Chapter 6: Enemy Lines Drawn
Our new status in society meant that we will live with the chief. His court was surrounded by a cluster of houses that belonged to his immediate servants. From soldiers whose huts were immediately closer to the chief’s court to those in the periphery belonging to subordinates. The following day, we moved into our new abode. Our compound area was second only to the chief’s in terms of size hence, an indicator of the new position that I had assumed. This did not go down well with some of the village elders, more so the chief’s brothers, cousins and nephews. We had just moved in, then enemy lines were drawn swiftly. The people who were closest to the chief did not want anything to do with us. They began to conspire for our downfall.
Early the next morning, Chief Rimbrok sent his messenger to our place. Moti, as he was called reminded me so much about Apiko. This was because they had a lot in common. From their stature to their complexion. But what struck me the most was their ‘slow agility.’ Both were very fast with their feet yet very slow in speech. Moti’s speech though was the worst. He mumbled some words before stammering. I guess it was because of his agility that the chief chose him for a messenger. “Good morning commander,” Moti begun. “Sorry for wa-k-i-ng you this early.” He continued. “Good morning Moti,” I replied. I knew his name because the chief had taken us around to get acquainted with everyone. “What can I do for you?” I inquired. “Chief Ri-mb-mb-mb-rok would like to see you immedi-ate-ly!” Moti stammered. “Please tell him I would be there in a flash,” I replied.
By now my dad Wepesi had woken up and was standing at his doorstep. He asked what was going on and I updated him. Moti then left as fast and quiet as he had arrived. I washed my face then took my brushing stick from the top of the covered pot beside my bed and headed towards the chief’s court. On arrival, I was ushered in by his servants. He was seated in his usual place facing the entrance. This time though he was alone. I took a bow and saluted him to which he responded. His tone was not the usual jovial one! He asked me, “where is Wepesi? I had sent word for both of you to come,” he continued. Before I could speak, Moti was there and mumbled again. “We-we---wep-esi did not lend me his e-yahs.” I was a bit confused here because Moti came directly to me, passed the message then left. Chief Rimbrok was not amused and he asked me, “Ngao, how come your dad is being disobedient or he loves his bed too much?” “No, my lord, there is just some miscommunication,” I replied. “I knocked at his door but he did not respon-n-d,” intervened Moti. “Aaargh… anyway, I need you as my commander to gather all your men and prepare them for battle at dusk. We are facing an imminent attack and I think the best defence is attack,” asserted Chief Rimbrok. “Our enemies are our southerly neighbours who want our land, women and animals. Teach them a lesson lest they forget that we do not share our women, animals or land with anyone… And with that you are dismissed,” Chief Rimbrok concluded. “Yes my lord,” I responded, bowed then turned to begin my mission. Meanwhile outside the court, Moti was dashing like a dog on fire. I said to myself, this Moti fellow seems to be up to no good.
I immediately gathered my men, a hundred strong men. We went to the caves where I got my blessings to strategise. We stayed there till dusk and it is from here that we launched our attack.
When we arrived near our southerly neighbours villages, something was completely amiss! The villages were deserted and lifeless even though we arrived a few minutes after three in the morning. The kraals did not have any animals and the doors to their huts were temptingly ajar. People do not sleep with their doors open - this must be a trap, I said to myself. “Halt, halt,” I commanded my troops. “This is not usual. Everyone wait here while I go myself,” I suggested. I did not want to risk the lives of my men. So I stealthily went alone. Looked inside one hut after another. By the time I was looking inside the hut on the periphery, I heard cattle mooing loudly. I looked around but could not see anyone. I went around the huts, that was when I saw the whole community vanishing down the valleys on the other side of the river. This river is usually high at this hour of the night but during the day up until midnight, the water is low and one can wade across hence, the name Rakido literally meaning moods wings.
I immediately gathered that the people were tipped of our planned attack and they did not have much time to escape. They left hurriedly leaving most doors open with the fire still warm. I concluded that we have an informer in our midst. I knew it was safe now, so I summoned my troops and told them that we could not pursue the enemy beyond the river. It was not navigable at this hour. We just had to terminate our mission and head back home. When we were turning back, one of my men tried to spear me from close range. He was shocked because it pierced me but immediately he retracted the spear, the wound healed. Before I could react, my other men pounced on him and started skinning him alive! It took my intervention to save this poor soul. But I could not have helped him much regarding the bruises and cuts that he sustained. I told my men to tie him like a goat and off we were going back home.