Here is a bit of gossip for you. Ama has been filling us in on the happenings at the coast with the Whiteman and the curiosities they have been generating with their way of life here.
Take this for instance:
We had been up half the night with countless tales from Ama about happenings at the coast with the Whiteman. One of the most fascinating was how easily he takes to the big waters. It was told us that he on a daily basis, takes his clothes off leaving just some under pants, jumps into the sea, goes under water for a while and comes up again, repeating this many times before eventually coming back to shore visibly unharmed. Most peculiar of all, he would go far into the sea and return much later looking very pleased with himself. Ama had heard it tell that the Whiteman finds this daily chore very relaxing though she could not understand why he never disappeared permanently under the water and why the undersea people never cared about keeping him with them for good. She just did not get this one.
‘But, that is where he comes from; he comes from the undersea kingdom!’ I blurted out recalling the numerous stories Otiti and the other palace story tellers had told us about the White people who in the past had come over the seas to visit the King.
‘What do you mean?’ Ama enquired.
‘Well, it is said that the White men used to come to see the king, bring him presents; buy things that they needed and when they were leaving after trading with the chiefs, the king gave them numerous presents and sent some of his soldiers to escort them back to their ship. The soldiers stayed on the coast and watched till they had travelled some distance and disappeared into the sea, before going back to report to the king. ’
‘But these ones do not go back; they just go into the sea every day and come back up again. ’ Ama uttered exasperatedly.
‘Maybe they go to tell their people about us;’ ‘But I do not understand why they have to do so every day;’ Edugie looked puzzled, no doubt imagining how difficult this would have been for her had it been her job.
‘I do not believe that I have ever seen any Whiteman at the palace, Edugie, have you? It was me thinking aloud.
‘No, I haven’t!’ she responded.
‘So why are they staying here at the coast instead of coming to see the king?
‘All I keep hearing is that they are quarrelling with the King.’ Ama volunteered.
‘Why would anyone want to quarrel with the king?’ I asked.
‘The way they speak through their noses is annoying because you cannot understand them, maybe they have said something under their nose and someone has told the King the wrong thing.’ Uwa had not said anything till now; she looked thoughtful; nodding her head at the same time. ‘Chief, my dad, told me that the reason we are here is that they the Edo chiefs want to try to sort things out, maybe this time, the Whiteman will speak slowly so that they can be understood and maybe not speak so much through their noses.’ Uwa added. This seemed to make a lot of sense, after all no one of us wanted any disagreements between the Whiteman and the King particularly as the Whiteman used to bring presents to the King.
‘I still believe that they are spies.’ It was Ama, looking very worried.
‘Do you all know what, we should just sleep now and in the morning, we can go and see for ourselves. We could see if we can understand a word they are saying, speaking through one’s nose is not helpful when people don’t understand you.’ I was now more than ever anxious to behold the Whiteman myself; I have not ever seen anyone speak through their nose before, this promised to be an experience worth having; one I was looking so very forward to.
With all in agreement, we turned in for the night.