They were both perplexed to a brief silence. Who was this fishman speaking with calmness and assuredness? That would rather die than be set free by a Drymen? The sun chief thought. And they formed a kind of bond. A mutual admiration and respect for one another was created in that threadbare tent.
“My eyes have yet set on you, yet I already hold you in reverence. Perhaps this incarceration has revealed its true purpose. So please tell me your name, Lwo! Tell me who you are!”
“I cannot speak my name here. To say it is as dangerous as a hyena in a sheep’s pen. Tell me yours first, diplomat!”
Simei had to see this strange Lwo boy. He got up, struggling with the restraints and walked as far as his shackled legs could enable him, peeked over the veil and watched the boy from the back. He seemed normal, slightly older probably. An ordinary boy. But he was certainly no ordinary warrior.
“I am Simei the sun chief, son of the Laibon of the Drymen and sixth in line to the title of the Laibon,” he proudly announced.
The dumbfounded boy turned and looked up, staring back at the sun chief with admiration. Simei did not recognize him. The boy fiddled with the idea of revealing his identity. After all, Simei was still a Dryman.
“The boy who brings you water and food, he is your aide then? Why does he not free you? You can surely order him to!”
“Like I said,” the anxious Simei continued, “our shackles are not the same. It is not yet time for me to be free. I must find out what the moon chief is up to first. —Aaaah ah, I see what you are doing! Out with it! What name could be so dangerous that this tent would fold at its mention?”
“I am afraid I still cannot tell you, Simei.”
“My admiration and respect for you have yet to give birth to trust.”
“What would you have me do!? Bind us with the bond of brotherhood?” Simei said frustrated.
The boy thought for a moment, “Not a terrible idea, really. This way, I will know you are true.”
“You must be mad! I do not even know you! This thing you ask is impossible.”
“And who says it so?”
“It is just wrong. We are two different people, different cultures—”
“Aaaah, there it is. Because I am Lwo and not a Dryman? A fishman and not a barbarian? Because you have been cut and I have not? Because you chop down a man with a spear and I use a sword? Or that I pray to Nyasaye and not Enkai? Who drew these barriers between us? These fictitious restrictions were handmade by mortal men. Men who know nothing of the desires of gods. You harbour the same admiration I do and our respect is mutual. What more does a man require from a brother?”
Simei was sold. He decided to take the challenge. The sun chief could not debunk the boy’s argument and wanted to see how far it would take him. He called out to his aide and though disturbed by Simei’s request, he performed the bonding ceremony, bringing them as close as possible, gently cutting Simei and Tomas across their wrists and letting their blood mix in a brown dried gourd. The aide then placed their chained hands together making their wounds touch for a few moments while placing some of the blood on their foreheads. Simei’s aide then poured the blood from the dried gourd around the two boys, making an outline the shape of the number eight, to signify that they had been bound for eternity. And finally, the boys each took a sip from the dried gourd as brothers.
“Any more ceremonies you will have me do before you tell me your name, brother!”
“This should suffice,” he readied himself, “I am Prince Tomas of the Lwo, the son of King Kano and heir to the throne over all the Lwo Land!”
Excerpt from Lords Over Kenia: The Prophecy of the Moon Chief by V. W. Matinde. To find out where to order and get LOKe, click here.