THE FINAL CONSPIRACY
Twenty-six villages conspired against Omenuko. They said in their meetings that they would go and make war against Omenuko and his people; and whatever resulted, they would take the responsibility--whether it be life or death, they would accept it. Some of them then thought, "Since Omenuko is a difficult person, perhaps he will overcome us in the war." These people sneaked out and went and informed Omenuko of what they had said, so they could curry favor with Omenuko. The expectation of those informers was that Omenuko would surely go first to tell the government people, and then the government people would prevent the war. But they did not know that Omenuko and his people were courageous and would prepare to fight the war against those twenty-six villages.
Omenuko then called his people together and said to them, "We shall not fail to fight these people if they really come. But there is one thing we must understand before the fight, and that is that the white people will not be pleased with me if I fight, but still I shall fight because they carried the fight to my house. A war like this is not a premeditated war, which I will be blamed for joining, saying that I ought not to have joined it, but this is a case of my enemies seeking to attack me and my people so they can wipe us out completely. Therefore, we shall save ourselves. I know that if it is fought, we shall surely return to our town." Omenuko and his people then prepared thoroughly while keeping on the alert.
The day came that the twenty-six villages had appointed to fight the war, so they came and began by digging up plants that were on Omenuko's farm--cocoa, plantains, and bananas. That is when Omenuko said to his people, "This is the time." Omenuko's people then went and got their guns, shot one man and wounded several others. The one who had been shot fell down dead. When the people of the twenty-six villages saw that one of their men had died, they tried hard to kill one of Omenuko's people. One of their men had died, one of Omenuko's men also had died. Thus the debt was balanced. Those chiefs took their man and went to Awka; Omenuko also took his man and went to Awka. When the two factions took the people who had been killed and reached Awka, the District Commissioner came out and saw the bodies of the two men and asked what had happened to them.
Omenuko then said to the District Commissioner, "White man, please, ask the twenty-six villages what I have done to cause them to conspire to kill me and my people. Because of what they said in their secret meeting, they invaded my home today, and when my people went out to stop them, they struck and killed one of my men and tried to find a way to carry off the body. Perhaps they saw a deceitful way to say that they had not killed anyone. But several things will bear witness against them. They came and began to uproot cocoa, plantain and bananas I had planted on my farm. While they were doing these things no one from my house stopped them, until several of them came to the front of my house. My people then went out to stop them, and they then struck and killed this man. This caused me to tell my people to shoot one of their men. My people did so, and they ran off. But my people captured three of their men who had lost their way. When these chiefs heard my people's gunfire and saw that one of their people had fallen dead to the ground they ran, because they had not brought along their guns. Those who were carrying away that man of mine whom they had killed then saw that their companions were retreating, and they then threw the man's body to the ground and fled. I then told my people to go and retrieve his body, and they did. While these chiefs were running for their lives, they abandoned the corpse of their man and left. Three of their men whom I captured I told to carry off the corpse of their man and leave. They then took the corpse and left. Another thing I will say in addition to this is, ask the court messengers and the court clerk of my village and they will tell you what they saw."
The District Commissioner then asked the twenty-six villages, "Have you heard what Omenuko just said?" They said, "Yes, we have heard." The District Commissioner asked them, "Which is the truth?" They then said that some of his words were true and some were false. The District Commissioner asked them, "Which statements were false?" They said they had told Omenuko to return to his village. The District Commissioner then said, "That is not what you were asked--listen, did you or did you not invade Omenuko's house?" They said that they did not invade, rather that they went to his cocoa farm and dug up the cocoa and the bananas and the plantains that were in it; Omenuko then gathered his people and came out and began to shoot at them, and shot down that man who was killed.
The District Commissioner then asked them, "Do you know that it is you who will be blamed for this war?" They said, "Yes." The District Commissioner said to them, "Do you know what the consequences of this war are for you?" They told him that whatever came out of it they would face, until they found a way to kill Omenuko himself, and then they would listen to what the District Commissioner said. The chiefs then said to the District Commissioner, "If you want to kill all of us because of Omenuko, who is a foreigner in this land of ours, it will be better for us than to allow something as unusual as this to happen." The District Commissioner heard all these bad words they spoke without any cowardice or fear. The D. C. then said to them, "Take these two corpses and go and bury them and come back in four days." They took those who had been killed and went away.
The next day, the District Commissioner sent out his messenger, a policeman, and told him to go and call Omenuko. The messenger then went and called Omenuko. He accompanied the messenger to Awka on the same day. The District Commissioner then led Omenuko into the house and asked him, "Tell me the truth concerning what these people are saying. They are insisting that you are a stranger in their land and that your village is in Okigwi." Omenuko said, "I will not lie to you. My village is in Okigwi as they said." The District Commissioner then said to Omenuko, "I do not know what I can tell you that will please you, but what is the worst for me is to see that these twenty-six villages risk death and jail and the onslaught of the white people's soldiers against them and the removal of their chiefs from the bench. What convinces me that something bad will happen is that they were not afraid to agree that they attacked your house, neither were they afraid to say that they will not rest until they kill you. That is why I said earlier, what will be the worst for me will be to see that these twenty-six villages are risking death to kill you, because they can find someone who is a worthless person, and that person, not caring about dying, will take a gun and shoot you down. Then what can I do except kill that worthless person, because he will confess willingly. Remember, it is not only here that your name is known, but your name is known in Okigwi and other places. That is why I will tell you to get ready and return to your village in peace. I have not found anything against you that is so bad that will cause you to lose your position of leadership."
Omenuko then said to the District Commissioner, "What punishment will you give them for their invasion of my home, because if you do not give them a heavy punishment, will they not look at a thing like this and do other bad things that will be worse than this? From today on I will get my things ready and notify the people of my village that they should come and move my things. I have heard your words, therefore from this day on you may be sure that I have agreed to return to my village, because there is no one in my village to whom I owe a debt."
The District Commissioner then said, "When you are ready to return, be sure to let me know." Omenuko thanked him, returned to his house, called together all his people, and told them what he and the District Commissioner had said. They all then rejoiced. "It is better that we go home alive than go home dead."
Omenuko then said to his people, "Truly, we will not fail to return to our village, because if any man starts a fight, he will find out what issue is causing the quarrel, and he will find out what benefit he will get from that fight; but in the quarrel between me and these people there is no benefit for me and I do not see any benefit for them. Therefore we should return to our village, so that these people who are seeking our return will eat the land of their ancestors and will eat it to their death."