The silence of the dark night was shattered by the cacophonous ramblings of tens of riffles spewing pellets of death in all direction. Like falling snow, bullets rained elephants and hippopotamus on almost every roof in our community and the darkness of the night was murdered by flying Molotov cocktails. Five minutes later, our community was locked in ominous silence as huts decorated in flames painted the night in brightness.
The aged and sick had been the first to be moved to The Vault as a precaution when we first heard of the impending attack on our community. It had taken two nights to accomplish. Two days later words filtered in that no troops would be coming to secure us following our SOS to the District Administrator. The Head Chief’s messengers went door to door instructing women and children to proceed to The Vault in the guise of going to farms, distant markets and visiting distant relatives. Men were to remain in the community giving it a semblance of life. They were to be ready to dash to The Vault whenever the notes of Ebelebe drifted into their ears.
The Vault is an expansive hall tucked away in the heart of a dense section of one of the thickset forests bordering our community with a stock of dry ration that can last the whole community one full moon, it is large enough to contain the whole community. It’s existence is an open secret but it’s location is known only to married men and women sworn to secrecy on their wedding night. The best flutist from the seven villages play the Distress Flute in a tree house overlooking the only accessible entrance to our community. These men take turns playing random notes at different intervals. The Ebelebe note connotes danger, the flutists play it in unison with their bodies touching. Twelves generations had passed without the notes of Ebelebe leaving the tree house.
*’Ebelebe egbugo, ebelebe egbugo
Ọdachị nke a n’abia,
Ọ na-achụkwanụ ọnye
Ọ na-ejekwụrụ ọnye
Gbabakwa, ndị obodo gbaba ọsọ
Ọdachi n’abia, ebelebe egbugo‘, the flute sounded ominously. The invaders considered going after the flutist but decided against it. They had no time to waste and the sound of gunfire will alert the unsuspecting villagers. Sleeping men were roused from sleep by notes of Ebelebe filtering into their ears, they headed straight to the fuel dump behind their houses. Petrol had been collected and distributed to all houses on the discovery of the impending attack. They poured them on the ground in front of and behind their houses and raced to The Vault.
The silence was disturbing. The invaders had expected vulnerable men, women, children, the sick, aged and dying scrambling and tumbling blindingly out of their huts with cries of the wounded and terrified renting the air. They were waiting to gun and hack them down as they dash out in terror. The raging fire spreading rapidly in all direction became a source of increasing worry to them. It soon dawned on them that it wasn’t going to be a killing spree after all, but a moment to roast to hell. Petrified, they scattered in all direction , but there was nowhere to run to.
Three weeks later, we were still rebuilding our burnt down community, men were still decimating pots of palm wine, women tired from the endless preparation of bush meat barbecue and African salad, but as we work tirelessly in the sun, we chattered endlessly of our now noblest ambition: to one day pick up arms in defence of our community, we are tired of rebuilding our community burnt down by our fathers in our defence, enough is enough we agreed.
*The worse has happened, the worse has happened,
Who is this impending doom after?
Who is it approaching?
Run, villagers run,
Doom looms, the worse has happened!