In the early 1900s, the people of Ndike heard of the white people whose feet were covered in animal skin and rode on two-legged horses, and who talked to the people of the Niger about a mighty Chukwu.
Ada, the Princess of Ndike was excited.
She could not help staying outside under the big udara tree, watching the position of the sun.
Her father, the Igwe of Ndike had told her that the white men would be there when the sun was at the centre of the sky.
She heard the clank of bicycle tyres and knew that the men with the two-legged horses had finally arrived.
Her excitement grew a hundred fold.
I am going to see them!
She ran behind the house so that she could watch them without being seen.
They were four men in all, she noticed.
Two were average in height with hair the colour of the sun, while the third white man was very tall with hair as dark as hers. The last man was as black as she was, and she guessed that he must be the interpreter.
She watched her mother come out to welcome them and watched them enter their beautiful mud house with carvings of many shot animals on the door.
Her father had warned her not to be seen or heard during the visit, but she wanted to hear what these breathtaking human beings had to say, so she switched positions to her mother’s room from where she could see the obi through a tiny hole in the wall.
She watched her father serve the visitors with oji and palm wine, symbols of welcome in Igboland.
It was all manly chatter at first, her father saying something in Igbo, the interpreter repeating in the white man’s language [ she heard her father say once that the white men spoke Ingleeshi], then the white men saying something in Ingleeshi and the interpreter repeating to her father and members of his cabinet.
Get to business,she urged them in her mind, unable to contain her excitement which was increasingly gaining momentum.
It was as if they heard her because the tall white man with dark hair started talking to her father through the interpreter about a Great God who made heaven and the earth, who made the animals and birds and everything on earth, who created the human beings as well, irrespective of the colour of the skin.
Her father was nodding all through.
The white man continued, telling them how this Great God sent His son, Jesus Christ to die on the cross for the sins of man.
Her father stopped nodding at this point.
Then he told them that by accepting God The Father, The Son and The Holy Spirit, that he and his people would be set free and would go to heaven.
It all sounded foreign to her and obviously to her father too, who said,
“I know that there’s a big god who created everything in the world and who we cannot see. My people call him Chineke. We know that other smaller gods serve him, so we worship the smaller gods so that they can get through to him, but I do not understand about the one you call Jizzuzz.
You say he’s this god’s son and at the same time you say he’s this same god too.
Your story is too complicated. My friends, worship your own god and let us worship ours.”
They tries explaining to her father some more but he rose up and told the interpreter to tell the ndiocha that their visiting time had expired.
Ada switched positions again as the men left their house, shoulders sagged, mission highly unaccomplished.
She followed them discreetly to the gate where she flung herself at the interpreter as he was about to mount his metallic horse.
“Gwa ha,” she pleaded with him in Igbo, “Tell them that I want to hear about this God and His son. Tell them I want to understand. Gwa ha.”
The white men looked at the tall, dark, slim girl standing before them, dressed in clothes that barely covered her chest and legs.
She looked no more than fourteen.
What could she do?
Then like a ray of light in the dark, they saw something in her desperate large eyes- a silver lining of hope.
The King of Ndike and almost all his people were baptized Christians by 1910, because the King loved his Ada.
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