THE ORIGIN OF EKWENSU, ACT i

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Love is pure. Love has caused many battles and ceased many wars. Another love just began….

ACT i SCENE i

AWAIOMA: The day Badiwe buys me new wrapper and beads, we sit together on the trunk of a tree, we chase grasshoppers sometimes. In his hut, I dance for him and he adorns my waist with manilas. He lifts the burden of wood from my head in a bush path and breaks my firewood with just a strike of his axe. He is a warrior but remains by my side. An orphan like me. Love has brought me a family. We marry today, I sit on his firm thighs amidst kindred and friends. Your arms are my comfort Badiwe.

KINDRED:(echoing) Iiyaaah!

OLD KINSMAN: Awaioma you are one of the most beautiful maidens Ochara has and today, this great Urie day, we are happy to give you to Badiwe our great warrior. Evil people will not come near your hut.

KINDRED: Iiyaaah!

OLD KINSMAN: Ekwensu the god of confusion shall not tear your home.

KINDRED: Iiyaaah!

OLD KINSMAN: You shall bear your husband males and females. Okorobia nu agborbia.

KINDRED: Iiyaaah!

OLD KINSMAN: Your crops will grow and your yams will be fat.

KINDRED: Iiyaaah!

OLD KINSMAN: Badiwe hold your wife properly and you might want to kill any cock dancing towards her.

KINDRED:(chuckling) Ozo o. No o. Mbanu.

KINSMAN: Bring more drinks and bush meat here. This marriage is like a festival.

 

ACT i, SCENE ii

AWAIOMA: The time of motherhood has come, our first child the midwives say is a man. The child troubles and kicks. I am in pain. Badiwe rubs my long stomach with herbs and love. Aaai! Ayooo! Hmmm! Badiwe o.

BADIWE: Sorry. Zormeh zormeh ndo ndo ndo. You will be well soon. Tomorrow my mother’s sister must come and aid my hands.

AWAIOMA: Aaaai. Badiwe aaargh. This child must be a hunter, he shoots with his hands already.

BADIWE:(laughing) Not a warrior again? You say so many good things that this child will become. It is so.

AWAIOMA: Iiyaah!



ACT i, SCENE iii

AWAIOMO: Our sleeping mud is where we lay after a meal of roasted yam and atabala fish. We hear the sound. A familiar sound.  Chei!

BADIWE: (springing up) That is the ikoro. Hmmm. What has happened again?

AWAIOMA: It might be that our king is dead or his third wife has delivered a woman not a man. It must not be war. My chi will not let me suffer alone.

BADIWE: There is no forest that cannot be entered Awai. Even if it is a battle, we will overcome it. I am leaving for the obiri. Take two sips of the herb if pain comes my dear.

AWAIOMA: The pain of you leaving my side now is more and what shall I take for that my lord?

BADIWE:(smiling) You shall take something sweeter than sugarcane when I return. Stay well.

 

ACT i, SCENE iv

AWAIOMA: I am among the women wailing and holding their own from going to fight with Ogundeh people. The chief priest is walking ahead of the warriors, Badiwe follow him strongly. Badiwe viko, please return well. I shall not tell you not to go because Ochara needs you to live what you are born for. But return well. Return in peace. Return to me brave again.

Women: Ewoooo. Aoooo. Cheeeei! Where will trouble not be let us go and live there.



ACT i, SCENE v

AWAIOMA: Anosike is jesting my chest. He is telling me something that I cannot hear. My kindred are here weeping and Badiwe lay by our hut. A basket is on my head. I throw it down. Heeeei!

ANOSIKE: I am holding you. Do not fall. Do not fall, you are carrying a child.

AWAIOMA: Hei! Cheeei! (my legs wobble to the ground) Heeei! Ehargh! You lie. You lie, Badiwe cannot die.

ANOSIKE: Viko, please…

AWAIOMA:(crawling around Badiwe’s body) Hei, ehaargh you lie. Badiwe is breathing, Badiwe is breathing o. Just two nights you left and you are here not talking. Lies o…lies o.

(Women run here and there holding Awaioma from harming herself.)



ACT i, SCENE vi

AWAIOMA: My chi is weak. I have seen it.

WORI: Do not curse your chi because my brother is no more.

AWAIOMA: He is my husband. A warrior as brave as he is loving. Just an arrow not too deep into his shoulder kills him. No!

WORI: Our Dibia said the arrow was poisoned with so many charms. That is how Ogundeh people have learnt how to fight now. With poisoned arrows and matchets, our warriors came back few.

AWAIOMA: How come we did not know?

WORI: The gods are there. What you carry in your womb is a man, Badiwe is not totally gone.

AWAIOMA:(weeping again) No…do not say pity things to me. Badiwe is my husband, my family. When shall they bury him?

WORI: Tomorrow at dusk, Ele eri are composing songs.

AWAIOMA: Noo! Not for Badiwe, Badiwe those songs are not for you. Hear me well, hear me o.

WORI: Sorry, zormeh. Be strong.

AWAIOMA:(standing up) Badiwe. Cheeeeeei

WORI: Where are you going to?

AWAIOMA: Let me visit the bush I am pressed.

WORI: I am coming with you.

AWAIOMA:(roaring) What is it? Am I the first woman to lose her husband? I am pressed and you want to come with me too? I am not a child, I am not a child o and I am carrying my son why should I hurt myself. These women leave me alone.

(Wori stays back, Awaioma slides into the nearest bush. She begins to run, running and panting in pain, running into another forest, a shrub drags her legs. She falls and wreathes painfully. Her eyes tighten slowly.)

 

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