It’s the 1960s in Sierra Leone. A cultured city-girl, Massa Norman, is trying to figure what message God has sent her in a dream, when her beauty mesmerizes the richest man in Kandu—diamond magnate Demba Bangura. A marriage is quickly arranged. But things go so bad Bangura is forced to consult his trusted soothsayer. The bad news is the beauty is promised to a powerful man. The good news is, if Bangura waits for ten long years, he will eventually reclaim her. As months turn into years Massa, and her sister Miata, walk down unexpected paths in life that fulfill the oracle...
Simultaneously, State House press photographer, Alfred Sannoh, doggedly ‘obeys’ orders, with no idea that the consequences of his decision will lead him in a direction he never imagined. There’s sexy Khadija, who appears as an angel to men who pick her up, only for them to realize belatedly, that she is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
‘Not About The Money’ interweaves the supremacy of God with the insufferable nature of men, wiles of women, and one man bent on revenging a nation.
|Edition description:||(Not comics or graphic novels)|
|Product dimensions:||5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.77(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Not About the Money
By E.M.S. Foray
iUniverseCopyright © 2016 E.M.S. Foray
All rights reserved.
A lot of people were present at King Kanda II's courtyard in Mordiyya village. The occasion was a naming ceremony — which took place every nine to more months after each Christmas season. All wives, now counting four, took turns showing off their trophies for the three in every twelve days spent pleasing the king during the harmattan season.
His invitation to his subjects to the naming ceremony of his son would soon be succeeded by another, judging by the alarming projection of the third wife's belly.
For the record, the king was not the only man with this many wives, or libido, except for the man dancing among the trees, far away from the other guests.
He danced to the bubu music with head, hands, tongue, eyes, and legs. His choreography had no rhythm, and looked like an exercise drill rather than a dance. His clothes were worn and torn, and he showed no interest in the mouthwatering food and drinks going around.
In the heavens above, the morning 'yolk' crept like baby out of its crib, casting golden rays on beneficiaries below, and making the dancer sweat slightly. He squealed occasionally, and jumped high up among the branches of the tree; his sunscreen.
His monkey-like theatrics attracted children, and soon they surrounded him, giggling and exclaiming. The man's appearance, much like his proximity, spoke eloquently of the vast difference between him, and the other guests. He was Fo-Yaiye — a much-talked-about man with special gifts, and nothing else to write home about.
Fo-Yaiye's first impression on people, was uncomplimentary. They thought so lowly of him, that he was labeled a madman. Because in Kaffu, handicapped persons were the 'moguls' in begging, and learned 'marabouts' were teachers, herbalists, or some sort of prophets. There were a few wise men advising the king and a handful of others arbitrating social disputes in the king's courts. The rest were farmers, fishermen, entertainers, or gardeners.
In his early forties, Fo-Yaiye did not fit in any of the Kaffu's working-class categories. Worse, he was unkempt round the clock, and appeared perpetually drunk — even though he never indulged in drinking. Furthermore, he did not care for money or anything of material value. This guaranteed him a place inside the box, created ironically by people who were themselves inside the box but did not know it.
He was known for walking long distances at night almost on a daily basis. No one knew where he went or whom he saw. Under the roof where he passed what was left of the night on his return, he seemed to party until sunrise. He hardly slept.
Women began to think that he was dating a genie. "Look at how good-looking he is — just what a genie woman would want — a good explanation why he shows no interest in any of us."
Fo-Yaiye had no friends. No one knew what his actual name was, or where he came from. He did not steal, beg, or borrow; he never cussed; and he never lost his temper, even when children taunted him intensely. But what struck people about him, was his ability to predict the future. He was christened "Four-Eyes" in respect of this special gift.
So many years ago, he casually told the king's aged father, "I see you passing the staff to someone outside of the royal family. I see him ruling this kingdom until his death. That's when I see your son inheriting the throne."
Hell broke loose! At the time it sounded preposterous to a point that made people guffaw at the prospect of having a king who was not of the royal lineage. They gossiped: "Have you heard the news? That crazy fellow says our king will pass his staff to a commoner!" "Don't mind the charlatan!" "That sounds like a drunk's analysis!" And when it passed as he had said it would, they said it was coincidence.
Several years later, the true heir — King Kandeh II — inherited his throne. Kaffu was a beautiful, peaceful territory. The only challenge the people faced was combating the practice of witchcraft. Occasionally, the Soko-banna secret society was invited to expose or repel witches. So when Fo-Yaiye peeked into the future one day, and reported what laid more than thirty years ahead, the people were shocked.
"La illa illa la momodu rasuru lai!" He shrieked as if he was under demonic attack. "There is war coming! It is thirty years away, but gbin ka Kru ma saba" he said in Temne, "it is coming. If it starts in the capital and goes up-country, it won't end in a hurry ... Oh no, I don't wish to be around when it strikes!"
"War?" people asked in disbelief. He must have mistaken.
The calendar changed a few times, and then came 1966. FoYaiye visited the king's court one afternoon, and sat quietly on the gazebo's railing — gazing afar. When the king poked him, he dropped his gaze on the ground and instantly he saw a screen appear. "Oh, pity! From what I see King, you're no better than a peanut. By this time next year, you will be uprooted from that throne."
This revelation caused the king to jerk upright in his chair.
"Mm hmm," Fo-Yaiye continued, "you will be in oblivion until this baby has suckled her own child," he said, indicating a crawling child.
"Is there anything I can do to avert it?" the king asked.
"Nothing. You will return to your throne only after she has suckled her own child. Mark my words!"
The king's men sensed his anxiety, and clamored to offer comfort. "King, don't mind him!" "He is crazy!" "It looks like our man does take alcohol!" They spoke juxtaposing one another. However, the king was not a naive man; he believed that God was using Fo-Yaiye as messenger. That same night he summoned his religious council, and asked them to pray for him, and the kingdom.
Three months later, Fo-Yaiye beheld the vision into thirty-something years ahead, a second time.
"I see war coming with a rage ... Oh no, it's symbolized by mayhem ... assorted atrocities. diabolic perpetrations ... I see kings deserting their people, the people their kings. children killing their own parents ... men with no morals roaming the streets, causing havoc and bloodshed. I see chaos, thousands fleeing from one place to another ... gosh! Nobody will be spared." There was a pin-drop silence.
"I see bloodbath, fire, anarchy and pain!" He whistled hard and long. "Diamonds, gold, lots of foreign money! What? But the war is. not about the money! E de fa of he affirmed in Krio, "but unstoppable! Pray for your families." His message soon struck a note in the Kaffu people, and they were scared to the bones.
Around this time, Fo-Yaiye's reputation had preceded him way beyond the Kaffu kingdom. All and sundry from far and wide, came to have him interpret their stars. However, he was not interested in money, so he did not fix any appointments — not even with the king. Everything about his predictions was spontaneous.
An eloquent instance, was his encounter with a barefoot woman whose marital credentials were hopelessness, plus two children she cared for singlehandedly, multiplied by frustration, and totaling a harsh life in polygamy without parole. Due to unexplained changes in her husband's attitude toward her, she had little option but to work overtime to make two ends meet!
She had been a fishmonger since Noah was a sailor, learning from her maternal grandmother. The lady bought fresh catches from the fishermen at the Targrin wharf alongside scores of other women, smoked her fish in the same area, using the same method, and sold across the river to the same marketplace.
Walking from her house in Mahera to the jetty, crossing on the ferry, and taking a cab to the Bombay Market in Freetown, took her under two hours. To her disappointment, her fish always went bad even before she hit the market forcing her to seek credit or sell at such a minimal rate that she hardly ever broke even. This was the problem eating her heart when she bumped into the mysterious FoYaiye, rechristened by the young generation as Pass-Pass.
"Hey, you, come here! Why do you always carry nasty stuff in your basket?" he accosted her.
The woman stopped in her tracks. Gravely offended, she went into anger mode but from discipline, did not utter a single word. Words are like arrows, my child. Release them, and you can never bring them back to the bow, so keep your lips sealed when angry, her grandmother's voice came to life. The comment was not only annoying but provocative forcing her heavy heart to do some goombay-dancing as she responded with incredible respect.
"Sir, I sell smoked fish"
"No, woman, you don't sell smoked fish," he insisted, his demeanor now uncomplimentary. "From what I see, you have been carrying a pile of human waste! That's why you don't sell."
"La illa illa la momodu rasuru lai!" Her basket crashed.
"A woman who shares your husband's bed is a witch, and she is bent on frustrating you out of the marriage. After stealing your husband's heart, she turns your fish into poop, and eats your unborn babies. That is why the last ones were born stone-cold."
"Ay minsh!" She exclaimed in Temne.
"But don't fret! The battle's over. From now on your fish will sell, and you shall dance to your husband's music just as you did before her obstruction. But first you must make a sacrifice for the gods ... to cleanse ... you and your basket."
She did as she was told, and the very next day her cowife openly confessed her witchcraft manipulations, and died moments later. It was the talk of the Mahera-town, and still on the lips of women when Pass-Pass strolled into the king's courtyard one afternoon to pay his respects. There, on the hallway of time, he saw the horrible videos that were becoming persistent.
"Heyyy! I see the war coming ... But listen and take heed of the message I have for you ... You have to protect Kaffu ... You must sacrifice ten virgins — five males and five females. Bury them alive! Yes! Doing so will prevent the people of Kaffu from perishing." Women were dismayed. One actually grabbed her child and took to her heels, terrified.
"Take note Kaffu people. if you don't sacrifice the ten virgins to save the entire Kaffu kingdom, thousands of people may perish! The choice would be yours — sacrifice ten to save thousands. Those of you who would still be around should remind the king to save Kaffu."
He touched his pointer finger on the ground, put it to his tongue, touched it on his forehead, and pointed it to the heavens. Women wept. Time had taught the Kaffu people to stop calling him names, or doubting his powers.
Several months later, the country's political 'rhinos' locked horns in a battle for state control. The campaign was characterized by intense mudslinging, cleverly crafted by the northern-based National People's Congress (N.P.C.) It ignored pertinent development issues as it continually accused the incumbent president of corruption, and mismanagement. It resonated well with frustrated voters. In the end, the N.P.C. won the presidential elections.
It is not clear whether or not the incumbent president of the southern-based National People's Party (NPP) connived with the army chief — his fellow tribesman — to overturn the election results, or if the chief independently opposed the northern-based opposition's victory. He staged a coup d'état, and put the winner under house arrest. In the course of the interregnum, King Kandeh II was uprooted like peanut.
Somehow, even after the legitimate government was reinstated following a series of coups d'état, King Kanda II remained exiled. For obvious reasons, he monitored the crawling girl's growth with keen interest, even attempting to fast-track her motherhood at some point, but when it backfired, he surrendered everything to God.
In another instance, Pass-Pass was at the Mahera jetty one afternoon when he was struck by a different kind of terrifying vision. He immediately alerted the public to take caution but then, it was in the middle of summer, and under normal meteorological projections, the scenery he claimed to have seen was far-fetched.
one boatman dismissed him, and calculated his opportunity to make quick bucks. He persuaded some people to join his boat, promising a safe berthing on the other side of the river. His assistant helped load a dozen or so passengers, but suddenly developed cold feet and stayed behind.
As the boatman was paddling out from shore, Pass-Pass warned a last time, but the boatman dismissed him with a wave of his hand saying in Temne, "Gbspsh mi!" Up until this time, the weather was as nice as a granny.
People were still watching regretfully as the boat turned into a dot on the other side of the river. A second boatman decided to take a chance. Abruptly, the 'friendly granny' turned mean and nasty. In a twinkle of an eye, the lights went out in the sky, and wind tore angrily from nowhere, sweeping things in its path into the air as if they were pieces of paper.
Household items of every sort, creatures of the sky and ground, trees — all flew like feathers in the air in an uncoordinated fashion. Some zinc-roofs were stripped off houses, joining other chaotically flying items in the air. It seemed like the wind was coming down with the might of Allah, accompanied by a brutal downpour of rain like no other. Confused and terrified, people ran, frantically. Seeking safe places to take cover.
About an hour later, amid prayers and confessions, the 'granny' calmed. The lights came back on, and summer's friendliness embraced the sky! Only the watermark and debris left in its trail told on the storm as the Kaffunians crawled out of their shelters, much relieved.
Joined by the children, and even the domestic animals, they all rejoiced, and partied like crazy. They were full of praises for Allah, and an enormous appreciation for Pass-Pass.
"Pa, na yu Gawd sen fo save wi," a boatman said to him in Krio. "It felt like we were the first-born sons in Egypt's bondage, spared by God's slaying angels ..."
The first boat capsized and all its passengers perished!
Juliet Kapuwa had graduated from the St. Joseph's High School for Girls in Moyamba — a grade-A school in the southern province back in the days — where girls majored in dressmaking and catering among other skills. Soon after her graduation, Sergeant Norman, a six-footer with a clear-cut face, bushy mustache, naturally broad chest, and bulging eyes, proposed to her. His physique offers telltale signs that he is headed for a top rank in the army someday, she thought.
Juliet, a major in dressmaking, fell head over heels in love with the sergeant, using quality time building castles for her big family to live a life of happiness. She saw her children running in and out of the 'castle' making her husband's absence, hurt all the more.
Fast-forwarding to three years, while her husband moved from country to country acquiring military tactics, Juliet remodeled their 'castle' as her children increased. She joked proudly, that she was the spouse of the sewing machine, and her husband's spouse was the service.
When Norman came home briefly on a short break, his mother said, "Son, you have no excuse to not open a factory in this house. I want to see twins and triplets. I want this house to be like a zoo." She also had her dreams.
"I want that too but you know the service takes much of my time ..."
"Hey listen ... if the service. is so demanding that you have no time for the girl, you better leave the service, and serve her instead."
"oh Mama, can't you see that I need medals and promotions to make you and Juliet proud of me?"
"There can be no better service than that of your wife having babies. Listen. A man's nothing without children. The army gives promotions and medals, yes, but it never gives children, so, son, do yourself a favor, and find time for your wife. If not, I'll go see your C.O., and ask him to give you time off to serve her!"
Juliet appreciated the advocacy.
When Norman finally returned home after the last of his studies in England, they were headed for their fourth anniversary. With little effort, he got his size-eight wife blossoming. His mother was the first to hear the good news, and she was as happy as she was proud of her eldest son's blessing.
Five months later, Juliet was proudly showing off the baby bump as evidence of their intense love, when Norman staggered into the house late one night, drunk, and wearing gaudy red lipstick on his face and shirt. He had an unmistakable feminine perfume too. Juliet could not contain her anger as she launched volleys of cusses at him for his "wretched" behavior. They exchanged hurtful words.
Excerpted from Not About the Money by E.M.S. Foray. Copyright © 2016 E.M.S. Foray. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse.
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