We are encouraged to dream and aspire. The idea being that we can reach any height, our eyes are set upon. All we need is; to ask, and surely – we shall be given. Strengthened by those beliefs, Obi wakes every day eager to claim his rightful status as a wordsmith.
Why can’t he? After all, he is a certified descendant of Uche; a legendary Ntu villager; immortalized in the minds of his people for his magnetizing storytelling ability. It is said that Uche’s son once enchanted the king with a story, and he froze in awe for five minutes after the story ended. In war times; Uche’s great-grandchildren had a double task; one was to fight the enemy, and two was to motivate fellow warriors with victory tales of their predecessors.
Conceived in the age of Windows and Macintosh, Obi carried upon himself the burden to keep Uche’s legendary alive. Tales by the moonlight was for a time long gone; today tales are told on the pages of a book. Whoever endeavored to be a storyteller, will have to write it.
Obi’s father became a merchant in the city, contrary to the family tradition. But “who can criticize him”? His mother asked anyone curious about her son’s deviation. He was not expected to continue, or to survive on the family’s tradition of oral storytelling. The art was on the decline. With the arrival of books, computers and the overall advancement in technology, the need for diversification could not be overemphasized. Re-establishing as a trader; was rather a pragmatic move to avert a tragic ending; that the greatest storytellers – could not tell the story of the twenty-first century.
The wave of change reached everywhere in Ntu village. Ilu; the local dialect; was being replaced with English. For story lovers, English stories were increasingly becoming attractive. Unfortunately, it was sacrilegious to perform storytelling in any language other than the local Ilu dialect. Not that it will be an easy feat anyway.
In reality, the English language came to stay; and it brought with it a casket; in which the local dialect will be buried. Like pharaohs of Egypt, Kings of Nubia, and Emperors of the East – the dying dialect will be buried with all of its creations, among them; the art of storytelling.
Obi never questioned his father’s divergence, but he felt the need to sustain the family tradition. Innovation was vital if he must succeed. The solution he articulated was; a composition of Ntu stories delivered in a foreign language; but in such a measured manner, that the original message and its intricacies are not altered. If his ancestors were great storytellers, then Obi – born in an age of books and computer, have one crucial task; and that is to be a “great writer”.