September 29th 2007, Asalanga shook, people trooped out of their homes and burnt down the three police posts in the town. The local government headquarters was burnt down by angry citizens. Of what use was it when the local government chairman and his cabinet did nothing to save the land?
Journalists who had came to gather reports were manhandled and set on fire. It was bloody, they visited every house and urged the able men to join them in the fight for freedom.
Adamu had searched the house for a old microphone, the type the Jehovah’s Witnesses used on the streets to preach the gospel. He was bent on doing his little part to help his town. Ayoka restrained him from leaving the house, the last thing she wanted to witness was the death of her darling husband.
“Ayoka, I wik be fine, you just stay back and pray for me,” he insisted as he wore a free kaftan.
“Can’t you hear pa pa pa pa?” she asked, panicking.
He chuckled at the way she described the gun shots.
“I will be fine, I am not going out to fight war, I just need to pass a message to my people. Ayoka mi, I will be fine,” he said, patting her left shoulder. She had a wrapper around her chest as usual, she dreaded sweating a lot.
“Rara oo, you’re not going anywhere, sebi you’re on strike? Sit down, let me make amala for you.” She pouted, her arms on her chest.
He smiled and held her to his body.
“More reason why I have to go, our child needs some things, you’re almost due and we are on strike, I might just be the change everyone awaits,” he consoled her.
She shook her head in disagreement. “Are you a politician, eh?” she asked.
Adamu, being who he was let her down the second time in two days, he grabbed the microphone and dashed out of the house, there was no going back, if he would die, he would die.
‘Cos we are moving out of Babylon
And we are going to our Father’s land”
That was Bob Marley’s song.
Aduke and her female team trooped past the barber’s loud speaker, the shop was empty, it seems like there was a serious struggle there earlier on as everywhere was disorganized.
She was going to the local government chairman’s house, the September 29th protest and killing was still going on but she was careless, if angry and bitter citizens could declare today being 29th of September war and revenge day, then she called it freedom day. Today, the local government chairman and the Baale must give their words that things would come back to normal, the three men must be brought to book.
“Pa pa pa pa,” the gun shots roared.
Her and her team took to their heels, their palms blocked their ears as they ran all in the same direction, the local government chairman’s house. It was a must that they gave citizens the freedom they demanded.
From a distance, they could clearly see his giant house in which citizens believed he built with the money he embezzled, Aduke raised a chant and her colleagues chanted along with her.
“Right to freedom of speech!” Aduke voiced.
“We want!” her team responded.
“Right to life!”
“Right to religion!”
He tested his speaker by coughing into it, he was near the traditional worshippers’ ground, it was a sacred shrine that never lacked constant visitation from the people who came to sacrifice hens and the rest. Recently, the story changed when Christianity came into the land in 1998. Since then, these two had faced themselves in a tough fight which claimed lives and properties of the innocent most times.
Abore, a man who did some fetish sacrifices to the gods on behalf of the Asalanga stepped out of the hut with his back. He held a local rusted gun then shot in the air and groaned.
“Loni ni, kiriyo, iku payin,” he boasted, staggering as a result of excess voodoo.
(“Today, Christians are in trouble”).
Adamu peeped as he walk closer, he shook his head pathetically. “Baba, se iku lokan?” he whispered.
(“Old one, is killing the way forward?”).
The old man glared at him with his head thrown backwards. “Tani wo?”
(Who are you?”).
“Omo luabi ori lede yi ni mon se,”
(“A responsible citizen of this country”)
The old man hissed and shot again in the air. He chanted his own praises and disappeared, startling Adamu.
Seeing the magic that just happened, he took to his heels and vanished into the dusty, deserted street.
Not long after he ran off, he began to make use of his speaker, screaming loud to the ears of everyone that had ears.
“We want an answers, a convincing and quick response from the government. We’re dying, pregnant women are dying during labor due to poor medical facilities, we’re the government yet have no access to freedom.
We want freedom. Mr President, do something. We can no longer send our daughters out in the night, our salaries haven’t been paid for month, there are less than three primary schools in the whole of this town. We have just two boreholes, we drink dirty water, we get ill and die of starvation.
“We want freedom! Freedom of speech, freedom of movement, freedom to protest and complain peacefully, right to life and fair hearing, equality before the law,” he lamented.
They graduated from attacking police officers at their various posts to visiting known officers’ home and killing their kids right in front of their own eyes. Soon, citizens who refused to join the revenge mission were being pushed and injured.
The chairman had since escaped from his home with his wife, his two kids were abroad studying, so it was easy for him to drive towards the next town with his wife.
His waterloo was waiting for him at the exit of the town. The youths jumped out of the bush and blocked his slow moving vehicle, he was dragged down and walked back to his home together with his wife.
There, Aduke and her team were waiting, waiting to pour out their minds and cry out their souls.
He had no answers to their various questions, he was killed by the angry mob.
September 30th 2007.
Adamu’s voice reached the presidency, Mr President got a tape of the middle-aged man who bodly roamed the town with a speaker, crying for freedom and help.
The video got the president’s attention, he quickly made an arrangement to visit Asalanga on the 1st of October since he couldn’t make it down there that same day.
The rapists had come again, everyone was still talking about yesterday’s killings and riot especially the one between Abore and the Catholic priest which claimed the life of the Abore in the spiritual battle he engaged in.
When they came, she was first frightened, she remembered how her mother was a victim of these deadly men and was sent parking by her father.
They were just three in the house—she, her father and her older brother. She cried as they tried forcing their way into her, she suddenly remembered the training Aduke had given her and the others almost everyday. She knew it was dangerous but she just had to it, at least to save the remaining women who might become future victims.
After many sighs, she pulled the mask off his face, their eyes met as he was trying to take her wrapper off. It was sudden, he wasn’t expecting to be unmasked.
The brave lady was Awele and her jaw dropped at who she found under the mask, Baale’s first son.
“Aderonu? So it is you all along? Ha, pami oo,” Awele screamed.
Her elder brother hearing the familiar Baale son’s name pushed his head up from it previous crouching position, he pulled the hefty young man who had been held down by Awele towards him and gave him a punch on his nose.
It was then the other two rapists thought of escaping, Awele grabbed one by the collar of his shirt and struggled to get his mask off. The third escaped. Her old father went out to get help from neighbors who hardly comes out even if someone was being butchered in the day light.
Few people responded to the emergency call and dashed into the victim’s home. The second face was unmasked and they all agreed he was a foreigner as they couldn’t even recognize him to be anyhow related to Asalanga and its people.
“Ayoka, shanu mi,” he cried as he wiped her forehead with a wet cloth.
Since the night before, she had been trembling and complaining of pains. Adamu was disturbed, the only health care center in Asalanga was not functioning, its staff were on indefinite strike due to salaries that weren’t paid.
Where would he take her to now that it seems like she was in labour?
“Ha, I want to die, this pains is unbearable.” She gnashed her teeth in pains.
He shook his head. “You wouldn’t die, please hold yourself, you can’t possibly be in labour at this bad time, it’s not even safe to drive you out of Asalanga”
She pulled herself up on the bed, something was pressing her privates, she groaned and soon realised she was too close to delivery, she was scared to the bones, she couldn’t do this on her own. God, why? This was her first child and she wouldn’t forgive herself if her child died.
“Ayoka, what are you doing?” he demanded when she threw her wrapper off her body and stayed bare.
She ignored, she was palpitating as she gave her first hard painful push.
He flinched when he saw what was coming, he dashed out of the house and went for help, the street was cold, everyone was in their homes mourning Baale’s son and his friends. Residents took laws in their hands and had their heads chopped off in the middle of the night.
“Talo wanle oo,” he knocked on another neighbour’s door, it was the third house he was checking on. Everyone had refused to help.
The door was flung open and just when he thought he found help, the neighbor had something else to attend too, his pregnant wife.
According to the neighbor, Aderonu and his fearless friends raped his wife months ago and now she was expecting their child.
He had no time for that so he had to jump to another neighbor’s house, and finally he got help. He returned to the room with his neighbor’s wife, Ayoka had birthed a baby girl and she laid down on her back.
“Omo tuntun,” the neighbor’s wife removed her ankara scarf and wrapped the crying baby in it.
“Ayoka.” Adamu tapped her shoulder. The other woman exited the room with the baby, probably to get her washed.
“Ayoka,” he called again when there was no answer. “Ayoka!” He straddled her still body, he bent over and listened to her heartbeat, it had stopped, no beat, no pulse, it was just heavy body.
“Mo gbe oo,” he screamed with his hands on his head when he realised she was dead.
(“I am in trouble”).
All the way from Aso rock, Mr President arrived at Asalanga. There was an uproar, as there was much joy and excitement by the people.
He assembled them and made vows, he promised to see to the unpaid salaries and injustice. He spilled military men into the town, he made them know the importance of speaking up and being brave, he commended Adamu’s loud voice, even though it seemed like he was the only one missing among the crowd that came to welcome Mr President.
Asalanga tasted freedom but Adamu never remained the same, he simply rejected all the money and offices he was offered, his darling Ayoka had died in the struggle, if only the government attended well to emergency, if only salaries were paid, maybe, just maybe she would still be alive to see that there was now fifteen hours electricity supply just like she always wished for.
Happy Independence Day Nigeria.
- Herfrika Parrot has been an offline writer for many years, she's a story lover and has written stories like SHEBA and JILTED.
Presently exploring the world of Facebook as a passionate writer ❣