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Nduri who was sent with a group of Elile spirits to find her sister, Ulari, was detained by Igu nmuo. She had to clear them out of the way to reach her sister. She was concerned that if Ulari was taken into Nwangele River, it would be harder to rescue her. Meanwhile Alika arrived at Alaoma with a heavy heart. He was greatly saddened by the manner his friend, Ikonne, had died. The last time they saw each other, Ikonne had promised to return to Odenkwume for a drink. Alika did his best to calm himself, there was very little time for sorrow, and he had to set down to work. Nda Ikodiya led him to Ikonne’s shrine, which was the ancestral shrine of the village chief priest. The chief priest having been killed in the shrine, the shrine needed to be purified before a new chief priest could serve in it. After the purification, Alika began to consult with the gods as to who was their choice for the position of the village chief priest. By sundown, the gods revealed Obum as their choice. Alaoma broke into a new round of rapturous joy. Now the crown could be removed from Ogbotoukwu (village square), where it had been lying since morning. No one could move the crown to the ancestral shrine except the chief priest himself. After Obum was made ready to assume the office of the chief priest, he went for his first assignment, to remove the royal crown from Ogbotoukwu to the ancestral shrine.

Even till the late hour of the day, Iyanga still waged war to stop Igu nmuo from taking Ulari down into Nwangele river. He had expected help from Iyi Afor, but so far none had shown up. He was growing weak and knew that it would be only a matter of time before Ulari would be taken down into Nwangele. As a result of the battle, the rivers in Etiti were boiling like hot water. The trees exploded and many graves broke open. Animals fled for cover. Men, women and children fled Etiti for the neighbouring villages. In midst of the clash of spells, a battle cry was heard. Iyanga knowing whose voice it was, fought with renewed vigour. The spell had broken and Ulari had woken up. This woman was born for war. With the shout of her voice she dried up Nwangele, leaving only a small pool of water which Urenma held with all her might. She loosened the locks of her hair and unleashed them on Igu nmuo spirits, knocking them cold. The few Igu nmuo spirits still standing to their feet began to retreat in terror. She reproduced multiple images of herself to continue the battle on the ground and jumped into the small pool of water left of what was formerly Nwangele river, and in that moment everything grew quiet.

Iyanga thought it was a mistake for Ulari to jump into the hotbed of Igu nmuo spirits all alone, she could be trapped again. While he still thought on this, Nwangele exploded back to life with full force and vomited hundreds of Igu nmuo spirits, bound with Ulari’s hair and lying still. Without thinking, Iyanga ran around the spirits looking for a particular one. “She is not amongst them. She got away, but I brought you her left arm,” Ulari announced to Iyanga, dangling in the air, an arm pulled off from the shoulder. Iyanga shouted in fury, “Ahhh! I would have loved to look upon her body lying cold amongst these spirits.” “Urenma shall hurt no one again, neither shall Igu nmuo trespass upon Alaoma again. We can take her arm back to Alaoma and keep it as a trophy,” Ulari said, still dangling the arm. Iyanga sunk to the ground in a heap and cried bitterly. Ulari knew why he so cried. It was time to set free the soul of her mother trapped for a little over a century in Urenma’s udu ocha (white clay pot). Ulari lifted the udu ocha and offered it to Iyanga. Iyanga took it from her and walked over to the dry ground which was once Nwangele river and began to make incantations. The udu ocha began to glow and the souls of the dead trapped in it began to come out. When he had emptied the pot, he saw his mother, Olanma, radiant in her beauty. “It is indeed as was told, Olanma is more beautiful than Urenma,” Ulari remarked when she saw Olanma. Olanma, moving away from the other souls who had emerged from the pot, stood before her son and said, “Sorrow not my son, it is not over. I shall yet return to you in this life.”

Just then they heard the sound of footsteps marching rapidly towards them. When they turned, they saw Nduri bearing down towards them, with fury in her eyes, hoping to unleash herself upon their enemies. Ulari lifted her voice and announced to her sister and the advancing party, “Sorry you missed it all. It is over. I made a quick work of it.” Nduri needed not to be told what had happened there, from the number of cold bodies strewn all over the ground, she knew Iyanga had bought enough time for her sister to recover and show what stuff she was made of. Nduri went over to Iyanga and thanked him, “You have served us well; the kingdom shall reward you generously.” “I seek no reward greater than my mother’s freed soul,” replied Iyanga. A flash of light made them turn and saw Olanma and the other freed souls departing into the spirit world.

Back at Alaoma, Obum and the elders had begun to make preparations for the coronation of the new king, and in two days’ time, the new Chief priest and the elders of the land would accompany Dike to Iyi Abadaba, to show them that he indeed, was the royal blood who entreated the gods to return the royal crown to Alaoma. Earlier in the day, Obum had successfully moved the royal crown from Ogbotoukwu to the ancestral shrine. This feat brought no little joy to the Alaoma people; it meant that truly the gods had chosen him. If he had not been chosen by the gods, he would have been struck dead upon touching the crown. The Ekpe dancers from Mgbedeala were already in town, they had for some hours been singing their songs and dancing away with quite some pulse. Nda IKodiya, Obum and some elders watched on to see if the songs and dance could break the ura onwu (death sleep) spell and awake Udele. The drumming and dancing wore on late into the night, just as some elders thought it was about time to give the ekpe dancers a break, Udele’s body began to move to the beat of the ekpe music.

When Nda Ikodiya saw this, she excitedly made her way to the ekpe dancers and joined them in the dance. She knew Udele would certainly wake up. The elders who were present did not share that much conviction with her, they held their peace. They wanted Udele to wake up first before they would celebrate. Before the first cock-crow in the morning, the ekpe beat died down, and Nda Ikodiya’s voice rent the early morning peace. Then the voices of the elders followed after hers. Men and women made their way out of their huts and ran, as fast as they could, toward Udele’s house. Before they could get to Udele’s house, a new beat was heard, it was not ekpe; this was abigbo, a song of celebration. When the village heard it, some of their women made a brief stop on the way for a little jig, bending their waists in rhythmic moves to the sound of the new beat. Udele, the great dibia (native doctor) had woken up.

Though that day was not the day for coronation, neither had the identity of the new eze (king) been made public, there was the feel of celebration in the air. Men, women and children walked about with a new skip in their stride. They couldn’t wait to know who was going to be the eze was. Obum, in the company of some elders went to the royal palace which had been under lock and key for over ten decades and opened it. After the purification rites were performed, umuokpu (young unmarried women) were assigned to sweep and wipe it clean of the smallest specks of dust. Hunters were called in to decorate the palace with the skin of lions and leopards. The married women went to weed and sweep all the okporoama (village pathways) in all of Alaoma. The young men kept themselves busy with cleaning the rivers and streams in the land. Iweajunwa, Alaoma’s unrivaled gunpowder maker, promised the elders ten ntinala (native explosives, used during celebrations) every day until the day of coronation. When Okwuadigbo, a young and promising gunpowder maker heard of Iweajunwa’s promise to the elders, he buried fifty ntinala from his father’s house to the newly reopened palace and lit them up. The exploding sounds of the ntinala rocked Alaoma in such ecstatic fashion that Nda Ikodiya exclaimed that even their ancestors did not know such joy during their time in Alaoma. 

Written by:
Uzoma Ujor

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