Adaku entered the hut and saw the child; the child looked at her and held her in her dark gaze.
Adaku: “Mother, nne’m abia oh” she said in a loud voice and carried the child to her breast. Then she began to wash the child, of the blood and goo on her body. After the child was clean, she saw a new wrapper that was meant for the child and wrapped the child in it.
By this time, the king had been captured and locked up in a room. He was kept in his hut and locked up. Azagba began rallying support, calling on the council members and the Ezemmuo to coronate him. He took wine and numerous farm produce to the Ezemmuo, accompanied by some of his loyal people.
Azagba: “Wisdom of the gods, we have come to seek your wisdom” he said sweetly. The Ezemmuo just looked at him, with side eyes, and did not say a word.
Azagba: “Our land has been thrown into a dark phase, such as she has not seen since her creation. We have a mad king who has no heir. A king who was not meant to be king in the first place”
Ezemmuo: “Azagba, blood of royals, we know, but we have a king making council which I head as the Ezemmuo. Of course you know this because; you have brought me all these gifts which you could have given to the villagers who are suffering the brunt of this drought. My question is, why are you interested in the throne”
Azagba: “I am a royal blood, you said it yourself. I am meant to be king, and since the gods have taken care of the supplanter, what is keeping me from ascending the throne?”
Ezemmuo: “We have to go through the normal process. We will consult the gods and hear what they have to say, if you are chosen, you will be King.” He said and began to write on the floor. Azagba stood up and left the place in anger. His followers followed him, but now their faith in him was shaken. Wouldn’t it be better if they heard from the gods? Why was he against it? After all, the gods were never wrong. They decided they would wait and follow the Ezemmuo’s leading. So that, when Azagba gathered them for his usual night meeting, to tell them to support him, in his bid to become King, one of them, who was the famous village palm wine tapper stood up to object.
Palmwine Tapper: “Azagba, the one that is with royal blood. We have followed you all these years because we were sympathetic to your cause; your brother had betrayed you and double-crossed you. But now your supplanter brother has gone mad and lost the throne, it is time to follow the Ezemmuo’s leading, if you are destined to be king, you will be king” he said and got appreciative nods from the others. Azagba was deep in thoughts, he had thought, his road to the palace was free, since his brother had gone mad, but here was his followers telling him nonsense. It was all Ezemmuo’s doing. That old man that wouldn’t die, who gave him right to decide who would rule Igbundu; it was he, Azagba, whose ancestors conquered Igbundu and developed it to how it was today. Who else should rule Igbundu if not him, Azagba? He pondered all these, and in his mind, Ezemmuo was the enemy.
Adaku took care of the child that her stepmother had given birth to, who looked like her mother. She remembered what her mother had told her father before she died. She had said, she would return to his house, not as his wife, but as his daughter. That is why she had named the child Nneka. But the child did not come to stay; she had come to destroy the woman who destroyed her in the former life. So, one day, Adaku had bathe the child and kept her in her mother’s hut which she now occupied since her father went mad, and had gone out to the kitchen to make watery pap for the child. When she came back, the child was sleeping, so she thought, until later.
Adaku: “Nneka, is it just now you slept? Wait oh, let me cool the food for you, my sister that is my mother” she said with a smile. Since she had started taking care of Nneka, she had become lively, and more in love with life, it was like her mother had come back to her. Even her father, she didn’t hate him, she went to the room where he was kept to look on him. Sometimes, she sang to him, and when she did, he was calmer.
Adaku: “Nneka, this kind sleep, how will you eat your food now?” she said and carried her up, with the intent to rouse her from her slumber. But Nneka’s little head fell away like there was no bone in it. Adaku stared at the child in confusion, and then she put her ears close to her nostrils, behold she was not breathing. She calmly keep the child down, she did not cry, she realized that the child had not come to stay; her mother had come to avenge the wrong done to her. She quietly stood up and walked all the way from the palace to the Ezemmuo’s house, as the Ezemmuo was member of the caretaker committee.
Adaku: “Wisdom of the gods, I greet you” she said calmly.
Ezemmuo: “Daughter, what have you come to do, hope nobody has died, is your father alive?”
Adaku: “My father is still mad, but my mother has gone again. Nneka is dead” she said. Ezemmuo looked at her deeply and shook his head.
Ezemmuo: “If only you had come as a boy, we wouldn’t be where we are today. You would have made a great king. I will alert the village” he said and Adaku genuflected before leaving his presence.
The Ezemmuo called the king making council, it was time to decide who would rule them, the chief priest was called, and he was expected to convey the will of the gods.
Ezemmuo: “Eyes of the gods, who do the gods want to rule over us” he shouted as soon as he heard the clang of the bells attached to the chief priest’s clothes. The chief priest walked slowly, leaning on his walking stick, with his protégée by his side.
Chief Priest: “The queen who was killed unjustly must be appeased. Her daughter, Adaku will rule Igbundu” he said. The chiefs in council began to shrug their shoulders in rejection. The gods truly have gone mad, never in the history of Igbundu had a woman ruled them. A woman that urinated while bending down, someone that would lie under her husband during copulation, a woman that has an opening between her leg, to rule over able bodied men who stood while urinating. Mba nu, they shook their heads, rejecting the idea.
Chief 1: “Mba (No), the gods are mad” he said shaking his head vigorously.
Chief 2: “It is only in England that a woman rules, this is Igbundu, why should a woman be made King?” another asked.
Chief Priest: “Have we become so wise that we question the gods? The gods are wiser than we can ever be, they are forward, and perhaps it is time for us to be forward. The princess Adaku will rule over Igbundu, but she must marry a reputable son of the soil who will help her rule. He would be the king, and she will be a figure head queen. But the first son she has, will be to her father’s name and he will rule in his father’s stead” he said and hit his walking stick on the ground signaling finality.
While the chief priest walked away, the Ezemmuo was deep in thoughts. He had told Adaku that she would make a great King if she had been a boy, but he didn’t know that even as a girl she would be made to rule.
The news spread like wildfire in the whole village, and it got to Azagba even before the other villagers heard. His followers were divided, some felt the gods had gone mad, and they wouldn’t sit and watch a woman lead them. Some others believed the gods were wise, and their will was final. Azagba paced up and down his compound, grunting and hitting the wall. His wives were afraid to go to him, for they knew how he would be feeling, an offspring of Emelu was taking the crown away from him, just like her father.
Azagba: “As long as I live, Emelu’s offspring will not rule Igbundu, Igbundu is mine and mine alone” he thundered.
Question: What will Azagba do to stop Adaku from ruling Igbundu, Who will save Adaku from her uncle, Azagba?
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