Talking Drums

The West African News Magazine

A Short Story

Prince Of Struggle (3)

by Mohammed Alhassan

The story so far (part 1 and part 2): The quit order has been issued to occupants of affected buildings which are to be replaced by a modern hotel. The villagers meet at the chief's palace in full battle-dress determined to resist. In the forefront of the opposition is Apaul, the son of Narog...
Back home that day, Narog could not bring himself to believe that his Naba had refused to intervene on his behalf.

Narog did not return from work early the following day. By the time he got to his compound, it was already mid-day.

He had hardly had a rest when he heard the sound of a bull-dozer. The mighty beast born and bred in the white man's land tore through the millet stalks, groundnut and bean plants and made its way to Narog's house.

Narog's labour had all been in vain. For two months, he had cleared the land, broken the hard earth and planted his crops. Since man was no longer in the we - plough - the field - and - scatter - the- good-seeds- on-the-ground - and - it is fed and watered by - God's - almighty hand age, Narog had to wait patiently for little drops of water from the skies to help the seeds germinate. Now that they were on the way to bearing fruits, a bulldozer had come and in a split second, reduced all to nothingness. All because someone else felt that place was good enough for his hotel.

"Who is in that house?", the bulldozer operator shouted.

"My wives and children", Narog said sullenly as he moved towards the machine. "What are you going to do?" Narog asked.

"To pull down that house", the man replied.


"Because my master says this place must be cleared before sundown. I am only taking instructions".

"Can't you wait till the farming season is over? Look at my crops, look at my family. What do you want me to do?"

"Hmm!" the man sighed. After a brief moment, he continued, "I really wish I could help you, but I can't; I only take instructions."

"Fear the Almighty, our creator and do something. Have compassion on my women and children", Narog pleaded.

"Look, you're talking about God? Money, worldly possessions and material wealth simply blinds the vision of man. The rich man has no pity for you, let alone your crops. He looks at me and you in terms of what he can get from us. I know it but I must work for him because my wife and children must eat. All I can do is to offer you and your wife accom- modation in Bolga for just a week. I have 2 rooms in Bolga, we can share those".

"Sorry, I can't go to Bolga", Narog said.

"Then get ready to pack out!" the operator shouted as he manipulated the huge beast.

"Narog, what is he going to do?" his first wife asked.

"To pull down our house".

"To do what? Is that where we have reached in this world, Lord have mercy on us", she shouted hysterically.

Narog did not wait further. The bull- dozer moved threateningly towards the first of huts. In a split second, all group the huts crumbled before the mighty forceof the bulldozer.

Narog could not help it. He raised his hand quickly to wipe away a tear before the women could notice it.

Without a thought of what he was doing he rushed for his bow and arrows.

"Stop it else I shoot", he shouted at the operator.

There was no sign that the man had heard him and this time the machine was advancing towards Narog's Zong, the room which contained the spirits of his ancestors.

Narog could not help it. He let out a battle cry and let fly an arrow. He was a good marksman but he missed this time and the arrow hit the hard steel and bounced back. The operator was so scared that he got down and ran towards the Naba's palace. There, he reported the incident to his boss. The boss ordered him to go back and sped off in his car towards Bolga. Submissively, the driver went back to his seat and started again.

The neighbours around Narog's house had come around to see what was going on. The place was full of women, child- ren, men armed with bows and arrows, knives, cudgels; weapons of all types.

Narog let out another arrow. He did not miss this time. It hit the operator right on his chest and penetrated deep and he sank back into his seat. Blood was oozing freely from his mouth and nostrils. By this time, Apaul, dressed in white shorts and a fire-in-Soweto-roundneck came to the scene. He, Narog and other elders went near to examine the dead man.

Narog felt remorseful. "I shouldn't have done it", he said.

"Look, Narog, my father no peasant sentimentality here; oppression breeds resistance. You have only obeyed a simple law of history and..”

Before Apaul could complete his sentence, a bus load of helmeted, rifle-wielding 'peoples' policemen had arrived on the scene. On seeing the dead operator, the officer shouted and ordered his men, "chaarrge ..." and set the men loose on the village folks who fought back. Stones, sticks and sand versus batons and rifles and tear gas.

"These three people are the ringleaders" the contractor shouted to the officer. "Officer deal with them for me. Your reward is not in Heaven; that's too far. You will have it in my Bungalow tonight", the contractor assured the police officer.

Without a word, he drew his pistol and fired at Apaul. He was hit as he leaned on the bulldozer. Narog went to the rear end of the bulldozer and let our another arrow which hit the officer right on his forehead. One of his men opened fire on the other man and Narog. Both leaned on the bulldozer with blood oozing freely from their heads and nostrils.

On it lay the operator, Narog, an elder and Apaul, their blood mixed with grease and dirt made a perfect combination. The Naba rushed on the scene to save his son, Apaul. It was too late. He looked at the bulldozer of blood, at the men leaning lifeless on it, the contractor and the police officer. Then he remembered his son's words, "I will die with old man if need be"

The contractor turned and walked towards his car. The Naba, not knowing what to do, walked slowly towards his palace with the image of a bulldozer smeared with blood in his head.

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