At this, Dama the griot fell at the king’s feet and began sobbing heavily… ‘Your Majesty I beg of you…it’s what I’ve always wanted. All my life all I ever did was to serve your majesty. Although this desire has been but a dream, this is the only opportunity I have to make such a daring request at your feet…please help me…’ tears had started rolling down his cheeks, as he looked up at the King, there was a quiver in his voice. Old Dama was desperate and tired of his life of servitude but he was resigned to his fate of dying as a slave. However, he was determined with everything that he had in him to change the fate of his family and clan. This, he considered, was to be the only thing he would have ever done for himself and his family. ‘But Touray, how would you have fulfilled this dream if you are to live…?’ Old Dama was in a fit of coughs as Ganda asked this. Akuala was by now fast losing his patience as he looked on at this exchange and his hunger raged on stronger. ‘Enough!’ he bellowed, causing a shudder to run through everyone’s spine once again. ‘I shall have my meal now!” At this, the king rushed to conclude his pact with Dama. He turned to him and said: ‘I give you my word that your request shall be granted one day. It saddens me that I cannot tell you when for I am at a loss on how to achieve such feat. I shall ensure that this promise is passed down my lineage until it is fulfilled.…’ ‘But Your Majesty…’ Ganda objected ‘…your daughter as we all know is already engaged to the prince of neighbouring kingdom, how then do you wish to fulfill such a promise?’ ‘I don’t know how, but it shall definitely come to be… for the Sayumba name will not be held in esteem until it is fulfilled. This obligation will be passed down to every Sayumba descendant until my promise to Dama is fulfilled; a Sayumba’s word shall always remain his bond…’ the king responded to Ganda’s protests all the while looking at Dama who was now beaming with hope and pride. He added, now glaring at the griot with incredulity ‘…Ganda, this man has been serving my kingdom all his life and never once has he asked for anything in return and today, as he so willingly lays his life down for me, no request should be too big for me grant.’ The King now turned back to Dama, saying: ‘…I hereby promise you my humble slave that the Tourays shall not remain slaves by your seventh generation. It is a promise!’ ‘I shall have faith in your word and leave the fate of my clan in your hands Your Highness; I shall die content with that promise my king, and will rest only when my family is freed. This spirit shall be our witness your majesty…’ as he said this, he gently walked towards where they last heard the spirit bellow offering himself. The wind then blew stronger and harder until at last when they all heard Old Dama’s screams and… he was gone. They stood there for some time in silence, petrified at the events that have just taken place. Ganda wanted to take on the guards and berate them for their shameful cowardice but the king will not let him. Although he was equally disappointed, he was a fair and just man, and he knew only too well that an encounter with such a fearsome spirit could make a coward of even the fiercest of warriors; these guards were willing to protect him against any mortal and human force and that was good enough for him. They all continued on their journey, quietly matching towards the kingdom. Ganda had then started playing his flute as they headed on, hoping that this will help clam everyone’s nerves. When they finally arrived, just in time for the festival, they happily joined in on all the festivities, relieved that they were home at last. That night as King Sayumba sat on his throne after the celebrations, he could not help thinking of Dama and the promise he had made to him. He ordered one of his guards to fetch Ganda Fadiga whilst he comfortably leaned back on his throne almost enjoying his reverie as he was fanned by the servants at both sides of him. He had just closed his eyes when he heard Ganda’s play his flute upon his entry into the palace. His palace was quite huge, a historic structure built from stone, burnt mud and the blood and sweat of the faithful servants and slaves of the Tonngunteh Kingdom. There were little huts surrounding the King’s quarters where the slaves and servants sleep. ‘My great king… a true King of Tonngu, graceful, merciful and a noble man of his words…. you called on me my king?’ he bowed his head as he greeted the king in the way that is the custom of the land. King Sayumba nodded his acknowledgement of his presence and greeting urging him to take a seat. Ganda stood straight and headed towards one of the embedded seats beside the king’s throne. ‘Yes Ganda…I want you to go inform the late Dama’s family of his fate first thing tomorrow morning. Tell them what he did for me and exactly what happened; except for the promise. It shall only be disclosed the time it is to be fulfilled.’ ‘As you wish Your Majesty…’ Ganda said as he bowed. ‘I want my promise passed down to every descendant that sits on this throne as a legacy. Therefore, I want it written down…’ King Sayumba continued. As he spoke, he could sense Ganda’s dissent and displeasure at his request. With this realization, the king stopped to allow Ganda, who was also his friend to speak his mind. ‘Your Majesty, I do not mean to defy you but…’ Ganda hesitated and then concluded ‘…pay no attention to me; it’s not my place to say.’ ‘I command you to speak your mind…’ the king ordered. ‘Well, I was just thinking of a suitable compromise to Dama’s request, what if the Tourays were brought here to serve only royalty; freeing a slave from the bondage of slavery can only be done if a daughter or a son from their clan is given in marriage to the Royal Family and that is an abomination in our kingdom…as a matter of truth, a taboo.’ The king considered what Ganda had just said and asked, ‘Do you believe bringing the Tourays here to serve only the Sayumba Royals will serve to fulfill the promise I made to Dama?’ ‘Yes Sir, it is and has always been a great honour to serve the Sayumba Royals…besides you are king, and as such, not subject to the requests and demands of any of your subjects, least of all those of your slaves; fulfilling Dama’s promise is not a wise decision Your Majesty…’ Ganda concluded his plea to the King making him ponder over his decision. And the more he pondered on Ganda’s statements, the more he was inclined to agree with him. ‘After all, who is better poised to understand the traditions and customs of Tonngu if not Ganda?’ King Sayumba thought to himself. Furthermore, he knew that the decision to free a whole clan of slaves will not augur well with his council of elders. As he came to alter his decision, he assured himself that apart from himself, Ganda Fadiga and a few of the battlers, no other living being knew of his promise to Dama. Having arrived at a decision, King Sayumba wasted no time in summoning the entire Touray clan to his castle to serve only royalty. The Tourays, oblivious to the sacrifice made on their behalf by one of their very own and what is owed to them were honoured to be called to serve only the Sayumba Royals. They were all contented to know that for generations to come they will be the only royal slaves throughout the kingdom. … to be continued Culled from the new book The Oath Must Be Fulfilled As Promised authored by Aisha Jawara which will be serialised in The Standard. Note about the novelist and the novel. The Oath is a novel written by Aisha Jawara a staff of Megabank Gambia Limited, working as a marketer in the Business Development Department. She writes in her leisure time. The new book is billed to be launched on 29 December at the Friendship Hotel in Bakau, however author has generously allowed The Standard to publish excerpts for the readers to preview. The Oath, book edited by Haddy Dibba, is a historical fiction about the caste system and tells the story of a slave girl who rose to become queen of kingdoms.]]>
The Oath (Must be fulfilled, As Promised) Chapter One Akuala, the tormented spiritThe king sighed with a heavy heart at Dama’s desperate request. ‘You ask of me an enormous request, my slave. I deign to make such a promise lest I fall short of fulfilling it,’ the king told Dama.
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