No one knows how I came to be. No one really cares. I'd grown and grown. Watched men live and die. Watched the match through time. As forests became reduced to thickets and then completely disappear. I'd seen things. I'd lived through things. A dagger to the side, a cutlass across, the marksman's arrow, a spear to the heart and even the mauling of a bull. I lived through it all.
I am many things to many creatures.
To some men, a god. The humans amuse me. They tie red cloth around me and spill blood at my feet. They call me names. I'd been called _Okija, Amadioha_, _Ijele, Onuturumbe_, _Agwu_, _Okaaka_, _Chi_, indeed they think me some sort of representation of their gods. They sacrifice hens and cocks, goats and lamb. They spill their blood, calling on me to give them children, to give them bountiful harvest, to cure them.
To the goats and the sheep, I am the fingers that scratch their backs. To the birds, a home. They build their nests on me. I watch them lay their eggs and watch the little chicks hatch and take flight.
I am the _*Udara*_ tree, the ageless one.
I watched the White man come with his cowries and religion. I became jealous when the black man called them gods. Had they forgotten about me so soon? Confused creatures. The miracles I didn't give them surely didn't come from these white men.
They were tricked into letting go of their lands. They were bought and sold into slavery. I watched and did nothing. I who they'd sacrificed cocks to for their protection. I could only cry when the cutlass cuts across my bark.
The white man had defiled me. He used my branch to hang a man for rebellion. When the rope chafed my skin, I cried some more.
I watched helplessly as the White man tore down the shrine the black man had built for me. I watched him strip me naked, taking away my only piece of clothing, the red cloth.
He called the men who poured libations at my feet "heathens". A foreigner from another land. HE was the heathen!
But of course I did nothing but shake my body violently in the wind and shed my leaves.
I'd almost given up hope. Then I heard one word in the wind; "Independence".
The White man's tyranny was over.
I waited to be clothed again but it never happened. The white man may be gone, but he left a lot of him behind.
What seemed like years passed and I wasn't a deity anymore. Just a regular tree. Children of the _Igbo_ man would visit me in the early mornings when my fruits were ripe. They'd scour the grounds around for fallen fruit.
Oh how they enjoyed my babies!
Some disrespectful children would climb me. Pestering me with their dirty feet. The obnoxious ones would use me to practice their throwing skills, sending missiles upon missiles towards me till they're satisfied with the number of fruits they'd pillaged.
At night, I was the beacon that gathered all men together; young and old. They gather around me, telling tales of old. Tales of the tortoise and his tricks, of the Sun and the Moon, of the White man and his tyranny and tales of the Stars. No one ever told my story. I do not blame them. There's perhaps no great tales to be told about me. Why, I only give them the Oxygen they breathe and give them a few fruits now and then. Nothing special.
War broke out. The Igbo man wanted out. I stand with them. I feel they're subjugated by the North. They wanted their freedom; to rule themselves as a nation.
The North wouldn't hear of it.
War broke out. The Biafran war they called it.
I watched, as I always have, as the men I'd grown to like were cut down. Men who had spilled the blood of animals at my feet now lay dying, with their blood bathing my feet. I cried when the soldier's bullets pierced my bark. I cried when their aircrafts rained fire down on me and everything else. I cried when the Igbo man smashed his enemy's skull on my rocky body, splattering foreign blood on me.
I looked down. All around, children of these men lay with swollen stomachs and thin limbs, hungry and starving. I felt pity for them and shed my ripe fruits for them. The little smiles that played about their lips as they picked the fruits reassured me. All will be well.
I'd lived through many things, I would live through this war too.
The war finally came to an end. I knew because the wind told me...my only informant.
Things seemed to return to normal. My wounds slowly healed, as did the earth.
I heard whispers. The Igbo man wanted to build a market place...... And I was in the way.
When I heard the revving of the chainsaw, I cried my last.