African StoriesHistorical FictionNaija Stories

Igbo Landing: Blood and Water (Part 4: The Great Purge)

…Continued from Part 3…

How the chance came to take our freedom back seemed like the works of our Chi. The sea winds blew and the delight was great as we hacked our captors to death. Some jumped into the blue unending sea in a bid to save their lives.

The vessel was ours but none knew how to control it. It was the part of the plan no one had thought about so we allowed the vessel roll with the wind until we got to the Dunbar Creek.

Father sighted the white men from afar. Reality hit us with a shard of its brokenness. It dawned on us that our fight was far from over. No one knew how to wield the shooting sticks—we only knew hand combat and it was no match for their sophisticated weapons.

He turned to us all and began the water song “Orimili Omambala bu anyi bia, Orimili Omambala ka anyị ga-eji la (Omambala River brought us hither and it will carry us home.” Father looked at me straight in the face, eyes unblinking and that instant, I knew what was expected of me. I wore no fear but the full regalia of defiance and strong will. He smiled and one after the other we plunged into the sleek creek, all chanting same.

“I saw mother,
whose feet ever would so gracefully
cruise the soil of our ancestors,
get down on her knees,
seeking our chi who had long forgotten us.
The men led us to our loss,
the women followed closely,
holdin’ their offsprings.
We chose death over toiling
on the ndị ocha’s soil.

Beneath the grey waters, I struggled to breathe, failing in an attempt to keep my balance. My heart tumbled against my chest, the water cringed into my ears. I was momentarily blinded by the salty creek. I could hear my kinsfolks, struggling and bouncing to the waves. Some stayed still—the water spirit had come for them. I saw their souls fly out of the water like eagles— they were free forever.

I still hear the souls of my kin,
whispering o’er the creek—
wailing in winds, crying for their justice.
Follow where thy kindred spirit rest.
Let thy fields burn to molten ash
if the blood of my clan be spilled on your soil.”

I lost father and mother to the Dunbar Creek (now known as Igbo Landing) and my soul was full of revenge and hate. This was an unforgiveable sin—we were a race racing for our freedom. Each man was born a free man and how our freedom was stolen, I am yet to comprehend.

I did toil the white man’s soil, though against my wish. I learnt their language but never trashed my cultures.I married a slave girl and though we increased their farm hands, I raised men whom I knew would put an end to our misery, someday.

The story of our courage traveled all through the fields stretching through the plains and to Slave Ships above the seas. Our story was passed from the old to the young, sang as odes, told and retold by the ravens, the woodpeckers and the black birds.

However they tried to silence us, our story gave the other slaves something to hold on to. It fed to them on a bottle, the word— independence and it instilled hope for a better Africa!

Although for years, our suffering was to remain a broken reality, it was shown to me where our ancestors were gathered to whisper under the great Baobab tree that someday, we were going to free men.

That someday, we shall be free men and Africa shall be great again but only through young ones like you under the covering of my voice!

Africa shall be great again!

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