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The day I became a Mamiwata Printable Version PRINTABLE VERSION
by nina, United States Feb 1, 2009
Child & Youth Rights , Religious Freedom , Gender Equality  
Short Stories
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My big brother Iyke landed that hot, Saturday afternoon full of stories and pictures from his overseas travels. We devoured the stories like food. My mother was extremely happy to see her long lost son. For a while, none of us had known his whereabouts. Even though she had never voiced her worries (at least not to me), she had been worried sick about him, especially during festive seasons.

Once she saw him, she changed the night's dinner plans- she made brand new ofe nsala with more dried fish, meat and fresh ogiri. It was a beautiful night. We had no electricity because the transformer had been stolen about 6 months previously. Rumor had it that it was worth 2,000,000 Naira and that the local government was trying to buy it back from the black market.

So we were all sitting outside on a wide beautifully-designed red ute-awusa spread out in front of the house. The moon was full. A blend of different food aromas filled the air.

Obiageli, our neighbour, was out selling oranges that she had peeled with a sharp razor blade. Iyke bought some oranges from her. They were shaped like cornrolls. He paid 10 naira for each of the three oranges. My mom called it highway robbery, “I can buy seven oranges for the same amount at Cemetery Market, you hear.” Iyke worried, that someone had heard what Mama said replied, “Forget it; after all, the woman is in business to make money.”

Then the conversation shifted to Azuka, our cousin rumoured to be in prison in either India or Australia. My mother kept repeating, “Ewo!” and holding her chest to show her sympathy. The night wore on and we finally dosed off.

I woke up on Sunday morning determined to make it to Living Church. Pastor Kelly's wife had just returned from her home country of Canada and would be preaching on that day. I loved and admired her very much.

I took one look at the clock and realized that I could not possibly make it on time for the service. As an usher I hated the distractions caused by latecomers. So Iyke and Mama suggested that I go to one of the churches close to our house. Iyke did not want to go anywhere and Mama planned to go to the 12 o’clock Mass at St. Joseph’s. I thought it was a perfect idea. So I quickly dressed up and set off happily.

Once I entered the church, I knew that I had made a huge mistake. The place was different, the people too. I was out of place. This was not what I was used to.

I found a space on one of the benches and sat. I closed my eyes and said a quick prayer and when I opened my eyes, I saw everyone on my bench had moved. Apparently my “transformation” to Mamiwata (the mermaid) had started.

The children were staring at me, and the women were whispering into their children’s ears while peeping from the corners of their eyes. The men shook their heads in disapproval. One of the little boys behind me touched my dress.

At this point, no one was really paying attention to the pastor. That's when he lost it. The preaching turned to me- "We have a visitor in our midst, dressed to impress, entice, tempt and seduce you.” His gazed directly at me as he continued, “The enemy comes in different forms. It can come as a woman with blood on her lips but we must win.” The whole congregation echoed, “Amen! Amen!" as loud as they could.

“This is amazing,” I thought, “What would they have done if I had come in dressed in a pair of trousers? My only offense or sin is that I am wearing some fancy clothes with big earrings and modest make-up.”

I took a closer look at the church and the first thing that struck me was that the place was devoid of colour. “How sad,” I thought. The women wore long, flowing oversized dresses that covered them up in-toto. The men wore worn-out gray suits. Even the kids, especially the girls, wore dull-coloured clothes.

“How strange,” I thought, “These are self-depriving folks who think that Christianity is an act. Dress right, act right and do right; then heaven is yours.” The pastor's altar call to me brought me back to my present predicament. His voice was full of authority and righteousness, "We urge you to reject Mamiwata and her material gifts in the name of… Do it now and set yourself free.”

After several attempts, he gave up and announced Offering Time. The rest chanted, “Blessing Time.” This was the perfect opportunity for me to get out before they bound me up and dragged me to the altar against my will. I didn’t want to take any chances, after all, no one in my family knew I was attending this particular church.

I got up. The kids gasped and backed away. After giving their offering, the people in the front came to the back to take a view of the “Mamiwata agent” in their midst. The women were shy and timid; most avoided my eyes. Some smiled as they quickly passed by, taking their children with them.

I looked up at the altar and the pulpit was gone. The pastor was now whispering with three men. In the right hand corner, young men and women in black and white uniform were singing a very dry, joyless song. It was strange. No one was dancing, not even the children. Any attempts by the kids to dance were met with stern looks from the adults- the kind that you would give to a naughty child who was disgracing you in public.

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Writer Profile

My name is Eucharia Nina Chika Igwe; I'm a citizen of the world. I love to write, among many other things.

I currently reside in the USA and would one day like to be a Minister for Health. Health and Wellness-related issues are my passion. I strongly believe that a healthy nation is a wealthy nation.

High self-esteem is one of the things that has sustained me. Love starts with oneself and then flows out to the rest of one's environment.

I am a spirit-filled individual determined to make a whole lot of difference in this generation and in generations to come.

I do ask one thing of you: Always give your honest opinion about my writings. It is truly appreciated. Make each day a memorable one. Ndewo!!!


EUCHARIA IGWe Nee-Chukwuma | Apr 10th, 2009

Your short stories & poems
Kachi Okezie | Dec 3rd, 2010
I can't promise much, but I can help any young, up and coming writer from the TIG community get noticed by publishing a good piece in my community magazine. It must be related to rural/community life in Nigeria.

R Kahendi | Mar 30th, 2009
Wow, Nina! This is an excellent story! I look forward to reading more of your work.

Gloria Date | Apr 23rd, 2009
Your story is really great. I love it. You're an excellent writer. Shakespeare would have loved to have you for a partner.

EUCHARIA IGWe Nee-Chukwuma | May 16th, 2009
thaks Gloria- you are kind

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