Photo Credit: Painting by Kathy Evans of a Mozambican village boy.
“Ikenna Ebubedike”! Present sir, Ike could not contain his joy as the head master read out his name. He came top of his class in the end of the term examination. As he stood amongst his mates, he wished Mr. Obiora, the head master could skip the remaining names and let him go, soon he drifted off seeing himself as he galloped home to announce his distinguished achievement to his parents.
As he got to his father’s compound and was about to shout “mama” he was brought back from his dream land as Mr. Obiora asked all that came top to come out and stand in front of the assembly for recognition. It was then that his best friend Uzo tapped him and asked him to go with the rest.
What? Ike enquired; Mr. Obiora said all of you should go to the front of the assembly, Uzo replied. Oh thank you, I was lost in my dream and Ike rushed to join the rest of his comrades.
Ike is the only child born to Mazi Ebubedike and his wife, the couple had waited with much anxiety and faith for his coming, little wonder they literally worshiped him and showered on him all the love they’ve been saving up for all their other children, that never came. Ikenna means (the strength of his father), which is very true because in Igbo land, a man without a male child is not respected nor regarded in the community where he lives , no matter the number of daughters he has. Ikenna’s arrival brought solace to his mother’s soul because her place in her home has been finally secured.
“Mama! Mama”, Ike shouted from the gate leading into the compound, “I’ve passed! I came first in the whole class!”. Nma Ike as she is popularly called could not but be overjoyed as she ran out into the compound to embrace her son. “What did you say?” she asked pretending not to hear the first time “I’ve passed”. I came first in the whole class Ike said again through the embrace, hearing it a second time, Nma-Ike lifted her son with amazing ease, pressed him to her chest and lowered him down “well done my son , well done you have made me proud again, I give thanks to God for everything.
Then she picked up her already packed basket and was on her way to the market “Ike my son, let me quickly go to the market, when I come back I will prepare your special soup with foofoo, and plenty ntanta’’ (meat) Ike demanded, after all he is being celebrate for his achievement.
Mazi Ebubedike, comes home in the evening everyday, he is a trader and a farmer whose back never touches the ground during any wrestling content. He is the local champion and Ike his only son is a chip of old block when it comes to wrestling content.
On this day of Ike’s achievement he was on the lookout for his father, as soon as he heard the sound of his smoky motor bike, Ike knew his father was back and he quickly abandoned the wooden and spectacle he was making and rushed to the gate to announce his success to his father.
‘’Papa! I’ve passed!!, I came first in the whole class raising his hand for demonstration. As Ike spoke, Mazi Ebubedike was calculating where to balance his smoky motor- bike, so he did not hear what his son said, what did you say Ike? I said I came first in the whole class papa I passed, I came first. In his excitement, the proud father carried his son so high up above looked into his eyes and dropped him, ‘’so it is only book that is in this skull of yours’’ teasing him as always.
‘’What would you want me to buy for you this time’’? immediately Ike answered, ‘’I want a flute like that of Uzo, so we can both play some rhythm when playing together ‘’ Okay, I will buy you that flute because you deserve it, well done , Ikem.’’
Ike was beside himself with joy when his father promised to buy him the flute, he ran out to his playmates to share the good news, he told Uzo that both of them can play alternate rhythm when he gets his flute. It was then that Uzo reminded Ike, about John the village’s bully who had earlier on warned Uzo not to
Play with his flute anytime he is around, otherwise he would break it, since then Uzo had not allowed his flute to step out of his father’s compound
‘’That is true o, john the destroyer will just destroy our flutes, okay we will not let him lay his dirty hands on our flutes because we will only play inside our compound ‘’ Ike concluded. Why did your father agree to buy the flute, Uzo asked, because I came first now, he also promised to take me to the city where he buys his wares. “You are very lucky Ike, I wish my father would even stay home long enough for me to show him my report card”, Uzo said with a sad face and voice, ‘’am so sorry about your father, but I have already told you, you can share my father with me after all, I am the only child and you are my best friend’’ “Thank you Ike, I will try to remembered that. Come let us go and tell papa to buy something for you too” and they left for Ike’s home.
‘’papa! Papa!! “Yes my son I’m in the latrine I will be out soon”. Mazi Ebubedike clears his throat as he approached the boys. ‘’Hmm, who are those that will not allow me to shit in peace”? “Papa it’s Ike and Uzo we came to tell you that Uzo passed too”, “is that so? Uzomam, you passed!” , he lifted him up and turned him around, then dropped him, ‘’congratulation my dear, keep it up”. “Thank you sir”, Uzo replied, happy to be celebrated ‘’I will also buy you something because you passed”.
John the village bully or john the destroyer as he is popularly called, got a wind that Ike’s father promised to buy him a flute, out of jealousy, he decided he would do everything to destroy the flute whenever he sets his eyes on it.
When Mazi Ebubedike returned home the next day, he brought the flute for Ike and a ball for Uzo. When Ike saw the two items, he ran out to call Uzo who was held ransom by John the destroyer in front of his father’s compound. As soon as Ike saw what was going on, he quietly thanked God that he was neither with the flute nor the ball.
John is much older than Ike and Uzo; he is bigger in size with an intimidating look and a voice that puts holy fear in you because of this many children fear him with
his reckless behavior. Ike who is about 3 years younger and also smaller in size had one day vowed to himself that he would be the one to defeat John the destroyer.
As Ike approached the scene, he saw John slapping Uzo left and right; kicked him in his stomach and spat on his face then
walked away majestically. Uzo was left crying and sobbing like a baby. “What did you do to him this time”? Ike asked, “nothing!, I was just on my way to your house when he blocked my way and started asking about the flute your father promised you, because I said nothing he started slapping me.
“That John sef,” Ike said with so much pain, “I will put him in his place one day, I think his cup is full up” said Ike. “Can u beat him? He is taller, bigger and older than you” Uzo replied. “All that credential does not matter, remember, am a fine wrestler, I will challenge him one day and I will beat him up I promise you my friend”. “Thank you” said Uzo. Putting his hands on Uzo’s shoulder, Ike announced “let us go and see papa, he has bought the flute and a ball for we both”. They both ran immediately to Ike’s house to receive their gifts.
Boys! , Mazi Ebubedike called out, I have fulfilled my promise, here is the flute for you, he handed it to Ike and the ball for you Uzo and handed it to him. “Thank you papa” they both chorused.
The D-day arrived, when Ike is sure to make good the treat of beating up John. It is the New Yam Festival and part of the highlight of the memorable event is the wrestling contest, this gives chances to those looking for opportunity to beat up someone to do so. Ikenna was looking forward to this day he has been practicing everyday without anyone seeing him.
During the festival, it came a time when all the village wrestlers came out to challenge one another to a fight. The time came, Ike was one of the first people to run to the arena. Before he left from the crowd, Uzo was voicing out his wish that someone would beat up John that day, that also gave Ike more courage to step out and challenge John.
As soon as Ike stepped, he went straight to challenge John by raising his hands towards him, the crowd cheered Ike for being so bold while John the bully smiled to himself with so much confidence. Soon the fight began and Ikenna picked up John with all the strength he could gather, and he threw him carelessly to the other side, John fell flat on his face, before he knew what hit him, Ike rushed to him, turned
him face up and started pouring the sand from the wrestling ground into his mouth.
At that point, the crowd shouted and hailed Ike, some of them ran into the arena and lifted him up, chanting victory song.
The song continued for a while, that was when John sneaked out of the arena without anyone noticing, but Uzo saw him as he left in shame spitting out the sand Ike generously poured into his mouth.
After the fight, John the bully never bullied anyone in the village till date, instead at every new yam festival more boys were bold to challenge him and most of them beat him up. That was how Ikenna saved the whole village from the one weak one trouble life of John the village bully.
Good luck Cordilia Chiagozi Uba !
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