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The Crafty Man and the Magic Drum

In the olden days, when the efficacy of charms had not been diluted, there was a masquerade in our village, Ikoro, called Omeogo. It was a great masquerade. The masquerade would spend only ten months when it returned to the town; after which, it would go into hiding for the next three years.


It was a giant masquerade, full of funny behaviours. When it danced, it would climb palm trees and acrobatically descended to the ground.


Omeogo had a magic drum called igba. When it beats the drum, it would supply food of all kinds, both cooked and uncooked. On every Afor market day, Omeogo would assemble the villagers in Ikoro central square for merriment. When the people had assembled, it would beat the drum for food and drinks to appear. This practice had continued for years, making some of the villagers lazy. They could hardly go to the farm, because they believed that Omeogo would always feed them.

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There was a man whose name was Obe, who had wanted to take possession of the magic drum. One day, while Omeogo was playing in our village square, just as it used to entertain the villagers, Obe came in with a dead hen which he hid under his armpit. When Omeogo jumped from a tree where Obe was sitting under, Obe secretly flung the dead hen to the foot of the masquerade. He raised an alarm, alleging that Omeogo had killed his hen.


Seeing it as a minor issue, Nwachu, an elderly man said to Obe, "You have made a holy sacrifice to our great masquerade. Maybe you are the next chief priest," he jokingly said. Nwachu's comments aroused Obe's anger as he furiously replied thus:


"What do you mean by that? Eh! Nwachu? I am asking you. Can your prediction revive my dead hen? Eh, Nwachu?"
"I will not accept this," he went on to say. "If Omeogo goes into hiding, how then will I feed my family for the rest of three years? Eh? I am asking you, Nwachu. Or is this not the only hen of mine that raises the hatchlings which I sell to feed my family?" He asked, pretending to be angry.


Obe went on making trouble. He completely disrupted the event. Omeogo was forced to stop performing, as elders converged to persuade Obe further. Even as some people had suggested a donation of hens, Obe rejected it, saying that he needed the magic drum. "Either the magic drum or my hen," he affirmed. "Omeogo could keep the drum as long as it stays in town, but when it goes into hiding, the drum should be handed over to me," the crafty Obe fairly sounded. The masquerade accepted the condition, just to get rid of Obe's trouble.


When the masquerade went into hiding, Obe was given the magic drum. He was very happy and said to himself: "All is well with me. With this drum, I could feed my family, and have enough to sell to the people of Ikoro village. Only the wise could be brave enough to do what I did to own this wonderful drum," he boasted.

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Indeed, the drum served Obe and his family. Before now, they hardly had a meal on their table. They were as poor as Lazarus in the holy Bible. Obe was known to be a beggar in Ikoro, but things turned around for good having acquired the drum.


Within three months, Obe's family started doing well. In our village, they were counted among the richest families. He made a lot of money from the sales of the proceeds from the magic drum. He was the major supplier of food in Okoro and its neighbouring villages. This fortune lasted for nearly two years.


On Ikoro day, a day set aside for the celebration of the founding fathers of Ikoro village. Obe volunteered to feed the entire village. As our culture demanded, the priest of omeogo roasted a tuber of yam, mixed it with palm oil, and passed it round the elders. That was the first ritual that marked the beginning of the feast. Obe was among the elders who ate the roasted yam, unknown to him that anyone who eats a roasted yam is forbidden from beating the magic drum for two market days.


When the merriment was set, and Obe had to beat the drum, behold, masquerades appeared from nowhere. They were in hundreds, each bearing a weapon - sword, axe, digger, etc. They heavily descended on the villagers, giving many people deep cuts. Obe was not left untouched. In fact, he received the brunt of the masquerades wrath.
We were thrown into confusion. Nobody could tell what prompted this invasion of our village by strange masquerades.
The feast was brought to an abrupt end as we fled to our various homes.

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The masquerades took over the village, forcing us to remain indoors.
For four good days, Ikoro was like a deserted village. The masquerades later retreated to Omeogo shrine, where they revealed the cause of their actions to Atama, the chief priest of Omeogo.
"All that Obe has stolen from Omeogo must be returned to Omeogo," the masquerades demanded.


Obe had acquired much wealth using the magic drum. There was no way he could return the stolen wealth without Omeogo relocating its shrine to his compound.


Though, Obe was reluctant to do this. He consulted powerful native doctors within and outside Ikoro village to counter the demands of the masquerades, but none of them was able to help, because the masquerades we're more powerful than them. The villagers ganged up against him. He was thrown out and made to have shelter in Omeogo shrine, while Omeogo took over his compound.


That was how peace returned to our village. Up till now, Obe's lineage has remained the poorest people in our village, just because of his infamous act.

© 2022 Chigbo Douglas Chiedozie

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