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Nigeria's leading story blog. The Nigerian Civil War, Biafran, Nigerian Soldiers, Serpent, War

The Selection - July 27th 1942

SCENE :  Ude’s father’s  compound – Night time

A family of two, a man and his wife, was sleeping happily in a mud house. On a thin mat they stretchered themselves out and perhaps were dreaming away the night in a wonderland where all things were perfect. Outside, the moonlight was in its full strength and a gentle wind rustled the nearby trees and bush. It was a good time for tales, only that it was a bit too late. The compound was swept so clean that one could almost see the rays of the moon reflecting on its white sand. In the bush nearby, crickets chirped. The natives of the village held avidly that such hours of the night were for spirits and not for mortals. While the occupants of the two mud houses snored away; from the sky, a thick dark mist wafted into the compound and transformed into a wretched looking hag, clad in a shredded red piece of wear, and rested her chin on her walking stick. She did nothing, as though she had all the night for her mission, she waited patiently. A few minutes later a wisp of smoke blew into the compound and stood on two feet until it morphed into a complete human figure. The second visitor was no less a hag than the earlier one. Behind them a humongous snake slithered into the compound, coiled itself into a circular shape and raised its monstrous head as if to strike the two hags.

In a swift move which bellied their old ages, the two old women swung around and raised their walking sticks. The two walking sticks came alive and began to burn momentarily with fluorescent rays. The serpent seemed offended and bared its fangs as its eyes began to burn with red flames. The two hags were not faced a bit; from their reactions one could tell they had encountered the reptile on several occasions. “What brings you here wicked one? My people do not serve you and neither does this land”, the hag who was first to arrive at the compound demanded of the serpent. When the serpent spoke it was like the sound of many voices, “There is one who shall be born in this household, he has found favour in my eyes. I have come that I might put my seal on him. That is my mission wise one”. “Great serpent, the problem is that the people in this household belong to us and we do not trade servants and slaves with you and your type. So what will you give in exchange for his life?” “Life!” the serpent replied swiftly. “And whose life might that be?” “A precious life! The life of Odinakachi the princess in Nkwere”. “A precious life indeed! But I have no use for her being dead, I want her alive”. “She is yours to take and do as you wish so long as you let me have the boy who shall be born to this household”. “The boy is yours!” “And in the same gesture, Odinakachi is yours”, the serpent whispered aloud. The two hags took on vapour forms and the wind blew them out of the compound. The serpent made its way into the larger of the two huts sitting in the compound and vomited a black substance on Ude’s groin and vanished.

Modern day - Year: 2007

SCENE: Church Auditorium

Martha is sitting at the back of the church hall clutching her bible fervently and hanging her faith unto every word from the mouth of the preacher.

Preacher: “You must understand that when the devil takes away your pains and sorrows, he does so, only to multiply them ten folds. That is the reason the word of God says, ‘the thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life and that they might have it more abundantly’. God is the only one who gives you blessings without evil strings attached to them. He says in his word, ‘the blessing of the Lord, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it’. I don’t know who you are sitting under the sound of my voice; I feel strongly that you are under the yoke of bondage. If you would humble yourself and seek the Lord, he shall deliver you. Do not let pride or shame deny you his mercy! Seek the Lord while he is near! Seek him while he may be found!”

As tears flowed down Martha’s cheek she whispered to herself, “Yes I am indeed under a yoke of bondage, and so is my family.”

Flashback - Year:  November 7th 1967. Event: The Nigerian Civil War

SCENE: A Thick Bush. Night Time                                                   
Nigerian soldiers are chasing a wounded Biafran soldier through a bush in the night. The Biafran soldier has been running for long and is beginning to feel giddy. He sees the gleam of light in the bush and makes for it. When he reaches the source of light, what he sees is bloodcurdling. A man like a tree is dragging a native cow through the bush. When the Biafran soldier turns to sneak away from the horrifying sight, the tree man with light in its branches calls him by his name, “Ugonna!” Ugonna is shocked to hear his name on the lips of a monster tree. He still is speechless and wondering what to do. The tree man speaks again, “If you run, they will kill you”. Ugonna looks back and hears the sound of the feet of Nigerian soldiers coming his way. In fear he asks the tree man for help, “Help me please! I don’t want to die!” “I will help you if you agree to make me your guardian and the guardian of those who will come out of your groin”. In fear Ugonna said, “Yes you will be my guardian; please help me!” “No! Not like that Ugonna. Put your hand on your groin and swear by him who dwells in the sun that in this moment you make me your guardian spirit and the guardian of those who shall come from your groin”. Hurriedly Ugonna unzips his trouser, puts his hands on his groin and swears, “I Ugonna Chibueze swear by he that dwells in the sun that the spirit before me shall be my guardian and those of my unborn children”. The Nigerian soldiers are now closer to Ugonna. The tree man stretches one of his branches and touches Ugonna and he turns into a big pumpkin pod. The tree man freezes up like a tree natural tree.

The Nigerian soldiers run into the scene and see no one. They are shocked because they had heard voices and seen lights, but there is no one on the spot where the light emanated from. They continue to run deeper into the bush in the hope that they will catch the Briafran soldier. Ugonna continues to lie on the ground as a pumpkin pod till dawn. By morning Ugonna wakes up in the bush healed from his gun wound and finds no sign of the tree man or his cow. He dusts himself and dashes out of the bush. Throughout the three year war, Ugonna survived several close shave encounters he had with death. It was not long before the soldiers in his infantry took notice of the miraculous power which shielded him through several battles with Nigerian soldiers.

Flashback Continues – February 19th 1970. Event: Visit of the Serpent

After the war ended on January 15, 1970, Ugonna got to his father’s house on February 19th of the same year. He was happy to hear that his younger brother who also took part in the war was alive. His brother Kelechi, did not see much blood bath during the war because he had a godfather in the army who kept him from being sent to dangerous war zones. Ugonna had simply explained his survival during the war as the act of God and reasoned that he who dwells in the sun spoken of by the tree man must be the Almighty God. He felt that perhaps the tree man may even have been an angel. He didn’t share his experience with the tree man with his parents or sibling. He decided that God having saved him during the war that he would serve him fervently. His godly transformation was explained by his parents as a consequence of the war. Three months after his return from war, his mother had an encounter with a certain snake which would coil itself early in the morning around the Oha tree near their compound wall. Ugonna’s mother, Ngbechi, like other women had the habit of rising very early in the morning; the first morning she saw the reptilian giant coiled around the Oha tree with its head raised like it would strike at the least provocation, she melted in fear…


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