. they ought to know that Akueke is the bride for a king. He addressed Nwakibie.'"'You do not know me. Ezeudu was to be buried after dark with only a glowing brand to light the sacred ceremony." said Ekwefi with a heavy sigh."Nwoye always wondered who Nnadi was and why he should live all by himself. As our fathers said. But his wives and young children were not as strong."But you said it was where they bury children?" asked the medicine man. and stammered. When everything had been set before the guests.

He changed them every day. The church had come and led many astray. His younger wives did that. only to return to their places almost immediately. Kiaga was going to send into the village for his men-converts when he saw them coming on their own. A proud heart can survive a general failure because such failure does not prick its pride. As soon as he found one he would sing with his whole being. Marriage should be a play and not a fight so we are falling down again. Nwoye's mother is already cooking. "Whoever has a job in hand. All that is true.Even Okonkwo himself became very fond of the boy - inwardly of course.Having sworn that oath. also had a basket of plantains and coco-yams and a small pot of palm-oil. "all the birds were invited to a feast in the sky. He continued:"During the last planting season a white man had appeared in their clan." said Obierika."He does not know that either. and it ended on the left. Her mother always took her into their bedroom and shut the door." said Obierika to his son. The blazing sun returned. After that nothing happened for a long time between the church and the clan.

And at last the locusts did descend. Many of them spoke at great length and in fury. Their sound was no longer a separate thing from the living village. panting. Okagbue's voice was unchanged.The festival was now only three days away." said Okonkwo. and at the end it was decided to follow the normal course of action. a long. The moon must be preparing to rise. whose feeling of importance was manifest in her sprightly walk. The egwugwu had emerged once again from their underground home.Okagbue had again taken over the digging from Okonkwo."Uzowulu's body. it was true. He ran a few steps in the direction of the women.""I think it is good that our clan holds the ozo title in high esteem." He got up painfully."Once upon a time."No. carried him shoulder high and danced through the cheering crowd. "The world has no end." said Okonkwo.

But some of the egwugwu were quite harmless. That showed that in time he would be able to control his women-folk. If there is any one among you who thinks he knows more let him speak up. But the drought continued for eight market weeks and the yams were killed. She was the priestess of Agbala. "Ozoemena was. "lest Agbala be angry with you. and a little hoe for digging out the tuber. And so they killed him. Obierika. He led it on a thick rope which he tied round his wrist. Her mother consoled her and promised to buy her her another pot. because an old man was very close to the ancestors. and everybody agreed that he was as sharp as a razor. His mother might be dead. He always said that whenever he saw a dead man's mouth he saw the folly of not eating what one had in one's lifetime. Groups of four or five men sat round with a pot in their midst. The inhabitants of Mbanta expected them all to be dead within four days. and he spoke as he performed them:"1 hope our in-laws will bring many pots of wine.Okonkwo turned on his side and went back to sleep. The drums beat the unmistakable wrestling dance - quick. Sometimes Okonkwo gave them a few yams each to prepare. 1 know more about the world than any of you.

At the opposite end of the compound was a shed for the goats."The body of Odukwe. The ill-fated lad was called Ikemefuna. and there was no hurry to decide his fate. It was powerful in war and in magic. but they never brought them into the village. How could he know that his father had taken a hand in killing a daughter of Umuofia? All he knew was that a few men had arrived at their house. as her father and other grownup people did. It was evening and the sun was settingUchendu's eldest daughter. He must have a wife.' said Tortoise. Some birds chirruped in the forests around. and although ailing she seemed determined to live. smiled broadly and said to his father: "Do you hear that?" He then said to the others: "He will never admit that I am a good tapper."Agbala do-o-o-o! Umuachi! Agbala ekene unuo-o-ol" It was just as Ekwefi had thought. Ikemefuna felt like a child once more. Many people laughed at his dialect and the way he used words strangely. The elders sat in a big circle and the singers went round singing each man's praise as they came before him.Ekwefi put a few live coals into a piece of broken pot and Ezinma carried it across the clean swept compound to Nwoye's mother." he said. Obiageli." said Ofoedu. As soon as Uchendu saw him with his sad and weary company he guessed what had happened.

So he would make a fresh start. when they came. who drank a cup or two each. It had not happened for many a long year. He had finished it on the very day the locusts came. They were very happy and began to prepare themselves for the great day. The priestess. It was true they were rescuing twins from the bush. "If you split another yam of this size."Is that not Obiageli weeping?" Ekwefi called across the yard to Nwoye's mother. in the other hand. do you know me?""How can I know you. Amikwu. It contained other things apart from his snuff-bottle. It was said that he wore glasses on his eyes so that he could see and talk to evil spirits." he asked Obierika. The other four black men were also their brothers. On the second day Uchendu called together his sons and daughters and his nephew. holding her breasts with her hands to stop them flapping noisily against her body. He turned again to Ezinma. They did not really want them near to the clan. fifth and sixth years. "the goddess of the earth.

Then it occurred to her that they could not have been heading for the cave. That was always the trouble with Okeke's snuff. and stake them when the young tendrils appear. The nine egwugwu then went away to consult together in their house. But he threw himself into it like one possessed. "I will tell Obierika's wife that you are coming later. "honest men and thieves. and he was soon chosen as the man to speak for the party because he was a great orator."Is this yours?" he asked Ezinma.The women had gone to the bush to collect firewood. "She should have been a boy. wiping the foam of wine from his mustache with the back of his left hand. He told them that the true God lived on high and that all men when they died went before Him for judgment. she was in close communion with the departed fathers of the clan whose bodies had been committed to earth.There were seven men in Obierika's hut when Okonkwo returned. These people are daily pouring filth over us.Okonkwo was very happy to receive his friend. women and children." said Okonkwo. and a girl. If the clan had disobeyed the Oracle they would surely have been beaten. So they made a powerful medicine. "How man men have lain with you since my brother first expressed his desire to marry you?""None.

and walked to its beat. She prepared it the way he liked??with slices of oil-bean and fish. "They will put off Ndulue's funeral until his wife has been buried. just a little bigger than the round opening into a henhouse. The Ibo evangelists consulted among themselves and decided that the man probably meant bicycle. Ezinma?""She has been very well for some time now. she could not ignore the fact that some really evil children sometimes misled people into digging up a specious one. She thought of all the terrors of the night. folded her arms across her breast and sighed. An animal rubs its itching flank against a tree.""You sound as if you question the authority and the decision of the Oracle. the Oracle of the Hills and the Caves. Its most potent war-medicine was as old as the clan itself. And so she brought out her husband's hoes. They should have armed themselves with their guns and their machetes even when they went to market. It had to be done slowly and carefully. But a few years later she ran away from her husband and came to live with Okonkwo.He is fit to be a slave. She was alive and well.As the man who had cleared his throat drew up and raised his machete. There was once a man who went to sell a goat. or the children of Eru. and he saw himself taking the highest title in the land.

Okonkwo came after her. But everybody knew that he was going to die and Aneto got his belongings together in readiness to flee. and she said so."Who killed this banana tree?" he asked. As they cut grass in the morning the younger men sang in time with the strokes of their machetes:"Kotma of the ashy buttocks. long way from home. and as it dwelt on it. Then it occurred to her that they could not have been heading for the cave.""It is true."Okonkwo had just blown out the palm-oil lamp and stretched himself on his bamboo bed when he heard the ogene of the town crier piercing the still night air.""I don't know how we got that law. who was laid on a mat."1 have told you to let her alone." he said to Okonkwo.Am oyim de de de de! flew around the dark. If we allow you to come with us you will soon begin your mischief. The Oracle said to him. and he spoke as he performed them:"1 hope our in-laws will bring many pots of wine." said Okonkwo.The crowd set out with Ezinma leading the way and Okagbue following closely behind her. They had no hatred in their hearts against Okonkwo. It throbbed in the air. Drums beat violently and men leaped up and down in frenzy.

But it had gone on living and gradually becoming stronger. They have a big market in Abame on every other Afo day and. and they beat the men. Stories about these strange men had grown sim one of them had been killed in Abame and his iron horse tied to the sacred silk-cotton tree.""Do you think a thief can do that kind of thing single-handed?" asked Nwankwo. by Okonkwo's brusqueness in dealing with less successful men. That was not luck. Now and again a full-chested lamentation rose above the wailing whenever a man came into the place of death. and stayed."Ezinma is dying. Tortoise looked down from the sky and saw his wife bringing things out."When this was interpreted to the men of Mbanta they broke into derisive laughter. And. go in peace. one of them did something which no one could describe because it had been as quick as a flash. but Okonkwo was as slippery as a fish in water."Go into that room." said Obierika. That was how Okonkwo first came to know that agbala was not only another name for a woman."He took down the pot from the fire and placed it in front of the stool."Ekwefi went to bring the pot and Okonkwo selected the best from his bundle. they could see from his color and his language.The way into the shrine was a round hole at the side of a hill.

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