THE CACOPHONOUS NORTH

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Chapter 10: Exile

I decided that the best thing to do when you are outwitted is to accept, go back to the drawing board and strategise. I remember with nostalgia when we were coming to the mountains, we had enough loyal men. Now it was only I and Giko. I wondered how Chief Rimbrok would react on learning that his elite force had been divided by his own brother. I gathered myself up and decided not to give. It was time to face the chief and so Giko and I embarked on our journey back home to the village.

Chief Rimbrok as usual was very happy to receive me. He holds me in high esteem and he therefore cannot wait for the day I will officially become his son-in-law. “And who is your friend?” Chief Rimbrok inquired. “My lord, his name is Giko. He is the only loyal soldier left,” I remarked. “What are you talking about, what has become of the rest?” He asked, looking rather confused yet concerned. It is then that I told the chief the whole story as it had unfolded…

The chief now concluded that Mzee Ayan even though is his brother, is a bad fish that must be eliminated from the basket if we want to stay safe as a community. As his chief of staff, I was tasked with coming up with a way of executing that mission within the next six days. As I was standing up ready to bid the chief farewell, he unusually remained seated then asked me, “where do you think you are going? I am not yet done with you.” “My apologies,” I replied swiftly and before sitting down, he interjected. “Young man, this marriage issue has been procrastinated for so long. Kindly ask Wepesi to avail time and see me urgently so that we can finalise.” I was doomed! Everything is going against me, I thought. All the same, I accepted the chief’s request and once he did not have any other pending issue, I was relieved to leave his court after declining politely to stay behind for dinner. I thereafter made sure that Giko was comfortable inside my hut before making that small stretch to my dad’s hut. I then passed the message to him half-heartedly. Wepesi was over the moon!

Early the next morning, Wepesi went looking for a few elders. They then made their way to the chief’s courtyard with a few cattle plus some goats. The chief received them warmly. He and his wife were elated. Enaan on her part was relieved while I was nervous, confused and did not know what to do. Later, the elders agreed on the date for our wedding and they pushed it to a very awkward day. For the next three days, I was in a panic mode. I did not do anything. In fact, the task that the chief had assigned to me took a passenger’s seat. I was lethargic and spent days indoors thinking. There is no way I could turn down the chief’s offer. It would not only be rude but very ungrateful. The chief has been very kind to us. We therefore owe him a lot. On the fourth day I managed to get out of my hut and paid Chief Rimbrok a visit. I told him that it was right I first finish the task at hand after which the wedding ceremony could be conducted. “My son-in-law, the wedding is only two days away. Why the rush to go out and eliminate that evil man? Just relax, we can do it after you have settled down with your wife,” he suggested. I concurred and retired back to my hut. Giko was still my guest and it was going to remain that way until most of the pending issues were solved. Meanwhile, preparations for the wedding were at an advanced stage now. Wepesi together with the old men from our village were very active organizing the venue. Wine makers and traditional brewers were busy preparing the best drinks for the day. Traditional dancers were perfecting their jigs while drummers were now slowly subjecting their drums over fire for them to be tight and produce the best loud sounds. I saw the priest ordained to preside over the ceremony trying his new robe. The mood of the entire village was generally ecstatic!

On the night before the wedding, I told Giko that I needed to go out and make some offerings to the ancestors. He asked if he could accompany me and I said only if he could fetch some firewood which we were going to use during the sacrifice. He immediately jumped from the corner which had become his resting place and went out. After a few minutes, he came back with enough firewood for the sacrifice. I then selected the fattest bull from the kraal and off we went towards the hills to a rocky place called ‘Kahiro’ where our community made sacrifices. We then slaughtered the bull, laid it nicely on the rocks. I asked the ancestors to intercede and accept our offering. Giko was standing at a distance behind me. Therefore he could not see everything I was doing. I performed one of the tricks and immediately smoke began to form. I continued to rub my hands even harder and within no time, I was engulfed in smoke with no chance of Giko on sight. What I could hear was his passionate prayer beseeching the ancestors to accept the sacrifice. Afterwards, I clapped my hands and was out of sight. Immediately the smoke subsided, Giko discovered that I was nowhere to be seen but the sacrificial bull was still burning. He then stayed on a little longer just to make sure the offertory was consumed completely. Thereafter, he looked around hoping to find me but in vain. Giko finally left Kahiro in a rather confused frame of mind.

Back at the village, the community was now gearing up for the wedding and everyone was keeping vigil. Giko went straight to Chief Rimbrok’s court and relayed the message to the guards. They alerted the chief and he came out immediately looking shocked and surprised. He asked so many questions, “did Ayan and his men abduct him or was he consumed together with the sacrifice because the ancestors were not pleased? Sacrifices require elders to lead the ceremony, you two made a big mistake,” he sadly concluded. Giko could not answer any of his questions. He only related what had transpired. Wepesi together with the elders came out and joined Chief Rimbrok at his court. Giko then retired to my hut and stayed awake the whole night because what he had seen perplexed him.

The following day, Mzee Ayan’s son Chandrok came running to the village wailing amid sobs. “My father and his entire men have been slaughtered,” he said while kneeling before the chief as if asking for his mercy. “We were planning to ambush the village today as it was the wedding day and we thought your men would be caught unawares due to the festivities,” Chandrok continued. “Please, my uncle and my beloved chief, forgive me,” he pleaded. “Wait a minute, who killed Mzee Ayan and his men?” Chief Rimbrok interjected. Chandrok, still sobbing while kneeling before the chief, told the whole story as it had unfolded… “We were at the far east, across River Rakido where we had sought refuge. Moti being the most skilled and loyal amongst Ayan’s men had taken us through the final drill and had just finished assigning each one of us their respective duties in regards to the planned ambush. Everyone was tired and couldn’t wait to find some sleep. Our entire troop slept knowing very well that your elite force was no longer in existence and therefore there was no fear of surprise attacks. Therefore, everyone slept soundly only to be awoken by each other’s persistent coughing. We were suddenly engulfed in a huge dark smoke that made visibility impossible. Was it not for the coughing, I would have thought that I was alone. The coughing persisted and now in a crescendo. All of a sudden, screams and cries of pain replaced the coughing. Blood was beginning to splatter allover. We were under attack. Everyone started to run like headless chicken, bumping into each other in the process. We did not know who the attacker was, how many they were and why they were attacking us. This was turning out to be a massacre. I threw down my spear together with my bow and arrows and ran as fast as I could for my dear life. As I was running within the infinite smoke, a huge fire suddenly begun. The fire was right behind me and people were screaming. I did not want to look back knowing that the troop was perishing. I ran for as long as I could remember until I could no longer hear the cries. When I finally looked behind, the fire and the smoke was no more. It was as if I was the one chasing the smoke because it was only in front of me. Surprisingly, I could now see River Rakido behind. I went to the point where we cross and there I gazed at some writing inscribed on the wet riverbank and it read, - warning to those who plan to destroy innocent lives while overthrowing a legitimate chieftain. This warning has made me come to you my chief to seek your forgiveness,” Chandrok concluded. Then gradually, smoke started emerging from the ground. Everyone was tensed and they started coughing and the coughs increased together with smoke. I, Ngao ya Taifa appeared in the smoke and then addressed the chief without anyone seeing me. “My lord, please forgive him.” The chief asked, “is that you my son?” Chief Rimbrok immediately recognized my voice and he was really relieved. My dad Wepesi was also very excited. “Yes, my lord, it is me,” I reassured him. Chief Rimbrok then decided to forgive his nephew and accepted him back to the village. I thereafter clapped my hands and the smoke disappeared. Finally, they could see me and I decided to let them know how I got my powers before leaving them.

The wedding never took place and Enaan was told of my situation. She pledged to remain single waiting patiently for the day I will change my mind and come back. She also yearns for the day I will peacefully secure the entire region knowing it is only then that I will be ready to settle down. Many years have passed now and Wepesi, despite age taking its toll on him is still optimistic that his son would someday emerge. Chief Rimbrok on his part believes that I went to be with the ancestors as I did not have any ‘blemishes.’ He and Wepesi keep on saying that Ngao sacrificed his life to be the shield that protects the entire community and his story will be told for generations to come. Meanwhile, I continue to traverse this region ensuring that peace prevails. Civilization is creeping slowly into this once dormant hot part of Kenya.


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