HA'KAMARA - Episode 10

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                                                          By morning when everyone had woken up in Bada, there was no sign of Ha’Kamara...

By morning when everyone had woken up in Bada, there was no sign of Ha’Kamara or Zaya; they had left for Selay and had journeyed as far as the three rocks, once the spiritual home of the people of Azara. From there they stared down the road which led straight into the dreaded town -   Selay.  They were determined to get to Selay but were at loss as to how to get into the town. True to what they were told, there was no sign of native people around that area. They had all fled into the hinterlands of Azara, for fear of being captured and forced into slavery. Through the mangrove forest which bounded the three rocks, Ha’Kamara and Zaya meandered. As they wandered through the forest, once in a while Zaya would pause and study Ha’Kamara. The young girl gave no impression that she spared a thought for fear or doubt; her whole mind was set on getting into Selay. Their Journey had begun by night just as Ha’Kamara had promised Samba. Through the night they moved like nocturnal beasts and occasionally paused to listen to the sounds they heard to know if they were by humans or animals. One incident occurred just before dawn; a strong wind was blowing and raised a lot of dirt from the ground; while Zaya and Ha’Kamara squatted to wait for the wind to blow past them, a piece of English wear was blown into their view along with the sound of breaking twigs. Like a leopard, Ha’Kamara leapt into the air and attacked it, only to realize it was a piece of worn out, lacerated wear. Her impression was that they had run into a band of English soldiers.

Zaya could not tell how Ha’Kamara, who was in one moment beside, was suddenly a few yards ahead of her stabbing her machete into the cloth blown by the wind, which she mistook for a man. The incident made Zaya to laugh so hard she forgot her voice could be heard by slave raiders who possibly were herding slaves into Selay. When Ha’Kamara point out that she should shut up, Zaya replied, “I seriously doubt you mean that. Aren’t you looking for something to kill? Let the raiders come! Let them come!” Zaya continued to laugh aloud and Ha’Kamara, in spite of herself, joined her in the laugh. The two of them strangely enough seemed settled in the middle of a forest where slave raiders and wild beasts roamed freely.  Back in Bada, Samba took seriously the words of Ha’Kamara that she could attack Selay if she found loop any holes, and so informed the warriors in Bada to be ready to fight at moment’s notice. At the entrance of Bada, Samba mounted sentries who excelled in the art of human butchery. Their machetes were so sharp that if they swung it at human necks nothing would be heard except the sound of heads hitting the ground. The butchers frisked and searched everyone who tried to leave or enter Bada.

Their faces were smeared with a mix of white and black chalks. From the intricate markings on their faces, their eyes flashed like those of cats by night. Their bodies were adorned with all manner of charms believed to nullify the white man’s weapons. While they paced about and watched the entrance of Bada, their chests pulsated and their hands tightened around their machetes. They all had killed on countless occasions and were looking forward to die gladly fighting to banish slavery from their lands. Many women who thought themselves hopeless and of no use to men by the reason of the things they had suffered in the hands of white man took arms and volunteered themselves for battle. To numb themselves against fear, they took intoxicants hunters and palm wine tappers brought into Bada. Even the ants on the ground and the birds in the sky could tell that the blood of men would be spilled that day. Many who woke up that morning with full life in them would lay still on the red African soil and would speak no word ever again; yet they cared not about their lives. About mid-morning a band of blood-stained, ten armed men from Azara arrived at the entrance of Bada with two bags dripping fresh blood. The look of those men spelt death and destruction. Their presence caused no small stir as the men at the entrance to Bada refused them entry.

Samba was summoned when the ten of them demanded to see who was in charge of Bada. When Samba set his eyes on those men and the blood-dripping bags they bore, his heart sunk into his stomach. His fear was that the white man had caught Ha’Kamara and Zaya and sent them their heads to demoralize them. With the last trace of bravery in him, Samba asked the men, “Who do you seek? And where are you from?” “We are from Azara and we seek the man who runs this town now?” one of them answered bravely. “I am he! Samba of the river people! What do you want?” “If you be the man, then this message is for you.” The men threw the bags on the ground and blood gushed. Samba, with all he had seen and encountered in his life could not bring himself to open the bag to know whose heads were in it. He could tell they were human heads, but he did not want to see the end of Ha’Kamara and Zaya that may. Not one person in Bada could bring himself or herself to open the bags. The men of Azara were ruthless; their land was one of the few lands where the white man had enormous resistance in raiding for slaves and raw materials, and so the white man decided to partner with the men of Azara in raiding other lands.

As everyone stood staring at the bags, a voice was heard in the open plains of Bada. It was the voice of Sunu. She was talking to vultures, somehow vultures had figured out that men were going to die that day and had come in their numbers to feast on their corps. “You birds of the spirits! You have come to the wrong place. There shall be no flesh to eat here today! Go! Go down to Selay for there you shall find the delicacy of the white man’s flesh! Tell the spirits who sent you that I Sunu, daughter of Ese, of the tribe of the river people said there shall be no flesh to feast on in Bada today!” The birds flapped their wings and took off to the direction of Selay as if they understood her. Her words sunk into Samba like cold water on the tongue of a traveller who had gone for days without water. He took up the words of Sunu and began to repeat them to himself, “There shall be no flesh to feast on today in Bada.” His hand reached for his machete and tightened around it. His men read the move of his hand and poised to attack the ten warriors from Azara. Still repeating the words of Sunu, Samba squatted and opened one of the bags on the ground, revealing the heads of freshly dismembered British soldiers. Samba looked up at the ten warriors, his eyes flashed with hope and his face creased into a wry smile. “This is the proof that Azara has broken its ties with the white man and wants to join this battle!” one of the ten warriors barked. Ignoring him Samba rushed to the other bag and opened it and saw more heads of British soldiers.

With his machismo back fully, Samba stood to his feet, still holding unto his machete and demanded of the ten warriors, “We know Azara is a land that betrays their brothers; why should we believe what you say?” “Do not believe us because of our past, but believe us because of these heads. Azara will fight against the white devils that have destroyed our lands!” “Why has Azara turned against the white wizards with whom it sold its brothers?” “My name is Wute, my machete took most of these white heads you see, and I will take many more today! We have turned against the white man because we found out that after we made friends with him, from our back, he was busy carting off our sons and daughters as slaves to his land. For long we thought the missing persons amongst us were the work of slave raiders who occasionally captured people from our land until we found out what the white man was doing. My wife was captured and forced into slavery! For years we though she had been taken to white man’s land until the slaves who left Bada after the revolt told us she was here. They claim to have seen her during the revolt.” “Wute, what is your wife’s name?” “Her name is Zaya!”

There was silence; Samba believed their story until Wute mentioned Zaya. Drawing his machete Samba attacked Wute aiming for his neck. Wute parried Samba’s machete expertly; he surely was a seasoned warrior to have reacted quickly to a sudden attack. Samba went berserk, thrusting his machete and aiming deadly blows with his machete at the ten warriors. His men joined in and the warriors of Azara fended them off amazingly. As the skirmish lasted, word spread through Bada that Azara had brought war to their door step and in their bitterness and hatred for Azara, the war men and women of Bada surged out.

While the people of Bada went mad at their city gate, Ha’Kamara and Zaya found slave raiders heading into Selay and attacked them. Zaya was a monster, and Selay will find out later that day; with her hand firmly grasping sharp blades she slaughtered the slave raiders who took her lightly because she was a woman. Ha’Kamara on her part ran like light at the raiders, thrusting her machete into their hearts. If the slave raiders underrated Zaya, they could no figure out what Ha’Kamara was. How a child of her age could slaughter men right where they stood with a precision only achievable by the gods made them to run from her. However Zaya and Ha’Kamamra did not want any one of them to escape. If they did, they would alert the white men in Selay that some human butchers were at their gate. So Ha’Kamara and Zaya pursued them until they killed every one of them. When they returned to the shackled slaves, they freed all of them and then did the unthinkable. Ha’Kamara asked some of the men amongst the slaves they freed to bind her and Zaya as their slaves and lead them into Selay. The men were afraid to do so, but feeling they owed Ha’Kamara and Zaya their lives, they took the risk and led them and some other men and women who volunteered to act as slaves into the slave market of Selay, playing the part of slave raiders. Watching at how fellow humans were bound like animals and priced like goods, tears flowed from Ha’Kamara’s eyes. Whatever she saw in Bada was nothing compared to what went on in Selay. She could see British soldiers preparing to match out of Selay and head obviously for Bada, but she did not fear, leaning closer, she whispered to the man who acted as her owner, “Unbind these hands of mine."
LINK TO EPISODE 11: http://www.moofyme.com/2016/01/hakamara-episode-11.html


Written by:
Uzoma Ujor

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Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog: HA'KAMARA - Episode 10
HA'KAMARA - Episode 10
Moofyme.com: An African Literary Blog
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