Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Whispers from the Niger Delta

As the bullet tore into his flesh, Efemena gave a loud cry, “my children! my children!”. He slumped to the ground where his fellow village elders’ lifeless body lay. As he stare at death’s gruesome face, his thought wandered to his soon-to-be orphan children who had lost their mother to cholera, two years ago. He couldn’t stop the tears from pouring.

Another bullet pierced his sides.

His face contorted in pain as thick balls of blood drip from his lips, impeding his speech. His assailant – one of the uniformed men, trampled on the corpse of the slain elders and stood over him with a pointed gun. Efemena could only whisper through a splutter of blood, “God save my children” as his brain exploded.

Onanefe’s scream cut through the lone night like a bullet, puncturing the once serene ambience and frightening the feasting mosquitoes away from their nocturnal preoccupation. A greedy blood-drunk Anopheles whose tiny legs could no longer sustain the bulging thirty-three litres blood tank meant for an abdomen was squashed to death as Edafe wrapped her frail arms around her trembling brother, reminding him that it was only a nightmare. But Onanefe never got over it!

From the chink in the town hall, he had watched those uniformed men massacre his father alongside several village elders under the guise of national dialogue. That morning, they came beaming with smile, with their guns dangling from the side. As they converged at the town Hall, the village elders wore faces brightened with hope. They chatter away like excited kids until the guns put them to sleep. They muzzled them to death with rains of bullets, leaving the villagers fatherless. No doubt, the uniformed men were national assassins!

For years, Onanefe was haunted by that gory sight. Not even the intense African sun could heal the wound caused by such treachery. The seed of hostility evoked by that act of betrayal and nurtured through those nightmarish nights, awakened some sort of dissent – a quest for justice.

In the creeks, small groups of angry youths, without a home to hide when dusk settles have started gathering - learning to trigger the gun!