March 16 was the date; no one cared about what year it happened. Everyone was excited; the women in their best wrappers and the men in their finest shorts and trousers. It was on occasions like this that most men would wear something to cover their body-actually, it’s usually singlet, some of which were their owners only one. A cloud of dust covered the sky as everyone trooped to the village square.
Chatters amongst women and loud laughter of men could be heard as they all walked, like flies being attracted to animal dung they all made their way to the village square.
After miles of journeying, they had finally reached their destination. What was once a fine piece of cloth-perhaps, the villagers best-had now been changed into semi-rags by the dust. It was their mentality, perhaps the black man’s mentality- for most of them had had abandoned their bicycles and tricycles just too walk with the crowd. Chucks had decided to abandon his bus- the only one in the village-, his excuse? He was too tired to drive that long distance. Finally, they had gotten to the village square but not the same people who left Isialu were here for once they looked like sane people but now…madmen. The children created an even better picture of madness- bushy hair which had turned red due to the dusty makeover, protruding neck bones with little flesh on their chest, a pot belly which looked like a FIFA branded football and tiny waist with two figures like chopsticks which were legs to carry this whole creature.
They all took their place in the stands with smiles on their faces. Most families sat together except for those who had drunkards as the head of the family but then, the only place a man got to prove his strength was in how many kegs of palm wine he could gulp so this made every man in the community a drunkard-black man’s mentality.
“Mommy, when oyibo will come?”
“A’mam oh, just siddon wait for oyibo”
And so it was that there they sat all day, under the scorching sun and dusty wind. Many had started coughing already; the dusty red sand had gracefully given the villagers a makeover as their eyebrows had turned red. The men lay dizzy as palm wine had been exhausted, the mothers’ breast had become floppy after the children had sucked for hours and the children too had their tongues sored from excessive sucking, all for the purpose of meeting ‘Oyibo’.
Everyone took to their heels, mothers flung their children to their backs and men ran for dear lives as two jeeps drove into the village square. Ogbuefi emerged from one of these jeeps and the sight of this made the villagers very furious.
“Ogbuefi, so this is your plan Okwaya; to kill all of us this machin them ehn” Uzor shouted with so much rage in his voice, the villagers too made loud protests in support to Uzor’s claim.
“Nwannem, obulezi; it is lie” Oguefi sounded frightened as he ran towards his people.
“So what is it Oguefi, what is it?” Nduka abruptly replied, his legs were still shaky and his eyes shone from his grumpy old face-he still hadn’t recovered from the shock. “By the way, where is Oyibo?” Uzor asked; sweat still dripping down his face. “He said he will be here after the second cock crow na”
Actually, ‘Oyibo’ as they referred to Scott Reaper who was a history professor from overseas had not said ‘after the second cock crow’ he had stated ‘2 O’clock’ in the letter which he sent to the community but was misinterpreted by Oguefi who was only trying to show his prowess in English. “Nwannem, when I got to the local government office” Oguefi started his explanation in his indigenous igbo dialect “Sir John, the clerk told me Oyibo had not arrived”. He seemed to have gotten everyone’s attention. “So I waited there for Oyibo as Sir John and I played ludo. After waiting for hours, I saw these machin that look like ‘nkita ara’ with strange noises drive towards us” he made gestures as he spoke, referring to the jeeps as mad dogs that made noises like ‘vroom vroom’.. “makachukwu, I wet my pants because of fear. Sir John had already taken refuge under his locker. Oyibo came out and started behaving strange, he was talking with his nose instead of his mouth” the crowd stood gape in surprise.
“kueziokwu! With his nose?” Uzor exclaimed as his arms flew under his armpits in shock.
“Eziokwu, Oyibo put me inside this machin” he now sounded rather aggressive and bolder “and the next thing, I find myself here”.
The crowd murmured in surprise and as though something struck them, they all remembered Oyibo’s presence. The jeep’s door finally opened, a stout looking man with grey hair and dressed in fine linen stepped out. His skin made him exclusive, he pushed his glass to fit in well and just as he took a deep breath, he chocked. No one came to his rescue; instead, they stood watching him as if it were some live performance.
“Hello everyone” he said after getting himself. There was an awkward silence
“onyeala” was the reply from Jasper, the village madman. There was a murmur and next thing, everyone left the village square for their homes in grave anger and bitterness. Scott Reaper stood dumb-founded as he watched the cloud of dust that was left behind by the villagers.
The community was enveloped in anger that night; the reason? Oyibo had tricked them and threatened their lives that day- a blackman’s thought.