By OSA AMADI, Arts Editor
The same way Alexander the Great grew up as a boy and wept that his father, Phil-ip of Macedonia, had conquered the whole world, leaving none for him to conquer, many of us from the Igbo warrior tribe grew up unhappy that we were either not born during the Nigeria-Biafra War, or were too little to fight.
Being born in a little village called Umunakara, but nicknamed Obogu (lovers of war), exacerbated that unhappiness. It was an enclave where you were muzzled if you did not have muscles. Historical accounts of tribal wars won by the Obogu and unbelievable acts of bravery of warriors abound. There were stories of men who never needed to deliver more than a single clean stroke of machete to send an enemy’s head rolling on the ground, and of great gunmen like Amadi Ibe who never spent more than a bullet to kill his target.
I consider it a blessing to have intimately known people like Amadi Ibe, my grandfather, though it was also a great loss to me that I did not know his father, Ibeananam, who was said to be one of the greatest medicine men that ever lived. Amadi, being the only son of his great father, was said to have been literally cooked in a big pot of magical roots and herbs set on a blazing fire to protect him from the attacks of enemies who were numerous in those days due to envy. If Amadi Ibe had been educated, I would have recommended him to NTA when they were searching for a suitable character to play the part of Okonkwo in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.
I witnessed Amadi’s marksmanship one day in 1975 when we were children. My younger brother’s pet pigeon had left home and joined a group of other wild birds around the village and beyond. One day, we spotted the pigeon because it had a ring on its left foot. We trailed the pigeon round the village and my brother decided he would rather have the pigeon dead than let it out of his sight again, but the pigeon and its other friends kept flying from one rooftop to another.
When our grandfather, Amadi Ibe noticed our distress and desire to rather have the pigeon dead, he went into his room and took his single-barreled gun and loaded one cartridge bullet into it and followed us. When we saw him following us with his gun balanced on his right shoulder, we knew we were in for a great spectacle, that a great event was about to take place.
With excitement, we pointed out the particular pigeon to him. As though sensing danger, the group of birds left a low roof where they had perched and flew to the top of Mr. Anthony Anunobi Nkwocha’s Obiri roof. That was where my grandfather met the pigeons. He raised the gun and in a flash of explosion, the bullet travelled on the particular gutter of the roofing sheet where my brother’s pigeon was perched, singling it out. Feathers fluttered, and the pigeon hit the ground, dead.
“Amadi Ibe!” some elderly men who stood watching the drama screamed, shaking their heads in amazement. “There is no better gunman on the whole land of uramurukwa and ogochia,” another elder said.