ACHIKE TELLS A STORY
It was nearing dusk. Edokye and his father were still busy at the farm. They wanted to finish a remaining portion of their farmland before going home. Edokye was very inquisitive so he used to involve his father in frequent conversations.
‘So dad why do you think the king has encouraged homosexuality?’ enquired Edokye. ‘I don’t see any gain he derives from it.’ When king Zuma was enstooled, he ostracized so many people who practised homosexuality. So the young boy was puzzled. Why would he encourage what he had forbidden?
‘My son, nobody on this land knows why.’ replied Anuya. ‘When he started to rule Zidi Island he was the first person who discouraged homosexuality. I don’t know why he has changed his mind suddenly.’ Edokye was still looking into his father’s eyes. Anuya realized that the young boy wasn’t satisfied with the answer. ‘But you know that he definitely has a reason. Kings of his calibre have reasons for everything they do.’ he added.
‘Dad what possibly could be his reason?’Edokye enquired.
‘His reasons are best known to him,’ he replied. ‘Let’s work my son, it is getting late.’
That day they returned home very late. Edokye had to prepare some food that evening. He wanted to prepare banku with okra soup but his father told him that he had diarrhoea whenever he took that meal. Since the death of his mother, he was the one who prepared the daily meals. He was a good boy. Edokye was a child who had never disobeyed his father. He did everything he asked him to. Edokye was very tall and handsome.
‘Dad, so what meal should I prepare?’ he enquired.
‘If there is enough groundnut paste I would rather like to take banku with groundnut soup.’ replied Anuya.
Edokye checked inside the basket he used as an ingredient container and he saw a couple of groundnut paste wrapped in polythene bags. He removed one of them and started preparing the soup. He decided to use two iron pots; one for the banku, and the other one for the soup. He realized using only one pot for both the banku and the soup was waste of time. They ate voraciously that day because they didn’t eat since morning. After the meal they told stories to each other and Anuya enlightened Edokye about things he didn’t know.
The following day Edokye was on his way to the stream to fetch water when he saw a group of young men and women at the palace, so he decided to go and see why they had gathered. And the noise they made was quite deafening. He stood for some time and he saw king Zuma moving towards them.
‘What is your mission here this morning?’ asked king Zuma.
‘My king, this man was caught in my father’s garden.’ said Yokung. ‘He is the son of the late Dagu.’ he added, ‘our farm produce were being harvested mysteriously, so yesternight my father stayed watching over the garden.’ he cleared his throat and then continued, ‘he came to the garden around 1.am when everybody was snoring on bed. When my father interrogated he said that was his fifth time of visiting the garden.’ he added, ‘our custom forbids a man stealing from another man’s farm so we have brought him so that you would pronounce judgement.’
‘Who is your witness?’ king Zuma enquired.
‘Dadung was present when my father caught him.’ replied Yokung. ‘After he was brought home, my father showed him to all our neighbours. All these people standing here are witnesses my king.’
‘People like you are always welcome.’ said king Zuma, ‘My doors are open twenty-four hours waiting to usher in people like you.’ he continued, ‘continue to help us arrest all the criminals on this Island. Tell your father that I am grateful to him. Bring him forward.’ he ordered.
Gasad, the accused was brought sent forward immediately. His father was a good man. In the absence of the priest, he was the one who helped them in the spiritual realm. Gasad too was a good man. But the fact that no man was flawless, nobody could defend him. If he was innocent, they believed he would prove it.
‘Gasad, I will put you to a trial. Prove your innocence if you aren’t guilty.’ said king Zuma. Gasad had been engulfed by the crowd. Everybody wanted to see him. ‘We have lived in this land for more than a century today.’ said king Zuma. ‘Your father was a good man. I haven’t heard anything bad you did before, but Gasad you know, no man is flawless.’ he asked, ‘is it true that yesternight you were caught in Hamud’s garden around 1.am?’
‘Your royal highness, it is true.’ Gasad confessed, ‘I went there and I was caught.’
‘Gasad, you are the first man to admit that you have committed a crime ever since I ascended the throne.’ said king Zuma. ‘It is we who make the custom, and I am going to be considerate in my punishment. I shall not execute you.’ The people were amazed to hear that because he was supposed to be executed according to the custom of the land.
‘Guards, send him to the prison yard and lock him up. He shall remain there for fifteen years.’ he ordered. ‘That is my judgement.’
The people were astonished with his judgement. King Zuma was a tyrant ruler, so they didn’t know he could be this considerate in his judgement. The people sympathized with Gasad because he was an orphan.
He lost his mother when he was eight years old. When he turned twenty-one, he lost his father too. There was nobody who took care of him at that time so he was on his own. He had to work on his father’s large farms in order to earn a living. It wasn’t time for harvest yet and he needed some money to make ends meet. His colleagues had been stealing from that garden, so they introduced him.
Unfortunately, the very day he went there was the day he was caught. Almost all the villagers sympathized with him. Among them was Rata.
To be continued.......................
Source: The Author /ABU ABDUL-GANIYU