Jomo: Enemy Circles (Novel) – Season One, Episode 14

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This entry is part 14 of 14 in the series Enemy Circles - Season One

Jomo, a young nomadic man was betrothed to a fellow clan’s girl, Bonajo, and they were to be married during the merriment of reuniting at the designated reunion camp in mountains of central Africa. Unfortunately, a huge war campaign was to prevent that simple thing from happening until after more than three years.

HELL LET LOOSE

A few hours later Jomo, with his two riding companions, arrived at Djenne city. The chaos that welcomed them was a similitude of what they left behind at Tondibi town. There was no place to begin a search, no one to ask. They rode silently, absorbing the sight of the pandemonium that was the civilized city of Djenne. Women shrieked endlessly, men shouted orders and mull or horse driven carts continuously left the city.

“The camp shouldn’t be more than a couple of miles south of the city. Shagaro said. We have to leave immediately.”

“What are we waiting for, then.” Jomo spurred his stallion violently, and shoot in the direction Shagaro described like an arrow released from its bow.

 

***

Bonajo sidestepped for the three hasty mean looking riders to pass before she returned her attention to Marra. “What did he say we are going to do?”

Marra went to Mallam Iro, one of the escorts to find out about the decision for the next line of action. She learnt they weren’t leaving Djenne until tomorrow. They would take shelter and wait for whatever was happening at Tondibi to subside. That was the decision of many of the Djenne residents. The city offered protection as well as shelter and food.

Bonajo thought deeply after Marra’s narration. “We need Allah’s help.”

“Yes we do, my friend.” Marra said. “Do you think Djenne will be attacked soon? These three soldiers that were madly galloping, what does it mean?”

Bonajo only looked at Marra, her eyes filled with tears.

The camp was abandoned but with indication of an earlier usage. Jomo somehow expected a similar thing, but was not prepared for the pain of finally realizing he didn’t even know where his clan was. The adventure of finding their family members, which began at the reunion camp, ended here in failure after going through so much.

“Look” Mandano shouted. It was a letter written in black ink. Jomo and Shagaro converged on the letter like it was a sacred artefact.

Shagaro read: ‘Let anybody who read this letter know that it is addressed to clan members that found their ways back. The women are on their way back to Futa Djallo, they would avoid the borders because they need to escape with their wealth, which would be confiscated by the guards, as our cattle and young sons are taken by similar force. The remaining men folk, though mostly aged, would try to take back their sons as well as the cattle from the government. May Allah be with us, amin.

Shagaro was boiling like a kettle of tea on red hot coals. “So they took our cattle as well as our brothers?”

Mandano was furious too. “See? These are the people we endangered our lives to fight for. While we are in the desert burning ourselves fighting for them, they were busy abducting our brothers and stealing our cattle.” Jomo tried to calm the hysteric Mandano to no avail.

Enemy Circles on Memorila
Enemy Circles on Memorila

“And what did you tell us, Jomo, huh; the bullshit that was politics, which has nothing to do with us or our way of life? If we were here just yesterday we would have found them right here.” Mandano continued heatedly.

“And do what?” Jomo shouted back. “Put them inside our pouches and sneak them out of the empire? Stopping the enemy was our best chance.”

“Tell me the enemy has been stopped and I would sew my mouth for all eternity. It was this nonsense of yours that landed us into the situation we are in now, you will speak of this garbage no more.” Before Shagaro could restrain Jomo the two exchanged some fistful blows.

“Now, look at us, fighting amongst ourselves as the enemy pound on our last hope at Tondibi and our women folks stranded somewhere nearby, while our old men marched to the capital to protest to the emperor against taking their sons and cattle. We are losers!” He started sobbing.

Jomo and Mandano returned to their senses, each trying to regain his cool.

“We are losers!” Shagaro continued crying.

Both Mandano and Jomo were shocked to see Shagaro broken down. He never complained and always looked at the brighter side. They both comforted him.

“We need to go to the capital right now! At least we know where a portion of our clan is. They will be in a great danger if the enemy succeeded to overpower the empire and proceed to the capital to finish what it started at Tondibi.” Jomo was calm now.

Mandano nodded his head in agreement. With a new found exuberance the three mounted their horses and rode like devils, with the concoction of the Moorish weapon at their trail.

 

***

Karima, amongst the harem women screamed seeing the emperor bloodied. The whole town was shouting as the remaining Mandinka guards and some soldiers returned back to Gao with the enemy at their heel. Askia Ishaq wished Gao was walled like one of those Hausa cities to have something to put between himself and the invading enemy.

More than half of the Songhai army had been wasted by the enemy. The more they sent dispatch to take down the smaller enemy the more they were laid to waste. General Hamma had fallen, the emperor learnt. The general didn’t bother to steer things as they unfolded. Almost all the high ranking army officers went down with the general. The full brunt of the enemy weapon had manifested on them and now his only hope was to exile. Wazir Gabda suggested they headed for Senegambia or Ghana.

Without wasting much time they picked the few things the Askia thought necessary and asked Karima to quickly join him. Two of his closest wives and the Wazir made up the team.

Soon the enemy was at the gates shooting and plundering. The rampage turned the civilized capital into a scenery of anarchy and destruction. The emperor asked the guards to hold them as they make hasty preparation of changing into plain clothes and taking some gold, books and few trinkets.

Karima was perplexed at the turn of events and was too scared to ask her father what happened. In a few minutes time the emperor, Wazir Gabda, Karima and the wives left through the back door.

The city streets were everything destruction entailed; the emperor saw libraries burning, the treasury broken down and gold gladly taken by the invaders. The invaders largely ignored the hysteric people of the capital except for some few cases where women and fighters were wrestle down and chained. What they mostly did was to break every closed door and take any valuables within. They also were intent on annihilating any written document or book.

Askia Ishaq knew that these thieves had finally unleashed a greater terror that was larger than the weapon they brought. Without their proudly organized and civilized system in place, everything had been lost; that was what they enemy seemed determined in doing, to inflict the greatest harm on us.

 

***

Jomo and his friends came in time when Gao was plundered, and by virtue of their mount were targeted by the enemy as hostile. They fought back and soon more Moorish soldiers converged on the three.

There was no question looking for their fathers and there was also no doubt that the enemy prevailed over the empire. Jomo decided there was no point putting a fight, it was best if they leave, but it was too late as they already were deep in fight with the moors.

The Askia saw the fighting, as he and his entourage tried to sneak from one shadow to another in their escape bid. He admired the courage of the young men. He remembered the one among them that talked at the war front. Though he knew they wouldn’t make it to the end but he thought that was how it was supposed to be –fighting till death. Gabda nudged him to move forward, he did, still clutching Karima.

A Moorish plunder saw Karima and tried to pull her from her father. Wazir Gabda tried to wrench the girl from her father so the plunder could have her and let them move. Soon, a kind of tug-of-war ensued between the emperor, the Wazir and the Moorish soldier. Karima was yelling madly and the Wazir was planning to go alone.

Shagaro saw the conflict and solved it by plunging his spear deep inside the back of the Moorish plunderer, more soldiers’ attention was attracted to the scene; they came down on the veiled people that were the centre of it.

Askia saw what was coming and knew that they had no chance of escaping anymore.

“Please save her.” He pleaded at the rider. The latter hesitated looking back at his comrades being outnumbered before he pulled the girl’s hand and placed her on the back of his horse as she wailed and screamed, further calling the attention of more Moorish soldiers.

When Karima turned back as her captor-saviour galloped her out of the mayhem site she saw her father, the Wazir and the rest of the escaping team flayed, she also saw the new surprise of the plunders at finding a lot of gold unexpectedly.

 

***

Jomo didn’t know what happened to Mandano and Shagaro. His horse was killed by the firearm and he was wrestled down by more than three Moorish soldiers. There was too much smoke and chaotic stuffs in the street to be able to locate one particular thing. He saw the moors, though, killing restraining men, chaining women and filling carts upon carts with valuables. He was shocked at their hatred for books; they burnt them like it was their only mission in life.

It was when he was looking around, sure to have seen his friends chained too, that he saw the sight. Everything stopped; sound and light.  Mandano’s chest was grotesquely opened by the firearm; his eyes looked at Jomo like he was all the time waiting for him to look in that one direction.

The next thing Jomo knew was that he was standing up with the soldiers holding him down, falling like a leaf. The only feeling he could come close to describing his heart was like the thunder weapon he saw at the warfront in Tondibi. He killed those soldiers with maddening blows before he jumped over Mandano’s horse and exited the capital, not wanting to look back at the sight he left behind.

 

***

Would this city never quieten for a while? Bonajo woke up at the fresh shouts that suddenly erupted. She slept like she never did in the last few months since they arrived at the camp outside Djenne. They stayed in a house that was vacated by its owners. She looked out of the window of the storied room she and Marra were assigned. It wasn’t baseless panic, there were quite a number of strange looking men setting ablaze book rooms and stores, loading stuffs on carts. Her heart thudded loudly, her mother was laying motionless at the door to the house.

Bonajo ran down the stairs and to the street at the same time shouting Marra’s name, which was nowhere where she knew she went to bed last night. On the street more bodies laid strewn. Loud noises erupted from fires as the strange dressed men target one public building after another and many times at the fleeing people making it difficult to discern anything. She saw Mallam Iro on the street too. She started shouting, calling her mother to wake up. She never did because at her back she got a nasty looking gash that was mixed with gore and ash and something else.

Not far away from her, Marra came running.

“Bonajo let’s go! They are killing and burning everything and everyone.”

Bonajo was not sure she heard her right because of the booming and chaos. Heat was building up from the books that were burning like they were dry hay at the night school. “Mother!” She continued, crying.

Marra started pulling at her when a Moorish soldier in an ugly djellaba that smelled like horseshit stooped over and dragged Bonajo. She resisted, screaming and clutching to her dead mother. Marra started hitting the soldier.

Another soldier joined in and hit Marra hard with a huge club. Bonajo saw her friend’s eyes rolled into her skull before she slumped to the cobbled street floor. “No!!!!!!!!!!!”

Continue reading HERE>>

Series Navigation<< Jomo: Enemy Circles (Novel) – Season One, Episode 13

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Bashir Kabir

Born, raised and studied in Kano State, Bashir Kabir has a degree in Physics and a Post-Graduate Diploma in Industrial Physics, all in Bayero University, Kano. He is married with a kid and currently works at Kano State Public Complaint and Anti-Corruption Kano.

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