Dr Dili Ojukwu
The modernists’ insisted that the community needed to develop and modernise. They pointed to such other ‘developed’ towns like Lagos where, all the road networks notwithstanding, the people still celebrate their Eyo masquerades night and day.
After long and tortuous weeks of debates, oftentimes punctuated by some bad-tempered and acrimonious exchanges, the traditionalists’ succumbed.
The modernists’ had won the battle; but the war had just begun.
One day, the noise of bulldozers rented the air in the community. Word went round that the developers had come to construct the designed layout.
In doing so, some very tall historic trees had to be mowed down by the merciless bulldozers popularly called “caterpillars.”
Some of these trees sheltered some bee colonies which had designed and built their own nests into comfortable abode for many years.
The bees and the community had mutually co-existed for years without complaint from either quarter. When the trees hit the ground however, the bees became angry and vindictive.
They attacked the spectators watching the road construction and the drivers of the bulldozers. Nobody was spared the anger of the bees even people at the scene.
Some bulldozer drivers even forgot to, or could not, turn off their machine engines before running away.
The modernists’ had anticipated that their opponents might try to sabotage the project. They therefore gathered at the village square with some back-up police officers, preparatory to quash any possible opposition, even with force should the need arise.
There was one fiery elder who had decamped from the traditionalists’ and joined the modernists’. The old man was standing and partially leaning on his walking stick held with his left hand.
He was addressing the ‘victorious’ modernists’ gesticulating with his right hand when the first swarm of exploratory bees invaded the square.
One bee circled round his head. He tried in vain to hit the invading bee with his right hand. As he did so, another flew in and stung the grey-haired old man in his right ear. He slapped his right ear with all the strength his anger could accommodate, again without killing the invading bee.
His audience was perplexed. ‘Why is he slapping himself because of a harmless fly?’ Some of them asked, thinking the invading bee was a fly.
Some found the whole spectacle funny; others thought that somebody might have conjured the evil spirits on the old man, perhaps to punish him for abandoning the traditionalists’
Some still thought the evil spirits had invoked some flies to attack him as retribution for his evil deeds.
As his spectators wondered, more bees joined the fray. This time, nobody in the village square was spared the ferocity of the bees’ attacks.
In an instant, the old man fell, screaming. Mayhem ensued as the attendees scampered for survival. Even the police officers, with their guns, took to their heels.
A few of his colleagues summoned enough courage to come to his rescue. But as they got closer, the bees found new aggressors in them and started chasing and stinging them.
As they dispersed into various directions the bees pursued them. With more reinforcements coming into the village square, the invading army of bees outnumbered the people, chasing and biting them at various parts of their heads, especially their eyes and ears.
While this was going on, some other people were running and screaming towards the village square, some with rags, brooms, and, indeed, anything that could help them ward off the invading bees.
Dr Dili Ojukwu wrote from the United Kingdom