Baami quaked as he walked out of the meeting he had with other chiefs and the Baale of Kukuja. The only thing I heard him mutter in extreme anger while he sat on the bamboo stool under the frontage rafter were curses he doled out in batches.
‘Stupid people! What on earth is going on? Foolish people!’
He got up, paced round in circles and sat again.
‘So this is the end. Is this how it all ends? Shigidi, oya o, a si ko to o’.
Immediately I heard that in the shadows, cold shivers ran through my spine. Baami had been the only odd one since the news that the government was leasing our farmlands to a Chinese quarry company broke out. That’s not even my worry, his shigidi had been moved! Ok…ok wait. I thought he didn’t need it any more and Ladebe got into my head with that.
In a twinkle, I was at Ladebe’s farm. He heard me call out his name from a distance while he struggled to get down with his palm wine.
‘Ladebe!’ I yelled. ‘My father is about to find out that I took his shigidi’.
‘Calm down now, the white man said he would pay us a lot of money today after his test or something before taking it to one of the biggest museums in Europe’, he said.
‘I don’t want the money anymore! I don’t want it oh!’ I yelled a little louder.
‘Abi o n si win ni?’
‘Iran re ni o si win’, I shot back.
Ladebe was confused. He knew I couldn’t be convinced anymore at this juncture; the confusion had tripled in my head too and all I wanted was just my shigidi. With his bicycle, we rode down to our local district where government officials worked and lived. It was a portable building with a number of detached apartments. They were the only buildings that were built with bricks in our village.
As Ladebe moved, I followed very closely. All I needed was his leading. He spoke with his hands when we bumped into the first white guy who did the same and pointed to an apartment a little far off.
Gbagbagbagba… we went. Our response was extreme silence. I sat, holding my head. I couldn’t say a word, my voice broke and tears rolled down in succession. Ladebe was deeply moved too. He joined and we both wept. After we had had our fill, we got up and slowly walked towards where we left Ladebe’s bicycle. Just then, Ladebe turned his neck and surprisingly saw Mr Maclain with the district supervisor, Mr Langbe. He tapped me and yelled ‘That’s him!’
We rushed to him, whispered a few words to the supervisor in our language. He looked at Maclain and wearily spoke for us. We sensed his disappointment but it didn’t matter.
Maclain led us all to his apartment where he had my shigidi wrapped in something I did’t know. Immediately I saw it, I rushed forward to have it in my arms but it was only the head I had; my haste did the damage!
Author: Yami Bamgboye
Profile: He studied English and literary studies at Lagos State University