A tale of love and war in colonial Africa!
"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."
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.
Alexa Young, CA
“Join Fantah in her journey to find true love and happiness in this romantic, action-packed story set amidst the vibrant cultures of West Africa."