There’s a city in the ‘Eastern Heartland’ where on yearly basis the aborigines gather during ‘Ugwumba’ festive period to take stock for the year under review. People come to the meeting with different delicacies and drinks not to guard against hunger or to show off but to celebrate love and appreciate each other and one another. The food would be exchanged in commemoration of togetherness for surviving the previous year as a mark of gratitude, knowing that there is joy in sharing. To prepare for the feast, everyone put in his best.
The poorest of the poor would go to any length, killing his fattest goat and hen to prepare “Ofe Akwukwo” garnished with stock fish, smoked fish, dried bush meats with all sorts of condiments with “Utara ji” (yam fufu) served hot presented in clean “Oko” (local earthen pot) wrapped with fresh plantain leaves along with fresh palm wine – “mmanyi akuru”!
This particular year was special with its own challenges that anyone could give tenable reasonable reasons why his or her food was the way it was – not rich. But those who know the value of giving – giving the best – went out and gave their affordable best. It turned out to be the best of the festivals despite the harsh economic situation that was worse compared to a combination of COVID-19 lockdown and EndSARS protest that crippled economic activities and made more people poor.
As the programme was in progress, testimonies of communal benevolence and philanthropy captured in the spirit of “Igwebuike” (strength in the number) and “Onye aghala nwanne ya”(be your brother’s keeper) kept coming with thunderous ovations raining the air as people hear and witness the magical power of kindness and genuine love before one of their sons who got to where he was through community efforts but never helped anyone in return came without anything he would exchange with someone!
Despite being a ‘Councilor’ who used what was meant to develop the community for his selfish gains and personal aggrandizement, he was still recognized as someone who has dinned with ‘Ndi ocha’ and so was giving an opportunity to address the audience – his people – after some other people have spoken. Most speeches were motivational and full of testimonies of selfless services with more suggestions on what to do to develop the community more.
In full glare of arrogance may be under the influence of ‘Agwu’, when he took the microphone, he did not recognize ‘Onye Eze’, ‘Ndi Nze na Ozo’ and he never followed protocols but went ahead to sing his own praises in self-defence, lambasting people for not respecting and worshipping him – the self acclaimed achiever and the only one with connections. He beat his chest and bragged of how mighty he was, saying; “There is nothing I want I cannot get in this land!”
He soiled the people’s appetite with his tales of woes but as he was arrogating the position of an indispensable elder to himself when it was a known fact that he never really helped anyone except those he deceived and got initiated into their cult, ‘Ofeke’ the son of his elder brother whom he maltreated the mother and mysteriously made mad walked in and went straight to the podium, collected the microphone from him, told the congregation all the evil he committed against them and the community, chastising him as the elder without followers – “the king without kingdom” – whose wickedness must be visited upon him in million folds.
Thereafter, he broke the microphone on his head, tore his clothes as a big fight ensued. As he was being disgraced, everyone stood akimbo, watching as if they were in a cinema, enjoying the scene. It looked like an expected pay time. He was disgraced and assaulted and eventually taken to the village health centre when he collapsed.
He was revived, treated and discharged after five days in the hospital – the hospital he never contributed a dime to upgrade but rather embezzled the money allocated for it when he was in office. On getting home, the memory of what transpired tormented him so much that he became ashamed of himself and a ghost to behold.
What pained him most was the fact that the same people he neglected so much and treated with disdain when he was in a position of authority, playing God, was the same people that eventually saved him and even settled his hospital bill. The children of ‘Nobodies’ that must be subdued and kept at perpetual bondage according to him turned out to be the ones that rescued him!
Things can change, and they do change, because change is a constant phenomenon so when you are in a position to help someone or make the society better, gladly do so without boundary and mischief. Don’t feel that you are above everyone as every position obeys the laws of time and space.
The evil that men do nowadays, live not only after them but with them so no matter the circumstance, never sell your conscience for connection or power, never associate with people without knowing them. Most importantly be contented with yourself all the time. Be good and kind. Treat people the way you would love to be treated; and when you have the opportunity to serve, be humble and serve with dedication and honesty…
No one can reign forever. If you get the opportunity to serve, serve as a human being not a monster. Treat people with dignity and respect. Be true to yourself and fair to everyone. Shun every form of pomp and arrogance; become a servant-leader and do the work of transformation as if you were in haste. Embark on people-oriented projects to avoid becoming “an elder without followers” good at blaming others, living in the past!
By Livy-Elcon Emereonye