Posted by News Express | 1 May 2018 | 2,366 times
As I drove along Faulks Road, Aba; passing through Ariaria to the Enugu-Port Harcourt Expressway end of the road, on a well-paved road, with good culvert and median, I recalled an encounter with a strange native on this road some years ago.
Dateline: Ariaria International Market, August 2013.
It promised to be a very good day right from the morning, as I set out to Ariaria Market to buy some materials. But, gradually, the weather began to change. And no sooner had I made to leave than the heavens opened in what is often described as cat and dogs. We scampered for shelter in a makeshift stall, from where we watched an angry flow of storm-water overtaking Ariaria and running over to Ukwu-Mango. Here, I met a strange native, and quickly creating familiarity.
“This water is not an ordinary water. Spirits live here.”
The man said to me with an emphasis that could have only come from a dibia. Do you mean that spirits truly live here? Are you a spiritualist? Have you seen spirits? I prodded him, like a Police investigative officer.
“Yes, they bath here at night and swim from Ifeobara to Ukwu-Mango.”
His voice was ex-cathedral. I should believe him, especially when he claimed to be a native and to have lived in the land for over 40 years. But, I decided to drag him further.
What’s your evidence? Have you truly witnessed the swimming spree of the spirits here? His answer was reasonable enough and his evidence unarguable.
“You see, the water tumbles in the day and at night. That’s when spirits come to play. And, if they like, let them deploy billions upon billions to construct this Ukwu Mango, the water will still come back. How many times have they constructed this road, and yet Ukwu Mango refused to yield? You said, you came from Lagos, but ask anybody around. Ukwu Mango is the land of the gods and the water belong to the spirits.”
Are you sure? I dared to doubt.
“Yes, no government can conquer Ukwu-Mango and Ifeobara. It’s a battle against powers.”
His voice conveyed the note of a sign-off. Who am I to continue to query the words of an emissary of the gods, when I could recall that Ukwu-Mango, for donkey years, had defied every known construction theory, and has been a pain in the neck of every government, or so it seemed To traders and businessmen that visit Ariaria, including residents in the environ, Ukwu-Mango was an angry sore spot that made a mess of the reputation of the market. On a rainy day at Ariaria, the flow of storm water through Faulks Road to Ukwu Mango, and then to Ifeobara, is usually like tsunami.
But, thank God, today, for the Ifeobara artificial lake and the new Faulks Road built by Governor Okezie Ikpeazu. Thank God, because Ikpeazu confronted and conquered the “gods of Ukwu-Mango” and recovered the “bathing place of the spirits” for man. How I wish I could meet this strange passer-by again and drag him into our old discussion about the mystery of Ukwu-Mango and the invincibility of the gods against bulldozers and caterpillars. The message: even the gods are bowing before man. Ikpeazu’s genius is rebuking the gods.
The legend of Ukwu-Mango is a typical African story: buck-passing, an alibi, a lazy resignation to fate, a substitute of reason with supernatural inclinations. In this case, it is also the story of the failure of governments and institutions. Governor Ikpeazu has shown that what was needed to tackle the age-long flood challenge at Ukwu-Mango and the Ariaria axis of Aba was a superior construction technology and a sincere political will. Faulks Road is classified today as one of the topmost signature projects of Ikpeazu’s administation and a legacy that will speak about visionary leadership. Men are masters of their fate.
Today, Ukwu-Mango has been recovered for man: for commuters, motorists, and for humanity. How I wish I could meet my strange wayfarer again. He, surely, must find another alibi for the gods.
•Godwin Adindu writes from Umuahia. He can be reached via email@example.com
No comments yet. Be the first to post comment.