At a younger age, in a momentary epiphany from judicious thoughts, I wrote that I wanted neither love nor friendship, nor the mindless chatters of future past with kindred spirits; the intrinsic jewelries of the common man. That the awe of greatness, the kindled pathway to the hall of the gods will in spirit nourish my soul and always be my calling.
Now I envy that conviction, a child’s relentless spirit to kindle that furnace which burns inside them, like the unwavering pursuit to capture the last praying mantis whilst the sun retires after a day of service to whichever race that found solace under its shade. Our elders would say that there is no respite from wallowing in sorrow, for as long there is life there is hope. My journey so far has left me battered and broken from many battles against foes and kinsmen.
I must have been about eleven when it happened, I will admit it feels rather stupid now, the fright from watching the ball leave my foot and fall into the village shrine. Oh the horror on my face, the boy raised in a Christian home to despise, and worse, feel horror at the sight of a pagan and his ways, to be the victim of such a harmless act. I won’t pretend to have any knowledge of the religion but even a god depicted so heinously would chuckle at my fright and dismiss my error as that of a child still bathing by washing his belly. I don’t remember his face now; the brave and kind kindred who came to my rescue and collected the ball from that dreadful place, but they all probably remember mine, the face of the boy who couldn’t stop the water he poured on his head from trickling down to his cheeks. I do wonder if my ancestors ever felt such trepidation when their animals went into the house of the man with the weird hat on an iron horse. I highly doubt it, such brave men my ancestors, and women too, sad how it all turned out.
I have taken the liberty to narrate this story not to highlight the loss of our great heritage for am sure we have sufficient dirge to go around, but merely to substantiate my frustration at the culture imposed fear through the mechanism of superstition and eagerness to adopt the white man ways which has restricted my development as an African and sabotaged my journey to the hall of the gods. Oh I guess it never mattered. “So you’re born with the apprehension of angel and the nerves of a soldier and this is what they give you”, a childhood chasing tales of men whose understanding of the world never left the coves of their deluded and ceremonial safety and of boys fighting battles at moon light that had already been won. I have always wanted to be free from it all; the confinement of tribal identity and callous kindred solidarity, of doctrines of virtue written by individualists and plunderers. My derelict soul yearns for that freedom to choose a path without the consideration of ancestry and wrath of history.
Writing this I have found myself in a situation my fortitude would have never considered possible. The demeanor of a weary ship captain washed ashore after a stormy night on the tides of self-determination. I take solace now in the thoughts that I have found where the rain began to beat me and when I consciously or not, rode into the storm. These past few nights amongst buzzing neighbors have left me scathed in thoughts, spirit and body. I delude myself that it’s all a voluntary recline which that simple and benign action of standing up, stretching with a yawn and darting to the waves to continue my journey refreshed would solve my present conundrum. Alas, anyone that has ever reclined on that ancestral foldable wooden seat knows the difficulty of that simple and benign act. Perhaps I would do it soon, I am not certain I can. In this moment, I curse my resolute individualism that deters me from seeking assistance.
Written by Ugochukwu Udorji