Thursday, April 12, 2012

Aandem Aaki.

There was a man who lived in a village called Ntenako. He was called Aandem Aaki. He was a dexterous hunter who never came home without game.  He never missed his target. His enemies knew that attacking him or his friends will bring him out. Aandem Aaki lost his parents when he was 17. By then he had mastered the art of hunting. He chased pythons for pepper soup and fought with lions and leopards for the forest kingship. He despised cutting-grass and porcupine as game for women. When other hunters who were older than him jubilated bringing home squirrels and ratmoles, he will grind in bemusement that any man, talk less of a hunter should be happy with such an achievement. He was young but when the time for truth came, he never prevaricated. He was brave and courageous in the face of evil.
As his skills grew, his popularity increased. They called him all sorts of titles; nkwo mmu (real man), nnemen-nok (iroko), ekrisu bhaghosong (mirror if young girls), nyah na aanen (bitter meat), moh Mmandem (child of God), eronghoh etok (light of the town) and others called him in direct titles papa, daddy, mfor (chief) etaahyeseh (our father). Indeed he was all of that.  When he passed, young girls ran to their doors to see and smile with him. If he wanted to marry, he would have done that in a heartbeat. On the market day, the bevies of young girls and galaxies of women seemed to be waiting just for a word. He was the mirror women used to look at themselves. If he told anyone of them that she was beautiful, she might not take a shower again because the very reason to prove herself beautiful has endorsed her already. He was jocund and full of largess to them.
The men who were jealous of him ensnared him, but he will never fall. They talked evil of him and said he has bought powers from the underworld, others said that he had joined a secret society, and some said he had sold part of his body to be popular. It was none of that! He drank the poison that old men gave without realizing he drank poison because it would seem God was with him. One day he felt on the same trap he had set for an antelope. The trap took him and slammed him on the trunk of a mahogany that was just by the side because that is the way the trapped worked. It slammed the antelope’s back on the tree to break its spinal cord. Yet, Aandem Aaki came out unscathed. His fame went beyond the villages and reechoed to visiting strangers.
When people attacked his friend, they knew they were in for war. Aandem Aaki will never start a war, but he ended it at his timing. He was dexterous, he knew which arrow to shoot, he knew which trap to set, and he knew the weaknesses of all his enemies. He won all his wrestling matches in the village as he constantly slipped off the attempted chokes of his adversaries.  Even animals had learned to avoid his territory because he was a conqueror.
Despite all of that, he was a man of the people. He helped the widows and widowers, orphans and weeping parents in the village. He accompanied young people to the stream to fetch water. If he was passing and saw any woman trying to split firewood, Aandem Aaki will stop to split it for her. He went and broke melons with total strangers. When someone died, he will spend the night there. He will always come with palmwine and some game for them to drink and cook for the mourners. You could see why they called him eronghoh etok or why others went the distance to call him moh Mmandem. He had qualities that made life easier for others even though he had never set foot in church.  
There was not a villager who did not know Aandam Aaki. The surrounding villages had heard of his good works. Parents began naming their kids Aandam Aaki. At 22, it was difficult to know the real Aandem Aaki because anyone with the name became instantly popular and famous. There you could see that  it is failure that is always alone; success always has brothers and sisters, some he does not even know.
Then the lights went off! Aandem Aaki died in his sleep. Epilogue has it that the ancestors took him for breaking a law, but others argued that he took all the glory of his talents and skills for himself rather than give the glory to God. Still some said he died of slow poison. Some Christians said God does not allow real good people to live long. I don’t know which one to believe, but I know that we all missed him. You know that many people had died in the village without anyone missing them. But the village mourned Aandem Aaki for more than seven conservative days. At last the light was extinguished! "Oh Aandem" the young girls mourned. The dotards said "nnemenok adese bhioreh” the great tree has absconded majestically. The same life that no mortal, no spirit visible or invisible could conquer is put out without any struggle and very young.     
Nevertheless, young people grew old but still remember Aandem Aaki. Aandem Aaki is gone leaving behind his ersatz. "Oh Aandem Aaki, you made life easier for us." It was not for nothing, it was not by coincidence, but it seems by divine ordination that his parents gave him that name Aandem Aaki. Literally it means "If he promised, he will fulfill it". It simply means a man who keeps his promises. In American parlance  they say "he walks the talk." When you keep your promises to God and man, you will be missed if you died no matter the age. So would people miss you if you died today? Are you harnessing the skills in your young children? Is the community glad to see you?

Until then, be an Aandem Aaki.

St Arrey of Ntenako

“Bonyfish beware because the same net that caught the jawless fish, caught the cartilaginous fish” (Hamilton Ayuk). Beware earthly paradise seekers because there is a serpent in every paradise"(Hamilton Ayuk). Idle people write, idler people read, and idlest people read and whine that idle people are taking their time (Hamilton Ayuk).

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