OPC

Multi-culturalbooks.com
                                     
  gene@eugenestovall.com


THE DAHOMEAN

 

“BUT SERIOUSLY, NYASANU,” KPADUNU SAID. “WHY AMONG ALL OUR ENEMIES DO WE NEARLY ALWAYS CHOOSE THE MAXI TO ATTACK?”

 

“DON’T KNOW,” NYASANU SAID, HALF ANGRILY. “WHY DO WE?”

 

“BECAUSE THEY ARE THE WEAKEST. BECAUSE WE KNOW WE CAN BEAT THEM IF THE AUYO OR THE HAUSA DON’T COME IN TO HELP THEM. SO YEAR IN YEAR OUT WE FALL UPON A PEACEFUL, MOUNTAIN PEOPLE WHO ARE NO DANGER TO US AT ALL –“

 

“KPADUNU!” NYASANU SAID. “YOU TALK TREASON!”

 

“I TALK SENSE. BUT THAT’S THE SAME THING, ISN’T IT? IN DAHOMEY SENSE IS ALWAYS TREASONABLE. WE ATTACK THE MAXI SO THAT DADA GEZO CAN PROCURE A SUPPLY OF SLAVES TO SELL FOR GOLD, IRON, AND GUN POWEDER TO THE FURTOO, THOSE HIDEOUS SKINLESS PEOPLE FROM BEYOND THE SEA. THUS HE ADDS TO THE GREAT WEALTH HE HAS ALREADY GAINED BY TAXING YS NEARLY TO DEATH AND ENABLES HIMSELF TO SUPPORT HIS MANY WIVES AND THOSE PUFFED-UP IDLERS AND ETERNALLY RUTTING SHE-JACKLES HE THINKS ARE HIS SONS AND DAUGHTERS IN LASCIVIOUS IDLENESS …”

 

NYASANU OPENED HIS MOUTH TO PROTEST, BUT THEN HE CLOSED IT AGAIN. HAD NOT HIS FATHER SAID THE SAME THING IN ALMOST EXACTLY THE SAME WORDS? KPADUNU WAS NO FOOL; AND MSOT CERTAINLY GBENU WASN’T EITHER. THE TYRANNY OF THE DAHOMEAN KINGS WAS A SOUL-CRUSHING THING. HOW MANY LIVES DID THE KING TAKE EACH YEAR IN HIS MONSTROUS “CUSTOMS”? MORE THAN THIRTY  OR FORTY, SURELY. AND IF RUMORS HAD IT RIGHT, AS RUMOR OFTEN DID, THE KING SENT A MAN AND A WOMAN OF HIS HOUSEHOLD EVERY MORNING TO THE ANCESTORS TO THANK THEM FOR ALLOWING HIM TO SEE A NEW DAY. WHICH MEANT, SINCE THE YEAR HAD THREE-HUNDRED-SIXTY-ODD DAYS, THAT GEZO SACRIFICED OVER SEVEN HUNDRED HUMAN BEINGS A YEAR SIMPLY TO BID THE ANCESTORS GOOD MORNING!

 

********

 

SO HE WAS TO BE GOVERNOR OF ALLADAH! THAT WAS A GREAT AND FEARSOME THING. FOR THOUGH, HAVING WATCHED HIS FATHER DO IT FOR MANY YEARS, MANAGING THE CITY OF ALLADAH HADN’T PROVED TOO DIFFCULT, GOVERNING THE WHOLE PROVINCE OF WHICH THE CITY WAS THE CAPITAL, WAS QUITE ANOTHER MATTER. FOR THE PROVINCE  OF ALLADAH, WAS NOT ONLY MADE UP OF THE CITY  BEARING THE SAME NAME, BUT OF FIVE IMMENSE DISTRICTS. IT MEANT THAT HE’D NEVER BE AT HOME. HE’D HAVE TO TRAVEL CONSTANTLY FROM PLACE TO PLACE TO CHECK ON THE ACTIVITIES OF THE GREAT DISTRICT CHIEFS, THE TOGANS, WHO NOW WOULD BECOME HIS SUBORDINATES AND, BEING MEN OF MIDDLE AGE, OF WEALTH AND INFLUENCE, THEY WERE SURE TO RESENT HIS AUTHORITY FURIOUSLY. HE’D HAVE TO WATCH OVER THE GEVI AS WELL, THE MEN PLACED IN EVERY TOWN TO SEE THAT NO MAN KILLED HIS SLAVES; AND THE TOXAUSU, THE CHIEFS OF THE VILLAGES, TOWNS, AND CITIES, FROM WHOSE RANKS HE HIMSELF HAD SO RECENTLY RISEN. IT WAS A GRAVE THING, AND VERY TROUBLESOME.

 

SO CLEARLY DID HIS FEELING OF DISQUIETITUDE SHOW ON HIS FACE THAT HIS “ROYAL MOTHER” REACHED OUT AND PATTED HIM REASSURINGLY ON THE ARM.

 

“YOU’LL MANAGE,” SHE SAID. “YOU’RE A SMART BOY, SON. BESIDES, YOU’LL HAVE ME TO HELP YOU. NOW ONE MORE THING; LEAN CLOSE THAT I MAY WHISPER IN YOUR EAR THE STRONG WORDS YOU’RE TO SAY TO THE KING AFTER YOU’VE BEEN APPOINTED GBONUGA.”

 

NYASANU DID SO. STRAIGHTENED UP MOVING HIS LIPS AND FROWNING, AS HE REPEATED THE STRONG WORDS OVER AND OVER AGAIN UNTIL HE HAD THEM IN MIND.

 

“GOT THEM?” THE OLD PRINCESS ASKED.

 

“YES, NOCHI,” NYASANU TOLD HER.

 

“VERY WELL. AFTER THAT CEREMONY, YOU WILL BE DISMISSED. START BACK TOWARD ALLADAH. BUT DON’T TRAVEL TOO FAST, NOR TOO FAR; FOR TOMORROW MORNING YOU WILL BE CALLED BACK TO AHOMEY …”

 

“WHY, NO?” NYASANU ASKED.

 

“THE DADA IS GOING TO ENGAGE HIS DAUGHTER TAUNYINATIN TO YOU. YOU REALIZE THAT THIS IS A VERY GREAT HONOR.”

 

“YES, MOTHER,” NYASANU WHISPERED. “I REALIZE THAT ….”

 

“YOU DON’T SEEMED PLEASED,” THE OLD PRINCESS SAID.

 

“SAY – I AM AFRAID,” NYASANU SAID FRANKLY. “MARRYING A PRINCESS CAN BE A VERY GREAT TROUBLE, AS WELL.”

 

“HA!” THE AXOVI LAUGHED. “YOU HAVE BRAINS, VI! YOU’RE RIGHT. PRINCESSES ARE SPOILED, HEADSTRONG, UNGOVERABLE, SLOTHFUL, AND LECHEROUS AS SHE-MONKEYS. I KNOW. I AM A PRINCESS.”

 

“FORGIVE ME, NOCHI!” NYASANU GASPED, “ I QUITE FORGOT –“

 

“DOESN’T MATTER. TAUNYINATIN IS THE MOST BEAUTIFUL GIRL IN DAHOMEY. AND SHE IS A VERY GREAT TROUBLE. I KNOW HER WELL. BUT I REMEMBER THAT IN MY YOUTH I WAS FAR WORSE THAN SHE. BUT MY FATHER ENGAGED ME TO A MAN. A REAL MAN. YOU THINK THAT BECAUSE YOU CAN NEITHER SCOLD, HIT, BEAT, OR OTHERWISE PUNISH A PRINCESS THAT YOU’LL HAVE NO CONTROL OVER HER? WELL NEITHER COULD MY HUSBAND; BUT BEFORE SIX MONTHS WERE OUT, HE HAD ME CRAWLING ON MY BELLY TO KISS HIS FEET, AND HE WAS A COMMONER, A REAL COMMONER, NOT THE SON OF A GREAT CHIEF AND A KPOSU, THE WAY YOU ARE –“

 

“HOW’D HE DO THAT, NOCHI?”

 

“BY MAKING ME LOVE HIM. WHICH IS THE SIMPLEST OF ALL GBOS AND THE MOST COMPLICATED, AT ONE AND THE SAME TIME. I WON’T TELL YOU HIS METHODS. THEY WOULDN’T WORK FOR YOU. YOU’LL HAVE TO INVENT YOUR OWN. AND MY GUESS IS  IT WON’T BE HARD FOR YOU TO DO SO, SINCE THESE THREE WENCHES PLAINLY ADORE YOU. ONE HINT THOUGH: DON’T TREAT HER LIKE A PRINCESS. DON’T SEEK HER FAVOR. TREAT HER AS THOUGH SHE WERE A MAXI SLAVEWOMAN – BY WHICH I MEAN KINDLY ENOUGH – BUT WITH INDIFFERENCE. IF THERE’S ANY ONE THING THAT CAN DRAIN THE PRIDE OUT OF A HIGH-BORN HEART, ‘TIS THAT.”

 

 

   Click Here To Purchase THE DAHOMEAN