Land Nebama

by Frankbambam

Our land was not always like this. This aura of melancholia? No. There were times to celebrate life. And times to bury the dead. The births were more. The child births rose geometrically. And the senile aged very well. And died at a very ripe age. In a very natural way. The men would start to complain of a heavy pain in the chest, or a colicky type of pain in their groins, or a burning type of pain in their joints that made mobility difficult for them. And then begin to deteriorate in health. Until it was Our land was not always like this. glaring that death was sure. And the women mostly died of cough. Big cough. That became common after their monthly cycles stopped. They would sit in their huts, acting hysterical on their stools, chewing consciously on their chewing sticks, pausing in cycles to spit out phlegm. Products of painful bouts of cough. The nature of the phlegm they spat, could give an insight of how long they were expected to live. From the greenish colored ones, whose owners a times, recovered and thrived longer, to the rusty reddish colored type whose owners, progressed rapidly to a morbid state. All the same, the deaths followed a sequel.Chronic.And when we saw death we recognized it. And the ailing anticipated it. And waited upon it. And embraced it when it finally came. Ripe, old, and prepared. And the births? The mothers were delivered of their pregnancies in multitudes. The neonates were born, and they prospered in health. Some were born strong, others frail. But this was natural. The strong men had strong children, and the weak, bore frail ones. Even the attitude towards mating, contributed to how the children thrived. It was believed that warriors naturally passed on their prowess to their offspring. Legend has it that this was owed to the way they mounted their spouses, aggressively after a wrestle. This they believed, propelled their swimmers, with great speed, and helped the aggressive fertilization of eggs and consequently developing strong babies. Whilst the loafers who sat all day, wallowing in a sedentary lifestyle of fresh palm wine and slow coitus, loaded their spouses with gestational sacs containing weak babies. This notwithstanding, when the time for delivery, arrived, the birth attendant was summoned to the hut of the household, and women of her age grade, used their wrappers, to form a screen, covering her privates from the worrisome eyes of the husband and the men folks, strolling back and forth in ambivalence at the front of the hut in anxious anticipation. And when the baby arrived, sounds of joy filled wails, condensed in saliva escaping from their mouths, graced the air. And when the men heard the sounds, they rushed into the huts, and ran to their conceptus, first, And if single born, they embraced, But if double births-twins, they were condemned, to death.Carted away from wailing mothers, to the evil forest. Yes the single births were considered gifts .At least then, when there was enough to live on .And the farmlands, provided enough nutrients for the crops to sprout abundantly. There was, food, there was health. And the senile died, and the young ones prospered. Yes, births and demise were celebrated, because,the deaths that followed the births, were those of the grandfolks.And not mothers dying on their conceptus.Or fathers dying on their wives. Or children scorning their parents with premature deaths. Now lets view the story from the end. The village of Nabama is withered of life. The stench of carrion is everywhere. The perimeters of the land are flooded with graves. Each compound has more graves in them than habitants. And the habitants are either, suffering from a terminal disease, or just waiting, hoping on fate. Some hoping that the death, locates them soon. Everyone is skeptical, of dying too late. Of dying, at a time when there would be no one left in their household, to bury them. To dig the earth for their corpses. Even if there is someone to dig the earth for them, the timbers used for making the coffins are becoming, not enough to meet the escalating populace of the dead and dying people. Even if you find timber, the carpenters are few. Most of them have died, and they died too early.Didnt even get to live long enough to teach the trade of carpentry to their children who must have left on the trip to Hades before them, anyway? The few left alive are, too busy carving a lot of coffins. Worse still there are no lands available to bury the coffins in. The cemetery had been filled, long before now. Even the small individual yards, are devoid of space. If only we had the insight, we wouldnt have hurriedly buried the corpses of the first relations we buried in the yard. After digging just six feet below the earth. Because, there is a lot of space below the six feet where the corpses lie. And more land spaces are seated about eighteen feet below, devoid of corpses. We were blinded by our grief, to see that if we had buried the initial corpses, eighteen feet below ground level, there still be extra twelve feet left for us to be buried in, when we beheld death in no distant time, and the problem of scarcity of land would have been trashed out. Then we wont have to be sneaking at nights, with corpses, and hiring the oarsmen, paying them, huge sums of cash, to paddle ourselves and our dead ones in their canoes to that aspect of the river, close to the Olabum waterfalls. So we could drop the corpses, against the river currents, to be washed down the waterfall. The wiser and more affluent ones had thought of incinerating their own dead. But then the village head had forbade the act. Before now, the punishment for cremating your dead was death. But not anymore, death now resides. And everyone is in a hurry to die. So that doesnt count as a tool for justice . If anything, it could pass for a blessing. But the main reason behind forbidding the act of cremating the corpses is that-there are no more green lands, or grasses for the herbivores to graze on. The savannah has withered, and has turned the herbivorous games to scavengers. Who saprophytic ally feed on poorly buried corpses. And these are the games which we in turn hunt down-since weve been denied of crops by our barren lands. So we are conscious of what we gormandise, because we just might be feeding on one of our own. We are not so sure they can get to the buried stiffs. But cremating the cadavers would be same as calling the games to a buffet. The vultures, the hyenas, and more recently, the antelopes. . The omen is in the air- the Crowes perching, on the crotch of the withered trees, in the day, and giving way for the owls at night. The ubiquitous stillbirths. If there is little luck, and the babies make it to term, they come out, puny looking. Deformed in a type of way. Even when Flora Spencer, had arrived three years ago from Europe-before this our chaos, cycling on her ruby colored bicycle, dressed in all whites, with her strabismus eyes screened behind her huge glassframes, her first-aid box, and her holy book, which she called the bible, she had admired our Nebama.And spoken good of its landscape. And had advertised her type of god, who could turn water to wine .And the council elders had enjoyed a hearty laugh.What a farce.Anagbame the greatest warrior had said.You try to coerce the people of Nebama into your outlandish religion, and you bring up a flimsy story of a god that magically transforms water to wine? We have enough palm wine to drown you and your wine loving god. They had laughed sardonically. Then she had told a story of how her god could raise the dead. We heard this and became tentative and listened closely. Until she condemned the act of our twin killing. Sacriledgious, blasphemy, Profanity, irreverence.What rubbish statement, devoid of any sort of piety whatsoeverOur King had thundered rising from his throne. Walking stealthily, but briskly towards her. His regalia falling off his frail trembling frame. Took her into his grip and strangled her scrawny yellow neck.Is that how you yellow minds from the west speak of your traditions?....When she stubbornly, refused to drop the idea, the king almost in tears with infury had ordered her execution. Its three years past the day, Flora was massacred, and three years into this holocaust of ours. The neighboring villages and clans, who embraced the wine loving God, have continued to prosper. Their rivers are full with fishes. Their bushes flooded with games, their wives are fertile, and their soil sprout green crops. But such is not the case with Land Nebama.When we murdered Flora, Nebama withered away with her.

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