When the Igwe’s first son was born he was named Afamefuna, meaning let my name never disappear. His father desired for him to fulfill all of the things which he himself had never been able to accomplish, in addition to succeeding him on the throne. When Afamefuna reached school-going age, his father enrolled him in the best mission school in the district and he excelled wonderfully. He was the star pupil in all of his classes and his teachers came to love and appreciate his presence. The boy had an unquenchable appetite for learning and it didn’t come as a surprise when he told his father that he wished to study at a university.
“Afam, you have spoken like the man you are,” said his father proudly. “You shall go to the university—but not just any university—I shall send you to that big school in the white man’s land. Erm…what is it called again?”
“Eh, yes! I shall send you to Kembriji and you shall bring back the secrets of the white man’s wisdom. My son, you have made me proud.”
It so happened that in the following year the British government began a scholarship scheme in which it would send the sons of a select group of local Chiefs abroad to study and procure knowledge for their peoples, so as to expedite the processes of westernization, development and modernization. Through a series of hefty bribes, Igwe Olisadebe secured a place on the scholarship scheme for his son; and so Afamefunajourneyed to Cambridge University.
On a sunny Sunday morning twelve years later, IgweOlisadebe, his family and their entourage of officials and dignitaries stood on the tarmac of the Lagos airport. A silver aeroplane was noisily gliding in from the distance. Wings glistening in the sun, the plane breezed over the grassy field, descended and skidded to a smooth halt on the runway.
The hatch opened and a group of people climbed out of the plane and descended down the iron steps to the people who awaited them. The last man to step down was none other than Afamefuna himself—or rather Dr Afamefuna, for he was now a medical doctor. He wore a neatly-pressed black suit—much like those the white man wore. His hair was parted and upon his nose sat smart-looking spectacles. Behind him followed a white woman.
His father could barely recognize him. The small boy whom he had sent to England merely twelve years ago was now a large man—a well-educated man. After greeting his father, Afamefuna embraced his mother, his sister, the other guests and a young woman whom he assumed must have been a palace-maid. He offered to introduce his guests to his family, but his father cut him short insisting that there would be time for that later, for the journey from Lagos to Obiru was long.
They reached Obiru very late that night, so everyone retired to their quarters in the Igwe’s compound. The following morning, Igwe Olisadebe organized a performance by a traditional dance troupe followed by a welcome feast for his son who had returned from Obodo Oyibo with the white man’s secrets.