People who worshiped the god of destruction were the most feared and respected in Duruji community, they were well avoided by others who were not worshippers. Most of them were the greedy men who loved the intimidation they exerted on others. Some worshippers like Chika were born into the tradition so that being a worshipper became inevitable especially if some sacrifices had been made to the god to initiate such a child.
The worshippers also sought superiority among each other; this made each worshipper wary and suspicious of what sorcery the opposing worshippers might be concocting. This situation always served as a reminder to them that they were not after all totally protected by the god.
Chika’s father took great pain in socializing Chika, his first son, on how to be a true worshipper of Alaogbaga. His father, who knew the right sacrifice to make so as to get any favor from the god, initiated Chika at birth.
Like his father, Chika grew up with a remarkable greed for power and respect. He yearned to acquire all that his eyes could behold. He wanted to be the greatest man in his community. He wouldn’t like the fear and respect people had for his father to end with the death of the old man, he wanted it to continue with him. Besides, his father had already made so many enemies; those he claimed their plots of land and animals, and Chika knew that he must do all he could to get the full protection of the god.
His father was a very wealthy man. He had enough to help every extended member of his family and even others who lived in the community, but he chose to be mean and unapproachable. He made people work for him on his farm or yam barn, but ended up paying them paltry sums of cowries or nothing at all. The old man used all means available to him to oppress his victims. He could pretend to be kind and lend some money to those who asked him for it, but would turn very cruel whenever he needed the money back. He also made it inevitable for people to seek his help; this he did by putting them in a condition that left them with no choice but to come running to him for help.
He enjoyed the authority he exerted on people; the fear in their eyes and the comfort he had at the expense of people’s pains. The fact that he fell among the worshippers of Alaogbaga made him believe, rather unbelievably, that he was better off than the common villagers.
Among his fellow worshippers, Chika’s father made the highest and best sacrifices. This therefore allowed him to get more favors from the god. He sometimes had to make human blood sacrifice to the god, this he knew the god loved, and it made him the most feared and respected amongst them all, no one dared step on his toes.
This was why he ensured that at least one out of his two sons became a worshipper of Alaogbaga. He taught Chika all he needed to know about the god, for his enemies will not spear them whenever they were given the slightest opportunity.
Chika lost his father when he was twenty-eight years old, just a year after he got married to his beautiful wife, Nkechi. Nkechi’s parents had been very happy to give out their daughter to the young handsome son of the wealthy Mazi Obi.
Chika was tall, with a set of deep eyes; he could be very charming whenever he was desperate. A look into his face would tell an observer that he would get whatever he wanted.
Nkechi loved and respected her husband for he was a very brave man, no one could challenge him and this was the desire of every woman. She was now heavy with his baby.
The death of Mazi Obi, Chika’s father, was a very mysterious one. And Chika believed that it was the handiwork of his enemies and he vowed to get answers from the chief priest.
During the burial, as people filled the compound and watched the Duruji masquerades dance their magical dance and entertained the people, Chika was lost in thought as he watched the happy faces of the villagers and for the first time in his life, he was afraid of what might happen to him and his family. He was the eldest son of Mazi Obi, his younger brother Chima didn’t seem to have the blood of the Obis running in him. He was weak and didn’t know how to get what he needed in life. His two younger sisters were already married and his mother was late.
Chika knew that he wasn’t safe in Duruji village, especially with the absence of his father. His father’s death had been the people’s desire and Chika was not about to let them take away from him all that his father had acquired. He was confused, knowing that it was his responsibility to protect all that his father had left behind. He was now the target of all their enemies and he still got his own family to protect.
Nkechi also enjoyed the respect and fear people had for her husband. She believed so much that her husband was capable of taking care of her and every situation that arose. She was also glad that her husband was under the protection of Alaogbaga. She was already becoming great in the community; her opinion was never debated during any of the women’s village meetings. She was determined to never let go of this position. The death of her father in-law was making the future look bleak and she was curious to know what her husband was planning to do about their present state of affair.
“Nnanyi, most of my fellow women are happy at the news of papa’s death. They believe that his wealth and authority will go along with him to the grave, they think that there is nothing else we can do.”
Chika smiled wickedly, “they are in for a big surprise. So, they think I am stupid and will allow my father’s property to be taken away from me?” The smile was still on his face “I will show them that I am the true son of Obi.”
“Nnanyi, what is it that you plan to do about this situation that has befallen us?” She pushed on.
“You just don’t worry about that. Just leave it to me; all you need to know is that I will not let anything happen to us. No matter what it takes, no matter what Alaogbaga demands, I will make sure that I do not let my father down.” He concluded this statement by slightly beating himself on the chest.
Nkechi gave a short laugh. She was filled with pride; she knew what her husband was capable of doing. “I know that my dear husband is not weak, and I pray that my father’s god will continue to protect you,” she stood up, “Let me get you something to eat,” She left for the kitchen, leaving her husband dwelling on the next course of action to take.
The event that took place four days later exposed the fact that Chika would face more challenges than he had expected.
That faithful day, Chika was on one of his father’s plots of land. He could remember his father giving him instructions on how he must be careful, brave and strong if he must keep these assets.
“These are the things that makes one a man. Without your plots of land, palm trees, iroko trees and cattle, people will look down on you. They will tell you anything they want to and even attempt to take away the little you have.”
Chika would always keep his face down, following in detail, everything his father said.
“This is jungle justice where only the strong and the brave survive,” the old man would continue, “You mustn’t be weak; never expect to get justice from the decisions of the elders and the rulers. They are all intimidated and influenced by the rich, fearless and brave. Only the god of our ancestors is capable of giving you the protection you desire.”
He believed all his father had told him and he wasn’t ready to do otherwise.
While he was lost in the thought of the last discussion he had with his father, he was suddenly brought back to the present by the sounds of rustling leaves. He looked up and saw Mazi Kelechi Madu, one of his father’s victims.
Mazi Madu was the rightful owner of the plot of land on which Chika was standing. He was a slim and short man who looked like he couldn’t handle tough situations. He was one of the weaklings, according to Chika’s father. The land was a fertile land and Obi could not imagine not having it for himself. Madu’s harvest was more than his that season. Obi desired the land, and he felt that he deserved it more than Madu. He cooked up a story about how Madu’s father gave the land to his father after helping him with a favour and denied that he had given the land to him. Now, Obi was back to get what belonged to his father. Unfortunately for Madu, he was no match for Obi so he lost the land.
“Chika,” Madu called, “You know that this land is mine, please I want it back, and I won’t like to have the same experience I had with your father once again. You just …”
“It’s okay,” Chika cut in, “I don’t want any of this. You know where his grave is, go there and lay your complaints to him, in fact he is looking for someone to talk to now, and you will be doing him a great favor if you go over and keep him company with your complaints. You can’t just barge into my piece of land and tell me anything you want. Not even a salutation, or are you not yet aware that I lost my father?”
“I don’t care if your father is dead or not. That man you call your father had been very unfair to me. Look son, I might have been a fool to let your father take this land from me, but I am back to get my land back, do you hear me? So you better not step on this land again!” He was really angered by the way Chika, a little boy, had answered him. With the last statement, he stormed off the farmland.
Chika thought to himself, so this is what I am going to face; well, they are in for a big surprise. He must go to the shrine in the morning; He was going to continue from where his father had stopped.
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