A rather intriguing story set in Nigeria's middle belt that explores the corrosive nature of injustice and the danger in opposing it. Austin uses folkloric devices to tell a cautionary tale of wit against impending danger.  Read closer between the lines.


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Justice From Afar (Austin Inyang)

  • They were supposed to be best friends. 

    Yet Osim could not understand why Unongo wouldn’t tell him anything about his hometown, or why he had left it eighteen years ago to settle here in remote Eja, deep in the Niger Delta, and had never gone back home since then.  All Unongo would ever say was that it was a farming community called Usomo, at the mouth of the mighty River Benue. 

    On the rare occasion when Unongo did mention the place, his voice was always tinged with a bitterness which Osim also found hard to understand. What had happened to him back there? It all seemed to Osim as though his friend had fled (was still fleeing) something really sinister.

    Or was it something he had done? Was he a fugitive from justice, then? 

    On one occasion, when Osim had asked Unongo (for the umpteenth time) about his home town, Unongo was silent for a long while, as if annoyed by the question. Then:

    “I just wanted to live in freedom.” 

    “From … what, exactly?”

    “From fear.” He spoke in a whisper, as if afraid he might be overheard, even here. 

    From Unongo’s tone, Osim thought, one would imagine he was describing the very pit of hell. One of these days, he told himself, only half-jokingly, I am going to and find out what it is about Unongo’s hometown – even if I have to go there by myself.

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