Poisoned Arrows Aboard

Tuesday, August 04, 2015


It was not the first time. Doa village had hit news headlines on several occasions. But this time it was immense and intense. The whole scene made your body jump out of your skin. It was like acting in a horror movie in which you are supposed to be eaten.

“To this hills! They are near the hills,” commanded Japheth. An old man. All grey and shaking on his knees. But he pretended to stand still.

Doa Warriors of the twenty-first century followed the old man’s command. They had to get rid of them. The flames on their houses were not enough. They were supposed to go and leave Doa in peace. Why were they hampering the initial tranquility at Doa? Why had they come to destroy the village and defile the good old ways?

To Doa, they were like venom. It did not matter that they had mingled and even sired with the daughters of Doa. In fact they needed to even get rid of the daughters and sons who had shared a blanket with the odd tribe. Had Doa not fought the white men who had magic sticks that spat stones of death? Why did the sticks not help the white men? Had the whites not cowered? Would these blacks make them have a flu? No-no! They needed to go away. There was no abode for them in Doa. They needed not abide in Doa. And there was a reason enough for this. Had they, the odd tribe, not made a man from their own household headmen? Who did they think they were? Since when did a man from the odd tribe rule over Doa? Since when? It could not happen now! It would not happen tomorrow! No, never!

As smoke from the huts of those from the odd tribe joined with the clouds, Doa warriors stood atop the hills that marked the boundary of Doa and the land of the odd tribe. The warriors of Doa hurled strings of obscenities at the men who were deep in the valley. In one spirit they lifted their bows.


The command came after it had already begun to rain arrows down the valley. People in the valley were surrounded. No one could escape. They had to obey the will of the superior tribe. They were intruders, right? They had no choice. They could not go North or South. East and West were not welcoming. The valley was the only place they could stand as it rained arrows from up there. Back home, tongues of fire were being spoken by their huts. They were sure that their cattle, goats and sheep had been rustled and their business premises raided as well. It was true. Even their ailing relatives who had been left home were being roasted alive.

On the other side of the hill, the origin of the odd tribe, men, women, children and cattle caught the smell of fresh blood and the sight of smoke. They knew that a volcano was erupting in Doa. Not a natural one. Artificial volcano. Those who had spears and other crude weapons followed suit. They chanted their war songs as war bells were jingled. IT WAS WAR! IT WAS RAW! They headed towards Doa. Towards the hills.

The battlefield was set. Warriors from both sides were ready to feast. Guns spat fierce spittle as spears flew. Poisoned arrows replied. The bottle-tops on the draft drew closer. Things were heavy. Things were heavy.


It was so sad. Lives had been lost and huts burnt. A few survived. The foul smell from the hill reached their noses and swept their conscience towards the proceeding events. It was so sad. Most warriors from both tribes had gone far deep in the land of shades. A few had come out wounded. It was so sad.

Elders from both sides had to play a role in unifying the two communities. It was so sad. None looked at each other’s face. Their eyes were glued to the ground under the two mugumo trees. As if answers lay deep in the soils. Roofless huts stood on the right. Burnt! Horrific.

“Ladys and gentlemen,” the county representative’s voice. “You all have seen. You all have it. War only brings shame to us. Oh! Look at the huts on our right … burnt! The voices we used to hear are more. Even this morning no bird chirruped and no dew formed. Oh! We must prevent this from happening. Let us cremate the inhuman nature. Actions that cost us heavily. Why kill each other like beasts? Why?"

She looked at her audience. Men, women, children and elders from both communities. Seated on their three-legged stools. She pointed at a child from the far end.

“Come, son,” the child obeyed her voice. Looking at the audience with her right hand on the head of the child, “I want you to tell me; what tribe is he from?"

What tribe was he from? His eyes looked Doa but his lips were odd tribe. Nobody answered. Japheth, the oldest could not figure out. He could not classify the human species even with his powers in old biology.

“You see,” she went on. “You can't tell.” She signaled the child to go back to the crowd. “Yet we kill. So confidently. What is on me that shows I am Doa or Ila? Nothing! Completely! Nothing! Oh!”

“You’re right,” Mzee Japheth talked frog. “You are right.”

“Then why? Why? We have to stop. Yes, stop! We have to plant a tree on the hill. A tree that we shall all look at and be cowed. We need each other …”


More murmurs.

“No!” Mzee Japheth stood up, “madam, we can’t do that. The tree should both be there. We have already learnt. And only a few of us held a bow and a gun. Let those accountable be put behind bars… a tree... ah-ah!” He sat on his three-legged stool.



“Why does he not want the tree?”

“It will remind them of their folly!”

“Oooh! So, they are hiding?”

“Yes, and it is said he is the leader of …”

“Wah! Wah! I see.”

“Should we shut him down?”

“No! We are in their village!”

“And do you think if responsible, he’ll agree?”

“Bah! Who doesn’t know him? Japheth is a trickster. He won’t! That is why he is talking more than everyone else. He knows his goose is cooked.”


Adapted from
Man of The Cloth and Other Stories
An Anthology of Short Stories
by Brady Kenya
First Edition

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