THE FLIGHT OF OMENUKO AND HIS BROTHERS
When that special time they were waiting for arrived, namely, the night time, they made all those who were going to retire early go and close their compound gates, so that no one would come to their houses that night, since some folks were disgruntled. When they thought that everyone had gone home to sleep, they told their brother, Nwabueze, to follow the main road that ran through the middle of our town up to the end of the town. He did this and returned quickly. They asked, "Did you see anything or hear anything?" He told them, "I didn't hear a sound, nor did I see anyone; not even a lizard's cry did I hear, except that Ibe Ofo was shouting. (This Ibe Ofo was a madman who had been put in jail and restrained hand and foot.)
After he told them these things, they went and opened their compound gates. They then talked about how they would carry their small children. When they finished this, they all proceeded to go out in front of the house that we call the obi, the place where Omenuko lived, because it had been their father's house.
Then they started out for the town of Ndi Mgborogwu, and while they were crossing our town they did not meet a single man or woman on the road. When they began their journey, the sky was very dark. Afterward, a heavy rain fell that night. From our town they had traveled more than seven miles to the place where it began to rain.
When day dawned, the children, who were not their own but those living in the houses of Omenuko's extended family, awoke from sleep and looked all over, but they could not see anyone--only the abandoned, empty houses. They started to cry. The neighbors heard their cries and came to find out what had happened to them. There was nobody in their houses except the crying children. They came in and asked the children, "Where are your masters?" They told those who had entered that they did not know where they had gone.
The people went in and ran all around the compound and the houses, but did not see anyone. They cried out, "Come and see with us what has happened here!" The shouts reached the ears of many people. They came running, and saw that Omenuko and his brothers had run away. Some youths were then selected to find out which road they had taken. When the youths returned in the afternoon and reported that they had heard gunshots in Ndi Mgborogwu, our people decided to send out some others and told them, "Go and find out if it is Ndi Mgborogwu that they have run to." The messengers went and discovered that it was to Ndi Mgborogwu that they had escaped, to the house of a chief there called Mgborogwu. The chief and the people of his village were rejoicing and shooting their guns. The chief was delighted because Omenuko and his brothers were numerous, and also appeared to be good people.
Omenuko had three wives. Two of them had each borne him one son and one daughter. Okorafo had two wives and one of them had borne him a son. Nwabueze had a wife, but she was still a young girl. Their younger brother and their two sisters and their mother had come with Omenuko. Since there were so many of them, the chief was very happy.
Those who had been sent out returned the next day and reported to our people what had happened, that it was to the house of the chief, Mgborogwu, that they had gone. Then there was commotion everywhere. Our villagers from that time on began to wonder about the people whom Omenuko had led to the Bende market--those who were learning the market trade from him and his load-bearers, some of whom he had sold. Our people then selected several strong men to go and make inquiries about the people he had led to the market. But some of his load-bearers who had returned with him from Bende market told them what they knew about those people he had left in Bende. They said that when they were preparing to return, Omenuko had told those people that they should wait for other travelers, and that Mr. Oji was going to give them things to carry back.
But these reports of some of the load-bearers did not stop the people who had been selected from going to see about the situation of those he had left in Bende. After four days had passed, a message came back from those who had been sent out to Bende. They reported that Mr. Oji said that Omenuko had sold all of those people to them.
the people of our land heard the news that Omenuko had sold his young
apprentices and his load-bearers, some of them were dumbstruck, and some
were like mourners unable to cry on account of what had happened to their
children. The cries in our town on that day and the cries heard in the
homes of Omenuko's relatives on the day they escaped to Ndi Mgborogwu were
very great. The tears that ran from the people's eyes for two days seemed
enough to form a small river. The parents of those who were sold cried,
but crying would not bring them back again. Omenuko had left our land and
gone to another one to stay as a guest. His relaives continued to
cry, but crying could not bring him back. Omenuko did not want to go on
living after the things he had done to people. Rather, what he wanted was
death, but his brothers did not allow it, because the method of dying that
he chose did not please his brothers, as it would have been a case in which
"the broom that swept the compound swept the house." This was something
that could cause a man and his entire family to be wiped out. So they decided
to run away and they fled to Ndi Mgborogwu. If Omenuko had known
that he would still be alive up until that day, he would not have sold
those people. He was constantly thinking about what he had done. His conscience
bothered him greatly, and even though Omenuko was no longer in our town,
his heart could not rest and he had no peace of mind on account of what
he had done.