The Long-lasting Tree

The Long-lasting Tree

By:  Lamittan Minsah  Completed
Language: English
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A bloody resistance against colonial invasion that tears Seme's indigenous leadership apart marks the entry of a strange culture into the clan. Osayo, the priest, seeks to protect the clan's religious system from erosion by the Blue-eyed (colonists). He, however, has to face off with a few loose canons, including his own son who escapes to a mission center far from home and ends up falling in love with a convert. In the meantime, a terrible plague breaks out in the clan, killing animals and people and leaving the land barren. Coupled by a misunderstanding of concepts in the new faith propagated by the Blue-eyed, a longstanding rift and blame game emerge between the converts and the conservatives, and spuns into a cutural marriage. Soon afterward, Osayo dies and his son, Okayo, realizes he has a greater role to play. The supernormal powers of the clan's aboriginal religious tree are stolen by a witch in line with a prophetic myth. And in a painful and tumultous mission to reunite the two conflicting religions of Seme Clan and limit the Blue-eyed's influence, Okayo puts his front foot forward in combating witchcraft so as to have the tree's powers in safe custody, and protect good from being superseded by evil.

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20 Chapters
Chapter 1
    The land lay in ruins, quietly mourning for her treasure - her injured men, her offsprings gunned down and cattle and grains plundered in the harsh rebellion. The once beautiful leafy and rocky Seme now resembled a lifeless wasteland, boding a future wrought with hardship.    The war was over, but the pain was unbearable. Voices of women bewailing their sons and husbands slain in the resistance were all over hell's half an acre. Most of the clan's thuondi (warriors) who were lucky to survive the dreadful warfare had been captured by the Blue-eyed and no one knew their whereabouts. A few, however, who managed to escape by hiding in caves and groves, returned home with broken legs and arms, and the sound of gunshots fading between their ears. It seemed to be the end of days to a people who had lived peacefully, less interrupted by any external force, except for the usual acceptable raids between local communities.    These repercussions
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Chapter 2
       "Tangu Tangu...," called out one of the boys in the group. His name was Okayo.     "Eee (yeees)," chorused the rest.     "Nyang' omaka (the crocodile has clutched me)."     "Eee. Omako ang'oni (Yeees. Which part of you has it clutched)?"     "Omako tienda (it has clutched my leg)." He then dived into the water and the others too dived looking for him.      "Ayude (I've found him)!" shouted another, resurfacing with Okayo on his back. The others rejoiced.     "Tangu, Tangu," called out another.     "Eee," chorused the rest, and the game continued. It was the dramatization of an old folklore in which a fishing crew (Tangu) dared the torrent waves and sea beasts to save the life of a boy seized by a crocodile while bathing at the shore of Nam Lolwe, the great lake of the people. 
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Chapter 3
    Men and women together with their youngsters toddling behind them walked towards the clan-shrine, an enormous ng'ow tree at the bank of River Awach. Octogenarians who held the tribes customs tightly in their brains trudged downstream, along the meandering footpaths in the forests, on both sides of the river. But the morning appeared to be sullen due to the contradictions and confusions posed by the new faith.    Long before, all folks in this clan had dwelt together, united by a common faith. Nobody had ever thought of committing any traitorous tort against the traditions of the society. However, when the Blue-eyed made their way into Seme, people who had lived a cultured way of life began drifting into sin one by one. Perhaps they had not fully comprehended what the new faith meant or, as the remaining conservatives now held, they had been beguiled into it. But one day everything would become as open as day unto these people. The Blue-eyed seemed to h
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Chapter 4
                                                                             It was the beginning of a new planting season, the one called opon, and men and women were busy hoeing in the hot sun. It was really dreadful working in the scorching heat without any sign of rain stirring up in the sky. The ground was stiff and farmers were covered in thick clouds of dust. When one stood on a sunken ground, the ground above - in the distance - seemed to be releasing hot vapours into the atmosphere. No one could dare walk on bare feet for the fear of developing serious burns.     Frogs did not croak in streams and ponds, and birds of the air chanted no more in the morning. The mornings were as chilly and heartbreaking as mountain snow and the mid-days as calm and cruelly
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Chapter 5
     The sun was high up in the sky yet Okayo had not woken up. He would be late for the ceremony. The drumbeats were so loud signaling the beginning of a life-mark occasion, one that would be both a reincarnation and emancipation from childhood prejudices. Okayo would now be a full man, ready to take part in onerous tribal and clan affairs. Because of the circumstances surrounding his life, his father had opted for him to undergo the ritual without delay. He was only fifteen yet he had the brain capacity of a full grown-up.     The previous evening had been filled with all manner of preparations. The candidates had to be carefully instructed on the prerequisites for the ritual, of which self-assurance was on the front foot. They also had to express readiness and maturity for the occasion. The ritual was strictly meant for boys and girls who had come of age and had remained chaste until then; coition was only allowed in marriage. The initiates wo
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Chapter 6
    There was an outcry in the countryside. The land was dry and empty. Trees barely had any leaf. Caprids were skinny and a good number of them died due to lack of vegetation. Wells dried up and rivers got low. The land became tougher and rugged day by day, puffing up dust in the air, while the scorching midday sun left many with terrible burns in their feet. But they still had to work in the plantations to pay taxes and take their children to school. As days went by, conservatives turned against converts and started blaming them for the severity in the land. The grim reaper was drawing nigh. No sign of rain stirred up in the sky; it was all blue and still. Doubt strove within.     Omolo was the leader of the converts. He had been easily won over by the underlying mysteries of the new faith, but even to that very day, he understood little about the hypostasis of Jesus Christ. He belonged to the large group of converts who believed that what the Blue-
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Chapter 7
   Life at the mission center was not what the boys had expected it to be. There was more work than learning for the African kid than the Blue-eyed's. They were only taught on Mondays and Tuesdays. The rest of the days were lined up with numerous activities running from work on the cotton and maize plantations to cleaning the school compound, classrooms, dormitories and the commercial section. But at least they were happy to be drinking from the Blue-eyed's cup of knowledge.   There were about five hundred of them at the center - both juvenile and mature boys and girls. They came from all over the province  - Nyanza - and even as sparsely habituated as towards Western, Central and the Great Rift. The academic standards were, notwithstanding, kept high. Only a few who performed meritoriously proceeded to the next levels. The rest were divided into two groups, the weak and the robust. The weak would move about wearing many hats, helping in the farms and
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Chapter 8
      When Osayo was arrested, people did not know where he was taken to. The Blue-eyed took him to a small prison at Aluor Mission Center in Gem. At Aluor, Osayo was forced to work on the maize plantations without any pay. He was also subjected to a little torture which came in the form of food denial to 'teach him manners' as the Blue-eyed purported. He ate only twice a day, in the mornings before he left for work and at night before he went to bed.The gang's ringleader, Miguena, and a few youths who had been captured in the night of terror were with him.      Back in Seme, however, things went dramatic. The youth did not stop their night attacks. They assembled at one place one time, and elsewhere at another time. Immediately after the arrest, they stormed into the cotton plantation at Kolunje. The plantation had been shielded from inversion by humans and animals by a high fence, but finding weak points across the barbed wire, they made their
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Chapter 9
    It was the end of a long day. The Saturday had been tied up with a range of activities for the children, from harvesting cotton and carrying them to the warehouse to music practicals in the afternoon. Okayo spared a moment with the gatekeeper before attending his piano lesson. They called the man Pita, a Swahili word which meant 'pass'. Pita seemed to be quite accommodative and sprightly, at least not like he had appeared to be before when they first met at the gate. It was, however, said that the man suffered from cyclothymia; he would seem to be jovial one moment but then quickly turn gloomy or even ballistic after a few minutes of talk. Others also said he was paranoic, hence his extreme irrational distrust towards people, and yet others that he had demons in him. Okayo went to him to enquire about Mr. Shan. The man spoke to him genially and said that Mr. Shan had been fired. When Okayo asked him why, he laughed hilariously and replied that Mr. Shan might have been
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Chapter 10
    It was Monday again and the students were back to normal learning. The classrooms were packed up to the gunnels and teachers did their work with sticktoitiveness. The students were always avid for knowledge. They were filled with the impeccable longing for this and that that they found new. Silence in the learning section therefore went without promulgation, except for the chantings and chorusings in the classrooms.     Okayo was in grade five. He had excelled in grade four exams. They would be sitting the mid-year exams soon. Those who failed grade four exams had already joined the farm and other menial works in the commercial. Others were undergoing military training. There were three compulsory subjects that one had to merit in, and these were Arithmatics, Reading and Writing. Then there were other four that were considered academic boosters, they were more practical in nature. These were Drilling, Local Geography, Drama & Music
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