A Story of the British Invasion of The Great Benin Kingdom.
I glared into his eyes, this hateful white pig that had come into my home, my beautiful city and in less than 2 days reduced it to rubbles. It still amazed me how they had sacked my beloved city with frightful precision and mindless ruthlessness. Was it not this same white people that had sent the yellow robed priest to my king? That smelly man who had ranted and raved about animal sacrifices and human sacrifices….in short, all types of sacrifices. I wonder how he would justify the lives of my people that have being sacrificed to their gods today.
They just stood there staring at us, glaring with hungry eyes at the young and supple girls in Omo N’Oba’s harem, daring us to make a move.
In my mind I could feel that this was it. I had trained my whole life for this day. Prepared my heart and soul for the day I would have to make the ultimate sacrifice. Lay down my life for Omo N’Oba.
But I had always dreamed it would have a great effect, maybe even change the course of our destiny as a people. I dreamed that my name would be sang through all the villages of the kingdom, epic songs of bravery and courage in honour of the warrior who had given his life for the Divine King.
There were just three things wrong with that dream now. The first was that there were no longer any villagers to sing my praises; the second was that I was going to die here and these white pigs were going to capture my Oba and defile his Olori as they had done to the commoners in the town square. Even more disheartening was that I knew I would be unable to strike them before they killed me with those oh so wonderful fire-sticks they used with fatal precision. If only we had those when we went to war against those infidels at Ida, my brother Obaretin would be alive today.
Very slowly I dropped my short throwing spear; it was obviously of no use now. Slowly still I withdrew my left arm from the strap of my leather shield. A strong man with a well balanced spear could pierce it talk more of the dreadful fire-stick. Like father had taught me, I continued smiling, staring at the white pig’s face. Intentionally, I ignored the horde around him and continued staring at his face, smiling to conceal the turmoil in my mind and the ache in my heart.
The wind whistled gently through the forest, bringing a breath of fresh air to my face. Nearby, a bird chirped in a nest amongst the Irokos and my heart was filled with nostalgia. Longing for the days when father had instructed me in the ways of the warrior, longing for that special time when we had taken a trip to the Sacred Hills at. Udo. Just father, Obaretin and I. But now they were gone. Obaretin forever lost at the bloodsoaked hills of Ida and father, just an old man struck down in his hut by the white devil. This incarnate of pig dung.
I could tell they were getting restless and I couldn’t help but smile wider, I will not let you rush me to my death, I thought. I will die in my own time and definitely at my own pace. I smelled them from 60 spears-length afar, already celebrating and congratulating themselves for their capture of my Divine King. Surely they were doing this for some sort of profane reward. But all I cared about was taking the white demon with me when I died.
It went against the entire fabric of my being and grain of my existence for Omo N’Oba to be taken while there was still breath in my lungs. I had not sworn to protect the him, I had sworn to die for him, and today, Esu had come to collect his prize, the spoils of war.
There was a crash and thunder and I could feel it in my bones, this was the moment. Sango had dictated, and who was I but his warrior? I had to obey!
I turned to my king and stared at him. We had come a long way together. First as little boys and then as trainees, initiates into the warriors’ ways and finally at the death of his glorious father he had chosen me as the head of the royal guard. The highest honor to ever be bestowed on a warrior from my village.
He gazed into my eyes for a little while and nodded. As a man of war, he understood what had to be done, but as a kindhearted king he knew the futility of the gesture and almost rebelled against it. I sighed with relief when he nodded once again and looked away. Omo N’Oba wasn’t going to dishonor me with an order to stand down.
On the wings of eagles and scales of serpents, my breath misted in the cool evening breeze, I could feel the blood of my ancestors coursing through my veins, and I could hear the drums of Sango pounding in my head, a beat of courage and death. The dance of the dying ones it was called, a song of pain heard only by chosen ones – a sure precursor of blood and gore.
My sword made a zing as I drew it out of its sheath, I saw the white pigs stand straight and lift their fire-sticks. They were in for a surprise. I had one thing other warriors they had fought didn’t, the blessing of Sango – having being struck by a lightning when I was twelve.
With one last look at the sky I flexed my sword arm and launched myself at them screaming my battle cry at the top of my lungs;