Once upon the future, Mbe Mmiri, whom the English call Sea Turtle, searched east and west, up and down for another Mbe Mmiri but could not find any. Her children had just been captured and killed by some desperate fishermen. While her 180year old husband had died of a heart-attack as soon as he heard the heartbreaking news. Mbe Mmiri was overcome with deep sadness when it dawned on her that she was now alone in the whole wide world. She was the last of her kind.
“O na o karo mma ka m kwuo udo?” Is it not better if I kill myself? she thought painfully.
“Tufiakwa!!” God forbid!! she exclaimed, turning her flipper round her head. By saying and doing this, Mbe Mmiri was rejecting the abominable thought of suicide from her mind. She believed that “o di ndu nwere olilanya”, that as long as there was life there was hope.
With that last hope, she surrendered herself to Chineke, to God the Creator. As if in answer to an unspoken prayer, she was carried by the waves to the shores of Lekki Beach, Lagos. This was the same beach were she had laid her eggs last two years. Painful memories flooded her once more. She remembered the good old days when there were so many others like her, both young and old, big and small. She remembered her own dead children. She wished those wicked fishermen had captured her instead of them. She wished her husband was still alive. How would she escape extinction now? She wept and wept and wept until sleep eventually kidnapped her. In that sleep, she dreamt. In that dream, she saw her long-lost relative. Her relative was the wisest and most cunning animal in all of Africa. Her cousin would surely find a solution to her hopeless situation.
And so Mbe Mmiri set off very early that morning. She began her slow journey from the Lekki beach to the tarred road side. The quickest way to her cousin’s village in Biafra was by swimming through the sea to the shores of Niger Delta. But she was afraid of the countless fishermen who would be waiting to catch her if she dared venture into the sea again. She was scared of the oil explorers and oil spillages too.
“Gini ka m ga-eme kita?” What do I do now? she asked herself as she lay at the road side thinking. She could hear Awo, the one the English call Toad, croaking to himself in the open gutter in front of her. Then she looked into that gutter and noticed that it was half-full with water. The water was moving very very slowly. That was when an idea popped into her mind.
“Ehen, a ga m esi guta a gaa Biafra.” Yes, I will use this gutter to go to Biafra.
As she was about to dive into the gutter, she noticed again that its water was not clean at all. Then she had yet another idea. She picked up some black polythene bags scattered on the ground near her and wore them over her body like a swimsuit. Tugbuuum… the gutter water splashed as Mbe Mmiri dived into it in excitement. She started to swim forward when she heard somebody shout, “Mbe Mmiri!!!” She froze. When she turned she was relieved to see that it was only Awo.
“Mbe Mmiri, bia ebe a!” Mbe Mmiri, come here! he commanded.
She swam to meet him, wondering why he was calling her.
“Mbe Mmiri, kee ebe i na-aga?” Mbe Mmiri, where are you going to? he asked.
“Awo, a na m aga Biafra,” Awo, I am going to Biafra, she replied impatiently.
Awo wanted to laugh at her strange costume but he shook his head in pity instead.
“Mbe Mmiri, i ma uzo?” Mbe Mmiri, do you know the way? he asked. “O na i maghi na onye ajuju anaghi efu uzo?” Don’t you know that a traveler who asks for direction never gets lost?
That was when Mbe Mmiri realised her mistake. In her excitement, she had forgotten that she was only a Johnny-Just-Come, a newcomer to Lagos. She had never left any beach into any city in her entire life. She became so ashamed that she couldn’t look Awo in the face as she said, “Biko gbahara m.” Please pardon me.
“Nsogbu adighi,” No problem, Awo said smiling. “Soro m. A ga m enyere gi aka.” Follow me. I will help you.