Saturday 28 February 2015
Posted by

An African Tale Chapter Four

So lifetimes came and went. The rain fell frequently and all around the desert burst into life. There was grass, there were trees, and there were animals and birds. The small, dry, poor village was now a rich, healthy one in the middle of an inland delta. Rivers flowed all around it filled with fish, crocodiles, and hippos. People learnt to build boats from large trees so that they could visit other villages and trade with them. Ledimo’s father was right; nobody, except maybe the chief who had recognised the cloth, worked out who he was. The legend of the Great Storm that wiped out everything was so transformed with time that even Ledimo did not recognise himself in it. The old chief died and so did his daughter after marrying and having many children.

Ledimo became very famous and people would bring him gifts from far and wide. Although he knew he could not marry he still longed for a wife of his own. There were times when the longing got too great and the angry side of his nature would surface. Then he would create great storms. The wind would rip off roofs, and lightning would split trees in half. When he had vented his anger he would revert again to the gentler side of his nature and things would proceed peacefully for a while.

Then gradually things started to change. Strange-looking people began arriving from distant lands. They brought with them medicines in bottles for all kinds of ailments and a black book, which they waved around, saying that if they did not listen to the words of this book they would suffer greatly when they died. The people found this very confusing; they had never seen a book before and wondered how such a thing could speak. It seemed that the person waving the book spoke loud and long but not the book itself. Why should they suffer when they died? Everyone knew that the ancestors did not suffer. They were there to advise the living on how to conduct their lives. Now these people were saying that the book would tell them how to live their lives! They also told them that Ledimo was an old fraud and did not control the weather—no mortal man could do this—and he, Ledimo, was a mortal man who had managed to fool them. The people found all this very confusing and many of them would have thrown these strange ones to the crocodiles had it not been for the power of their medicines. Those who were cured by these medicines started to believe that Ledimo didn’t really have any power over the weather and began to scorn him. Ledimo could feel his power draining away and this made him very angry. He used the last of his energy to call up a whole week of storms and destruction. It was terrifying. The wind howled, rain sheeted down, and the lightning never stopped. Everyone huddled in their houses hoping that they would not come down around their ears. The strange ones tried to get away but the waters of the river overturned their boats and they drowned. The people then realised that they had made a grave mistake by changing their beliefs so quickly. Those who were strong enough rushed to Ledimo’s house with gifts, hoping that this would appease him.

Finally Ledimo gave up. The effort had totally drained him and he lay exhausted in his hut, unable to move. It was then that the voice returned. It did not come in any storm. It was just there in the room around him.

“Ledimo,” it said in a kindly manner. “The world is changing. I think your time is nearly at an end.”

Ledimo nodded. He was tired now and did not feel as though he wanted to go on.

“People are now starting to think that they can take care of things themselves, so we will leave them to it. It could of course mean disaster for all mankind, but so be it. You have done well and now I will grant you your wish to marry and have children.”

Ledimo smiled. “How is that possible?” he asked, knowing the answer.

“You will become human, grow old and die, like all other men.”

Ledimo nodded, that was his wish.

“You will have two children, twins,” the voice continued. “They will inherit some of your powers as a semi-god. They will, however, be limited and not connected to water or the weather. They must not handle the stone or try and use its power in any way. That could have disastrous consequences.”

“What is to become of the stone?” asked Ledimo. He didn’t like the thought of it lying around somewhere if he couldn’t give it to his children.

“The stone will be kept for your great grandchildren. They will come at a time when the world is running out of water and therefore will be greatly needed. However, if it falls into the wrong hands much damage could be done.”

“How will we stop this?” Ledimo asked anxiously. He was starting to think that maybe he should forget about this marriage business and just hang around to make sure everything didn’t go horribly wrong.

“There will be two great grandchildren who will be born the moment of your death. These two children will only be able to evoke the power of the stone if they work as one, both with the same goal in mind. The trouble comes if they are influenced by older, more devious minds.”

“I will watch over them from the spirit world,” said Ledimo.

“Yes,” said the voice. “We can only hope that modern influences do not take these children too far away from their ancestral roots so that they cannot hear you.”

With that the voice vanished and Ledimo fell into a deep sleep like the one he had had so long ago when he had decided to get on with his job as a semi-god.

Categorised in: