Funny how things and people entangles just by similarities in name. In Africa, we have such an entanglement stories and funnier thing is that many modern and educated busy people is buying such bullshit tales with unceasing hopes even faith.
In my tribe in eastern part of Nigeria, there is one and half millions of such stories flying everywhere these days with ardent apostles spreading it like craze.
A kindred, or village in a town bearing the same name with one known town about three hours by car away from themselves and many from both side embracing such tales with an open arms. They believe that their forefathers migrated from the major town to where they now resides.
“Why would some people pack up in 18th century inland town in Igbo land to find their way into another interior village three hours away. Due to food or war?”
“ No, banishment”
That is usually the answer you get from apostles of such tales like the one that sat for about four hours with me last December with the same kind of story. This guy is from my age grade in the village and likes this kind of stories so much that you needs to see him in action. So alive. Hum! That guy!
According to him, our family in-law or will I say my father’s in-law had such connection with a kindred in a town not far from ours about 30 minutes journey from us. “ those kindred sold their land and called our in-laws they have attachment with to share the money. Millions.
Funny, that sharing aspect of the story. Igbo man I know don't like sharing money with those that merited, how much more people with 18th century connection. Well, this my guy was so sure of what he heard that he challenged me to ask that our in-law if I doubt. I am not good to that kind of ancient banishment and attachment stories.
If any kindred or village in any autonomous town is bearing the same name with any town known and unknown, it’s a coincidence or maybe that the name means something in Igbo language many living don't know anymore.
Why this sudden burst of emotional attachment and banding together?
Land where I came from or anywhere is not what people takes for granted and banished people don’t have emotional attachment with town that banished them. When they sent them packing, they left with animosity that last for ever. It is like selling people into slavery.
Some towns have nearly wipe themselves out due to land dispute that is not up to half standard football pitch, some countries have been threatening themselves none stop with nuclear weapon due to land dispute that it size is not up to dining table in your house. You sent people into exile, seized their lands and they still got attached to you emotionally?
“You have right to ask your in-law when he comes If you don’t believe me” my guy said when he saw the skepticism on my face. But how can I go asking such questions of my in-law in what I considered by logic and common sense to be against sound judgement. Even if it is true, I still considered it stupid move.
Fourth month into the new year following my guy tale, the village head sent town cries to make rounds in the village and inform us that message came from he king. We gathered at the village square, sat as tradition required. Kindred by kindred. The village head got up and read the letter from the king. It read thus:
“All the young and able bodied men of this our beloved town is to assembly in the town hall around 8am next month the 16th. The town union leaders, the king and his cabinets will select about ten or more young people from each village to go and commensurate with our brothers and sister in Umuadi autonomous community in Izo State whom is being subjected to hardship by those that supposed to be their brothers and sisters. The town union, king and people of Umuadi have decide that they are surplus to requirements in Umuadi. Their forefathers came from our town and they needed our help. We can't abandon them.”
I smirked from my end on hearing the same attachment story. I supposed that my judgement on my town and people managing it is faulty. I always believed that they are sound and above nonsense stories like this 18th century attachment one gathering momentum in Igbo land these days. But here we are. I eyed that my guy, he was lost from the look on his face and the type of attention he was paying to village head and what is coming out of the man mouth. I knew he will be the best apostle, ambassador of this latest story. No need to hire anyone or media when you have people like him around to market your words.
Well, I found it interesting and concluded there and there that head or tail, I must found my way into Umuadi to see things for myself. I can't just miss this opportunity. Even if I don’t make the list, I must turn myself into private candidate and see things for myself.
From utterances, body languages, you can tell a lot. I decided that I must see our youths and theirs at close-range and pass judgement. It will be interest to see these subjected people at close range and see why they believed that our town is the Savior they needed. There must be reasons they overlooked court and turned to us for remedies. What is that they needs from us?- money or moral presence?
On that 16th, we all gathered at the town hall to hear the king and his cabinet. It is our tradition that all must stand when the king and his cabinets enters, all must be present before the king or stay away for good. All those requirements were met. All respect were given and received, then the briefing started.
“Emm!, I believed that the letters I sent to all the village heads were read to you and of course that is reason you are here. The summary is that our brothers and sisters at Umuadi autonomous town needs your help, your wisdom, your presence even your money even though they did not mention any. They are being subjected to inhumane treatment even slaves in white man land did not receive from their masters. We can not look the other way. We needs about ten people from each village and requirements are well known to you. We are here to see that the selection process is hitch free then we worry about transportation”
This my king was the first in the history of my town to be graduate and had no adequate knowledge of the tradition and culture to be made a king. Well, it is done village by village and since it is his village turn to select the new king, his elder illiterate brother had thought it will be him just like everyone else. Why the town elders decided to overlook him for his younger city based civil servant brother, I don’t know.
After two hours plus in the town hall, I was' t among those selected from my village. In fact, I was only trying my luck. I wasn't expecting them to select me. They knew my stand on such issues. I turned into independent candidate there and there.
This kind of attachment stories seems to be gaining weight in Igbo land. There must be reasons and that was what I intended to find out that period. On the appointed day, we found our way into Umuadi. I never knew that my elder brother and sister was interested like me. None was selected too. We had entered a private car of an elder heading there.
After three and half hours of talk, allegations and counter allegations, I was yet to see any attachment or related anything between my town and those villagers laying claims to us. Outside their village bearing the same name with my town, I did not see any other similarity. Their accent is different, even minor variations in pronouncements are too pronounced to miss.
The man doing most of their talking is not mannered. He talks anyhow, use words anyhow and laugh anyhow. What confused me a bit is why the king, and most people of Umuadi believed that those their villagers are visitors to their town. How can you sleep and wake up to claim that group of people that had been staying in a particular place for almost two hundred years is no more real owners of the land the farm on, sleep and walk on.
Both camp agreed to continue the talk in future. Meanwhile, they agreed also to return all the land taken from their town's people till solution Is found to the problem. We drank palm wines together as a sign of peace and chewed kola nuts.
Afterward, the people that aren’t village based returned to their city bases from there and that was where my headache came from. We had come in a private car and now we are to attach ourselves to the hired bus those selected by town came with. The man we came with was heading back to the city.
I was to remember after three hours back home that I left our family house keys in his car. It was almost dark when we got home. Everyone was eying me and my story about the car and key as if I was from outer space. “Shit, this is all my fault” I screamed. My brother suggested calling the man to do a waybill to the keys while we sleep in our neighbor’s house while my sister suggested breaking the doors down.