From the past

‘Kai!’ the Fulani herdsman exclaimed at something he had been thinking about. He stuck his tongue between his teeth and ejected a straight stream of saliva. It landed some distance away.

He was standing on one leg, his thin wiry and weatherbeaten frame looking fragile against the backdrop of blue sky and green savanna grass. His cattle grazed nearby leaving dark green puddles behind them as they moved.

The flash startled him and he looked up, distracted from the water bottle he was about to put to his lips. Without moving his eyes scanned the area the flash had come from. They came to rest on the boy crouching in the bushes, a camera held to his face.

Slowly, deliberately, he corked his water bottle. The camera flashed again. The leg he had been keeping off the ground came down and the stick he had been leaning on left the ground.

With the deadly aim the herdsmen are known for — that aim with which they fling a 2-meter stick at a wayward bull 80 yards away and never miss — the angry man let fly his staff. It hit its intended mark but not the intended object.

My friend Uzoma had dodged just in time. He was the fastest runner in my set and he was putting his skills to good use. Over the ridges he flew, not daring to look back as was his habit when racing.

The man retrieved his staff and set off after him. Uzoma may have been fast, but he had apparently never dodged bull horns or run continuously for kilometers. He huffed and puffed but slowly and surely, the herdsman gained on him.

As he ran, he thought about one of the big boys who had been given a very good stick beating by a Fulani boy who couldn’t have been more than ten. If the man caught him, he would be done for. Out of breath, he reached the hostels. He ran through the flower hedge, stubbing his big toe as he ran up the steps.

His pursuer cleared the steps behind him…

‘Yusif! Yusif!’ he panted as he burst into the first room. ‘Abeg come and help me interpret.’

‘Uzoma, what’s the matter?’ Yusif looked up from the kwado he had been preparing.

There was no time to reply. The patter of rubber-soled shoes announced the entry of the herdsman. He looked just as calm as he had been in the bush but his demeanor belied his intent as he moved towards the two boys.

Yusif called out in Fufulde and the herdsman stopped, taken by surprise. They exchanged greetings and negotiated. Uzoma shivered every time the man gestured at him with his stick.

‘He does not like people taking his picture,’ Yusif explained. Uzoma tried to show as much contrition as he could and the man appeared appeased.

‘You’re very lucky,’ Yusif told him after the herdsman had gone.

‘I know,’ Uzoma said. ‘Now can I have some kwado?’

© Azuka 2005. Semi-fictional


  1. Jaycee says:

    Geez Azuks…all these Fulani people. Nice one.

    Lol. I went to school in Niger State and we had lots and lots of incidents with the Fulani. Someone almost got gored by a bull once but that’s a story for another day.

  2. Calabar Gal says:

    The Fulani’s although a very stylish bunch also value their privacy a great deal. He’s lucky he made it back to the school premises b4 the herdsman caught up with him.

    Nuggetzman had a similar experience with the fulani’s when he tried to take their pictures too although they didnt actually chase him but he did have some beautiful pictures to show. Check out his blog on shutterchance:

    My friend was later to befriend one of the chiefs in a nearby Fulani settlement. He would go over on some weekends and discuss with him using a strange mix of Pidgin English, Hausa and Fufulde, plus, he got free fresh and sour milk during their gist. HE invited me over once but I was too timid 😆

  3. Gridl0ck says:

    Lovely story, Azuka. The best photographs are sometimes paid for in blood … figuratively, that is.

    Yeah. The paparazzi sure go through a lot to show all those celebrity pics.

  4. Elle says:

    Kai!!! gotta love the fulani’s and their sense of style. 🙂

    Lol. I tried to describe their unique trousers in an initial draft but got lost.

  5. Vickii says:

    I’m not sure whether this is fiction or not but seriously Azuka, you write really well! You need to commit to a novel!

    Happy valentines day!

    Thanks Vickii. Writer’s block’s second nature to me. I’ve always wanted to write a novel since I started writing but seeing that I always dropped them for lack of ideas and moved on, I’m focusing on short stories at the moment.

  6. snazzy says:

    interesting post, however for some reason I feel the need to critique.

    The story was well written with good emphasis on show and not tell. Like all good short stories there was a dominant symbol, in this case the stick. The only issue I had was the point of view change. It is a common narrative technique to switch POV, however you really shouldn’t in a story this short. There was also a slight thing with narrative voice. It’s a wierd mix of almighty narrator and observer/reporter but i thing that is tied up in the POV thing cos you know one character better than the other. Still I like.

    I appreciate the critique Snazzy. Thanks for pointing things out. I thought I had everything going well until something went wrong towards the end — and I couldn’t quite pinpoint what it was. Thanks again man.

  7. Gbenga says:

    Hey Buddy, Where have you been?. Dont see you online anymore like i use to. I hope you are well.

    Do buzz me whenever you come online.

    I must say you’ve got good writing skills tho.

    Been a long time Gbenga. How’re your ads faring? I’ll try to install Skype sometime in the nearby future (I haven’t installed it since I formatted my system). We’ve got gist…

  8. Azuka you are a very good writer!! its almost as if you are using your blog as practice unitl you publish a book. keep up the good work oh, very very well written!!

    Thanks Confusednaijagirl. Well, I’m actually putting stuff here until I write the code to enable comments on my writing site.

  9. Boso says:

    Semi fictional? So which part is fiction? lol

    The story as told to me by my friend was much shorter. I had to create the background and the herdsman standing on one leg as well as my friend stubbing his toe on the stairs.

  10. Keshi says:

    wut a write-up! Ur quite talented.


    Thanks Keshi…

  11. Shola says:

    It could really be a sensitive thing to do, with the language and cultural barrier, suspicion is inevitable.

    nice post, quite engaging.

    Well, taking pictures without someone’s consent is almost always certain to annoy the person. Thanks.

  12. temmy tayo says:

    Do you want me to send a bottle of Moet to you?
    Mail me ur addy.

    I’d be suspended from my dorm if a drop of liquor were to be found in my possession :(.

  13. Vera Ezimora says:

    I understand jo. I was in Plateau State and all these Fulani/Hausa herdsmen were strange people. Fun times though.

    Nice story too!

    I’m sure you must have been strange to them, green eye and all :lol:. Thanks, I appreciate!

  14. mac says:

    Is there any such thing as a semi fiction?

    whatever. Good writ.

    Thanks Mack. Some of the stuff here didn’t actually happen 😉

  15. I really like your writing and hope that you will publish/be published in the near future. Your work is better that some of the trash that is credited as noteworthy and/or listed on various bestselling lists here in the U.S.

    Will return soon and hope that your writing site will be operational.

    Take care!

    Like I’d say, different people, different tastes. Thanks for the visit!

  16. Naija Dude! says:

    This man with his writing…Just keep doing ur thing big boy! Yeah pursue that novel thingy eh!!

    Thanks Dude!

  17. the writing keeps getting better and better…. i dont know how much of a point this has, but the style is pretty sweet

    Thanks Nikita

  18. you know, now that i think about it, this thing is tottering on a precipice….. i cant decide whether i’d want this on output or not……

    I might have stolen a few ideas from the work on output. In any case I plead the Fifth. Innocent until proven guilty!

  19. Mad Hatter says:

    First time reading your blog

    Fantastic…’ve got talent. Hope to see you published in the not too far future

    Thanks a lot MH. I hope so too…

  20. nilla says:

    You’ve got good descriptive skills.
    Nice one.

    Thanks Nilla. Now if only I could write poetry like you… 😉

  21. delilah 3 says:

    Azuka, good job! I love the way you potrayed the nomadic experience. i could actually see the guy standing on one leg but the most vital physical attribute of a herdsman is his straw hat. Tiny details matter, love. Have you ever tried poetry? I think you have got what it takes. I cant count how many unfinished novels I have but with poetry, there is always that fulfillment of completion. One of mine is gonna be published this spring. Keep on the good work.

    Erm, in my original description he didn’t have a straw hat on — I think it was slung around his neck and I focused instead on the ‘afro.’ Thanks for pointing things out. I did write poetry back then but I seem to have lost the touch… 🙁

  22. haha its ok man, thats the point of output, to inspire…… so keep it up man

    Thanks man…

  23. before i forget, im me sometime and do tell what things you got inspiration from…….. you got me curious now…….

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