Ukamaka!

Ukamaka a young girl from umudim village in a state in South East Nigeria has just lost her mother barely one year of loosing her dad. Death has made itself a permanent guest in her family. Why shouldn't it, when they are cursed and regarded as 'OSU'!

In Igbo land, OSU refers to those people who have been banished from a land because of crimes they committed or people who lost in battles and became slaves. They are casted out of the land and are regarded as cursed people; some are actually cursed by the people of the land, they present them before their gods as sacrifices for their lives, properties and wellbeing. They are regarded as outcasts and bound people and are not permitted to have any cordial relationship with the free borns of the land not to talk of a marriage relationship. They are regarded as outcasts and their generations for life!

Could it be that the OSU curse is actually what is killing Ukamaka's family or could it be ordinary hunger and negligence since they are not permitted to have a normal life as others who are freeborn do! Ukamaka was the only child born to her OSU parents who inherited the OSU system from their forefathers who they do not even know. They hardly feed well as people of their village will hardly allow them to work on their farm lands or will pay them five times lesser the amount they ought to be paid for a day's job.

After the tragedy that befell Ukamaka, one madam Nkiruka decided to take her into her house as her servant. It was a fair deal for Ukamaka, at least she could have a decent meal even if it's once per day and a good covering over her head that won't leak water when the rain falls.

Not long after Uka began to live with madam Nkiru, madam Nkiru's husband picked interest in her and started making advances to her. Hell was let loose on Uka when Mazi Okezie (madam Nkiru's husband) publicly declared his intention of making Uka his second wife; but he was able to succeed over the oppression of his wife and relatives being the strong and determined man that he is. Mazi Okezie do not like the unfair treatment being meted to the OSU outcasts and he was able to prove to his kinsmen that the ban of OSU intermarriage does not affect a freeborn man marrying an OSU girl but if the reverse was to be the case it would have been impossible. The marriage was contracted after certain sacrifices were made to the gods of their land!

After all the battles and hurdles, Ukamaka became her mistress's co-wife, she was highly loved by their husband and he protected her always from the fiery darts of her mistress Nkiruka and her eight sons. Barely one year after Uka married Mazi Okezie, she took in and bore him a beautiful baby girl. Mazi Okezie has had eight boys with his first wife and she stopped bearing children; the birth of Ukamaka's daughter brought so much joy to Nazi Okezie, he called her Mmezi, meaning "Bonus"! He said that the gods has given him an Mmezi and he loved his only daughter with the much love he used to love her mother.

Mazi Okezie became great and acquired more landed properties and flocks; it was as if Mmezi came with them but not up to three years after Mmezi was born, Mazi Okezie joined his ancestors, it was as if the spirit that normally take the life of the OSU people took his life or perhaps Ukamaka has an evil spirit of death following her around. Mazi Okezie's kinsmen all blamed him for his death saying they all warned him not to marry the evil OSU girl but he would not listen. It was at this point that all of the humiliations, hunger, pains, bitterness and hatred Okezie has protected Uka from to her so very raw! She would spend the whole night weeping at her husband's grave side, her daughter with her. While she wept for the pains she is going through and has gone through in her life, Mmezi wept for the hunger she is going through in her stomach!

After Uka and madam Nkiru finished mourning their husband's death, Uka was thrown out of the house with the support of her late husband's kinsmen. While she felt pained for all the tragedies befalling her, she accepted them in good fate as a normal occurrence for being an OSU. She thanked the gods for the privilege of bringing Mazi Okezie across her path and begged the gods to take away death around her, instead, let them take her life.

The OSU people in Umudim never amount to anything even though they are more hardworking than the free borns because they are frustrated to the highest level except they leave. Most of them has left and never came back. Uka decided to leave the village because she wanted a better life for her child and would not want to end like her parents did.

Ukamaka left Umudim to Amako. Amako is a village very far from theirs, they do not uphold the OSU tradition and most of them are traders unlike the people of Umudim who are famers. Uka never even I new that the world was that large. She began to join the people of Amako to trade; she would buy a heap of yam on credit and after selling it she'll pay the owner and keep the profit. She became so skilled in her business that she can sell up to seven to eight heaps in a day, people prefer to buy from her rather than buying from others, even those who resold in their little neighborhood do buy in wholesale from her.

Her business grew so large that she no longer buy from the owners of heaps but bought directly from the Hausa men that supplies the local market with their trailer loads of yam and she also no longer buy on credit. This continued until one Alhaji Ahmed a yam dealer saw her and picked interest in her. They became very close, she told him everything about her life and that all she wants now is to make money, take care of her child and prove to the people of Umudim that something good can come out from an OSU! Alhaji felt compassion and loved her zeal and passion and decided to help her.

He made a way for her to join the yam dealers who brought yam in trailers from Benue and Adamawa state and sold in other states. Not too long, Uka got enough money to buy her own trailers; she became so rich and could afford a great life for her daughter. As her business made her travel across states, she became interested in education and politics. Ukamaka started attending adult education and sometimes her daughter will help put her through in some of her class works.

The story of Ukamaka was that of determination and a great inspiration to all that heard it. Soon, Ukamaka finished her standard six and secondary school education. She enrolled part time in a Amadu Bello University Zaria to study political science and in less than fourteen years after she startted adult primary education, Ukamaka was already a graduate in political science, she joined a political party with Alhaji's help and introduction and began her political career, by then her daughter was already a Masters Degree holder and became the MD of her mother's business.

Mmezi repackaged her mother's business and transformed it from just yam distribution to yam farming and distribution. She bought a large hecter of land in Niger state where they farm yam with large machines and employed lots of workers. She had ware houses in almost every state of the federation with workers everywhere. The business of yam farming and distribution became so lucrative for Mmezi and her mother and they decided to spread their tentacles into rice farming! Their rice farming also experience a boom and people all over the federation preferred their rice to other locally made rice because of it's high quality and cleanliness!

Ukamaka became so popular because of her story that when she ran for Senator representing her constituency, she had the vote of almost everyone in the constituency. It was at this point that her co-wife and her sons began to look for Ukamaka to beg for forgiveness but by then she was too far from their reach that they could not get to her.

As a Senator of the federal republic of Nigeria representing her constituency, Ukamaka proposed a bill; can you guess what that bill was? It was a bill abolishing the OSU caste system in Nigeria. Not only did she propose the bill, she also raised so much awareness on the OSU issue all over the Nation and so many people became interested in the matter that it was not difficult for the bill to be passed into the Nigerian law and it was stated that anyone caught stigmatising or intimidating anyone in the name of OSU caste system will be punished under the law of Nigeria. It was also stated that every Nigerian is a free born! On the day the bill was passed into law, there was no small celebration in the camp of Ukamaka, her fellow OSU people and her fans!

THE END

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