The crickets chirped,
Stars twinkled through the night
This was no ordinary night
In the stillness you could feel the tension cut through like a sharp knife.
Men walked lightly through the high grass,
Creeping towards their goal
Women huddled together behind half open doors
Tears streaming down the eyes of those
From his house, especially his mother
“It is a beautiful night” the young man thought as he sat by the riverside
Lost in his thoughts
He had come home some days ago in answer to his father’s urgent call
He waited all day at his mother’s house,
exchanging stories with is sisters and the other women in the house
No thought crossed his mind that there were no men about.
A branch cracked and suddenly he was alert,
He knew this area so well,
but after many months who could tell.
Things could have changed, become unsafe
Suddenly there was a surge of branches forming a circle around him
The fear made his tongue feel heavy in his mouth
What enemy could this be?
He was grabbed and held firm until he stopped struggling
Voices in the darkness shouted
“You have no choice son, you are the next king
This is your destiny
The elders have spoken,
God has decided
The new life begins”
The tears that fell from his eyes were not tears of joy,
They were tears of the realization that he would never be able to call his friends to go for walks and tease the girls.
He would never be able to walk into his cousin’s yard and say, “light the fire, I’ve got some yams to roast”
He would never be able to run ahead to be the first in the queue when the mobile cinema came to h is village
He would never be able to sit on the floor beneath his mother’s feet while he told her jokes and listen to his sister’s laughter
No more sneaking out to drink palm wine .....
This beautiful night became the unknown for a young man sitting alone
A young man who was now the king of the people
Who would have to follow the rules and traditions of his tribe,
A young man who became king on this night of change