Book Excerpt: Bingo and Friends by Iwedi Ojinmah

Almost everybody remembers the day Bingo first came to the village. He arrived aboard the daily mammy-wagon from Lagos right in the middle of the emergency parish meeting.
Earlier that morning the ekwe drum had been sounded and all had gathered at the community hall.
Both old and young, men and women, had come to finally see the most famous rain-maker in the state in action.

We say ‘finally’ because for months now the village had been contributing money to make this happen. The donation plate at church on Sunday had not only been passed around twice, but everybody in ‘Umunyem’ had also paid additional money with their regular monthly dues towards this collective effort.

The problem, to put it simply, was that the rains had refused to come. It was now the end of August and there had not been one single drop from above since May.

Plants were presently either dead or dying. Even the stream at Nwangele had been reduced to a mere trickle. People at this point had to go all the way to Orlu just to buy drinking water. It was that bad.

His name was ‘Otokoto’ and he came from a long line of distinguished and famous rainmakers. While he was mostly hired to keep showers away from events like burials or weddings, on rare occasions like this, he was also called upon to make the heavens open up and for it to pour.

As usual, he was a sight to behold. Sporting blue glasses with only the left lens intact he wore old mismatched Bata Cortina sandals, a skin loincloth, and around his neck a necklace made of old udara seeds and periwinkle shells.

For almost three hours he had been chanting in some strange mumbo-jumbo while peering at the sky and occasionally spraying mouthfuls of gin and partially chewed kola-nuts into the air. Yet nothing had happened and one could feel a slight wave of restlessness begin to make its way through the crowd.

Right in the middle of all of this the Volkswagen bus had pulled into the village square and honked its horn for all to hear.

‘Peeem Peeem’ ‘Peeem Peeem’ it blared, but then upon sensing what was going on and the intrusion they had caused, the conductor and driver apologised profusely. All the offloading of the luggage was then done as quietly as possible.

Still, Otokoto didn’t like to be interrupted for any reason and after a grumble of a showman demanding the full attention of his audience, he went back to looking at the sun through a piece of red glass.
It was then that Bingo introduced himself.

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[End of Excerpt]

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