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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - fever pitch excitement, elegantly like the bright stars, nothing can break the love between us, the osu caste system, the white man’s religion, the blood of Jesus, the colonial rulers, the huts, the marriage ceremony in the Whiteman’s church, blood, church, war chants, youth.

In the meantime, during the days following his first visit, Onyeuke had been frequenting Umuikenga at night. He would stand under a prearranged udara tree (African star tree), where Olachi would come to see him. “Obi m (my heart), I am very happy to see you,” she would announce with fever pitch excitement each time she saw him. “Omalicha m (my beauty), I long for you all day long. When I work in the forest, the thought that I would see you later inspires me to work harder. I can’t wait for the day when I will wrap my arms around you and hold you to my heart.” “I am dying for your big strong arms around me Obi m.” “The world can think what they want, but nothing can break the love between us. Not even the osu caste system will smother my love for you. When I see your face, it is like the sun is beaming down on my face. You glow elegantly like the bright stars that shoot across the sky.”

He took her arm and placed his over it. He rubbed her arm gently and placed it on his face. “The touch of your skin stirs me deep within. I love you very deeply Olachi.” “Me too Onyeuke. I crave you like the air I breathe. I long for you more than I long for food. When I wake up in the morning, the brightness of the day reminds me of your big bright smile. It tells me that the heart that lies beneath that smile is a beautiful one and I want to be meshed with that heart. I want to be one with you Obi m.”

Ulakwu decided to talk to Adani before speaking to Onyeuke, so he sent for her. He had heard that Adani had accepted the white man’s religion too. When Adani arrived Ulakwu’s compound, he began to narrate his meeting with her son. He looked intently at her for any sign of displeasure. “I am not sure this is a good plan Adani. I suppose you are not in support of this.” “Ulakwu, I understand your fears and concerns. Just a short while back, I thought the way you do now. But you see, I have found the saviour. Whitehass read to me from the good book that we are all God’s children.” She spoke with so much joy and excitement. She talked about the blood of Jesus, which had been shed for everyone. “If my son is in love with your daughter, I will support him by all means. I know that we will have to leave our belongings, but I understand that we will gain even more in heaven.” “You mean you are willing to give up all that?” Ulakwu asked. He was utterly stunned. “Yes. Nothing is too big for God to replace,” Adani answered. Ulakwu could not believe his ears. He had expected Adani to oppose Onyeuke’s proposition. The fact that she was willing to give it all up touched him. “Maybe I too and my household need to know the white man’s God,” he added. A day later, Whitehorse was describing and explaining the good news to Ulakwu. He accepted Jesus too, and so did Olachi and Ugodiya. 

Against all expectations, Onyeuke decided to marry Olachi and the whole of Umuaka made their feelings felt. They threatened to burn down Adani’s house if she did not leave. Some threatened to kill Onyeuke and Ugonna. “You are about to pollute the land,” they said. “We will not live alongside desecrated people like you. Leave our land!” they shouted. Neighboring villages were not left out in the feisty push to throw Adani and his family out of the land. Young men sang and danced at night chanting war songs as they prepared to attack as soon as the elders gave their permission. Some threatened to burn down Rev. Whitehorse’s church, but the elders warned them of the dire consequences, including arrest by the colonial rulers of the land and jail terms under near-unbearable conditions.

“I am not sure you will be safe even in Umuikenga,” Rev. Whitehorse suggested to Olachi and Onyeuke before the wedding. “This is our land. We will remain here. Olachi, Onyeuke, his brother and mother will come and live with us. I will have young men of Umuikenga erect new huts for them in no time,” Ulakwu insisted. “If you insist, then there is not much I can do about it. I think they should move fast enough before they attack Onyeuke’s compound. I have written a letter to the district administrator. As soon as he receives my letter, I am sure he will send some policemen down to provide some protection for us all before, during and after the wedding,” Whitehorse announced. In no time, Umuikenga youths built two new huts near Ulakwu’s compound; one for Onyeuke and Olachi and the other for Adani and Ugonna. There was no sign of the district police yet, and tension was growing. Onyeuke and Ugonna moved to Umuikenga with their mother as soon the huts were completed.

The night before Onyeuke and Olachi’s wedding, young men of Umuaka and its environs converged in front of Onyeuke’s compound. They were armed to the teeth. An elder, Mazi Uwalaka addressed them. “This is unacceptable my people. This is abomination of the highest order. Our blood is about to join with that of Umuikenga, the osu people who are a sacrilege to the land. We will not stand and watch as one of us joins in marriage with an osu. The gods will not forgive us, as much as they will punish Onyeuke and his mother and brother. The Whiteman has led them to believe that they have a God that is stronger than Amadioha. The stubborn fly goes to the grave with the corpse. When Amdioha strikes then, they will come to realize who runs this land. We have age-long traditions and one of them is about to be soiled by this young man. We have to show our allegiance to Amadioha by removing traces of them from our land. Young men! Go and burn their house. We will take possession of their lands. After the necessary sacrifice, they are no longer allowed to cultivate any land amongst us. And to show them a lesson, tomorrow, when they have the marriage ceremony in the Whiteman’s church, we will go there and burn them and their church to ashes. Our blood does not cross the line that is despised by the gods. Whoever chooses to do so will face the wrath of the land!”

The youth descended on Onyeuke’s compound and set it ablaze. They chanted war songs all night. Umuikenga youth kept vigil all night in case the youth of Umuaka chose to attack that night. By morning, Onyeuke and Olachi and their families were gripped with fear, even though the youth were on a twenty-four-hour watch. Most of Umuikenga had converted to the Whiteman’s religion, so they slowly prepared for church except the young men who patrolled the boundaries of the village. As they walked to church, they could hear loud war chants and clashes of machetes from Umuaka. They were poised to attack Umuikenga. Umuikenga youth who were outnumbered sharpened their machetes and prepared for the worst. “Shall we call off the wedding?” Ulakwu asked Whitehorse. He thought about it for a while. “I have to admit that I am afraid a bit, but also, I know God is with us. He will fight for us if they decide to attack. Despite my fears as a human, I am going to toe the line of faith and carry on with the ceremony. Everyone, cheer up. We are supposed to be in a happy mood today. Don’t let evil triumph over good. Amazing grace, how sweet the sound…” he began to sing and they all joined him. 

The small church which was built with bamboo and palm fronds was eventually filled to capacity. It was the first union between a freeborn and an osu. The last time anyone had tried it was about a hundred years earlier, and both the bride and groom were murdered gruesomely. They sang buoyantly in church. Onyeuke sported a black suit, a black tie and white long-sleeved shirt Whitehorse had provided for him. He also provided a wedding gown for Olachi; a gift from his wife. She felt awkward in the outfit, but she could not be bothered. She was marrying the love of her life and that was all that mattered. Fear did creep up in her every now and again, but she trusted God that all would be well. As the wedding ceremony began, the war chanting drew closer. Before long, the youths of Umuaka were in Umuikenga. Umuikenga youths fought the best they could but the sheer numbers of the opposition overwhelmed them. Some sustained terrible injuries at the blades of machetes, while some fled towards the church. Rather than protect the entire village, they decided to congregate around the church and fight all they could to withstand the marching army.

Some were covered in blood, yet they stood firm around the church. Whitehorse was forced to stop the ceremony, but they were afraid to head back into the village. They remained in church and prayed for God’s help. Umuaka youth were within yards of the church when word came to them that elder Uwalaka was dead. A messenger had run all the way down to Umuikenga to deliver the sad news. Uwalaka had started bleeding through the nose mysteriously. Suddenly, he complained that fire was burning him all over. He told his people to call off the war. “The gods are angry!” He shouted but it was too late. “Stop the war by all means,” were his last words as he dropped dead in front of his house. “What? Uwalaka dead?” Umuaka youth queried. There was chaos in their camp. As they debated whether to carryon or retreat, another emissary arrived with the news that the revered dibia (medicine man) of Umuaka, Onuoha was dead. He too died in a mysterious way. The emissary instructed the youth to return home. He told them that just as with Uwalaka, Onuoha insisted that the war should be called off immediately. Fear gripped most of the youth in the Umuaka camp, while the people of Umuikenga called out to God in prayer.

Suddenly, the unmistakable sound of a gunshot thundered nearby. Only the British had access to guns at this time, signaling that policemen from the district administrator had finally arrived. Without further vacillation, the irate young men from Umuaka took to their heels. The police went after them in full force. A team of policemen surrounded the church. After having a word with Whitehorse, he was encouraged to continue the wedding service. Like a river, peace flowed through the packed church. “I was afraid,” Whitehorse said. “It seemed as if the end was on us. Somehow, I hoped that we would survive what seemed like an imminent war just minutes ago. I asked God to accept our souls if that were to be the end. Also, I hung onto faith that He would lead us through and He did not fail. Based on that, I enjoin Olachi and Onyeuke to always look onto God in their marriage. When it seems like you are at the end of the road, look onto God. I see the love in your eyes when you look at each other. May God enrich that love and enrich your lives in marriage always. No matter what happens, always remember that we are all freeborns in Christ!”

Ola m (my Ola – short for Olachi) everything that happened today assured me that you and I were made for each other,” Onyeuke declared as they lay beside each other at night after the merry-makings of the wedding. “Thanks for your strength and faith Onyeuke. Through your love for me and your willingness to fight for it, Umuikenga is a new place now. We may not be considered as free by other villages, but deep in our own hearts, we have been set free, and that is what counts. My parents have come to find strength to fight and believe through the love of a young man who came to our house at night to ask for their daughter’s hand in marriage. I feel like I am a new person, a more mature and strong woman because of you. Thanks for loving me tenaciously,” Olachi enthused. “I had no choice Ola m. Loving you was all I could do. Even when I did not want to love you because of fear, you were there in my heart, and one cannot run away from something that dwells within them. I had to love you. I was made, built to love you and that night I came to your house, you showed incredible strength. Thanks Obi m (my heart). I will love you till my dying day!”

Written by:
Victor Chinoo

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Nigeria's leading fictional story blog - fever pitch excitement, elegantly like the bright stars, nothing can break the love between us, the osu caste system, the white man’s religion, the blood of Jesus, the colonial rulers, the huts, the marriage ceremony in the Whiteman’s church, blood, church, war chants, youth. An African Literary Blog
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