Kpam Kpam kpam kpam kpam
The sound of the drum was coming from the market square. The sounds were familiar yet Ogbunike knew everything was wrong. The rhythm did not follow the akpati rhythm. The one taught from generation to generation as Ogbunike knew it. The one taught to his father by his grandfather. The drum was definitely the Ogidi, but who dared to play the Ogidi without the akpati rhythm?
In the village square was a scene that made the muscles of Ogbunike tighten at the nape of his neck. It was not the sight of Ikemefuna beating recklessly away at the Ogidi that did it but the sight of the person in the middle, dancing with careless abandonment.....Onyinye. The drums slowly calmed down and Ogbunike’s presence was soon felt....like rain after a hot day.
“Ogbunike, come brother, here is the Ogidi, humor us with the rhythm of your hands”
“Ah! Ikemefuna, I’m afraid it is too late for the Ogidi”
“Are you an old man now?”
This drew laughter from the crowd and it seemed to Ogbunike that Onyinye laughed louder and longer than everybody else.
“Old....we shall all reach that stage when our hands tremble at the simplest of okanka rythms. No, old I am not, but the ogidi is better played under the shadows of daylight”
Silence descended on the crowd, the words of Ogbunike had struck deep, it was a well known fact that the ogidi was only brought out during the day. That they had chosen to ignore that fact made them bow their heads with shame.
“Well perhaps it is time that the sound of the Ogidi is recognized under moonlight” and with that, Ikemefuna began his strange thumping, and the crowd went back to their dancing. Ogbunike went on his way but it was not long before his ears caught the sound of running feet behind him
“Ogbunike! Ogbunike!”, it was Onyinye, who seemed to be out of breath from trying to catch up with Ogbunike, whose feet was on their own rhythm this night, getting as far away from strange thumping of Ikemefuna's hands.
“Ogbunike! Will you not escort me home? What will your mother say, leaving your neighbor on a night like this?”
“I am sorry. I was not aware you would be going home so early. The night is still young”
“Yes, the night is young, but I thought perhaps, this would be a good time to continue the discussion we had some days ago”
“Ah the new yam festival! The dance rehearsals will start in two market days”
“Ehhhhhh, you see, Ogbunike, we were thinking……”
“You mean Ugonna and Ifeoma....”
“Yes, my peer mates, we were thinking that we’d like the Nkombi dance to be played by Ikemefuna....”
She looked down as she spoke
“Yes, Ikemefuna. His rhythm is different. Perhaps we can beat the village of Okete this year”
“Ikemefuna is not in the group. The rehearsals have already been planned”
“Yes, that is why I wanted to talk to you, you are the leader, you can put Ikemefuna in, and besides, you hate the Nkombi dance, you lament every year and every year, we have to fight you to include it. This year, you will not have to grit your teeth”.
“I do not grit my teeth”
“Yes you do, every time we practice the Nkombi dance”
“Perhaps it’s because the Nkombi dance is a stupid dance. A competition for you girls to become spiteful to each other”.
“Ogbunike, the Nkombi dance is for me and my peer mates, perhaps to you it is spiteful but don’t forget many girls are married every year because of the Nkombi”
“That is why it is stupid, choosing a wife because of the way her buttocks move... And you say I am old”
“I never said you were old, afterall,you are only five years ahead of me. I have known you since childhood, you taught me to break kennels....”
Her voice had softened and he could hear her heart beat in the stillness of the night.
“Onyinye, if you really want Ikemefuna to play the Nkombi, this year, then…, It is okay.....he can join us for rehearsals”
“Really ? Oh thank you Ogbunike! The girls were so sure you would say no, but I told them Ogbunike has a heart of gold! Just like your mother! Oh, I have to go and tell the girls, they will be so excited”
And with that, Onyinye started back towards the market square.
“But who will escort you home?” shouted Ogbunike at her retreating figure,
“Don’t worry, Ikemefuna will!” came the resounding reply.