It was a cold and calm morning in Ibadan with dark clouds gathering in the skies, nature’s way of announcing the sinister event that was about to unfold. They watched Baba Bose walk menacingly towards the cage with his knife dangling by his side. That dreaded moment had come. The cage was in complete pandemonium as the turkeys gobbled in trepidation, wings clapped wildly against iron bars with detached feathers littering wet wooden floor boards covered with faeces and cracked egg shells.
Baba, as he was fondly called, opened the cage and reached for the legs of one of the older turkeys, Nurk, who resisted but was eventually overpowered and violently pulled out. The rest watched in despair as Nurk, held upside down, fought hopelessly against baba’s iron-clad grip. He walked towards the ‘Death Corner’, the infamous area of the farm where most animals met their mortal end, trapping Nurk’s legs under his foot, he stretched out the bird’s neck and raised his knife into the sky, like brandishing a dagger. The knife came down hard and fast on Nurk’s neck and that was the end.
This chain of events was not totally unexpected as it was that time of the year when they, the turkeys, were feasted on by baba and his family. For months they watched as he ravaged the chicken clan, took eggs from their females and butchered their males. They knew it would be their turn soon but despite witnessing many episodes of such carnage, it was an even more traumatic experience watching one of their own suffer the same fate. The hopelessness was palpable in the cage all through the day.
Jurk, the last surviving of the older turkeys, called a meeting later that night after baba and his family had gone to sleep. He picked at the beak of every member of the clan to awaken them, he then proceeded to stand at the end of the cage and spoke in cryptic turkey language “we rarely convene a meeting unless it’s an emergency and we rarely speak our language so as not to reveal ourselves to the humans but we all witnessed the events of this morning. We anticipated that this would happen but no amount of mental preparation can make us immune to these atrocious killings. In my few years on this farm, I have witnessed countless slaughters of our kind, the chicken folk, the cows they usually bring from Akinyele, and the goats. Today Nurk was killed because it was his daughter’s birthday. We are cut in bits by his women, cooked in hot liquid and browned in hot oil. Baba invites his friends over to feast on our flesh. They drink Orijin, Gulder, Alomo and the likes as they laugh and gnaw at our flesh, stripping it of its bones and tossing what’s left to that rabid dog, Bingo. Well, I say no MORE!!” banging his wings on the iron bars. He continued “Any one of use could be next in the death corner. Christmas is close and he plans a big party, I say this to you there will be more deaths. It’s time to put a stop to this. I have a plan”, at this point the turkeys looked intently at Jurk “Three moons from today, we shall stage a break-out. I have been studying the humans and their establishments for some time now and they are not as powerful as we think and neither is this farm a fortress that we can’t break out of. We have a chance”. He continued “Crurk!” pointing at one of the younger turkeys “you will play sick and cackle repeatedly on that day to get Baba’s attention, he would open the cage to bring you out and see what’s wrong. Churk, Blurk and Kinurk, you three will immediately rush out and peck at him. Avoid his hands and legs as he will try to hit or kick you. Flap your wings ceaselessly and peck at his body repeatedly. The rest of us will move to unlock the gate. I will signal to you when the gate has been opened, leave baba and join us at the gate. We shall move into the world and be free from the blood-thirst and injustices of the humans.”
On the fateful night, Crurk played sick as planned, cackling loudly and drawing baba’s attention. As baba approached, everyone was a bit apprehensive as there has never been a co-ordinated attack on a human or its establishment by turkeys before, at least not on the scale they were about to embark on. Jurk, noticing the trepidation in the demeanor of his comrades,bloated his frame with his feathers fully erect assuming a fearsome stance…..this was a sign of bravery and strength in turkey world. They appeared re-assured and drew confidence from Jurk. Baba arrived at the cage door and found Crurk lying motionless but cackling loudly. He opened the cage door and immediately he was swarmed by three belligerent turkeys. The surprise assault instantly overwhelmed him as he staggered back and fell on his back. At this point, Jurk and the rest rushed out the cage and ran towards the gate and with one swift and powerful movement, Jurk jerked at the lock of the gate which had become weak from years of use. It snapped open and they were FREE! Jurk signaled to the three turkeys to abort the on-slaught on baba who was now flailing his arms and screaming wildly on the ground.
In the euphoria and chaos of the moment, Jurk led his comrades down the street and into the back of an open van with prints on its body that he could barely make out as the early morning light wasn’t bright enough yet. They could not believe their luck as they rushed in and quietly ensconced themselves at the inner section. They congratulated each other and flapped their wings happily in triumph. As daylight came, they heard someone at the open door curse, apparently the driver, about the door being left open; it was subsequently shut.
The vehicle’s engine roared to life and started moving. The turkeys were delighted and asked Jurk where they were headed. He promptly noticed a window at the top center of the van, perching on a box just beneath opening; he stuck out his neck and looked straight ahead as the early morning breeze splashed on his face. It was a good day, he could tell. However, something caught his attention; it was the print on the bus’ body that read “THE TURKEY REPUBLIC” with the caricature of a smiling turkey underneath it. Shame, sorrow and grief enveloped him all at once. He looked down dejectedly at his comrades who were now looking at him with expectant eyes. He could not bear the hurt of explaining to them that he had led them to another slaughter house. He looked outside again and spotted an on-coming Ajumose bus. He took one last look at his comrades and said “I failed you” with that he instantly jumped in the path of the rapidly advancing Ajumose bus. A loud shriek escaped from Jurk’s beak that could be heard from Sango to Dugbe as he splattered across the windshield of the bus.
It was a suicide.