Opiyo and his companions moved stealthily through the fruticose rain forest in search of Apondi. Instead of wearing their normal royal regarlia, they were barechest and tying animal skins around their groins to conceal their nudity.
They were four and they continued to scour the thick forest in search of Apondi, the beautiful adolescent girl whom the King’s son, Opiyo, had madly fallen in love with. It was while on a short lonely tour to this village that Opiyo had spotted the girl among her friends, standing a few metres from the forest, piling up and tying the firewoods she had fetched. It was then and there that he was taken in by her beauty and modesty and remained staring amorously at her.
When Apondi straightened and luckily caught a glimpse of the person that was staring at her, she first stepped back in shock, and then blushed and smiled winsomely, an indication that she too had been tapped by what she had seen.
Opiyo had then walked away, promising himself to return for her, and so here he was. The girl’s beauty had arrested his thoughts and hounded away his peace, and the only thing he now longed for was to have her forever – as his wife. So, that evening, he had returned in full swing to ravish and take her home as was the marriage tradition.
And lucky they were indeed. After a few minutes of searching, they found her with her friends and seized her amid screams and fightbacks, and took her home.
But Akinyi the queen was not happy when she set her eyes on the lady. She stared at her malevolently and frothed at the mouth. Seeing Apondi gave her the creeps, for concerning her she had an ugly secret that would be a peace menace to reveal to her husband, King Otuol, or anyone in the kingdom.
“Get this bitch out of mine sight and straight back to the forest whence you fetched her,” she ordered. The palace guards dragged Apondi out of the palace and sent her away.
At this, Opiyo grunted and left her mother’s hut. He would not allow the girl he had chosen to marry to be snatched away from him and rid off his life. He got lost.
In that kingdom existed a mountain and at the top of it a tall enormous stone that no one had ever climbed to its top. Opiyo conceived an idea. If he would not be allowed to marry Apondi, then he would end his life at once.
So for days as the people looked for him all about, he climbed up the mountain and used his tactics to get to the top of that stone. Then someone saw him and took the news to the palace. Elsewhere, news went rife that he had been spotted and people gathered around the mountain to rescue their prince, the only son of King Otuol.
A delegation was chosen and sent to the mountaintop to try to woo him to climb down. But he insisted that he would not, unless Apondi was brought and allowed to marry him. He made it even clearer that if that was not done, then he would throw himself down into the deep valley on the other side of the mountain and die.
When King Otuol heard of his son’s demands, he decreed that the lady be brought quickly and a wedding ceremony arranged. But the queen heard of the king’s approval and rushed to his chamber.
She sprawled onto the ground and cried with a loud voice, “I beg thee, oh thine Majesty the King, to allow not his curse befall us. For thine servant, the young lady, is mine daughter, whom I bore after thy son with an outsider while ye tarried in war, and so her I considered to dump. Of my undoung I beg thee for forgiveness, oh my king.”
The king was “uprooted” and vexed at the revelation. “Why hast thou not revealed this to me in days past, woman?” he frained. “How evil hast thou been to consider me, thine master, a douchebag all this while? And how didst ye conceal this matter to all mine servants? Behold, thine undoing sets thee to this suffering that’s yet to befall thee. Arise and face it.”
There was no mercy for such undoings. According to customs, that revelation demanded immediate ripping off of her rights as the queen. She would now be a slave in the kingdom all the days of her life.
The king immediately called off the wedding preparations. The lady was summoned and taken to the mountain at Opiyo’s behest, and when he had climbed down and met her, they were both taken before the king.
“My son, thou canst marry her not,” said King Otuol when the duo had been arraigned before him.
“But why dad?” asked Opiyo, curious of the swift change in actions and seeing his mother seated on the floor in tears.
“Thine mother here is a liar, and a lot lizard. She conceived and gave birth to thine sister while mine soldiers and I tarried at war, fighting for our freedom. This lady is thine sister, my son.”
At first, Opiyo appeared dazed by the facts, but shortly afterwards, he glanced at Apondi and then, looking at his father straight in the face, replied, “I will marry her.”
Decisions were respected those days and so nothing could be done to convince him otherwise. But to avoid the curse that would befall them from spreading to everyone else in the kingdom, the king disowned him and the two were excommunicated.
As the guards dragged them out of the palace premises, Akinyi the ex-queen cried and begged for mercy in vain, and no one could pacify her emotions. She watched with trepidation as her children left the kingdom. Thereafter, she was taken to her new place where she would serve as a slave till the time of her death.
(C) 2022 Lamittan Minsah, All rights reserved.
This story has been inspired by Mike Utley’s photo-post “Chimney Rock and Courthouse Mountain“. Mike has an amazing collection of photos he captured during his decades-old journalist work, photos full of inspiration and information. Visit his site to view them.
While this story may not appeal to everyone, it is truly African and reveals the life that existed long before civilization. Some of the cultural practices and lifestyles such as bridal kidnap and the indigenous system of governance have, however, faded and been replaced by formal ones.