Choice of the
Copyright 2007 by Erasmus Osais Austins
It started likes a Dream, after a long period of barren Mrs. Okoro, the chief priest's wife, finally gave birth to a baby girl. This brought joy to the lgwe, the king, and the community at large. But, like the custom necessitate, during the circumcision day a child is brought before the gods. The first reason for doing so is to show appreciation for the suppose gift of the gods on the family, secondly is to seek from the gods what the child would be in the future.
So the case of Ada wasn’t going to be an exemption. On that particular day they arrange the kegs of palm wine, some kola nut, native pepper, the white cock, and other things for the ceremony. Eventually the occasion entered into the aspect everyone was waiting for, that is the getting to know the future of Ada the newborn child.
So the chief priest, the guardian of the gods, entered into the village shrine as the custom permit. But he took over one hour to get response from the gods, as the priest was keeping long wait the people outside became apprehensive, some even begin to reason with themselves. Could it be the gods are not happy with the coming of the new child? Some others still think maybe the child future is blurred.
But as all these were going through their minds the chief priest came out. First his face was looking funny then he went straight to consult with the lgwe in council and his chiefs for permission to relate the minds of the gods to the crowd present.
Mr. Okoro, the chief priest, started by first clearing his throat then greeted the Igwe, the head of the land, then he said that the gods were indeed happy with the coming of the child. But he quickly added that there was a special assignment that the gods have bestow on her, that she would he the next chief priest of the land.
At that point the crowd broke up into murmuring. “How can a woman become our chief priest?” they reasoned. Because from times immemorial it has always been a man’s job, so they saw no reason why it must change now. But something different is happening now. So after the respite of the crowd. the only explanation the priest was able to give was that the gods works in mysterious ways, and that they have spoken so nothing can be done.
So finally the crowd disperse each one to his or her home to continue the remaining part of the issue with other family members. Thereafter before the Igwe and the elders left the shrine, the priest made another point clear to them. That the gods also had made a choice of husband for the little Ada, and that when she grew up she must be made to get married to the gods choice or else incur the wrath of the gods.
Everyone left in astonishment but believing in the superiority of the gods.
At the age of 10 years Ada learned the details of the duty of a priest, following her father to the bush to make sacrifices and other things like consulting the ancestors for solutions to problems. Soon as she was getting older she became fond and proud of her position as assisting her father.
Finally at the age of 18 years, she lost her father to illness, and so the opportunity finally came for her to practice fully as the chief priest of the land. But before then she must get married according to the custom of her people, in the next 12 market days.
Unknown to her the gods had chosen a young palm wine taper who is notorious for his bad drinking habit to be her husband. When she was told this she simply refuse saying she can’t get married to such a social misfit, instead opting for another person as a married mate.
But the man in question saw it as a privilege to get married to the daughter of the gods, Ada the chief priest.
Furthermore in the process of avoiding the young palm wine taper completely, he that would be her husband, she fell in love with a decent young man who was engaged to another woman. This woman was named Oluchi, a slave girl to the lgwe.
Ada made advances, in form of gifts and expressions of care. But this young Chidi refused it, instead expressing his commitment to his betrothed girl.
Ada the chief priest decided to go nasty to achieve her goal. Since she is possessing spiritual power, she made Oluchi the stave girl blind. Then she cook up with a native doctor to tell the parent that she possess some demonic power that is why the gods are angry with Oluchi. This was with the intention of getting the attention of the Chidi the young man she likes.
But to her greatest surprise Chidi still refuse to be attracted to her even after his love Oluchi was blind. He still prefer to stick around Oluchi. This gave Ada great cause for concern.
Anytime Ada see the palm wine taper in her hunt for herbs, she kept crying and accusing the gods of bringing sorrow to her. She felt, as the custodian of the gods, she had right to a decent husband and not the choice of the gods.
She finally decided to solve this problem once for all time. She arrange for some youth in the village to kill this palm wine taper, and made it seem as if he was killed by warriors from the neighboring village, with the belief that the death would made her free to get married to her choice husband and not the god's choice.
But after the death of this palm wine taper the land never knew peace. There was reports of the death of many young children. It even refused to rain and the harvest was very poor that year.
When the lgwe sensed that something was wrong he summoned the chief priest Ada to his palace to inquire the reason for the sudden calamity on the land. But after consulting the Oracle she simply said that everything was well with the land and that the events were mere chance occurrences and that there was no problem at all. This the lgwe accepted and she left.
But after a week more reports came that the situation had worsen. The lgwe in council summoned his chiefs and elders of the land to deliberate on the solution to the problem affecting the village. At the end of the meeting they decided to go and consult another chief priest from the neighboring village.
After consulting his Oracle that chief priest said that the problem of the land is with their priest Ada. He stated all the atrocities she had committed, namely the killing of the palm wine taper and the blinding of the innocent slave girl Oluchi.
At that they were all surprise but very angry, so they decided with themselves that she must leave the village immediately.
As the elders took the report back to their lgwe for decision, news reached Ada the chief priest about all that happened in the neighboring village. So to avoid shame and molestation she quickly left her shrine and flew for the forest. Since then nothing have been heard about the first female chief priest of my village.
Evidently the choice of the gods did never become the choice of the people.
Erasmus lives in Nigeria and we hope he will send other stories, but his Email address quit working some time back..
in the subject line of the message.)