Ikenga prologue

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IKENGA
Ikenga- prologue 

Theme: (The Demon I Saw)

By Praise Chidera Obiora 


I sat on the tall Igbuala mango tree, plugging only the soft red colored mangoes and slipping them
into the pockets of my brown short knicker. The red mangoes were my favourite mangoes. They
had no seed at all. One could easily throw the mangoes into his mouth and chew it like the popular
blue berries. It was soft and had the sweet taste of lemonades. This tree was believed to be a gift
from the gods.
GrandMa had told me that the Igbuala tree was a tree planted by Agundaobi, the god of beauty
and love. I was only five years old when she told me the story of the beauty god and the history of
the Igbuala mango tree. I loved the story so much. Many parents told their children that same
story.
I would run to grandmama when ever the white moon was out, and drag her by her hands until she
followed me outside, limping with her stick which made the "kolom kolom" sound on the broken
cement floor, while she carefully picked her steps out of the room.
I remember the first day grandma told me the story of the celebrated tree. It was on a dark chilly
evening, when the cool breeze of the night robbed its comforting hands on our naked body,
bringing sweet chills to all who were ready to embrace it.
I had dragged grandma outside as usual not only to enjoy the sweet breeze, but also to tell me the
story of the popular Igbuala tree.
"Mama tell me the story of the Igbuala tree. I want to know about it." I pleaded with my eyes turned
into that of an innocent puppy.


I called her Mama even though she was not directly my own mother. Grandma was my father's 
mother. Grandma was a quiet woman who smiled always. She loved me like her own child. 
Grandma once told me that she loved me even more than she loved my own father. Although I 
took her words as mare exaggerations. I couldn't understand why a mother would love her 
grandson more than her own son. 
"Ike do you really want to know about the Igbuala mango tree?" She asked. 
"Yes mama." I replied happily with a grin on my face. 
I folded my legs like a village native doctor, preparing to llisten to grandma's story. 
"Long time ago, the people of Agugu found favour in the eyes of the gods. The gods blessed them 
with everything beautiful. Women gave birth to handsome young men. Our women were an 
epitome of beauty and grace." 
"The gods loved us to an extent they visited us in human flesh during dinner, and ate from the 
same table with every single family. They ensured they were present in full flesh on every festivals 
we held too. The walked on the streets and even stopped to help the young and old who needed 
help."
"One day, during a major festival held in the village, Agundaobi the god of beauty and love, visited 
and fell in love with one of the maidens in the village." 
"The whole village was surprised and also excited when they realised that Agundaobi had fallen in 
love with his own creation." 
"He loved Ijeoma with all his heart. He paid her annual visits. And when ever he did, he brought 
her mangoes- Red soft mangoes. This mangoes were very sweet. They were unique. They were 
not like the common mangoes we see on the trees. This mangoes were said to exist only in the 
land of the gods." 
"Ijeoma loved the mangoes so much. It was with that mango that he won the love of Ijeoma. As 
she ate the mangoes, Ijeoma grew very beautiful. Other maidens became jealous and envious of 
her beauty. They too wished that Agundaobi the god of beauty and love, will choose them as his 
girlfriends too." 
"But something happened. The food of the gods which was meant for the gods alone, was now 
being consumed by a mare human. Agundaobi had forgotten the rule of the gods, and fed her too 
much mangoes. Soon Ijeoma began to see things only meant for the gods." 
"She began to see spirits. She saw demons. She saw the black ones which had no legs. She saw demons with six black eyes and black smoky waist. And at night, she saw the ones with teeth's on 
their feet and tails on their forehead." 
"The curse on Ijeoma could not be reversed. Agundaobi tried all he could to save her but he could 
not. This made Agundaobi cry a bitter cry." 
"Ijeoma was going through pains. She began to live her life in fear and isolation. Agundaobi could 
not bear the pains the love of his life, Ijeoma was going through. One day, Ijeoma begged him to 
kill her. It was a really though decision for him. Agundaobi the god of beauty and love, granted her 
request and slit Ijeoma's throat with his own sword." 
"He buried her himself and planted the red mango tree on their favourite meeting spot on the 
street of Igbuala. This was to serve as a remembrance and a gift to Ijeoma's. Agundaobi swore 
that his tears would never dry. He swore never to stop mourning Ijeoma." 
"Every morning, he comes to the grave of Ijeoma and cries. It is his tears that waters the Igbuala 
mango tree. Ikenga, below that mango tree is the body of Ijeoma, Agundaobi first and only true 
love."
"In other to ensure that no other human eats from the tree, he cursed the tree and made it very tall 
so that no one climbs it. Anyone who eats from the tree would inherit Ijeoma's curse. And he shall 
see the demons Ijeoma saw while she was still alive." 
My heart played the fast beat of the Ofola drum, while grandma told me the story of the red 
mangoes. My eyes became soaked with tears. My body became cold And frozen. 
"Grandma, does that mean we would never eat from the red mango tree? The mango is always 
fresh and tasty. It never dries up. It is inviting." 
Grandma chuckled and coughed. She pulled me closer and dropped her walking stick beside her. 
She lifted her right hand and robbed my shiny head with her hands. 
"Ike, Agundaobi is a fair god. He knew that we would love to eat from the mangoes too, so he 
lowers the height of the mango tree once every year. It was lowered low enough for villagers to 
climb and plug from the tree, which was also the food of the gods. That way, our consumption 
from the mango tree will not be much." 
I grew up knowing about the Igbuala tree. After the first rain of every year, the mango tree was 
lowered by the gods for all to come and eat from. The Iguala tree was admired by every man and 
woman, boy or girl who walked pass the tree. It was a tree which bore fruits every single day. 
I hated the green and yellow mangoes. They were popular in the village, and patronized by all. But 

the Igbuala tree was the only tree that brought out red mangoes that resembled the apples of 
Umubula. It was always admired but never eaten unless the gods lowered the tree. 
A single bite brought out sweet red juice that painted the lips and tongue of the eater in a beautiful 
pepper red design. The lips of the eater stayed red for several days before it finally washes off. 
I plugged the last red mango from the Igbuala tree and climbed down like a village soldier. 
I took to my heels, heading back home to grandma. 
Today is not the Igbuala tree plucking day. The rain has not even showed any sign of its coming, 
neither have the gods lowered the tree for anyone to eat from. 
My name is Ikenga, the true and only son of my father, the lovely grandson of mama, and the 
stubborn he goat the kingdom talks about. 
As I ran cutting through the thick bushes, I felt something chase me behind. It was something fast. 
Something strange and very scary.... 
To be continued.... 

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