The Palace Guard
The Palace of an African traditional King is a very busy place where community dwellers come to deliberate on important issues that border around land disputes, disagreement between husband and their wives, community inter-relationship, welfare, and other important matters.
Most times, according to traditional rites, when you visit a palace, you take nothing from it, you only get to drop a gift for the king
Ebuka, an orphan who was believed to have been abandoned by his mother, left to die, unwrapped with any clothing whatsoever by the river bank, was picked up by Princess Olar as she went about her early morning routine of visiting her plum farm near the river. The sharp voice of the baby had attracted her. She traced the cry to a huge breadfruit tree with a wide-open space that demarcates the kingdom from the evil forest. Just at the foot of the tree lay the innocent boy, his face reddish amounting from the cry. Their only paraphernalia he had was a mark, straight stroke on his left breast. But the child was naked and not more than two weeks old.
Olar began to juggle in her mind whether she should take the child home or leave him there to die or be eaten up by a wild animal. On second thought, she called her maiden to carry the baby, used her scarf to wrap the baby. Just then, the baby stopped crying. The matter related to King Ozor who said guards be sent to the entry points of the kingdom to secure it from marauders. And that Princess Olar should take care of the little whom he named Ebuka- Great God.
The little boy grew strong and skillful in the art of wrestling and hunting but was never let alone wander the wild in search of game. All he does was to shuttle with the King's chamber and palace gate supervising what transpires and reporting anything he finds to the king. He was king's eyes and ears around the palace.
King Ozor grew older but strong, his sight got dim, and needed someone to lead him around. Since he had no male child, the throne will be taken from his dynasty to another royal house as will be decided by Amadioha the strongest god of the kingdom. One cold morning during the end of year harmattan season, King Ozor joined his ancestors in the great beyond. His demise was painful to both old and young in the kingdom. His reign was the most peaceful so far, and every occupation including farming and blacksmithing experienced and exponential growth.
The installation process of a new king was a thug of war. The whole process was politicized and the highest bidder was made king.
When King Ezekwe began to rule, he controlled all trade activities and all profits were to his purse. He broke alliances with other trading towns and made himself a tyrant home and abroad. Most of all, Ebuka suffered a great deal under King Ezekwe. His government was indeed unpopular among the people.
Sooner than anyone could imagine, vassals began to broke away claiming their independence and would not pay tribute to the kingdom.
This singular act angered King Ezekwe who declared war against Amanta for claiming independence, against the laid down ordinance of not declaring war against a vassal as ordained by the gods. As customary, the king was to lead the war.
One the faithful day when the war was to be fought, King Ezekwe died in his sleep barely after one full moon of his installation as King. When the announcement of his death filtered into the kingdom, there was jubilation everywhere. Old men were seen in their compounds drinking palm wine in celebration of the demise of King Ezekwe. His reign was however in the shortest in the history of kings in the Eke-Ukwu kingdom.
Some elders believed that there is a tendency that anyone false candidate on the throne won't last long.
Falsehood may linger for the time being but the gods will hypnotize a false king to commit atrocities which will culminate in his death.
Another selection process had begun. When the Amadioha priest was consulted for whom the oracle chose for the next king, he simply answered:
The little one in rags. He will make Eke-Ukwu great again.
The search for the little one was not an easy task. So, the kingmakers, made-up of seven elders came back to the priest who told them not to look far.
The little one in rags is already in the palace.
The priest told the elders to call out all the male staff of the palace, any one of them who has a stoke of a mark on his right breast is the king. Without any ado, the elders swung into action. They searched and found Ebuka.
After the traditional ceremonies, Ebuka was installed as the forty-ninth king of Eke-Ukwu. All he needed to rule had been learned during his service to late king Ozor. Piece and tranquility returned to the kingdom. Perhaps, his service in the palace was a training ground to become king and process Olar played her role in destiny as a helper to bring Ebuka to the thrones of his ancestors.