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FANTAH CHAPTER TWO - NDOKULA

Updated: Dec 24, 2023

THE VILLAGE OF NDOKULA 03/12/2023

Fulani warrior riding furiously
 

WARNING!

“This series and the characters in it are fictitious. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and specific other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law." Copyright © 2023 by Hadiza Bagudu.

 

The evening sun cast its long shadow on the village of Ndokula, a quiet settlement of semi-nomadic Bororo with fewer than five hundred inhabitants. It was situated 150km west of Maroua in the lush Savannah grassland of Fombina.


The Bororo formed a tightly knit clan, often interconnected through blood and marriage. While they occasionally engaged in hunting, their primary occupation revolved around cattle herding. Every three years, they would migrate in search of greener pastures to sustain and prosper their livestock. When they moved, they would bring everything with them and establish a new settlement. Rarely did they spend more than three years in one place, and they seldom returned to previous locations. Their origins were believed to be traced back to North Africa, gradually moving westward until they settled in the land of Fombina.


A typical Bororo village consists of groups of thatched huts made of grass, sticks, and mud, shaped like domes. Each Ruga forms a cluster of domes surrounded by a fence constructed with beautifully woven branches, providing privacy and protection from wild animals. Usually, there is a large dome for the head of the household, a semi-large one for his wife and daughters, and perhaps another for the boys in the family. Additionally, a small round dome made of mud, called rumbu, is used for grain storage.

 
A nomadic Fulani Ruga in West Africa
A nomadic Fulani Ruga in West Africa

The family structure is a father, mother, and children. Although polygamy is occasionally practiced, it is rare except in special circumstances. Marriage between cousins is common among them, as it is believed to strengthen family ties and preserve wealth within the family. Intermarriage with other tribes is uncommon, resulting in a distinct similarity among the Bororo due to a shared genetic heritage.

Their governance system is relatively loose. While they have a chief known as the Ardo, who is selected by the village elders, decisions on village matters are typically made by the elders themselves. The Ardo primarily holds a ceremonial position as the village chief.


Malam Buba stood in front of his ruga just before sunset, waiting for his wife to bring supper. Suddenly, his cows emerged out of nowhere and started heading toward their barn without anyone directing them. To his surprise, his daughter, Fantah, was not among them. As he wondered where she could be, a middle-aged man who seemed to be herding the cows approached him and greeted him.


“Are these your cows?” the man asked.


“They appear to be my cows,” Malam Buba responded.


“They led me here; can you believe it? Intelligent animals!”


“You don’t say.”


“Well… the girl who was with them left, so I brought them back,” the man explained.

Malam Buba’s anger flared up as he realized the situation. “You mean my daughter left my cows unattended?” He retorted angrily.


“Yes… no,” the man stammered, clearly frightened. “There was a lion. These parts are dangerous, with wild beasts everywhere. You shouldn’t allow your daughter to wander off alone.”


Malam Buba gave the man a quizzical look before shouting, “Fantah!”


“Na’am, Baba,” a female voice answered from inside the compound. She emerged and stood at the doorway, surprised to see Hayah—it was the same girl who had left him with the cows. She knelt beside her father.


“Did you leave my cows in the forest by themselves and wander off?” Malam Buba questioned, but she remained silent. “Go inside. I will deal with you later,” he ordered.


“It’s not entirely her fault. She was frightened… there was a lion…” Hayah attempted to defend her.

“A lion?” Malam Buba feigned surprise, as if he hadn’t heard him the first time.


“Yes, a man-eater.”


“That is serious.”


“Yes, but… You know, sir, you shouldn’t allow young girls to venture into the forest alone to tend to cows. It’s highly dangerous out there, teeming with wild animals.”


“Don’t worry about that. We have hunters patrolling the area, and they will take care of the beasts. Tending to cows is a task for children and girls.”


At that moment, another girl, younger but equally beautiful, emerged, carrying several small calabashes filled with food stacked on top of each other. She knelt down, greeted them, and began arranging the calabashes on a mat.


“Okay,” Hayah said, realizing there was no point in trying to convince him further.


“Now that your cows are safe, I will take my leave.”


“No, my friend, food is ready. Please stay and eat with me,” Malam Buba offered.


“Oh no, I must go. But thank you for the offer.”


“No, my good sir. In our culture, it is considered unfriendly for a visitor to leave a man’s house at sunset without sharing a meal with him first.”


“Okay,” Hayah agreed, not wanting to offend him. “I will stay for supper.”


“Thank you.”


As they ate nyiri marori be hako mbokko from the same bowl, Hayah once again emphasized the dangers of wild animals in the area. There was also chobbal by the side.


“Rearing cows is for children and girls, young man. Our men are hunters and warriors. Believe me, we can take care of our women. No wild animal would dare harm any of them,” Malam Buba asserted.


“Very well, then,” Hayah replied, realizing it was futile to try and convince him otherwise. He decided not to mention the earlier incident, fearing it might upset Malam Buba.


While they were still eating, Buba called for more water. To Haya’s surprise, it was Fantah who brought it to them. As she knelt to offer them the water, she stole a quick glance at Hayah, then shyly averted her eyes and smiled. Malam Buba noticed the exchange and said something to her in Fulfulde, causing her to cringe. She then abruptly got up and hurried into the house. Fantah didn’t appear to be very happy.


“So, my stranger, what brings you to these parts? You don’t seem to be from around here,” Malam Buba inquired.


“My name is Hayah ibn Sa’id ibn Abdullah Ibn Usman. I am the great-grandson of Sheil Usman the Great. I migrated from Sokoto to Fombina on my way to Mecca for pilgrimage. However, I was appointed as the Chief Imam of Balda by Lamdo Gerei along the way, and that is where I currently reside. I occasionally venture into the forest for solitude and to indulge in my passion for hunting, which I truly enjoy as a sport.”


“Hunting is not a pastime for royals,” Malam Buba commented.


“I am aware,” Hayah acknowledged.


“What am I doing?” It suddenly dawned on Malam Buba that Hayah was a highly esteemed individual. “Allah rene Barkama!" he exclaimed.


“Oh no, Malam, you need not trouble yourself. I am a guest in your house, and you have shown me great kindness. I appreciate that and will always remember it,” Hayah responded.


“Thank you.


“No, thank you, but I must take my leave now.”


“No, Allah rene, it is already dark, and Balda is almost a full day’s journey from here. Why don’t you spend the night here and depart in the light of the day?” Malam Buba suggested.


“I don’t want to inconvenience you.” Hayah insisted.


“No, you won’t. I would be honored to host you,” Malam Buba responded. After much persuasion, he finally convinced Hayah to spend the night. Buba personally showed him to his hut and instructed his wife to prepare the best delicacies for breakfast.


 

At first light the next day, Malam Buba slaughtered two fowls and had his wife prepare food for Hayah to take along on his journey to Balda. Hayah was outside, preparing for his departure, when Fantah approached him from behind the hut.

“Good morning, stranger,” she greeted him while avoiding eye contact and squatting down.


“Good morning, Fantah,” Hayah replied.


“You know my name?” She asked.


“Yes.”


“I hope you slept well,” she said, not looking directly at him.


“Yes, I did. Your father was very kind,” Hayah replied. She remained silent.


“I will soon be on my way,” Hayah informed her.


“To where?” she asked, showing curiosity.


“Home.”


“Home?”


“Yes, home; Balda is where I live.”


“What do you do?” Fantah inquired.


“I am a soldier, and I reside in the palace,” Hayah replied. She glanced at him as if in disbelief, and he continued, “I occasionally go hunting for fun.”


“Oh,” Fantah responded.


“Well, I must be off now,” Hayah said.


“Will you come back again?” Fantah asked.


“Do you want me to come back again?” Hayah asked, but she remained silent. Instead, she abruptly stood up and rushed out of the hut through the back, heading towards her mother’s hut. Just then, Malam Buba entered the hut.


Allah rene, everything is ready,” he informed Hayah.


“Yes, Malam Buba, and you don’t have to address me so formally,” Hayah replied, smiling.


“If you permit, I will arrange an escort for you to ensure your safety.”


“My safety is in the hands of Allah, and I am grateful He has made me a warrior. Thank you for your concern, but it is not necessary.”


“Do come visit us again.”


“In Sha Allah,” Hayah responded, using the Arabic phrase meaning “God Willing.” With that, he took his leave. Fantah, peeking from an opening in the wall of her mother’s room, watched him depart alongside her sister.


[End of Chapter Two]


 

Thank you for reading Chapter Two of Fantah. If you enjoy it, please leave me a like, comment below, and subscribe to my website. You can read Chapter Three below:

 
A steaming hot pot of food
 



 
A white plane flying in a blue sky
 
Blue city at night
 

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