(In the house of Ekwekwe. Ekwekwe is at home, reading the Bible. Nnodi enters, he raises his head and says to him, "Welcome, Nnodi," and buries his face in the book he is reading. His eyeglasses fall onto the bridge of his nose like those of a committee of elders.)
Nnodi: Ekwekwe, when
I came to your house, you acted as though you did not see me, is there
any peace? Has that Bible you are reading made you into
Ekwekwe: (Sighs, turns to face Nnodi) Don't take offense, my brother. It is said that when you come to the house of someone who is working at a craft, he seems to look gloomy. Was there any quarrel between you and me before now? Something happened to the cocoyam's waist to make it cry "nwiii." The toad does not run in the daytime for nothing.
Nnodi: (In surprise) What happened? I know very well that this is not how you were at first when I came in and looked at your face and found out that something was not the way it used to be. Is there no peace in your household? Has the illness that Sera has been suffering started up again?
Ekwekwe: Nnodi, my friend, there is no trouble in my household; rather, you know that when the legs wobble back and forth, the eye that watches it goes back and forth with it.
Nnodi: Ekwekwe, I have not fully comprehended these proverbs you are giving today. Whoever carved the ikoro drum should widen its teeth, because ...
(Nwugo enters, carrying kolanut)
Nwugo: (Kneels and gives the kolanut to her husband.) Brother Nnodi, welcome. How are your family? I trust that our Sister and her children are in good health?
Nnodi: There is no trouble. The only sickness we have is hunger.
Nwugo: Hunger is a small matter when one is healthy. One whose life is complete and has high expectations, our master will help and bring what is needed to nourish the life he gave us. He says we should stop thinking about tomorrow, because tomorrow will take care of itself.
Nnodi: That is true, my Sister. How about your children? I trust that they are very well?
Nwugo: They are all fine.
Nnodi: Praise be to Jesus.
Nwugo: Amen. (He then goes out.)
Ekwekwe: Isn't it true
that when kola comes it brings on talking. Nnodi, kola
Ekwekwe: Whoever is knocking
on the door, come on in! (They come in.) O o o, Ukoha! Welcome! Arinze,
was this a planned thing? Sit down. You have seen the kola we have in our
hands. This shows that you wish us well. (He carries the
Ukoha: He is right. My brother, look now. (He carries the kola to Arinze.)
Arinze: The kola is good. The chief's kola has returned to the chief. (He carries it to Ekwekwe.)
Ekwekwe: God, we thank you that you have preserved our lives until today. We beg for good things and health. If someone says that we should die without enjoying life to the full, let him go to sleep before the chickens. [May he die early.] He who works, let him eat. We hold the staffs of innocence and justice o! Please, come and bless this kola for us in the name of Jesus our master.
The Others: Amen o!
Nnodi: I have looked around and seen that it is we, we who are here, our people say that if people stay together to eat vulture, they solve their problems [literally, "the basket is brought down"]. It is not that our conversation before (he looks at Arinze and Ukoha) you came was anything secret where you are concerned.
Ekwekwe: (Coughs, looks around like someone looking for something.) My brothers, welcome. What Nnodi said is right. Not long ago I was thinking how I was going to call you all together because when we see each other, things do not go wrong. Now I see that it is the will of God causing all of us to meet together at this time. They say that if you meet behind a strong man in secret, you will have to do it a second time. (He is silent for a moment, looking calm.) Nnodi, you were asking about the look on my face when you entered. It seems to me that none of you is giving thought to how this church of ours is getting along and how Akuuwa is behaving against us. It seems as if he is still involved in the wrongdoing which was the type of life this man must have been living for a long time before he began to do this church work. We all thought that he had changed. But his behavior at times shows that no matter how the rain beats down on the guinea fowl, it still has its spots. You know very well that a person in this type of position now should be a holy person, one who keeps himself clean both in spirit and in flesh. Anyone who has the eyes of an animal-hunter will see what is happening in our house of prayer, and will know that there is something hidden going on between Akuuwa and Adamma.
Ukoha: There is truth in what Ekwekwe said. I did not know that there was anyone else seeing what I was seeing.
Arinze: About Adamma
that is a small matter. (He then says h...m...m.)
Ekwekwe: The gifts that are given to our prayer house, we know nothing about them. The collections we contribute among ourselves and those that come from other areas, do you know how they are going along? (They look around at each other and shake their heads.) I ask you to tell me how they are going along. Did you know that a storied house is being built in his village, Ndiako, now? (They all jump in surprise.)
Nnodi: Ekwekwe, is what you are saying really true, or are you joking?
Ukoha: I had gone out one day, and he and some man were talking in low voices. I heard them handling bags of cement, sand, blocks, planks, zinc, iron pokers. It has been three months now. It puzzles me greatly as to what he was using these things to do.
Ekwekwe: If it puzzles you, you should look down at the ground and find out what is going on in our church; you all have your heads in the clouds. You did not know that at that time he was preparing for that house. Go and see the house he started three months ago, that it is completely finished. Is he printing money? Or is he a thief?
Arinze: You ask if he is printing money, it is also that he who holds the yam, holds the knife, and the one for whom he slices it open does the eating. He is the pastor and the collector of the money as well as the keeper of the money. What did you think would happen? Did anyone inquire about him? You all know that Brother Jude, the man we prayed for more than a month ago in the house of prayer, to obtain a good job and send us one bag of money? (Ukoha and Nnodi then shouted separately in surprise.)
Ekwekwe: I don't know if there is anyone else who heard anything like this. The matter of this money goes along with what I had in mind and wanted to tell you. It has been more than four months since I heard about it. I kept thinking that he would tell us about it, but until today I haven't heard the slightest thing. Sleep that lasts for a week turns into death. What do you all think?
Nnodi: It is not that we do not know what we can say, or what we can do. There are many things that we can do, but I am afraid of this man. The person who does not know who is his superior is dead.
Ekwekwe: What are you afraid of? Is he not your fellow man?
Nnodi: You also asked what caused the sudden death of Dimkpa and the violent death of Ahumibe. You have forgotten that it was Ahumibe who was the one who revealed that he accepted a bribe, which caused him to be dismissed from his job. Dimkpa, in his own area, went and started a fight with him in his house because he was trying to take his wife away from him. If you have completely forgotten these things, what about the thing that happened yesterday only--that Akumefula came to him to collect a debt and they then argued, insulted each other, and he lost his life because of it. A man in his own house had his testicles squeezed. Can it be that you do not know that it was praying that he used to pray these people to death?
Ukoha: This prayer you spoke of, was it different? Was it the same prayer that all of us pray?
Nnodi: Have you all asked what he is doing with the that thing that looks like the face of a spirit that is behind his house? Don't you know that that is the place where he brings out the soul of the one he wants to kill and takes out that person's life in the twinkling of an eye. (The others are startled and shout out in sadness.)
Ukoha: Ha ... w u u! Is that what he is doing there? Is that what caused the red candle and blood to pour out there all the time? No wonder he commits atrocities without fear of anyone great or small.
Arinze: Now I understand the meaning of the words that Ibe, his servant, spoke concerning the type of mysterious prayer that only his master prayed, in the dead of night, behind the house.
Ekwekwe: I am happy that
you are understanding the type of person Akuuwa is.
Arinze: My thought in this matter is to consider how we can smash that shrine of his. That is all I have to say.
Ukoha: I support what Arinze has said because it will cause his power to fail. If you take from a man what he uses to be good, his goodness is spoiled.
Nnodi: In my mind, I think that it would be better if we ourselves would break away from his House of Prayer and start one of our own. Let him carry his trouble with him to his church. One to whom something has happened before should be wise, and come out iinto the world before the abomination.
Ekwekwe: These pieces
of advice you all have given are very good, but I am thinking that if we
leave that shrine of his alone and expose him [take him by force] before
the House of Prayer, he will go there and pray us to death as Nnodi said.
But if we go and smash the shrine and still remain as members of his House
of Prayer, there will be no peace between him and us. Therefore, I am thinking
that we should definitely take both of these counsels. We will smash the
shrine and also break away from his House of Prayer. Do you all agree with
this? Or shall we let everything go and accept disgusting insults when
Arinze: God forbid!
Ukoha: It would be like a person washing his hands to break a palmnut for a chicken. Have we forgotten what the Bible says? "One who loses his life shall receive it, but one who thinks of only his own life will lose it at the end."
Nnodi: I have seen that the hearts of all people are the same. Since one person standing alone is bitten to death by flies, I agree with what you all have said; let it be like when you are mixing juju and it starts to take effect immediately. Time should not be wasted, what is to be done should be started. He has burned us together in the fire.
Ekwekwe: I am very pleased at the way our voices are united. When a seed bears fruit and ripens on the same day, it is not a good seed. You should go home and leave the rest to me. Be listening for my message. You have done well. Let it rest now.
(They rise to leave.)
Nnodi: You have done well. We will go home.
Ukoha: Thank your wife. Goodbye.
Arinze: (Shakes Ekwekwe's hand.) The discussion is over. It will be confirmed by a nod. Let's go.
The lights go out.
-- on to Act Four --