Two little princesses walked along the bumpy dirt road, the sun bright over their heads and the trees like great umbrellas shaded them on the Nigerian hills of Ondo land.
“I hope it won’t be too hot” one said to the other. Her name was Bisi.
“Me too. Or else it will rain” said her best friend Funmi.
They were walking to the next village with their auntie. One would never have known they were princesses. In most towns in Africa, little princesses dress like everyone else. No crowns, no sashes, no rose petal-droppers following them. Bisi and Funmi had dads that were kings in towns right next each other.
“Hurry girls” their auntie said as she walked faster. She wasn’t really their aunt. She was a friend to both their moms, and they had known her all their lives. People didn’t just call their real aunties “auntie”, they called every woman as old as their moms “auntie”. She was taking them to a naming ceremony in the next village. Whenever a baby was born, there was a naming ceremony on the morning of the seventh day. It was the village she was from but the girls would be visiting for the first time.
An hour of walking later, they heard shouts of joy as some women in the village up ahead recognized Auntie. One woman broke away from the group and ran to meet them, grabbing their auntie in a great big hug. The two women slapped each other on the back playfully and said things to each other, only they understood, making each other crack up laughing.
Auntie introduced them. “Here are my friends’ daughters, Bisi and Funmi.”
The other lady’s answer was to grab the girls in one big hug. Then she pulled them all towards the huts that were at the edge of the village.
“Well, look who’s here” another lady laughed. “You must be enjoying your husband’s village so much that you’ve forgotten us.”
“No way” Auntie said “I can never forget you all, no matter how much fun I’m having over there.”
The girls were introduced again and then forgotten. That’s when they saw the boys. There were about four of them and they were laughing too, but it didn’t seem very friendly.
“Is that a sling shot?” Bisi nudged Funmi.
“Right there, in that boy’s hand. He is hiding it behind his back?”
“It is. I see it now.”
Suddenly the giggling boys pushed the boy forward with the sling shot and he raised the sling shot and to the girls’ horror aimed it at the ladies.
“Watch out!” the girls yelled together. But it was too late. The stone hit the top of a woman’s head tie, knocking it off her head to the ground. But Bisi and Funmi’s warning allowed the ladies to see who had done it. The boys were caught red-handed and commanded to come right over.
A ‘court’ was almost instantly set-up, run by the women and they pronounced their punishment. No more playing the rest of the day, for those boys and they would spend the next few hours going to the wells. They were to get buckets of water for the cooking and washing to go on all day. Neither Bisi nor Funmi knew if the boys’ mothers were in the instant ‘court’, but in it didn’t matter. Everyone here belonged to everyone else.
As the boys slunk off, heads lowered, sorry and embarrassed, only Bisi, Funmi and their auntie saw them sneak a mean look at the girls.
“Never you mind them” Auntie said to Bisi and Funmi.
“You just stay with me. They can’t do anything to you.”
The girls walked in safely to the village with all the other women. They met other little girls their age and were soon giggling and laughing, the boys and their pranks all forgotten.