… after Okonkwo took the case of the theft of his mkpara to ndị Ichie, he was convinced that he would get his property back, afterall, these were elders stricken with age with grey hairs to shun gainsayers.
Okonkwo was elated when these great custodians of the traditions and customs of the land summoned Ikeogu to explain why he took that which belonged to another man. Both men were to appear before the elders in the next Eke market day.
Okonkwo went home a happy man, praying the gods will help ndị Ichie to do the right thing. Ikeogu went home alarmed for he sensed disgrace was afoot. He however decided to use his special charm on the elders before the appointed day. Ikeogu was well known to have the best ọka in the land and he took baskets of this to the elders as “prayers” for their forefathers.
Eke is here. Okonkwo went and stood before the elders as did Ikeogu.
“Bịa, Okonkwo, did you say Ikeogu stole your mkpara?” Asked one of the elders. “Ee, nna anyị”, he responded.
“Did you see him enter your house to steal the mkpara?” An elder queried.
“Ichie, I did not see him but my neighbours saw him, in fact, if you take a look at the mkpara, you will see my family’s carvings on it.”
“Slow down Okonkwo, those neighbours of yours who said they saw Ikeogu, what were they doing around your compound? Or, were they expecting Ikeogu to come to your house that day to steal?” Another Ichie enquired.
“Ichie, I cannot answer that, in fact, even Ikeogu is not denying his crime.”
“Mechie ọnụ gị, this boy, shut your mouth!” boomed the voice of Ichie Mmiri.
“But ndị Ichie, you can see the mkpara has my family’s markings and I do not have another mkpara at home, this is mine.”
“Eh? Really?” quipped another Ichie. “So you think it’s only your family that has these markings in the entire clan, ọkwa ya? Besides, those your neighbours, it appears they just gathered to observe what’s going to happen to your house, they were expecting Ikeogu to rob you, who does that?”
“But, my elders, can’t you at least ask Ikeogu to swear…”
“Swear what, Okonkwo?” Thundered Ichie Mmiri. “In fact, just go home forget the mkpara, and allow Ikeogu to take care of it. Ndị Ichie, are we in agreement?”
“Eeh! Yes!” They all chanted in unison.
Okonkwo went home a sad man and prayed that his ancestors will retrieve his stolen mkpara…
Commentary: A sage wrote this over five decades ago.
Last week, it was played out in real life in Nigeria.
▪︎ With excerpts from Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart
▪︎ Commentary author, Unknown