The Conflicting Realities 2: My Guidance Angel 3.

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(Contd)

Over the years, I kept on imagining the enterprising spirit of the people in those dire days of the war. The people from the riverine areas will bring goods like fish, salt, and other marine-based products to this border market to’ exchange’ for food and other product.

Exchange it was because most of the trade was done by batter system as the currency of exchange was not accepted as a legal tender across both sides of the border; that was long before the soldiers started converging in our villages and fishing camps, burning and destroying everything.

“Though you had a Childhood experience of the war,” he said to me patiently, “your experience could not be compared to those who lived in the epicenter of the war. For out there, it was a living hell,” he concluded, looking at me.

Though I was a little boy then, probably not more than eight years old, there were some incidents that I could still recall and shudder at the remembrance.

“Do you know that this camp is called Ikirika-kiri,” I asked him. “A name I think it derived on account of it being used in those days as a settlement for some people from Okirika; a tribe of Ijaw people that lived in the eastern part of the Niger Delta.

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“Across this river over there,” I pointed across the river to where the little canoe with the two persons had come out. “There is a river there. If you look very well, you can see the entrance from here.”

“I am seeing it,” he answered. “I think it is called Sibokubu-bio. It leads to St. Barbara River, coming out at the confluence of juju-point.”

“You are right,” I agreed, looking at him, wondering how he knows about all these things but continued instead.

“Alright, down that St, Barbara River is the estuary to the Atlantic ocean. There are some fishing camps in the area called Angbakiri, Owukubu, Akananga, and others. Angbakiri was some way up from the others.

“As a result of the war, all the fishermen in the camps up in this area have gone south to those settlements to take on any vocation that can sustain a family. Some were producing salt, hewing of the tall mangrove trees as firewood, and others for the traditional fishing.”

“How were you producing salt in a fishing settlement?” he asked,

“Do you want me to explain how we produce salt or you really want to know?” I suckled

“Do you mind telling me that without asking?” he smiled broadly.

“Okay, but that is not what I want to say. I just want to make the point that whether we were at the epicenter of the war or not, we had our fair share of it.”

He did not say anything to that, but just stared at me, so I continued. “It would take one about eight hours of paddling with a canoe to get to Owukubu following the current in an ebbing tide, and passing through Sibokubu-bio.

“It is also possible for one to go down-stream from here to get to the estuary of the Atlantic. It will take almost the same time to get there from here.

“It was in the middle of the war and the soldiers have taken over every camp within this area. We were under constant harassment in the village. My father, therefore, decided to take every member of the family to go to Owukubu to start a salt production business.”

“Did your father know how to produce salt prior to that time?”

“Em…you know that saying, ‘necessity is the mother of invention.’ I think there is nobody that had to have a primary school education to know how to start fishing. We were born here to picking up our net, or hook, a canoe, and you have got a certificate to go into fishing. The rest of the technicality, you will learn on the job.”

I looked up at the sky in the far corner up-river. The night like a velvet curtain was coming very fast, covering the earth. The wind blowing in from the sea was quite refreshing, tinting the air with the smell of fresh fish and sludge.

I looked back at the old man and continued. “What we need for the production of salt at the time of the war was a mere rectangular tin pot measuring about five feet long, three feet in width, and three feet depth. We then prepared a cooking stand with two big mangrove tree logs arranged side by side to make a fire.

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The Conflicting Realities 2: My Guidance Angel 2

Conflicting Realities 2; My Guidance Angel 2

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As I looked up, I saw the old man looking away to the far southern end of the river where the mangrove trees drew a thick pattern as a well-cultured flowering garden. There is another river coming out at that point to join the main artery which tapered off into the far end as it curves off to form another stretch.

I followed his gaze and noticed that the sun has gone under a thick grey cloud casting a deep reddish appearance over the river in the western horizon. I looked up to the east, as if on cue, and saw the water blending off into the tall mangrove, curving into the left, going far away into the hinterlands.

From that end, I could notice the eastern horizon bearing the night as a sheet of the dark velvet curtain, spreading over static earth.

“War is an ominous evil that mankind has invented to solve frail egos and gain position and authority, which left in its wake despicable destruction of the divine order,” he said breaking the silence.

“Whenever I hear the sound and drums of war being played, as is the case now, I sympathize with the man. They will never learn. You cannot settle your differences by trying to kill your opponent.

“War takes away the peace of man and visits him with pain and sorrow, grief and destruction beyond his imagination. In the frenzied atmosphere of the sound of the battle drums, and war-cry, only very negligible voices will cry caution; that will easily get swallowed up in the strident sound of the drums.

“Even now, I could hear the drums of war in the distance, and rapidly getting louder,” he finished with that far away look, seeing into time beyond our realm, I guessed.

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“Sir, there has always been a war fought in one part of the world or the other. Which one are you referring to here? There is already a war in Nigeria. Isn’t there?” I asked.

“There is a war being fought now which you hear on the News wave. They still consider it a distant tale from a fairyland. For those that have not experienced war first hand, it sounds like an adventure that one could pursue.

“But what they did not realize is that only a few come back to tell tales of their experience, and even those lives a nightmarish life for a considerable part of their remaining life. War bears in its wings tales an observer can tell that.” He looked at me sullenly with a suppressed grin and patted my shoulder.

“You had a childhood experience of your old war.”

“Yes I do,” I agreed, my thoughts going back to the first soldier I ever saw in my life.

A fat-bellied man, wielding a long rifle; he appeared from the corner of a building, looking grim and threatening. I have gone with my mother to Akpede market in the heat of the war to sell fish on a particular market day.

This fat soldier also came to the market with some of his colleagues to buy things. When I saw him, I exclaimed at his appearance. My mother had to slap my mouth shut with the back of her left hand.

Over the years, I kept on imagining the enterprising spirit of the people in those dire days of the war. The people from the riverine areas will bring goods like fish, salt, and other marine-based products to this border market to’ exchange’ for food and other product.

Exchange it was because most of the trade was done by batter system as the currency of exchange was not accepted as a legal tender across both sides of the border; that was long before the soldiers started converging in our villages and fishing camps, burning and destroying everything.

(To be continued)

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Sweet Memories Linger

 

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We all had good times and bad times. I had mine when I lost a loved one some years past. I have gone over the pain. Recently, I reflected on that moment and how I put my thoughts into lyrics then. Here were my thoughts in lyrics.

SWEET MEMORY LINGERS
Sweet memories of years gone by
Assails my thoughts these days,
They were memories of fishing,
Of farming, and of salting farming;
Of so many things to say.
But above all, is the memory
Of the one who called me, ‘son.’

It is a sweet memory that lingers.
It follows me everywhere.
The love and joy it gives
Is evergreen.
Sweet memory lingers.
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I recall memories of the camps,
The fishing settlements and huts;
The rivers and the sea, as constant friends.
The toy boats and the mud,
Where we ran and played.
But above all, is the memory
Of the one who called me, ‘son.’

How could the past be in the present?
How could I touch, smell and feel
All those things which only lingers now
In the past’s memory.
Of the things, I love so much.
But above all, is the memory
Of the one who called me, ‘son’.

It is a sweet memory that lingers.
It follows me everywhere.
The love and joy it gives
Is evergreen.
Sweet memory lingers.
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The Blurring Shadow of the Past

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For a million years of history

Lays the foundation of humanity

It’s laid in unending pages of

Decaying and, sometimes rusty

Relics hinging on treacherous foils

 

The past tells the story of our life

It reveals the errors and success made

Hanging to the past would result to

Discouragement and fear, hatred, and dismay

For the past littered with the stories of

What we should have better let go

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The future is the hope for a better t’moro

It’s the aspiration and the way to a greater height;

And a glory that is attainable when pursued,

That pales the past to an insignificant blurry dream:

The future expands to infinite possibilities

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It is the success of past failure

The attainment of the lessons learned

It is the vision we set and twigs to build

Our dreams to come to reality

Dreams realizable only in fairy climes

Yet we bring to our new world order

 

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The Success Highway

The Success Highway

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Like a blank page before a writer

The way opens to the wayfarer

On his earthly voyage through life

His defined goal in life; to make

the success of his life while time last:

Never knowing People United are

reaching everywhere

How does he define success in life?

What measures the scale of success in life?

To attain worthy contentment;

But the success he attains at a point

Starts a new phase of this unending

Labyrinth of the pilgrim’s voyage

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Life isn’t playing fair to him, he’d argue

For the path to success is slippery as an eel

And they strew his way with thorns and briers

While snares litter every turn of the way;

For many are the foes striving for every crown:

Yet people united are reaching everywhere

But he would, like a flint set his gaze on his goal

Taking every obstacle for encouragement

And every fault as a lesson learned

For success comes to him who defies

All odd and never quit when others would

and in unity he could reach everywhere

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He smiles at his travails, and they are many

Yet he doesn’t slack on his set purpose;

For in the gloom he sees a silver lining:

of sanitly people are united  reaching everywhere

even to him.

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In the rumbling’s Midst and Lightening: He Arose.

In the Rumbling’s Midst and Lightening: He Arose.

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In that dark cloudless starry night

When mortals lay in their bed

And the rock cracked under the

Weight of the freezing snow

 

In Calvary mount, the sentries stood

Their fire could not melt the frosty night air;

Teeth clanking they stood: watching the

Sealed sepulcher where the lamb  laid

Golgotha Stone in Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem, Israel Stock Photo - 50757871

Then in a blaze of lightning, the earth shook

And the heavens open as celestial hosts

Descended upon the serene luster hill:

Their hymns and psalteries in seraphic melodies

Drowsed the sentries into a stupor

 

The earth quaked, and the hill shook

In response to the intense presence

Of the heavenly beings in mortals thoroughfare

Rolling asunder the impregnable seal on the sepulcher

 

In the lightning’s midst and Rumbling; He arose

He arose from the depth of death eternal captivity;

To vanquish death and its slavery hold on mankind

Alleluia! He arose; him to whom death could not hold captive

He arose to redeem the saints to their fair heavenly Mansions