Nigeria, The year 2062
The dream was the same as last night’s. Her standing in a white wrapper soaked knee-deep in an endless ocean. She looked towards the sky at the blinding sun but stayed unperturbed and did not look away. Suddenly, a cold hand grabbed at her ankle and she jerked her gaze away from the sun to look back down at the ocean. To her horror, the water was now filled with lifeless bodies. A brown face now white as stone from death, had the hand that had grabbed her ankle. He was saying something but she was trying to escape his strong grip that she barely paid attention to what he muttered. Her efforts to get out of his grip were futile. She tried even harder and in an instant the pale face looked straight at her, his brown eyes dark and bottomless. “Ma je ka ku”, the plea echoed through the vast ocean. “Ma je ka ku, Ma je ka ku” It repeated. Don’t let us die.
Feyi jolted up in her bed drenched in cold sweat. She looked around the dark room to orient herself to where she was. The room was quiet except for her heavy breathing. Suddenly, light poured into her room as the door opened to show an older woman also wearing a white wrapper with a red beaded necklace around her thick neck. She walked towards Feyi holding a calabash, “Did you have another dream?” she asked.
Feyi stared at the woman and took the calabash from her. She lifted it to her lips and drank the bitter concoction instead of answering the question. Years ago, when she had moved here, this drink had been so rancid it had left her violently retching. Now it tasted like sweet nectar.
“You know you have to tell me what you dream was.” the woman continued. She spoke in English but her voice was thick with a Yoruba accent. Feyi didn’t lower her gaze from the woman as the last drops of the concoction trickled down her throat. She remained mute. Baba, the man who had taken care of her along with this woman, had explained to her that not all her dreams should be shared. He had told her solemnly as he rolled the divination cowries in his hands that not all dreams were as they seemed and misinterpreting them was just as dangerous as the danger that lay ahead.
She had grown fond of Baba; that had been before he had given up his life for hers. Osungbami, the woman who stood in front of her with her thick arms resting on her hips also treated her well but Feyi suspected that she could never care for her the way Baba did.
Osungbami remained persistent, “The president will not be happy o.” Feyi burst into laughter at the feeble attempts to convince her. Even the president knew that she ran this country. He was only a puppet to appease the people.
She stood up from the sweat soaked bed and sauntered to her closet. In the dimly lit room, she picked out a blouse and jeans trousers. She peeled the white wrapper from her slender body, took a quick cold bath and changed into them. When she was done, she walked out of the room aware of Osungbami walking only a few paces behind her, as she often did.
“There is a reporter here who wants to talk to you. I hear he has been trying to interview you for months” Osungbami began, as they walked into one of the living rooms. Feyi sat down on the ornate massive chair and motioned for her to bring him in.
The reporter was only a few years older than Feyi. He was gaunt looking, with dark circles around his eyes. Everyone was gaunt looking now. He prostrated awkwardly, and looked back at Osungbami, unsure of how to greet Feyi. “Your Highness?”
Feyi nodded at him, gracefully, amusement drawn across her lips. It wasn’t often she received guests. “Sit down, sit down.” Everyone knew about Feyi, few had met her. Nnamdi definitely hadn’t expected her to look this young, modern looking nor did he expect her to sound so…educated.
She spoke with perfect, meticulous diction, her melodic voice as graceful as she looked. “So who are you?” she continued.
“I am a reporter with Guardian”, nowadays that was redundant. Guardian was the only news outlet that remained: they owned the only newspaper and television station in the whole country. “My name is Nnamdi Okolo”
“So Nnamdi, what questions do you have for me. Why are you here?” Although her voice was gentle and smooth, it seemed to reverberate through the room raising the hairs on his arms.
“Over the years we have come to know how invaluable you are to us. However things are still going bad, people are ill and dying, our lands are dying as well and yet we haven’t heard from you…or the president about when things will change”
“I cannot rush the gods. I am but a vessel to what the gods want me to share. The gods cannot fight forever and we have to continue to appease them” she rested her hands regally on her laps.
Nnamdi’s eyes narrowed, his teeth clenched as he began to speak, “People are dying and the government does nothing! Nothing! Because they think YOU have the answers to all our problems”
Feyi smiled as his emotions had betrayed him. Osungbami moved instinctively towards him as if to protect Feyi but Feyi raised her hand to stop her. It wasn’t often people spoke to her with such gall; he definitely had her attention now. “I see you are not a believer?” she simply said, the smile still drawn on her face.
“No I am not. I believe in science, I believe in responsibility. Not this alleged new order of gods fighting and using us as their chess pieces”
Feyi leaned back in her chair. She pinched her chin and studied Nnamdi. Years ago this was her, young, oblivious of the reality. Then, she had lived in the US with her single mother and they had visited Nigeria for a long vacation that was when it all started. Now years later, things had changed, so much had changed. She shook her head slowly as she remembered this.
“So why are you here? To see for yourself the fraud that you think I am”
Nnamdi’s words got caught in his throat. Her bluntness was unexpected; she was treating his outbursts as if he were merely a child throwing a tantrum. He decided to tread slowly, and studied her as if he were hunting for a prey. She had smooth dark skin with big bright eyes that sat beneath long eyelashes and full lips with a deep cupid’s bow. Her hair was long and braided to frame her face perfectly. She was beautiful he admitted to himself as he felt warmth rise to his cheeks.
“Are you going to keep looking at me like that or will you answer my question?” she snapped at him, except her voice remained calm. He was again caught off guard and was abashed by how easily she made a fool out of him. His prized intelligence was failing him at the worst time possible. It had taken him a whole year to plan this meeting.
“How do you know what you see is the truth? How do you know it’s not just a hallucination?”
“Let me speak in your language Mr. Nnamdi. Every time I have my visions, I tell the president and he comes on your TV station and repeats it to the whole country. Of all those visions how many have been incorrect?”
“Zero” Nnamdi acquiesced.
“So we can call that, scientifically significant.” She said mockingly with a smirk. Nnamdi laughed, she was definitely witty. “Now that I have won you over Nnamdi, you must have less aggressive questions for me.
“Yes, I do. Tell me more about your journey to this point as the Seer”
The smile wiped from her face and she looked almost sad as if her memories were too painful to recall. “Well, I was raised in the US; my mother adopted me from Nigeria when I was a baby. My mother was a beautiful woman, inside and out. She came from a very educated family and ended up becoming a corporate lawyer. But you know what I remember most about her, how vibrant she was. I remember dancing around in the house as a kid to the good old music- Wizkid, Asa, Omawumi. You know, when music was still what it was, not the drab, melancholic tunes we have now. Then we visited Nigeria for the first time when I was 19 and it started, these horrible vivid dreams of people who didn’t quite look like people, arguing and speaking in Yoruba. I would wake up and things I had heard in my horrible dreams came to pass; first the battle in Lagos, with people claiming after that they didn’t remember what happened as if they had been possessed, then a whole state dying of a mysterious illness. Then the isolation started so my mother and I couldn’t even leave to go back home. You remember don’t you Nnamdi? How the rest of the world quarantined us like we were infected. All flights stopped going out of the country. Even those around us; when we moved close to their borders, shot at us, men, women and children alike. Trust me. I still don’t want to believe that the answers to this country’s problems lie in my hands. But it does, we are alone and I am your only connection”
Nnamdi swallowed hard as he too recalled the past events. “Why you, why are you the one Osun speaks through”
“My birth mother had a strong connection to our mother, Osun. She had worshipped Osun all her life and when she got married she was unable to have children. So she offered her unborn child to Osun, if only she would bless her to bear that child. And she did, except she died at child birth. I don’t know much about my birth father all I know was my mother adopted me from an orphanage. You see, people didn’t abandon Osun like they did the other gods, so she has a particularly soft spot for us. Because of the promise my birth mother made to her, I am her only true connection and she shows me what she sees, she lets me know what the other gods are planning so I can warn you all before it happens.”
It was Feyi that told them that Sango was planning to unleash lightning and thunder for days in Abuja. Many heeded, those who didn’t died or flirted close enough with death to heed her future warnings. It was her that told them that Oya would cast wind so heavy in Jos that it would destroy everything in its path.
“And your mother? You speak of her like she is no longer with us. How did she take all this?” Nnamdi asked looking around.
Feyi’s eyes glistened with tears, “She passed away. The other gods are not happy that a mere human can meddle in their war. They have tried to kill me. But our mother Osun is possessive and protective of me, not so much with those close to me, so the other gods got to them. And other times people have sacrificed themselves so the other gods leave me alone…for the time being.” She added.
Suddenly her eyes glazed over, she stood up signifying that their conversation had come to an end. She called over to Osungbami. “Give him some food stuff to take home and make sure he is gone by the time I get out of my room” Nnamdi made as if he were about to speak but he was smart enough to recognize that this woman held great power and it was in his best interest to do as she pleased.
Feyi now sat in the darkness of her room, rocking back and forth as she waited for Osun to show her the way. The other gods Sango, the god of thunder and lightning, Oya, the god of wind and lightning, Babalu aye, the god of diseases and Ogun, the god of iron, fire and war had all gotten into a fight among themselves. She didn’t know what caused The Great War except that Esu, the god of mischief was behind a great deal of it. As the gods wrecked their havoc, the Nigerians had found themselves caught in the middle. The gods had disposed of the humans as they pleased. These people had abandoned them and this was their punishment. Nigerians however were resilient and adaptable and they had adjusted to this new order. Things barely ran as they should anymore, but the citizens were no strangers to intermittent electricity and run down facilities and it hadn’t been as shocking an adjustment to many as one would have liked to believe. But now the land was rejecting the seeds they planted and hunger had also become rampant. The citizens lived their lives, waiting for the news from Feyi via their President and moved across the country as needed. The Nigerians had become the new age nomads.
It had been a little under 10 years since Baba and Osungbami had found her; they had explained her dreams and that she was the only strong connection to Osun the god of love and diplomacy. She remembered how she and her mother had laughed at them, how she had rubbed, between her fingers as the spoke, the bottle of the antipsychotics she had began to use to keep the visions at bay. They had wondered how they had been found (she found out later that Osungbami had a much weaker connection to Osun and had found her through that shared bond).Then suddenly Feyi fell gravely ill, the other gods were trying to kill her. That was when her mother had been sacrificed instead. That was also when she had moved in with Baba and Osungbami. She had watched from her safe haven as the country collapsed around her. There was hunger, chaos, death and more hunger.
She held onto the railings of her bedroom in Aso Rock, where she now lived; she let the visions move through her. She could see what her Mother, Osun could see. Tears ran down her eyes as she focused on what they were saying, “No you can’t kill them” she screamed out at the other gods, (as Osun saw them).
Sango stood up, his hair plaited all back. He was tall and brooding in a red outfit, he opened his mouth and let out a loud chilling laugh. “Osun O! Your human does not know” he spoke in ancient Yoruba. In reality, Feyi had never learned Yoruba, but through Osun she understood every single word.
“I will not let you use her, I will not let you harm these people” Osun’s voice boomed through the room to match Sango’s.
More visions flashed in front of her, it was worse than before. No one would remain after this. The image of the endless ocean from her dream, flashed in front of her like the frames of a movie. “No they cannot do this. Mother, tell them.”
Sango laughed even harder, his laughter filled her ears. “She doesn’t know Osun. Osuntokun“he called Feyi by the name her birth mother gave her, “We do our best but it is not us that will kill your measly humans. Osuntokun it is you that will do so, with your own hands!!” He faded away, his laughter still filling her ears as it faded away.
The visions stopped suddenly and Feyi fell to the ground as if she had been stabbed in her stomach. She let out a long, harsh cry. The words she had heard in her dream but could barely make out then, came to her as clear as day. “We thought you would save us. Why did you do this to us?” She hugged herself and rocked back and forth “Mother, don’t let them use me, Mother please, I don’t want to hurt them!” She pleaded.
She waited for an answer. But all she heard was silence…