EXCERPT

Later that day, the whole village gathered at the square for the event. The girls were all looking very beautiful adorned, an evidence of their intense preparedness. Some wore tiny, belly baring tops with wrappers decorated with beads. Their hands and feet and even hair were all decorated with beads of different colors and sizes. Their lips were painted black and their teeth whitened.

 

The men were in the middle of the square and were equally, if not, more flamboyantly dressed. They wore large trousers and sandals with no shirts on, only beads crisscrossed their chests. The girls love men with flat tummies, as it was a sign that they are physically fit.

 

 

On their heads were caps of different designs and most were decorated with rare peacock feathers to add beauty and flair.

 

Their teeth were intensely whitened and they painted their lips black to intensify the whiteness of their teeth. They also applied black eyeliners to brighten their eyes.

 

The eligible bachelors all lined up in the middle while the maidens took their time to inspect them, before selecting their potential husbands. The young men would stretch their hands forward and open their eyes wide and glare their teeth as much as possible. Girls also like bright eyes and white teeth. So, displaying those aspects is believed to give an added advantage. One girl at a time will walk past the line and pick the one she liked. If he liked her in return, he will then decide to go to the next stage of the ritual for her. And if he succeeds, then she will have to marry him. Each girl must choose wisely.

 

The Bororo is probably the only tribe in the world where men are the ones that are objectified and not the women.

 

 

It is the men that have to look good for the women and women have freedom to choose life partners.

 

The Sharo festival had already started with a lot of singing and dancing, and also games where the young boys and girls were teasing each other. The boys also teased one another and dared them to go through with all the activities and brave everything like men.

 

With all that going on, Fantah was discreetly looking around for him but did not see Hayah in the square, even so, she was still calm. She did not expect him to be a contestant in the festival anyway,, and she did not go out to pick anybody too. Looking across the line-up of brave boys,) she saw Sa’adu among them and felt a pang of guilt. She knew why he was there. She knew he would be expecting her to pick him even though she was engaged to someone else. She turned away and fought back tears as one after the other, the boys were being picked and he wasn’t. Even Diddi went out and picked Murtala. At the end, Sa’adu just stood there alone. After a while, he turned and walked away.

 

Before the second and most important round, that is the whipping, the boys would rub all kinds of concoctions on their backs and drink all kinds of liquids prescribed to them by their own personal native doctors. Some may even had carry talisman on them. Those things were believed to give strength and courage to endure the pain. The ritual is very painful and dangerous, and any display of cowardice could hinder such person from ever having a wife for the rest of his life. It will be an embarrassment to his family and he will never be able to hold his head high in the community ever again.

 

Then, one by one, the boys came into the open square to get whipped with their peers’ sticks and whips. Everyone of them was expected to act non-chalant and happy inspite of the pain. None of them could afford to show any kind of pain.

 

 

Murtala was the sixth person to come out and he braved the pain impressively. Then to everybody’s surprise, Hayah also came out. Fantah was worried.

 

“Baba, what is he doing here?” A worried Fantah asked her father who was standing next to her.

 

“I guess he is about to get whipped.” Her father answered, sarcastically.

 

“But Baba, he is not from here.”

 

“Well, if he wants to marry my daughter he has go through Sharo like everybody else.”

 

Hayah began to receive his beating. The first whip came down hard. It felt like he was being branded with a hot iron. He tried to pretend not to feel it by smiling. The second one came down and he felt the world around him beginning to spin. It was like nothing he has ever felt before. He thought that being a warrior and having been in different battles, would make this  easy, but he was wrong. The next two fell on his numbed body, but still managed to hurt. Fantah watched in horror. She begged her father to stop it, but he said no. By the time the fifth stroke came down, the world was already spinning like a hurricane, he felt the earth give way under his feet and then everything went black.

 

 

 

              PLOT

​ "Fantah is a simple Bororo girl from a small nomadic village in West Africa. All she ever wanted was to meet the man of her dreams, fall in love, and live happily ever after. But what she got was a blue blood with an incredible ambition and an ironclad will. He took her on a roller-coaster ride of romance, action, danger, and adventure beyond her imagination.

This story takes you on a journey from the open grasslands of Fombina Empire through the Trans-Saharan trading routes of Borno Kingdom to the unforgiving desert heat of Sudan Kingdom and all the way to the Caliphate of Sokoto."

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REVIEWS

After listening to the Presidential speech, watching the patriotic hurray of elite troops and rich display of cultures at the Eagle Square on Independence day, I headed out to Booksellers Bookshop in Abuja to participate in the reading of "Fantah," by Hadiza Bagudu, a fantastic novel of love, history , adventure and tragedy, which setting cut across the ancient Fombina Empire, the Borno Kingdom and the Sokoto Caliphate. We had lively discussions about issues raised in the book which are clearly relatable to some of the things that ail us as a nation today. We also affirmed that in looking deep back, we can find some good things that can be used to make our today livable, peaceful and prosperous; that is if we take Nigeria seriously( as Odia Ofeimun puts it).

Mr. Denja Abdullahi.

The Director, National council

For arts and culture, Abuja, Nigeria.

A tale of love and war in colonial Africa!

Fantastic Story

 

These characters will consume you and keep you locked in their world. You will be sucked into the past and to land far away as the protagonist, Fantah, starts her journey in a new town.

 

Fantah is the oldest daughter of her father, Malam Buba, a farmer in the village of Ndokula. Fantah was watching her father's cows one day when she was almost attacked by a lion but fortunately, she was saved by a handsome stranger called Hayah. She runs away in shyness, leaving the cows behind. Fantah runs home and tells her sister, Diddi, all about the handsome stranger.

 

The cows were able to guide Hayah back to their home, where he meets, Malam Buba. Hayah introduces himself as a noble man and Malam Buba thanks him for returning his animals and insists he stays the night. The next morning, he was able to have a brief conversation with the beautiful Fantah, who invited him to come again. Captivated by beauty, Hayah could not get her out of his mind and so he continued to visit her secretly until he asked for her hand in marriage.

 

Hayah was already in a complicated arranged marriage with a princess named Talatu. He did not love her and was only with her because she was the only way he could secure himself to be the next king. After getting the blessing from the king and Malam Buba, Hayah decides to take Fantah as his second wife. Fantah isn’t too keen with polygamy but agrees because she loves Hayah very much.

 

However not everyone is happy about the marriage between Fantah and Hayah. The Waziri, Talatu’s uncle, will do everything in his will to make sure that Hayah and Fantah don't get married, and that Hayah never becomes king.

 

I really don’t want to get into the story because that is not fair to the author or you. Read the

book and enjoy the story for yourself. I will say that this book was fun to read. I love the suspense and romance throughout the story.

 

I love the originality and uniqueness of this story. There was nothing predictable in this book. I love the grittiness of the story and the twists and turns.

 

 I enjoyed reading this book. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves royalty romance!

JENNEL BROWN