While this might sound like a ‘Tales by Moonlight’ story, I’m pretty sure that we would need more stories like this to help us consider some matters of life. As adults, one probable reason why we have become rigid and full of issues is because we had long left our Cinderella and Barney and Lion King stories behind to focus on God knows what. The more we keep being serious, the more complexities we face. The struggle is endless, so let’s find time to listen to childish stories, for within them, we would find happiness and simple solutions to our complex problems. Come join me!
Nkereuwem lived with his poor widowed mother in Ikot-Nsit, a small village in Ishiet Kingdom. He may never have had the life of every other comfortable child but his mother and late father had taught him one invaluable virtue- integrity! Uwem as he was often called remained truthful to himself, his family and community. One day, the King of Ishiet Kingdom realized he was growing old and needed a successor to his throne. King Edom had lost his entire family when an opposing kingdom struck his palace impromptu. The king therefore decided to groom a young man who would be the successor to his throne.
The town crier went around announcing that all young men in the village gather before the king’s palace on the noon of the following day and 14-year-old Uwem decided to be there though he had not known what would become of the gathering. At the gathering, the king addressed the young men, saying he had a plan for them all, but that they would need to show him that they were good farmers. He therefore ordered his guards to distribute some grains of maize and requested that they all plant them in nurseries of polythene bags and return later with their sprouted crops which would then be transplanted to a large piece of land. The young men left with their seeds.
Two weeks later, Uwem saw no signs of spouting from his nursery bags. He wondered what had gone wrong. By now, other young men had began to boast of how the crops had germinated and were growing. Uwem felt so depressed, but his mother encouraged him to be patient.
On the day when the young men were to appear before the king, his mother asked if he really wanted to go, seeing that he had nothing to present: not even one nursery bag had a cotyledon on it, but beoy insisted that he would go with his bare faced nurseries. “Wouldn’t it portray you as a lazy and incompetent farmer?” his mother asked again, trying to reassure him that it was better to sit at home than appear to showcase his flaws. “Don’t worry Mma, I have done nothing wrong. I tried my best, but the seeds just refused to germinate, it isn’t my fault. However, I must appear before the king as he had instructed, irrespective of these outcomes.” “Okay Uwem my son, I wish you the best. May God be with you and may the spirit of your late father guide you.” “Thank you Mma!” Uwem set off for an unsure fate.
At the gathering, he met several young men with their flourishing crops. He felt ashamed as they mocked him with four bags of barren nurseries at his feet. The king walked around and nodded his head. “Indeed, I can see great farmers among you; hardworking men who are set for great reward. You have all shown great wisdom and deserve to give yourself an applause.” The men clapped their hands, nodding to the king’s comment. The king then walked towards Uwem. “Youngman, what are these in front of you?” Uwem prostrated, “My king they are my nurseries.” The other young men bursted into laughter. “You must be kidding! How dare you come with these things!” “I’m sorry my King, I tried my best but they did not germinate” Uwem said unhappily “And you dare come here to present a barren nursery in the present of hundreds of flourishing ones, groomed by young men like you? And do you mean that the seeds I King Akan gave you are not good seeds?” He looked at other young men, “Please what do we call this boy?” There were several responses including lazy, naïve, incompetent, ignorant, disobedient, stubborn, and the rest. But the king began to clap and clap and clap.
The young men were yet to understand why the king was clapping. Then, the king said “From nothing, I have seen a people who create something. I have seen people who fell from the cloud without being born. Can a dead man live again? I ask you all?” The youths looked at one another, some confused, some perceiving what the king was driving at. “What is your name young man?” “Nkereuwem” “Indeed, as your name implies, you have thought of life; that life is not a game of competition, that life is not about anyone else but yourself; that the fundamental backbone of life is truth!” King Akan turned again to the youths and said “I gave all of you dead seeds. Maize seeds that had been perboiled and then sun-dried. Tell me, how could they have germinated? Yet you all appeared before me with sprouted seeds! When you saw that your seeds couldn’t proud, you quickly swapped them with viable king just to please the king am sure that many of you joined the train because you didn’t want to be left out. But Nkereuwem here would rather please his conscience than the king, and in spite of shame, appeared before me to speak the truth. I have found no other man with such uprightness and integrity, neither have I found anyone else with such braveness. Today, I make you Nkereumen, the successor to my thrown! Now every other person, leave with your crops deceit!”
“I was so worried my son. How did it go?” said his mum when Uwem finally returned “It went well Mma. It was nothing but a test. The king actually gave us dead seeds, but others swapped theirs with good seeds in other to please him. He found me worthy in character and made me heir to his thrown” His mum jumped in excitement and began to dance “Abasi sosong ooooooo!”… and so the family continued rejoicing ever after.
Sometimes when we refuse to do things aright or try to imitate the false lives of others, we put ourselves at risk. It is often best to remain true to ourselves and the society. Let’s pray that rather than cut corners, God gives us the strength to handle our circumstances with wisdom and uprightness, so that our integrity can make us stand out as sheep in the midst of wolves.