His Royal Highness, Igwe Arinze Ogelu was the ruling chief of Nibo Town. A vibrant light-skinned man though in his early 60’s. He looked majestic in his kingly outfit – a casual traditional robe with the pattern on tiger’s skin printed on it. His kingly traditional hat sat on his throne.

He was a friend to Ndubisi’s father and the one who sold to Ndubisi’s father, the Land which Hon Eke was claiming to be his.

It was around 8 am during the rainy season and Igwe was seated with his two closest friends and advicers in his palace. They usually came to the palace early in the morning for early morning prayers with colanut.

They had finished the prayers and were laughing at one of the jokes from Nze Marthias Okechukwu, when the guard informed the Igwe that some three men were waiting to see him.

“Who are they?” he asked wondering if he had any appointment with three men.

“They said they are from Hon. Eke, Igwe.” the servant said bowing for the fouth time to show respect.

“Bring them in, ” the servant bowed again and left.

His friends stood up as he walked to the throne still in a cheerful mood, picked his hat and wore it to welcome his unexpected visitors.

“Igweeeeeee, ” The three men bowed their greeting.

“Welcome! Sit.” The sat in the three in one cushion adjacent to the throne. Another three in one cushion was empty opposite them.

“What brings you to Igwe’s palace.” One of them stood to speak. He wore a smile which the Igwe couldn’t understand.

“Igwe, Hon. Eke sends us. He appreciates your efforts to keep our town in good state. It all takes a courageous ruler to be able to achieve all you have been able to achieve.” One of them who looked like their leader spoke up.

“I thank God for helping me. I’m glad someone notices and appreciates my efforts. Tell him I’m grateful for his encouraging message.”

“Igweeee.” He bent close to Igwe who gave him a pat on the back. “Thank you Igwe for accepting the message. Hon Eke also sends you a gift to show his appreciation.” the speaker knelt and presented him with something in a small bag.

“Thank you but I won’t accept it.” Igwe looked at the gift item but refused to touch it.

“With due respect Igwe, why? Have we done anything wrong?” The three of them looked at each other.

“You have not done anything wrong, young men. Why has your master not come to present his gift by himself?”

“Igwe we apologise for his absence. He’s a very busy right now and it’s hard for him to come by himself..”

“Please go back to him and tell him that I do not receive gifts in absentia. Tell him to come by himself. Thank him for the gift anyway.” They were highly surprised that Igwe has refused to even check what the gift was; a brand new Honda CR-V worth more than 10 million naira.

“Please Igwe, receive this gift from us on his behalf. It pleases Hon. Eke to give you a luxury car as a New Year gift. Please accept it. I’ll bring him here before tomorrow runs out.” the speaker persuaded but Igwe had made up his mind.

“Look, young men, I understand how you feel. All you need to do is go back to him, tell him what I said.” A servant came in again to inform Igwe that some visitors were waiting.

“Not again.” Igwe muttered. He slept late and woke up very early because of his visitors. He needed some rest.

“Who are they?”

“The Igwe Cabinet, Igwe,” Igwe looked at his time, a wall clock ticking away by the side of his throne.

“Complete?”

“Twelve of them, Igwe, ” the servant bowed.

“Tell them to give me some time. I’ll join them as soon as possible.” While the servants took his leave, Igwe turned to his visitors.

“Young men, please you must excuse me. I have important meeting with my Cabinet. Tell Hon. Eke that I appreciate his kind gesture and would like to see him in person.” With this, he took his leave.

© Florence Ezekafor