C1 CHAPTER ONE
This work is dedicated to my late father,
who was my biggest support in my writing career, may his soul rest in peace.
To the glory of God, who has made all things possible.
It takes approximately eight minutes for a ray of sunlight to reach the surface of the earth;
large barriers provided by the overgrown wooded vegetation of the southwest of Africa prevented this from occurring, at least for a reasonable period of time. Some of the incident rays through a series of juxtaposition form a cushion of brightness at the highest point. The glossy leaves of the various coniferous trees formed a canopy at the top, covering the vast flora and fauna which made up the complex forest vegetation. Many creatures live here, most of them heathen and not adapted to the civilization found elsewhere, the difference between day and night is often just speculated.
Surrounded by a complex inter relationship between numerous epiphytes and shrubs- at the forest bed lay a creature of the land, an omnivore- The creature is wild, understanding the code of the jungle; it was lying on the wet forest bed covered by a composition of wound flora beneath the protruding roots of the various coniferous trees around. The creature is bare- but it slept peacefully, undisturbed by mosquitoes who were circling around the sleeping figure, as if intent on interrupting the well deserved rest- the distant chirping of the numerous birds perched high upon the branches, composing a form of melodious sound to the sleeper- Close by, a colony of ants strolled past, each carrying its load of nibble- a rat raced past, then followed closely by another- or was it a rat race?.
She moved easily through the dense forest vegetation- being already familiar with the surrounding- her camp was close by- it was still early, she knew that- her friends will still be sleeping when she arrives- she hastened her pace, hoping to arrive before they will awake. She did it for her sister- it was necessary- she reminisced about the encounter with the man- She smiled, when she remembered the act- she made sure she planted the seed. Her friends were still sleeping when she arrived- their legs exposed to the weather of the forest, but concealed from the prying eyes of the raiding savages- The group of women was united by a common cause; their survival- as to protect their selves from the threat to their freedom and social and cultural development; they had taken refuge among the trees- There was a culture in the forest, not many may understand or find necessary, but it existed nevertheless.
“So you went to see the man again?” Mazidath asked- the others were now awake, looking at her, sensing and loathing the passion she had just experienced.” What is that to you? Qwe replied,” I have to get information about my sister for Aichatou, so I can have something to tell her when we eventually meet”- There were about a dozen of them, the camp was located deep within the forest- they had constructed some makeshift structures to protect them from the damp weather condition, safe from the wild animals and slavers and away from human civilization -it was necessary- Many of them had been separated from family by gruesome events, and have since been committed to eternal vigilance to preserve self”- I heard they now take the captives to Badagry to sell them”, Qwe continued, after some period of silence.
“Now, that is news that will benefit us”, Kemi replied!
“We have to fight to save our people,” Chantel said, sounding confident.
“It is the king who will save the people, not “we”! Chimne replied.
“But we cannot hide in the forest while the slavers and the raiding Oyo dislodge us from our villages- And I will rather die than let the white skin take me as an animal to his country! My sisters, we must join the king to fight this battle- to defeat Oyo and then stop the slavers from doing more harm to our villages!” and the others were in agreement with her conclusion.
The feeling was illusive- was it love? - Or hate or something deeper? - she envied the simple women of Dahomey who did not care for fighting, they were content to pay taxes to Oyo and watch the slavers drag their children to the sea shore to sell as commodities to the Whiteman- Aichatou was content with such a life- she hid while the savages dragged her sister away- where was Rufin?
They should have burnt down his shrine that day- so much for offering sacrifices of goats and chickens, what can that achieve for his daughter?- their mother’s house was burnt to the ground, they were lucky the bulk of the harvest was still in the farm, so much for good fortune- By morning they were gone, some said they were soldiers from Oyo- but were they taking them to the palace of the Alafin?- But did such a monarch have taste for their women?- She imagined Nadege’s resistance, and a chill went down her spine- she was celibate- they will kill her before they rape her!
It did not make any difference if they are sold into slavery or remain at home paying tribute to Oyo- it is still slavery- She loved the magic, it gave meaning to her life- and it was the complexity that attracted her, the part that the others could not understand; or was it love? That was simple- she preferred the magic- There was power in magic, where there was weakness in love ;Erzulia gave her power- and Legba ;was alive in her- the power made her feel royal.
Maybe that was why she loved Gezo- could she have him?- She wondered-she could kill him with the passion- but she had her purpose,
her reasons for loving so passionately- It was not so clear to the others why- she loved Vodun- she will fight to protect that.
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