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                                                        http://vintage.johnnyjet.com/  “Akrika has escaped! Akrika has escaped!” T...


 “Akrika has escaped! Akrika has escaped!” The guard shouted chasing after him. Akrika was quick. He ran in a zigzag pattern as he made efforts to lose the guard. Realizing that he could not catch him, the guard retreated to the palace and organized a search team. “He can’t go too far. He will have to stop somewhere and rest. Don’t stop until you find him,” the king, Eze Ikoro ordered them. They carried palm oil lanterns with them as they headed into the bush. The lamp carriers walked as fast as they could while the rest of the team ran, tying leaves and stems together as they ran to indicate which path they had taken. Soon, they found a patch with smothered leaves and grasses. “He must have rested here. He can’t be too far” one of them remarked. They increased their pace and followed the direction with beaten leaves.

Akrika could hear them. He was tired by now with a deep cut in his left foot. A sharp Ikporoto stem had pierced the sole of his foot. He stopped and pulled it out but the bleeding won’t stop. “I think I smell blood. He may be hurt. Let’s go this way,” one of the guards said. Akrika kept running. His lungs were almost giving out. His mouth and throat were dry. No matter how fast he ran, he could hear them not far behind. He had no idea where he was. He kept running. He reached a narrow road and turned left onto it. When the palace guards reached the road, they split in two groups that went in opposite directions. 

Akrika saw a small hut ahead. He raced towards it. Then he saw another one, and another one. The huts were similar, sitting on the edge of the forest. His legs could barely carry him. He felt as though there was a heavy stone on his shoulders, weighing him down. His knees squealed with every stride he made. It was as though they were crying for mercy. His pace reduced with every passing second. His pursuers were closing in on him fast. “I can see him. Come this way I can see him!” The closest of the guards to him shouted. He looked over his shoulder and saw the guard racing towards him like a wolf closing down on a deer in the winter snow. He turned and tried to ramp up his gear, but his body could not respond. Even his mind was drained of energy. “Come this way! I am closing in on him,” the guard shouted. 

Akrika felt a stabbing pain in his left foot. He had lost a lot of blood. Suddenly, he ran into a tree stump and tumbled. His body hit the ground with massive force. A spurt of sand splashed against his face as his head hit ground. A part of him wanted to lie there. He was thoroughly exhausted. He waited for them to come and drag him up or for blades of machete to pierce his skin and hack him to death. For a moment, he felt numb. He thought of the girl he was going to marry. Her beautiful face smiled at him as he began to see things that were not there. he wished he could talk to his parents again and convince them he never really raped Ulumma. He felt the guard’s hands on his right arm. He yanked at him as he yelled for help. “I’ve caught him. Unu bia nyere m aka! (come and give me a hand!).” 

Two more guards arrived as they attempted to yank him to his feet. The third one joined them. He had a rope made from the skin of palm frond. He nearly fell back down when they lifted him up. “Now, we will have no problem chopping off your neck,” one of them said to his face. He looked at him through weary eyes that struggled to stay open. He swallowed hard, scouring his mouth for any trace of saliva to quench his thirst. “Tie his legs and hands, and let’s carry him back.” The guards were breathing hard too. Soon, Akrika was all tied up. Two of them lifted him on their shoulders and they began to head back towards the village. 



Alu! (abomination!)” Shouted the king, Eze Ikoro. “You shall be beheaded for soiling the land with such an atrocious act. The gods are angry...your crime is punishable by death!” Eze Ikoro reiterated. “I think death is a gift to him, your highness. To put him to death would be akin to absolving him of such an evil crime,” Oleka countered. “He is my brother’s son, but I do not hold back in condemning him for raping a girl from our clan. This is double abomination in the eyes of the gods. One, he raped a girl, and secondly, a girl from our clan...that is incest. Men and women from our clan do not consort with each other. That is why we marry from outside our clan. We share the same ancestors. My brother’s son, Akirika must be punished, but I think death is an easy way out. Let us dedicate him to the gods. What better sacrifice than a living, full-fledged young man who will serve the gods for the rest of his life. He will live on fringes of the evil forest in the Osu clan where he can only marry his kind; another Osu (outcast). Let us appease the angry gods with Akirika. I rest my case,” Oleka argued. “Yes! I agree with Oleka,” shouted Ikenga. “I support Oleka too,” said Amanze. “No he deserves to die!” Shouted Iturunna. Akirika lay before the village council. His eyes were bruised. His hands and legs were tied. He was in fetal position with blood slowly dripping from the cuts above his eyes. 

“I did not do it!” Oleka pleaded. “Shut up! Your uncle, Oleka saw you raping Ulumma. Now the gods have struck her in anger and she can no longer speak. If we don’t sacrifice this young man...if his blood is not shed over the shrine of Igundu, Ulumma will never speak again. Is that fair? Shall we let her suffer for the sin of this disgusting animal?” Asked Akidi, another member of the village council. “I say we kill kim right now and pour his blood over the mighty shrine of Igundu tonight. Apart of restoring Ulumma’s speech, we have to bear in mind that our failure to slay Akirika will bring the wrath of the gods on us. We must act now or face Igundu’s anger ourselves,” Iturunna shouted. “What do you say, Ibezim?” Eze Ikoro asked. Ibezim was believed to be the wisest man in the land. He was a man of few, yet mighty words. No one could really say how old he was because the white man had not arrived in the land when he was born. His hair was grey and his face scruffy. His veins were visible as his skin had shrunken over the years. He had been listening to the exchanges between the members of the village council with a rapt attention.

He looked at the king, and them at Akirika. “You claim you did not sleep with this young girl Oleka, right?” “Yes, Nna anyi Ibezim (elder Ibezim),” Akrika replied in a bid to prove his innocence. “So, how come she pointed at you when she was asked if Oleka’s accusation that he caught you raping her was true?” “I don’t know Nna anyi. I really don’t know. I would not do a thing like that. I already have a girl from Umuaba that I am slated to marry in a few months. I did not rape Ulumma. She is like a sister to me. Her great grandfather and my great grandfather were brothers. I know the laws of the land and I live by them to the letter. Please, spare my life Nna anyi. I did no such thing. If you shed my blood, Igundu will crush this land. At least for posterity sake, spare my life, so our land would not be wasted by the wrath of the gods of the land” Akirika pleaded. 

“Oleka you are very sure that you caught him raping Ulumma?” Ibezim asked. “Yes Nna anyi. Can’t you see that Ulumma is dumb now? Why would she go dumb? We know how these things work. It may have been many years now since the last time we had rape in our land, but we don’t forget the sequence of events that follow such an evil act,” Oleka replied. Ibezim regarded him for a moment, and then looked at the king, and then at Akirika.  “Onye mee alu si gbuo ya! Gbuo ya! Onye mee ochu si gbuo ya! Gbuo ya!  Onye dina nwanne ya nwanyi si gbuo ya! Gbu ya! (Whoever commits an abomination, let him be put to death! Be put to death! Whoever commits a taboo, let him be killed! Be killed! Whoever sleeps with his sister, let him be slain! Be slain!)” A chant was heard in the distance. Word of the alleged rape had spread fast. Women of Ngodo had quickly rallied together and began to demonstrate their anger at such an evil act. The sang from every corner of the village and later headed towards the village square where the village council was deliberating.
LINK TO EPISODE 2: http://www.moofyme.com/2015/12/osu-people-untouchables-episode-2.html

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: OSU PEOPLE: THE UNTOUCHABLES - EPISODE 1
Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog
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