FOOTPRINTS - Episode 9

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“Okwayi, I have made far reaching investigations, and there is no indication that Bitalo is related to my family. Yes, my brother was i...

“Okwayi, I have made far reaching investigations, and there is no indication that Bitalo is related to my family. Yes, my brother was involved in extramarital affairs, but Bitalo is not his son nonetheless.” “Are you doubting the gods?” “Your gods and mine may not be the same, Okwayi.” “You people are all fools. You have allowed the Whiteman to brainwash you into abandoning the roots of our fathers.” “How does that solve the matter at hand? Look at his head. You think you can walk in here and tell us what to do? Your time has passed old man! At least you are way older than I am,” Bernadette said sarcastically. She could no longer control her temper. “If you must know woman, I am your granddaughter’s grandfather,” Okwayi replied.

There was an arrogant smirk on his face as he spoke. They all looked at him in confusion. “What do you mean?” “Back in the day, I had an affair with Gonza’s mother. I am Gonza’s father!” Bitalo, Najja, Bagamba and Bernadette stared at him even harder. Their confusion was complete. “Know it now; I am a part of your family. I have watched your family all these years. Gonza was my daughter.” “Did you ever mention that to her? That is if your assertion is true,” Bagamba pointed out.” “There was no need to inform her. I have fathered a lot of children in this land. As the witch doctor of Bakuli, I have the approval of the gods to consort with our women and expand the reach of my household.” “I don’t believe you, Okwayi,” said Bagamba. “We have no reason to believe your claims, Okwayi,” Bernadette added.

“And he,” Okwayi pointed at Bitalo. “He is my son. The gods told me that he would be a curse on my household after my sixth wife delivered him. That night, I watched Nsungwa as she left her baby boy to die by the road side. I ran home and picked up the cursed child (Bitalo) that my wife had just delivered and replaced him with Nsungwa’s son. So, Bitalo is my son and Gonza was my daughter. Both Bitalo and Najja are my offspring. They cannot intermarry. If you fail to adhere to my warning, I am afraid; they will die before they know it. I promise, you all, I will go to any length to protect our land. A marriage between them will ruin our land. I have warned you for the last time.” Okwayi turned and left. An ominous feeling hung in the air as he walked out of the compound. “He is an evil man,” Bernadette said. “We cannot rely on him. I am not sure what he is playing at. Whatever the case, the DNA test will reveal if you two are related,” Bagamba insisted. Fear was written all over Najja’s face.

A short distance from the house, Okwayi brought out his powdered concoction and blew it into the air towards Bagamba’s house. A few minutes later, Najja began to cough. “I am feeling tired. My legs are weak, papa,” she complained. Suddenly, she dropped to the ground and fainted. “Najja!!!” Bernadette shouted. Bitalo helped Bagamba place Najja in the car and they sped off to the hospital.  Nurses and doctors worked frantically to resuscitate her, but despite their far-reaching efforts, Najja remained in coma. Bagamba sat beside her, sweating in agony. Bernadette and Bitalo were left in tears as they hoped and prayed that Najja would snap out of coma soon enough. “He is not my father. I am sure he is behind this. I am going to kill him,” Bitalo said agonizing and began to leave the hospital. Bagamba held him back. “This is not the time to fight. We must concentrate on what is important. We have to get Najja back,” he pleaded with Bitalo. “But the doctors have failed. Do we stand and watch? The old wizard knows what is going on. I am sure that a nice slap across his face will make him talk.” “That man is an evil man. You may not return in one piece if you go to his house,” Bernadette warned.

Okwayi entered his shrine. He quickly filled an earthen pot with water. He placed a stick that hung on the roof of his shrine in the water and stirred it gently. “You give me eyes to see what I want to see, the gods of Bakuli. Show me where they are. Are the children dead?” He said. He stopped stirring and an image began to form in the water. He could see Bagamba, his mother, Bitalo and Najja in the hospital. “Why is the boy not sick? He should be dying too!” He asked in frustration. “Something is wrong.” He brought out a raffia bag from behind his shrine and took out some beads. He spread them randomly on the floor and observed the pattern. “I can’t believe this. How did I miss this before?” He asked. He dashed out of his shrine shouting, “Kenyangi!!!” His sixth wife, Kenyangi was in the kitchen making dinner. “Is everything alright my husband?” She asked as she stepped outside out of the kitchen. “Everything is in shambles. You are an evil woman. Who did you sleep with?” “What do you mean Okwayi?” “Stop asking me questions and begin to answer my questions. When you delivered Musubaho, who did you sleep with woman?”

Kenyangi stared at him, saying nothing in return. “The gods will strike you to death right now if you don’t speak the truth!!!” Okwayi shouted. “Musubaho is not our child. I switched the boy you delivered with Musubaho because the gods said he was a curse on my lineage. Now understand. The son I had placed by the roadside and brought home Musubaho instead was not even my son. His name is Bitalo. He is still alive, and my powers cannot work on him because he is not of my lineage. The gods do not allow me to strike him down. Who is the father of that boy, Bitalo?” Kenyangi began to shake in fear. Years had gone by and this matter never came up. It was the last thing she expected to answer to when she woke up this morning. ‘But you were busy with your other wives. You barely paid attention to me, so I had to…I had to consort with another man.” “You will die!!! You must die!!! Before I strike you down, you must confess to me whom you slept with. Who was it?” “I cannot tell you Okwayi. How can I tell you when you are ready to strike me down with your powers?”

Okwayi held her by the neck and began to squeeze her neck. She fought hard, but despite his age, he was too powerful for her. Soon, she was gasping for air. Realizing that he still need her alive, he let go of her. Kenyangi fell to the ground, clutching her neck. I must preserve this information, she thought. If I tell him, he will definitely kill me. I have to preserve this information. Okwayi walked hurriedly back to shrine and began to make an incantation. He was desperate to unravel Bitalo’s lineage. Who is this boy that the gods will not reveal his lineage to me? Despite his efforts, the gods would not speak.

Nsungwa walked hurriedly home from the market. She had heard that Okwayi had struck Najja down the previous evening. Word had spread through town that Okwayi was in a manic rage, searching frantically for Bitalo’s lineage. As soon as she got home, she packed a few personal effects, and left. She took the backdoor, walking hurriedly into the bush to avoid being seen. As soon as she felt she had left the town of Bakuli, she headed back onto the road and waved down a motor bike. “Where are you going?” The rider asked her. “Please take me to Bulenga,” she instructed him. Not long after Nsungwa had left, Okwayi arrived at her home. He knocked on the door but there was no answer. He walked around the house looking for any sign of life, but there was none. He sat on a fallen tree stem beside the house and waited for Nsungwa. Soon, darkness began to envelope the land. A fiery rage ran through him as he wondered what was happening. For years he had watched Nsungwa, and now that he needed to talk to her, she had vanished into thin air.  STORY CONTINUES...

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Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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