He walked the roadway to another town, dust rising to meet his sorrow. He knew it would come to this. Though their hands had given and their faces had smiled, he knew they would push him out someday. They took his land as if he were nothing. Despair filled the houses and grew up barren in the fields.
The day the white men came, his village had welcomed them with song. The mist of the hills parted for the sun. The children were eager for the gifts that were held out to them as the white women squatted to look in their wide open eyes. They looked at life beyond what they knew. If only they had known—as he did—that it would come to this.
Kusudi could find work in the city. Though his heart ached, he walked with Hope by his side. He was a strong man—his elder put fortune on him. He would remove the dust from his mouth and his eyes. He would bathe and clean his clothes in the River Amini. And he would speak of his new purpose and see the place of his mother’s dreams.
Sala told him since he was a root-high boy that he would know his way and could find his place amongst Yeweh’s great men. She saw in her child a mighty man to be. He didn’t chase or fall down like the foolish boys. He saw beyond. The elder, Zamani gave him the kumbuka—the richly carved ruling stick—granted to only one of each generation.
Kusudi held the kumbuka as he followed the long road. He had left his village in the hills only one time before. He knew that along the roadway he needn’t go far before the ways of Uzima were not known. But he held them in his heart. He held the hand of his mother who had gone from the earth, though he left her body buried in the dirt of Uzima. He held the hands of his clansmen who had left for the city long before. They had set them palms outward with fingers to the sky so he could take their soul’s offerings to sustain Uzima in the troubled times. But their feet had left him abandoned—empty. And now he left Uzima abandoned to usurpers—full. Full of grief and shame. The kumbuka a rod of discipline, chafing against his failure to keep their land for his people to reclaim.
His people—many were not as strong as he. If no work could be found in the city, would they travel on? Despair pushed Hope aside. Kusudi walked with pain though his young body was sound. They had been scattered like their crop seed to the wind, over fields that offered no nurture in a time of no rain. The land could not sustain them as the white men churned its bowels. Uzima left behind—exposed and raped for the oil that lay beneath.
Kusudi knew, the day the crude erupted into the newcomers’ hands and they closed their palms grasping, their fingers turned like claws to the ground—he knew it would come to this.
He reached the next town and pressed on to the city, Fiwa. The road wound along the River Amini, and he continued to hold the kumbuka as he followed its turns. His shattered heart held pieces for each of his people. He journeyed to the east end of Fiwa as each palm outward had pledged to do. Kusudi would gather them there. If they had survived. If they had not traveled on. Hope held his hands—clinging to fortune and the kumbuka.
In Fiwa Hope left him as he touched his palm to too few of the scattered ones. Only the strong men could be found at the port on the east end of the city. Their backs were bent in labor and bowed by Despair. The kumbuka strengthened them no more. They said the others had dispersed throughout Fiwa, palms held outward with fingers reaching for a share. Begging without Hope, for survival. The ways of Uzima were not known here, even in the hearts of the sons she had birthed. They had left their soul’s offerings to the ravaged soil of her lost domain. The kumbuka held no sway in ruling the chaos of Fiwa. The elder’s stick brought no peace for the pieces of his heart scattered in the wind. The women and the children were lost to time.
Kusudi cast the kumbuka in the River Amini. Hope drifted away, swirling in helpless desolation from the stick’s floating tip. He stood palms outward fingers to the sky, his soul’s offerings falling to dust in the streets of Fiwa. His mouth spoke of no purpose. He saw nothing in this place of broken dreams.
Image by Sheri J. Kennedy – copyright 2013 From Sketchbook Project ‘ONLY HUMAN’
Find out more about Sheri J. Kennedy a.k.a. Kennedy J. Quinn, Featured Author