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From Eden To Nembe

Traversing centuries of investigation into the actual location of Eden, Nengi Josef Ilagha arrives at an earth-shaking conclusion as to the site where the first drop of human blood was shed and where the first man to die was buried, face down. This profound revelation is the subject of the third chapter of the landmark book, Epistle To Maduabebe, written by the militant poet and teacher from the oil-rich Nembe Kingdom.

From Eden To Nembe 

Conscience is an open wound; only the truth can heal it.

           Othman Dan Fodio 

I WONDER IF you have ever been led to watch The Passion Of The Christ, a film directed by Mel Gibson. It ought to interest you, if only because it has to do with the last XII hours of the life of Jesus. It begins in the Garden of Gethsemane and ends on the Hill of Skull in Jerusalem. I wonder what your sensitivity rating is on the human Richter scale. I wonder if you have ever responded to pain in any way, especially pain inflicted on a human body other than yours. I wonder if you have a heart of stone.

On my part, the picture gripped my full attention, and my very soul quaked at the goriness of it all. From all indications, the movie industry has never seen anything like it through the ages. Films of every description have been made of the life of Jesus Christ, but this one certainly takes the trophy for its close scrutiny, its immediate depiction, of pain. For me, the inspiration for the film came directly from God, principally to remind the world that something that ghastly happened to a human body once upon a time.

If the memory of mankind was failing at all, God would not forget the pain of the crucifixion, and has done well to communicate it in the most graphic terms to the mind of the director. No doubt, the experience was preserved eternally on the celluloid memory of heaven for the very last generation to witness, for such times as we live in, when wickedness has overtaken every corner of the human mind. It is a reminder that God himself did shed at least one solo teardrop which sailed through the sky, landed at the foot of the cross, and precipitated an earthquake so severe that it practically broke up the court of Caiaphas and tore the temple veil in two.

More than that, I have no doubt whatsoever that The Passion remains the ultimate instrument meant to prod the soul of the very sufferer who had endured the ordeal, to full wakefulness. For, indeed, in the last days when he returns to walk upon the face of the earth, Jesus himself will have the benefit of replaying what happened to him two thousand and nine years ago on his own laptop, recognize himself in his own unique eyes, rise to his full height, and undertake the Great Commission of reconciling man to God while spelling out everlasting judgment on sinners and saints alike, separating the chaff from the wheat.

This is not open to debate. This is my story.

I am taking time to dwell upon this subject so that you can put things in proper perspective when I tell you that something remarkable happened to me on the night of October 31 crossing into November 1, 2006. I had dozed off over the open hood of my laptop, while working on scripts for the second edition of The Mariner, a literary magazine of the Association of Nigerian Authors, ANA, Bayelsa State chapter, to mark the silver jubilee anniversary of the Association.

I had invited my friend at The Tide, Nnamdi Obi, from Port Harcourt to help out with the formatting and design of the magazine. My staff had conveyed a desk top from my house into Room Six of Dimrose Hotel, Yenagoa, which I had reserved for my guest. Obi worked on the desk top computer in an inner room which led to the outer room through a connecting door that led directly to a second door which in turn opened on to the passage of the hotel. I was editing scripts on my laptop in the outer room, and didn’t know at what point I slept off over the hood of the HP which was programmed to hibernate ten minutes after being idle. I was sitting on a metal chair painted white, with a green and white check material over the cushion. My back was against one of four walls, none of which had a window.

All I know is that I was tapped (I should say slapped) three times upon my left shoulder by a strong hand at the appointed time. I woke with a start, expecting to see someone standing above me. There was no one in the room. I was alone, naked, except for the white pants on my waist and the wedding ring on my finger. Puzzled, I stood up and walked through the connecting door, certain that Obi had woken me up to ask for more scripts. But there he was fast asleep, practically in the same position I had been, head resting on his arms upon the table, a tired snore coming from him, the desktop idle before him.

I could still feel the weight of the three taps upon my shoulder. Who tapped me awake so urgently? Did that heavy hand come through the wall? I could still feel a presence in the room. There was no doubt about that. Without waking my friend, therefore, I walked over to the toilet, swung the door open and checked inside. There was nobody, so I turned to the ward robe and did the same, shoving the few clothes aside. There was nobody. The only bed in the inner room was dressed pretty much the way it was when we came in that evening because, in the face of our production deadline, neither of us could afford to lie down. I crouched to look under it, half expecting to see someone hiding there. There was nobody. So I straightened up, walked right through the connection to the front door, and turned the handle. It was securely locked from the inside.

I felt a sudden rush of goose pimples descend on me. I pinched myself to confirm that I was still alive. I still am. I felt propelled back to my seat, only to find that my laptop was back from hibernation without my touching a single key. But, rather than the script I was editing when I slept off, I was faced with a blank page. Right on cue, I heard a voice clearly commanding me to fill up the blank page on the screen. In great bewilderment, I placed my fingers over the keyboard, not knowing what to write, but as soon as the first letter dropped upon the page, everything else followed. The words that came upon the screen have since grown into my third book of poems, Sand House & Bones. The words contained in this book equally spring from that experience. They come of their own volition.

Now, it would be nice to know if you have ever had that kind of experience, or if you know of anyone who has ever had that kind of experience. It would be nice to compare notes, to know if there is anyone who has been led to undertake a relentless daily writing regime covering all XII months of 2007, someone who has been led to claim the name and person of Jesus Christ, in the course of scripting, virtually against his conscious will, and has so proclaimed it the way I have done in the last three years, even on the pages of the state newspaper in Glory Land.

I don’t know for how long you have been a Christian. But since you declare yourself as one, attend church without feeling the need to remove your crown, and apparently subscribe to basic Christian tenets, at least in principle, I presume you know the fundamental law upon which Christianity is founded. Love your neighbour as yourself. That is how simply Rabbi put it two thousand and nine years ago to date. Do unto others as you would wish them to do unto you.

In other words, do not waste life. Be your brother’s keeper. Do not shed the blood of your neighbour, for it is the same blood that flows within your veins. Clearly, Caiaphas and his band of hoodlums did not reckon with this fact when they called upon Pontius to kill the poet of poets. Modern science may go so far as to ascertain the quantity of blood in your veins, pint by pint, and pontificate about the composition of blood and how it accumulates in the body. But the fact remains that no human being manufactures blood. And therefore, no human being has a right to shed the blood of another.

If God, the sole manufacturer of blood, considers it of so much value that He keeps it intact under your skin, why should you willfully spill it? Why should you celebrate bloodshed? Why should you take delight in taking the life of another? As a human being, if not a Christian, have you considered the consequences of spilling the blood of another? Have you ever stopped to think how God felt when the first drop of blood was shed upon the face of the earth? I doubt it. Let me put you in remembrance of this abomination. Let me replay a short movie before the naked screen of your mind.

Here are two brothers, one named Cain, the other named Abel. They are twin sons of Adam and Eve, the first man and woman. Cain and Abel, playing out in the open fields of Eden as big boys, are led to offer sacrifices to God. On account of Cain’s attitude problems, God rejects the sacrifice of Cain. And because Abel, the younger twin, was a decent and law-abiding citizen of Eden whose ways pleased the Lord, his sacrifice came to God as a “sweet smelling savour.”

Rather than ask himself where he had gone wrong and seek to mend his ways in order to find favour with God at the next offer of sacrifice, Cain was overtaken by jealousy. He became upset by every word Abel said after that. There was Abel standing a few steps away from the edge of the cliff, eyes lifted up to the sky, humming a song of praise under his breath. But even as he opened his mouth to follow up on the next bar, Cain felt insulted. As far as he was concerned, Abel was feeling hip and having fun at his expense. The very sound of Abel’s voice became a torment to Cain, and so the angry twin started a quarrel. He was spoiling for a fight and he meant to have the upper hand. Brimming with mischief and seething with anger, Cain sneaked up close and, as if by mistake, nudged Abel.

Teire go te I anibara eki I tuguru mo yo ne?

A I tuguru mo anyo tugu mi tei?

Ayeba I ni egbe mi daneke te, ini ye mi siki mebeba, I na miemie ye tei?

Ani I eki eri bi yo bibi?

Nte, I igbiki yo ifiemi?

Ani I eki I goli nemie yo wori bibi e, wa?

Yabi, I digi toru sin, nate? I ni biofuru eki anyanga da o.

Eri kala togu bei, digi, ina toru gbenemo o.

Eri ka ina toru gbenemo.

A paga bo di tere inifie la me be yomi I wo nimi worio an?

Aniebeba ani bara eki inodu nimi gha.

Inye wa? I pa ina bibi kpo yo be wa? A pa ifugu gbein nyo.

Tubo I wo fugu nyo? Eri? Yabi, iye negha.

A inegha I woton? Digi, a igbolu nyo bo.

I pa igbolu na, I ka igbolu neki nyo.

The argument picked up pace between the brothers and, in the scuffle that followed, Cain took hold of a piece of rock and struck his brother on the head. Abel staggered away in pain, lost his balance, and tumbled over the cliff. When Cain looked over the edge, he saw his brother’s body lying still far below. Something reddish was flowing out in a widening circle around his head. Cain hurried down to the body, and was suddenly overtaken by panic. Abel was no longer moving any part of his body. Cain stretched out his fingers to touch the red substance oozing out of the body of his brother. It was warm and sticky. It stained the earth and stained his hands. He was seeing and feeling blood for the first time.

Terrified by the fact that Abel’s body was suddenly without life, Cain did the only thing that occurred to his mind under the circumstance. Sweating from all pores, he quickly shoved some earth aside, dragged the body into the shallow grave he had dug, and made sure that Abel was face down, the better to hide his wounds from view. Then he heaped earth over the body, and covered every trace of blood with mud and brambles. He was so busy hiding the evidence of what had happened that he forgot God was witness to it all. As he headed for the nearby stream to wash off the bloodstains on him, God’s voice thundered through the clouds.

Yabeya, akami, I tio re gho ini muna owei bei eki koko tene?

Caught off guard, Cain’s reply was saucy in a spontaneous way. In typical Nigerian fashion, it was a question answering a question.

Eri ini muna owei koko owei an?

Now, your majesty, I suppose you are familiar with the story of Cain and Abel, but I doubt if the full import of it has struck you like a brick on the back of the head, until now that it has been brought home to you afresh in the language of Eden. What you should underscore here is that Cain was the first human being to shed the blood of another, and Abel was the first human being to die. More than that, Abel died a brutal death and was buried face down in the soil of Eden. It is an abominable act that has continued to haunt the land of Eden till date. 

There is nowhere else upon the face of the earth where this practice obtains today, except in Nembe, which goes to prove yet again that Nembe is the same one and only Eden. No need to bet. Spell eden in small letters, and hold a mirror to it. What do you get? nebe. Add an “m” in the middle of the four letters. What do you get? nembe. What does the “m” stand for?

Maduabebe.

QED.

The big consolation is that, in the end, Messiah will take over the land from Maduabebe, by sheer force of reason, and cleanse it for God’s use. Any more questions? Are you still asking to know the location of Eden? I put it to you that Eden lies fallow and forsaken in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria, precisely between latitude 4.35 degrees north of the Equator and longitude 6.25 degrees east of the Greenwich Meridian. Check.

I put it to you that this truth was bound to remain hidden until Messiah returned to fill up the gap and make it plain to the world. This is the day that the Lord has made for that purpose. This is the year of proclamation. Welcome to the last revelation. Jesus Christ has come, as promised, to upturn the body of Abel, to stop the age-long practice of burying face down the first child to die in any family in the land of Eden, in spite of age, wealth or social standing. Let us now close ranks by considering the following very Christian questions, numbering XII only. 

I.          How many nails were knocked into the body of Jesus Christ on the cross, and how long were these nails? 

II.        What is your most frequent sin, and why do you commit it at all? Don’t you think it is high time you confessed it to the worldwideweb?

III.       When was the last time you shed the blood of a fellow human being, and where did you get the nerve to do that? 

IV.       How much do you pay your hired killers, and when last did you send them on assignment? 

V.        Would you rather go to war with Jesus Christ, and be named anti-Christian in your conduct? How equipped are you to fight the Son of God? 

VI.       Do you see yourself taking Jesus Christ to court for holding a mirror to your soul? 

VII.     When last did God speak to you at close quarters, and what exactly did He whisper in your ears? 

VIII.    Of what use are all your certificates, degrees, awards and titles if you cannot enter into the Kingdom of God with them?    

IX.       How much breath did you buy yesterday, and how much do you plan to stock for tomorrow and the day after? 

X.        When last did you tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? 

XI.       Have you ever felt the earth quake under your seat? If not, would you like to? 

XII.     As a concerned Christian, what kind of vehicle should the world manufacture specially for Jesus to drive in, now that Pope Pen has come? In your humble estimation, how much is an aerospace jeep in the open market?

“Nengi Ilagha”