ACT iv, SCENE i WENENDAH: Four infants born on the same day my brother was born, they are going to lift them to the gods today, their mothers wrapped them in their best lapper, clinging
ACT iv, SCENE i
WENENDAH: Four infants born on the same day my brother was born, they are going to lift them to the gods today, their mothers wrapped them in their best lapper, clinging them to their chest and heading to Eliogu’s shrine but I stopped them. I sent the guards to adopt them. Now the guards run into the palace with the babies and their mothers scream along, they are coming to kill me.
OLA: These women why are they wailing to us?
WENENDAH: Igasikwa take the children to Alekiri for her to care. (The guards exit amidst women yelling on them.)
MOTHER 1: Please my princess, please do not use my first child as a sacrifice please.
WENENDAH: When a snake appears suddenly, we kill it suddenly. Good mothers of Rumualogu please go home; your children are safe within the palace. For years later, you will thank the gods that they were a part of the cleansing of this kingdom. (The women weep the more.)
MOTHER 2: Noooooo! Do not tell me that a child I bear will not suckle from me please…please have mercy on my soul, take me and spare my child.
MOTHER 3: How can innocent children born few days ago partake in the evil that adults have sown …please my princess, spare our children. Don’t do this.
MOTHER 4: (rolling on the ground) chei! That child is my only son, where are u taking him to? Ekwueme just became the father of a son, he will not take this easily o. I want my son o, I want my child, I want to carry my child. Chei! Chei! Chei!
MOTHER 1: My princess you are a woman also, please look at us and have mercy, do not hurt our children. Our breasts are full, we need to feed them. Our arms are their homes. Please!
WENENDAH: (pleading) Your children will not be hurt, please believe me and pray to the gods everyday that this misery that we face disappears soon. I will keep your children safe, just go home and live. (The women curse and wail more as Ola share in their tears.)
ACT iv, SCENE ii
WENENDAH: Inside the king’s hut, I stare and admire the five infants wrapped differently but with the same royal akwuete wrapper and the same markings of black dye on their faces.
ALEKIRI: Are you pleased with my work my princess?
WENENDAH: Yes. This is very pleasing and adorable. They do look very alike now. Let me hold my brother. (Alekiri hands the first child over to her)
ALEKIRI: The prince is suffering from a warm body but he is getting well now.
WENEDAH: Oh! The gods! He is strong and stronger.
ALEKIRI: Iiyaah! (Turning around) I hear footsteps. (She takes the baby from Wenendah)
WENENDAH: Quickly lay him there as the fourth child.
ALEKIRI: Ah! It is Ola.
OLA: My sister what is happening? I wonder why five infants lay here looking alike.
WENENDAH: (smiling) It is really a puzzle isn’t it? Now go fetch your brother Ovundah, let us see if you will know him.
OLA: (searching the babies with her eyes) he is this one! (She picks the second baby, Wenendah and Alekiri laugh at her confusion.)
WENENDAH: Now you see the wonders of the gods. Ovundah is the fourth child. We have to do everything to protect him. That is it.
OLA: I marvel at your wisdom my sister. I am so happy even as I feel pity for the women.
ALEKIRI: Me too but the gods are with us.
OLA: The elders await you in the obiri my sister.
WENENDAH: I will go now. Stay well.
ACT iv, SCENE iii
WENENDAH: The staff of Ogu in my hand makes them tremble. The elders are furious again.
OWHOR: Tell me Wenendah, just what evil spirit has possessed you to rid mothers of their children?
WOKEH: Ekwueme is drinking himself to stupor and vows to kill you if he gets any little space.
OWHOR:(rebuking Wokeh) Why are you telling her?
WOKEH: I have to tell her, she has been a good princess but for this evil breaking this kingdom.
HONUME: Wenendah you have bitten more that you can chew, I tell you that the gods will soon visit you like they visited your father.
ELDERS: (in unison) Eziokwu! Eziokwu!
OWHOR: And your ailment shall be the worst.
WENENDAH: I do not believe that you sit in my father’s obiri and still speak evil. The babies with me are safe but are needed for a simple purpose.
OWHOR: What nonsense purpose?
WENENDAH: You will soon know and I am sure that you will be the first to know you forbidden masquerade! My fathers and elders please bear with your princess and continue to pray to the gods on my family’s behalf. You all will not know the pain I feel and the weight of this throne that I bear.
HONUME: The throne that you took forcefully?
WENENDAH: I command you to keep quiet and leave this palace now! Owhor you also go with him before I decrease you both to nothing. (Owhor and Honume depart quickly out of fear.)
WENENDAH: You are welcome the greatest of all dibia.
WODIVIA: You summoned Eliogu for a reason and what is that reason my princess.
WENENDAH: Please Wodivia for a fair reason I plead that you lift the children to the gods here in the palace.
WODIVIA: Hmmmm! A child killed an antelope and a leopard but does that put him in the same age grade with his father?
WODIVIA: I am sorry my princess but lifting the infants of Rumualogu is done sacredly in the natural aboard of our gods. Is that all?
WENENDAH: Yes! Thank you. You may go now. (Wodivia leaves)
ELDERS: (grumbling noisily) Hmmm. Chei! Tufiakwa o
WENENDAH: (angrily) all of you leave now!
(The elders depart fearfully)
WENENDAH: (to myself) Oh the gods. How have I put my weary head in your way? I am most sorry. Forgive and find me a light, the right foot path to take till this calamity is gone. Oh Eliogu, Eliogu look at us, look at your people, arise and deliver your people, rid us of this evil and plague I plead.
ACT iv, SCENE iv
WENENDAH: Antelopes are fine but fast, rabbits are blessings but faster and are noisy but fastest at the steps of my feet along the bush paths. Suddenly, there is a noise behind me.
OVUNDAH: The eagle of her people.
WENENDAH: (turning to him) you are lucky I did not arrow your foot, how conniving you are.
OVUNDAH: I am sorry for frightening you.
WENENDAH: You did not frighten me. I am fast.
OVUNDAH: I see that. How are you Wenendah?
WENENDAH: I am well and why are you here?
OVUNDAH: I follow you all the time.
OVUNDAH: No! I mean most times.
WENENDAH: You do not really have farms to work on. Do you?
OVUNDAH: I do but I really love to be close to you, to hunt with you if you do not mind.
WENENDAH: I mind and you should also mind Ikeh. Now leave my presence before I burn you with this staff.
OVUNDAH: What? That resembles wickedness Wenem
WENENDAH: How dare you call me that? Are you a goat? Leave here now before I erase you out of the face of this kingdom.
OVUNDAH: (standing firm) you can grow weary of my presence but not to attack my honest proffer of friendship, you should not suddenly become who you are not, burn me if you need to. I am not leaving, not without getting some time from you. I am not leaving. Burn me now!
WENENDAH: (astonished) I see that you have eaten something peppery to have given you this nerve. Today is urie, a merciful day. I leave this forest for you. Enjoy it. (She walks too fast heading back to a bush path, Ovundah follows her pleading, she starts running, Ovundah stubbornly pursues her fleeing shadow)
ACT iv, SCENE v
WENENDAH: Out of anger I run home, tears and fury itching my eyes, I hate Ovundah, I despised him the more. The obiri is quiet, the hut jarringly strange and as I near the King’s hut, a human, a kinsman I presume rush out into a bush nearby. I made to chase him but he was fast and my family lay in that hut. As I see my father and mother inside, I see a calabash of blood beside them. I do not see Ola, I do not see Alekiri. I do not see the babies.