(The drum sounds in the village. A commotion breaks out noisily, then calms down. The curtain then opens and reveals a place inside at the back where people have gathered near the bush. Nwokoro enters, carrying the god Amadioha on his shoulder. Njoku, Ogbuehi and Iwejua carry their chairs one by one, and holding their ofo staffs in their hands. They then arrange the god to face the people, where there will be some space between it and the people. They take their seats behind the god. There is a little noise, but when Njoku gets up, it subsides. The Ekpe dancers start to beat their drums. Njoku, Nwokoro and Ogbuehi are enjoying their dancing. This continues for about three minutes before Njoku waves to them and they stop.) 

NJOKU: Ihenweorie, Ama-ato, kwenu! 


NJOKU: Kwezuenu! 


NJOKU: (He clears his throat.) Greetings! May you not die early. This is the appointed day. When a matter has been [previously] decided, it takes only a nod of the head to agree to it. The reason we gather this Eke morning is that Ikekwem and his household may swear an oath for Oguamalam concerning the "Main farmland" bush that they are contesting for. The village has decided that the one who should swear this oath is Oguamalam and his household. But Oguamalam has agreed that if Ikekwem would swear an oath for him, he [Ikekwem] should take the land. Ikekwem, are you here? 

IKEKWEM: Yes! I am here. 

NJOKU: You and your household move to the front of Amadioha here. (They go and stand before the god.) Oguamalam, are you here? 

OGUAMALAM: I am here. 

NJOKU: Come out here. (Oguamalam and his son Chibunna come out.) The people of Amaala, Umuezue have gathered. Before Ikekwem starts to swear, it is important that he be asked again if he is determined to swear this oath. We will not force him to swear it. 

THE CROWD: Yes! (In agreement.) 

NJOKU: Ihenweorie, Ama-ato, kwenu! 


NJOKU: Ikekwem, the Amaala people have told me to ask you if you are still determined to take this oath, or are you taking it because you are being forced? 

IKEKWEM: I take it with all my heart. No one is forcing me to take it. If a person pleads innocence, the oath will not kill the swearer. (A bit of commotion then ensues. The Ekpe people start their dance. Njoku dances a bit, then waves his hand. The dance stops promptly.) 

NJOKU: People of Amaala, our dance has reached its peak. Ikekwem and his two wives will swear an oath to Oguamalam. Before he swears it, he will plead innocence, saying that the "Main farmland" that has caused the quarrel is the land of the children of Okpuruka and Okemkpi: that Okemkpi and Okpuruka divided their land, then decided before Amaala that they would redivide these lands when their children grew up, that the "Main farmland" is not among those that Okemkpi the father of Oguamalam, and Okpuruka his [Ikekwem's] father, shared before the ofo-holders of Ihenweorie, when they divided their lands. He will also say that if there is cheating in his heart in contesting for this land, let Agbara kill him. 

THE CROWD: Right on! 

NJOKU: Ikekwem, you and your wives come on. The time has come. (As soon as they kneel down, a mad person runs in front of them and pulls on Ikekwe's shirt.) 

MAD PERSON (Wapayi): Beast, are you going to swear this oath and die? You took a good look at your brother and you are cheating him, because he is an only child. Administer this oath, let him swear it, swear himself to death, because someone else's property will kill him. You want to kill him because he has no people. Women, rise up! Ikekwem has misled you. 

NJOKU: Chase Wapayi away. Would you be silent and allow him to spoil what we have already agreed on? (Ogbuehi and Iwejua then go and seize Wapayi and push him out. Wapayi begins to struggle.) 

MAD PERSON (Wapayi): All right deaf people, swear this oath today and let death confront you. Take your hands off me! (He tries to bite them. They push him out. Noise breaks out, then subsides.) 

NJOKU: Ihenweorie, kwenu! (Tries to quiet the noise.) 


NJOKU: Kwezuenu! 

THE CROWD: Yaaaa! 

NJOKU: See how the moon stays in the sky, as though a human being had put it there. Hey, there is a snake in the grass. I'd better ask Ikekwem again if he is still determined to swear this oath? Ikekwem, did you hear what the mad man said? I would like you to reconsider the mad man's words. Mad men are spirits, spirits are mad men. Do you really want to swear this oath? 

SOME VOICES: Leave him to swear it, let death face him! 

A PERSON: He is stubborn. No one will cry for him if he dies. The chicken that refuses to listen hears things in the soup pot. 

IKEKWEM: My heart is strong. I did not say it weakly. I will swear this oath today, not tomorrow. No one should cry for me if I die. The head that disturbs the wasp is the one it will sting. 

NJOKU: All right. There is nothing else preventing the dog's death. Now, invoke your innocence, swear it. (Obiageli breaks out in tears. It is quiet everywhere. Not the slightest sound is heard, except Obiageli's sobbing and the voice of Ikekwem pleading innocence.) 

IKEKWEM: Amadioha, oh listen to my plea of innocence! Lord in heaven, hear my voice. When our grandfather Chima died his two sons, Okemkpi and Okpuruka, divided their father's lands and his other belongings between the two of them. But at no time did they include the "Main farmland" in these lands. The two of them in the presence of the ofo-holders of Ihenweorie decided that these lands would be redivided when their children had grown up and had children of their own. But no one ever redivided these lands. If the "Main farmland" land was included in those divided at first and was given to Okemkpi and I am saying that I am taking it from Oguamalam out of jealousy, because he is an only child; if Okemkpi and Okpuruka did not decide that they would redivide these lands, as I said before, in the presence of the ofo-holders, may Agbara kill me and the people of my household. May it not let us live out this year. (The crowd then breaks out into a great commotion. Immediately, there is a great flash of lightning, bam, bam, bam. There are three claps of thunder. Everyone falls to the ground, Soon, it is quiet everywhere. Obiageli's voice is heard crying out.) 

OBIAGELI: Oh! Oh! Oh, I am dead! Oh, my leg! E-ei! E-ei! 

OGBUEHI: What happened? Go home! Go home! Ikekwem has--has died! Chei! (Some of the others run in, while several others dash out and return to their homes. Njoku then takes his ofo in his left hand and looks at Ikekwem and his wife Nwaibari where they are stretched out stiff like logs. Obiageli continues to cry out.) 

NJOKU: Chei! I knew it was going to happen. Ogbuehi, bring Agbara and let's go. The grasshopper that the plantain-eater killed was stubborn. If one cheats a poor person, let his hand get stuck in spirit-land. Njoku will not touch someone who has been killed by the spirits. Nwokoro, bring Agbara and let's go. One who consumes deathly things should die. (Njoku then sees that his Agbara is lying face down on the ground and goes to pick it up.) Who pushed down my Agbara? Chei! Chei! Who pushed down my Agbara, that Agbara should strike and kill him? (He touches it and sees tht it is completely broken. He shouts.) Oh, my Agbara! My Agbara is in pieces! Satan, is that how you brought me bad luck today? Chei! God forbid an abomination! Darkness has fallen in the afternoon! Nwokoro, pick up the pieces of the Agbara and let's go. 

OGBUEHI: Oh, let me not be guilty! 

NWOKORO: I plead innocence, and hold the ofo. Oh, let not spirits or humans hold me guilty. (They then go out.) 

NJOKU: Ikekwem look at the land, let the land also look at you. He who chases the chicken is bound to fall. All the chicken can do is just waddle away. Nwokoro, what is keeping you? I am leaving. (He starts to go.) He who starts to do something should make sure he is innocent. I am innocent. (Nwokoro then carries the Agbara, and Ogbuehi carries their chairs.) 



-- back to Oguamalam index page -- back to Igbo language index page --