Son of the Tortoise, ACT V

ACT V, SCENE I Two maidens, the last of the onlookers in front of Kanu’s compound satisfy themselves with the day’s gossip. MAIDEN 1: I will not believe this if not that I was here.


Two maidens, the last of the onlookers in front of Kanu’s compound satisfy themselves with the day’s gossip.

MAIDEN 1: I will not believe this if not that I was here.

MAIDEN 2: This seems like madness or a curse….

MAIDEN 1: Curse…exactly. He was pushed by a force. Ejike should have married one of us here and have his place as a man with respect not disgracing his poor father.

MAIDEN 2: And the entire Iroh village in a marriage ceremony. Hah! The vultures have perched on him.

MAIDEN 1: He has not stepped out of his hut on their return and the climbing is tomorrow since today is Eke.

MAIDEN 2: So what will he do now?

MAIDEN 1: (Suddenly irritated) You are asking me? And what are you even doing here in another person’s compound? How did I even start talking to you? (Walking away) ugly masquerade.

MAIDEN 2: Look, who even likes talking to you, rain fly.




Odah and Omuime stare at Ogazi surprisingly as she laughs hysterically.

ODAH: Why is she laughing too much?

OMUIME: Certainly she ate black mushroom soup…Ogazi, Ogazi.

OGAZI: What is funny is that I was there watching the young man that wants to have me for a wife disgrace himself before my father….( Laughs some more) My own father, King Ishi of Afia….

OMUIME: I don’t see how that is funny. You should be feeling bad….

OGAZI: Bad? (Falls into another laugh) For what? That is what my father wants, to gather the entire village on my head when he should have waited for the gods to bring a man for me at their own time…so my friends, I am not angry and to be ….

ODAH: Ogazi…this is not a moonlight play.

OGAZI: It is and I like that young man for making me laugh …for making me this happy as I watch him climb the palm-tree and fall off after seven steps…(A bigger laughter.)

Her friends join her.

ODAH: And I have wondered how one can climb six palm-trees at a time. Ejike has indeed made the whole village laugh.

OMUIME: We should visit him to rub palm oil on his broken waist.

More laughter.




Ejike is sitting on a stool, resting his back on one of the strong sticks that hold their open kitchen. He looks weary and dejected. His mother and siblings peep from a hut as Kanu limps towards him.

KANU: I did not plan to have this kind of son, Ejike what came over you, what has come over you.

EJIKE: Nothing Mpa, I don’t know how it happened.

KANU: You don’t know, how will you know, when you seek counsel from your friends.

EJIKE: I asked no one of any help. It was all my making or the making I do not know.

KANU: Chaaai! You are provoking me the more, you will make me cut you with a cutlass soon, you this useless child. How do I talk among my fellow men?

EJIKE: Mpa…Mpa…Mpa…I am tired, I am tired. Ogwueru is just too greedy and big-mouthed. I could have married her if I have killed a leopard.

OGWUERU: But you haven’t killed any leopard.

Kanu and his son turn to see Ogwueru rushing towards them.

EJIKE: (Standing up to him) And have you killed any? My father told me the leopard was almost dead?

OGWUERU: What? What did I hear? Kanu! What have you said to your son?

KANU: Nothing but the truth…

OGWUERU: So you are this bad, I saved you and…that is what you have said.

KANU: You know it is the truth….

OGWUERU: Hmmm? You have touched me Kanu, you have shown me that you are not a man, opening your mouth like a woman.

KANU: Shut up!

OGWUERU: You keep quiet! I will kill another leopard soon, in our hunting festival and you will see your downfall.

KANU: (Into his face) And you will meet your own downfall, the sun and the rain are not made to cover truth. Go and kill leopards but leave my son alone.

OGWUERU: But you brought him to me.

KANU: Because of my legs.

OGWUERU: And why then do you not have legs, weak man.

KANU: Eat shit Ogwueru!

EJIKE: Ozuleh, it’s enough, my head is full, I have disgraced myself….

OGWUERU: And you will see more disgrace, child of wickedness. (He matches away.)

KANU: (Back to his son) You have seen it, you found rikpi, the heavy stone, carry it, carry it on your head, carry it alone.

EJIKE: I am sorry Mpa.

KANU: You have made mockery of me, even more than the leopard of Iroh forest made of me, aaai! Chaaai! My own son. (He leaps away in sobriety.)

Ejike lowers his head shamefully.




Ogazi is sitting beside her father, relishing a calm evening.

OGAZI: Indeed, we have met what is funny, Papa.

KING ISHI: To you…you have seem so quiet and happy about it.

OGAZI: (Laughs shortly) Yes, Ejike, he is such a funny fellow. Falling off the palm-tree like that.

KING ISHI: How do you not know disgrace?

OGAZI: Not at all my father…he behaves almost like Okoronkwo (Laughing again.)

KING ISHI: Hmmm, is that the voice of softness.

Ogazi looks up at her father.

OGAZI: It is nothing, he is simply an interesting fellow.

KING ISHI: Words have come to me that Ogwueru has said that he will kill another leopard in their hunting festival by the start of the rainy season before coming for you.

OGAZI: Ohmmmm?….yes….I have no words but it is by the gods.

KING ISHI: Like your mother says it.

OGAZI: Yes Papa, can I go to the kitchen now?

KING ISHI: You can.

Ogazi walks away.

KING ISHI: What has suddenly come over her?




The village of Iroh celebrate their hunting festival, their great hunters and hunters from neighbouring villages journey into the forests with their dogs, sharp spears and matchets to hunt antelopes and every other animal. The dreadful forest of Iroh is inhabited mostly by leopards and other wild animals. They make wild sounds depicting various animals as they match through forests hunting down every visible animal. Ejike and his new hunting father are among the forest traitors. In the forest of Iroh, leopard gets chased, the hunters scream in action to mow it down, Ejike gives a mighty blow to a rotting standing tree which falls on the leopard, impeding its race, he jumps on the beast and a wild fight begins. He is pleased to have sharpened more than five small knives and attached them firmly around his hard loincloth. The leopard pounces atop Ejike, it is out of luck, Ejike mercilessly stabs its stomach while under the beast. On their festive return, the people praise and cheer at the sight of the bloody leopard on Ejike’s shoulders. Ogazi among other maidens dances around him joyfully with her friends.

EJIKE: Ogazi, ndaah? You are here.

OGAZI: (Smiling) Yes I am, my father does not know.

He fell into her laughter.



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