Son of the Tortoise. ACT I

ACT I, SCENE IA town crier is busy with his announcement equipment, heralding the latest decree by King Ishi. TOWN CRIER: Heeeeeeeh! People of Afia, King Ishi, the Lion that sits on the throne of

A town crier is busy with his announcement equipment, heralding the latest decree by King Ishi.

TOWN CRIER: Heeeeeeeh! People of Afia, King Ishi, the Lion that sits on the throne of Afia has commanded me to tell you all that he is ready to give out his daughter’s hand in marriage. Heeeeeh! People of Afia, King Ishi, the Lion that sits on the throne of Afia has commanded me to tell you all that he is ready to give out his daughter’s hand in marriage.

(He continues hitting his equipment together and repeating the message. A woman pulling her little son pass him by, a man riding a bicycle with cassava stems on its carriage pass him by, a maiden and a lad with hoes on their shoulders pass him by, the maiden poked the lad, they laugh. The Town Crier continues his duty till he passes Ejike and Ogwueru.)

OGWUERU: (Adjusting the hunting gun hanging on his shoulder.) Ejike what does that mean?

EJIKE: The King wants his daughter to leave his homestead to another man’s hut.
OGWUERU: (Stops) His daughter! The one that dances to ubor songs before her brothers wrestle.
OGWUERU: The one that was returning from the stream yesterday with her mates.
OGWUERU: Cheeeeeh!
EJIKE: Why are you shouting?
OGWUERU: I want to marry her!
EJIKE: (Wide-eyed) You have two wives! Two! Aku and Uwah!
OGWUERU: Taah! Meshionu! This small antelope. Remember that I am not your age mate while you raise your voice. It was just like yesterday when your father pulled you into my compound pleading with me to teach you hunting. My first son will nearly be your agemate.
EJIKE: Sorry, zormeh, zormeh… Forgive my children blood.
OGWUERU: Now carry my gun! (He gives his gun to Ejike who hangs it on his left shoulder, adjusting his own gun on his right shoulder.)
EJIKE: I hope I don’t fall down before we get home.
OGWUERU: (Resumes walking) Meshionu! Keep quiet this child. I do not know why it has to be the head hunter that accompanies the young hunter to his maternal home to show them his first kill!
(Ejike murmurs as he walks behind him.)

Ejike walks gallantly into his father’s compound, a rabbit dangling from the raffia bag clinging to his left shoulder, his gun on his right shoulder, a matchet in his right hand. Three boys(teenagers) run to meet him, they relieve him of his burden. They walk to their father who is feasting on a keg of palm wine in front of his hut.
KANU: Ejike!
EJIKE: Yes Papa. I am back.
KANU: We are seeing you! How are your mother’s people?
EJIKE: They are strong. (He takes a gourd from the open kitchen, aside the compound and fills it with palm wine. After two gulps, he spits!) Tufia! Ogwueru is dreadful! Tufiakwa!
KANU: What did that arrogant bat do again?
EJIKE: He made us to go hunting again on our way from Afia. No rest on that man’s footstep.

KANU: (Laughs loudly) This children, then, the man is innocent, go and greet your mother. Go….you have not seen anything. The cat fish that says he must swim seven rivers like his father did.

(The boys laugh with their elder brother towards the yam barn behind the second hut. Their mother is sitting on a short round wood, now a stool, cutting dried tiny yam roots from tubers of yam.)

EJIKE: Mama!
OTUTU: Ike, welcome. You have killed a rabbit.
EJIKE: (smiling awkwardly) Yes.
KWERI: Today he killed rabbit, yesterday, he killed antelope. He will kill a leopard soon.
OTUTU: Oweeeeeh! Cheh! This my son is now a man. How is my mother?
EJIKE: She is well, they are well. She gave me a wrap of ripe pepper to give you.
OTUTU: Chei! This old woman, mama will never leave one’s hand free.
EJIKE: Okonu bring the cocoyam wrap from my bag.
OTUTU: I hope you enjoyed the food they cooked for you.
EJIKE: Ah! Yes! But Ogwueru, that greedy fellow, he ate like a pregnant pig even more than me that is being celebrated.
OKONU: And he still took you into the forest to remove the small one you have eaten.
They laugh.

King Ishi, the Lion that sits on Afia throne is surrounded by his people. His daughter, Ogazi, dark and bold, stands by his left hand. The people look up to him and his daughter’s elegant handsomeness. The elders gulp palm wine from their gourds in merriment. One clears his throat before taking another long gulp, he pours the last small content on the ground and puts the gourd back into his animal skin bag, hung perfectly around his left shoulder. He starts.
NNOCHI: Eze vu Ishi, Ishi vu Eze! The strongest lion that sits on Afia’s throne. I greet you!
NNOCHI: The he-goat said ones I hear the sound of the udu drum three times, I remember my drinking gourd.
(The people laugh)
NNOCHI: My people, I hope I am telling the truth.
PEOPLE: Oweeeh! Yes!
NNOCHI: People of Afia, meka!
PEOPLE: Diali!
PEOPLE: Diali!
NNOCHI: Meka weeeh!
PEOPLE: Diali!
NNOCHI: Eze, we have heard the udu drum three times and we have come with our drinking gourds to drink and dance with you and the gods for giving you a beautiful daughter… that is also our own.
PEOPLE: Oweeeh.
NNOCHI: We have heard the messenger you sent and we have come according to our custom to find out what it will take to marry your daughter. Afia, meka o!
PEOPLE: Diali!
(Ogazi is smiling in installments beside her father.)
KING ISHI: The hen said she will keep scratching the ground till she finds what she is looking for.
OLEM and NNOCHI: Eziokwu!
KING ISHI: But she never finds what she is looking for?
(The people laugh.)
KING ISHI: Eheh! The okorobia, the strong man that will marry my daughter Ogazi, the fragile strong egg of my family and the people of Afia must be a young man who has fallen a big iroko tree or has killed an elephant, lion, leopard or python or has swam eleven rivers. This is my word!
(The people scream and cheer!)

Ogazi is leaning on a guava tree weeping, her mates weep with her.
OMUIME: Has your mother not returned?
ODAH: Yes.
OGAZI: Yes. Even if she was there, what will she do…ooooo my father is not a good man.
ODAH: He is, he is our king and he is good to us.
OGAZI: Where will such a man come from?
OMUIME: We have great hunters across the village. You can stop crying.
ODAH: You are the only daughter of our king that is why.
OGAZI: That is why I should not be with my husband and build my own family?
ODAH: You should be happy now that he is finally going to give your hand to a man. Everyone in the village thought you will be nnahgalu, your-father-will-marry-you.
OGAZI: What?
OMUIME: Yes, the people thinks you will end up in your father’s huts and bear him children.
OGAZI: Cheee! (She falls on the ground, squalling.) Sand should fill my eyes, sand fill my eyes, why me, why me. Okoronkwo why did you die? Okoronkwo why did you die o…you could have married me after the battle with Rikwo people…why… you died in the battle…why. Why me, why me o….
(Omuime and Odah holds her here and there, begging her to stop weeping.)

Son of the Tortoise. Act II

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