Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Ignorant Shepherd Boy

The Ignorant Shepherd Boy


The whole village of Nyandeyama, near Komende Station in Nongowa chiefdom was up in arms! A herd of deer had been wrecking havoc on the rice fields for three months, attracted by the succulent stalk of newly seeded rice. The Nyandeyama village economy depended on three things; coffee, cocoa and rice, in order of importance. Nyandeyama diamonds, occasionally found in swamps, were small gemstones that were usually not worth the effort to mine, so farming was the way of life, the culture, the tradition and all activities in the village were carefully planned around the farming season. 
Nyandeyama farms
While the eastern city of Kenema planned activities around the rainy season, dry season and harmattan, the people of Nyandeyama, the village of the Segbwema blogger, meticulously planned all social events around the harvesting and cultivation of rice, cocoa and coffee. So when the herd of deer decided to wreck mayhem in the rice fields of Nyandeyama, the people were not happy, not at all.
Chief "Mahei" Moriba
Chief Moriba the town chief, called on Kpana Sipo the town crier to go round the village one humid night and summon the townsfolk to an emergency session to seek a final solution to this impending catastrophe that would kill their women and children with hunger, if the men did not rise up and confront this terror. Kpana Sipo's task was not very difficult, as Nyandeyama was quite a small village. He did not have the kind of work that the town crier of Segbwema had. The poor town crier in Segbwema throat was so hoarse after each town crying assignment that he was given a bottle of castor oil for two days to calm his frayed vocal cords, as Segbwema had grown so large that town crying was no longer an enviable profession.
Kpana Sipo the town crier
Chief Moriba lamented to the town people that they were under a deer invasion, the likes of which he had not seen since he returned from the Burma war, many years ago. The people's way of life was under threat. Their subsistence was at risk, their children were on the verge of starvation and a suitable response was to be found. Famous trappers from all around Nongowa were to be contacted. Word has been sent to Majihun, Komende, Borbwehbu, Jormu Kafeibu, Potehun, Tijobu, Sami Saindima and even Segbwema and Kenema for help in controlling the deer menace. 
The Village Meeting
Trappers had come from far away as Madopolahun and Folu Jawei, but these were intelligent deer and they seemed to have studied the ways of humans. Some had been caught and killed, but hunters had identified their leader, a short stocky buck, a cunning and sly animal that had evaded all traps and seemed to mock the effort of all the renowned trappers who had descended on Nyandeyama. The chief put a price on the head of the leader of the herd. Any man that caught the deer leader would be given suitable reward and his name would be sang in songs of the village, for many years to come. Every man and boy, gathered in Chief Moriba's compound that humid mosquito infested night, left with dreams of glory, of their name being sung, even long after they had taken the long journey to join their forefathers.
The Leader
So the men tried, they caught a lot of deer and drastically reduced the menace, but somehow, the short stocky buck, the leader of herd, always seemed to be one step ahead of even the best trappers and though it taunted them and tried their patience, there was nothing they could do, as he just could not be caught.

One fine day, a young shepherd boy was out looking after his father's five sheep making sure they did not stray into neighboring farms, when he noticed a strange strange short stocky animal sleeping very soundly near the stream that led to his father's coffee farm. He carefully got a thick rope, moved gingerly, treading all so carefully on the tip of his toes to avoid disturbing the dried leaves and blades of grass, and tied the thick rope around the neck of the strange creature. He was sure he had caught the deer everyone was trying to catch, though he was not sure, as he had never seen a live deer and would not know how to tell it from a cow. He only knew that deer only ate plants and that theydid not attack humans.
The Shepherd Boy
The young ignorant shepherd boy, Ishmael Sengu, secured the rope around the neck of the short stocky beast and started to drag into town, filled with day dreams of honor and pride and of his name being sung all through the villages of Nongowa chiefdom, for many years to come. The strange creature did not put up even an ounce of resistance, but slowly got up and majestically strolled behind the boy, yawning as it went.

When the boy brought the strange creature to the village, everybody had gone to their farms and as is characteristic of Nyandeyama, the village was practically empty save for a few goat and sheep looking for orange skins and few young boys and girls locked up in rooms, doing certain things that would have certainly caused their parents much headache and misery, had they ever been discovered. Ishmael entered the village drawing the strange obedient creature along and headed straight for the compound of the wise old chief Moriba, who house was situated right on the main road to Komende Station, a morning's journey to the Njaluahun chiefdom headquarter town of Segbwema.

Chief Moriba was lying in his hammock drawing puffs of fragrant tobacco from an intricately carved pipe, one of his valuable relics from his days in Burma, where he had been a porter and later a gunner in a West African infantry regiment. He kept his eyes shut as he inhaled the cancer spreading smoke and enjoyed the nicotine as it passed through his lungs into his blood streams, giving him a sense of calm and happiness that would later become violent bouts of nonproductive and very dry cough as the day wore on. Chief Toegondoe Kebbie, the village gossip and busybody,was lying near chief Moriba relaying the day's rumors and gossip in silent whispers, while occasionally sipping from a gourd of palmwine. Chief Moriba deliberately kept a gourd of palmwine for Toegondoe every morning, to loosen his tongue and encourage him tell the chief all the underground activities going on in Nyandeyama.

When the boy entered the town chief's compound he was surprised to find only the old chief and his talkative and poisonous friend Toegondoe Kebbie reclining lazily in their hammocks. 

"Chiefs," the young ignorant shepherd boy said, "I think I have caught the famous deer and here it is!"

The two chiefs opened their eyes in excitement and took one look at the strange animal and stood there shaking. Chief Toegondoe Kebbie the village gossip fell down and fainted and must have had a small biological experiment, for the smell in the yard suddenly grew very unpleasant. Chief Moriba stood for a minute, shaking like a featherless chicken on a cold harmattan morning and sweating profusely. At last he found the courage to mutter some words.

"You stupid boy!" The chief said, leaving the boy confused. "That is not a deer, it is a leopard." Chief Moriba then also fell down and fainted. The shepherd boy Ishmael Sengu who had heard of leopards but had never actually seen one also started to tremble, shake and sweat with fear and dread, thinking to himself that his young shepherding days were surely over.
Suddenly the leopard turned to the boy and spoke. "Untie me," the leopard said. " I am going to let you go free. You do not know me and that is why you tied me. Had you known me, you would never have dared to do so. I am not going to do anything to you as you are an ignorant little boy. I am here to catch the deer that has given you people so much problem. But your ignorance has delayed me. Let me never see you in that bush where you tied me again. When those adults wake up, ask them about me and they will tell you who I am."
"Untie Me"
With shaking hands, the boy slowly and carefully untied the rope from around the leopard's thick neck, being careful not to even breathe. The leopard slowly made his way out of the village, walking very majestically into the field of grass that bordered the village. Days later the stubborn deer was found dead, and there was much rejoicing in Nyandeyama. Chief Moriba and Toegondoe never mentioned the leopard in embarrassment and nobody believed the shepherd boy, as he had no proof that he ever caught a leopard.

Sheku Sheriff
Segbwema Blogger

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