My daughter was dying from a very strange illness, the same illness that had taken her elder brother’s life five years ago. She lay shivering on the raffia mat in her hut under the warm hearth her grieving mother had put for her. Her mother’s tears soaked the embers and her pleas for salvation clutched at the strings of my heart. I was scared, when her brother had contraccted this same illness 5 years ago, all efforts to cure him had been futile, the medicine men in the whole kingdom had proven useless and some in a bid to salvage their pride had diagnosed the ailment as a punishment from the gods on the soul of the boy for losing his virginity to a daughter of Idialo village and even though that made no sense to me, I always cringed at the thought of my son enjoying the sinful pleasure of the loins with a child from his mother’s village.

I had invited Okemnisi, the renowned medicine man from Ochugo clan. The clan across seven rivers, it was well known that no illlness surpassed his vast knowledge or his skilled hands and his success rate was impressively high. It was even rumoured that he had cured the prince of Ochugo from the dreaded red fever, the fever that turned the whites of your eyes into the colour of scarlet and inflicted on you painful red rash that only lasted 4 market days before it killed you. I reasoned that if Okemnisi could cure the red fever, whatever was afflicting my jewel would be a piece of ogidi cake to him.

My thoughts took a downward spiral when he emerged from my daughter’s hut with a grim look on his face. He fixed his hard stare on me and shook his head.

“What is it? Great one? What is the matter?” I asked, almost hysterically. Okemnisi was my last hope, I could not stomach any more discouraging news. He looked at me long and hard again before replying.
“Igwe, Did any stranger assault the shrine of Ali-usi?” He asked flatly. I stared at him blankly for a few seconds, confused to hell. What was that to do with my daughter’s unusual ailment? Ali-usi was the family Chi and his shrine was to the left of the palace under the huge Udala tree
‘I do not understand” I replied, my confusion very well evident on my face.
“Did anybody utter profanities to Ali-Usi or try to undermine the greatness of your personal Chi? Because He is very angry and is the reason your child is deathly ill and I fear this illness may take her life if we do not appease him soon enough”.

I thought briefly. Ofcourse the strange man who the village called ‘The preacher” had been here 5 market days ago and had accused Ali-usi of being powerless, he had spoken so much at the foot of the shrine I had been obliged to ask the guards to throw him out. He always struck me as unusual, with that big book he carried around and those funny clothes that threatened to choke the life out of him. He was speaking of a strange god in the skies who he claimed created everything and everybody and was the most powerful. What baffled me the most about his tale was his conviction that this strange god had a son who he sent to die for us all, I mean, what god sends his son to die and if his son can die in the hands of men, then he isn’t as powerful as the preacher made him out to be.

If Ali-Usi was angry, couldn’t he have taken it up with the preacher and leave my innocent daughter out of it?

I told Okemnisi all these and the medicine man’s brow furrowed even deeper in a frown.
‘’Where is this man?” He asked, after a few moments of uncomfortable silence.
“He has a shrine just at the end of Mazi Okojie’s farmland, if you walk by, you can hear him and his new converts chanting their strange songs on some evenings”
“I need to see him immediately” The medicine man said “But in the meantime, your family chi is severely angered and it would take some serious sacrifice to avert his impending wrath. When I get back, we will deliberate on how to go about appeasing him”. And with that, he stormed off, leaving me alone in my confusion and thoughts. I had forgotten to tell him that another man had been here the previous day, a weird looking man in white overalls who carried a box. This man was invited by the educated son of Mazi Chika, the one who studied unprintable names in the white man’s land. He also claimed he could cure my daughter using the white man’s medicine. I was so desperate, I had given him a chance. I watched in trepidation as he took a long needle and drew some blood out of my daughter’s arm. He left with the blood and came back early this morning.
To my shock, he told me I was the cause of my daughter’s lllness and the death of her elder brother. 

When I enquired for further explanation, he told me my daughter had “Sickle cell”

Was that a plague? a white man’s disease or the  name of a demon that afflicted human beings?

In three days, I was going to have 3 visitors in my Obi. Okemnisi, the preacher and the man who called himself  Doctor and each would try to heal my daughter using their powers.