His dark skin shone as he walked through the market place with his prize. People stared at him in awe. From afar though, as they were too frightened to come near him. Some said he was too fearless, the others said he had spent too much time away from people that it had driven him mad. His body was mauled in places. He had bruises and cuts all over his skin. There was a deep gash on his forehead. He was bleeding badly and yet, he was smiling insanely. On his shoulders was his prize; he had fought with his bare hands just for the thrill. A hunter who had discarded the need for weapons and chose to hunt with his bare hands. He was truly mad. He had just returned with his latest kill, a giant panther…
The fireplace had remained barren for numerous cycles on end with the remnants of burnt ashes as a reminder of what used to be a glorious meal-place. He just stares at it with a mixture of emotions. Anger, bitterness, regret are just but a few of the emotions that flood the mind of Akanni. In the earlier days, he would have had his fill of flesh and would burn off the rest but now he was forced to eat the occasional scraps of food which were tossed at him like he was a leper. He had been ignored and almost forgotten. The few families that brought him food did it out of obligatory respect for their ancestors who had once revered, feared and fed him. And they did not even bring him what he deserved but scraps and leftovers. In his glory days, he would have scorned them and punished them in all his might but those days were long past and now he was forced to reluctantly accept their measly offerings like a dog. What ill fate had befallen him? What had led to this insult from the people? He was Akanni, a god and sacrifices were his food.
From all his daily musing and soliloquies, he had narrowed down the cause to one single thing: a new religion. His thoughts had almost driven him to the point of madness. It was not rare to see him talking aloud to himself. These Christians came in all their cunning and turned his worshippers away from him. When they first landed on the shores of the land, they came like novices who had just missed their way and wanted to explore. They came bearing gifts and sweet words. They even tried to learn the local dialect. It was at that point he should have struck down every single one of them. He should have made a clean sweep and wiped them off the face of the land. But he let them be, thinking they were just harmless folks who would pass with time. Then, they started preaching their message. The good news, they called it. A tall tale about how the big man upstairs sent his son to come and die to save everybody from destruction. They told the people they could be free from all their troubles. All the people had to do was to forsake their gods and follow their one true god. At first, it seemed like a delusional tale told by demented men. The people were wise. From the beginning of time, the gods have always watched over them and lead them. They were not unjust or greedy. They only demanded what was rightfully theirs and provided them with what they needed. Surely, the people would not believe these tales. The gods expected them to cast away the Christians with disdain. They should have stepped in but had deemed it unnecessary to meddle in the affairs of men and left them to their own discretion. These Christians with sugar-coated, slippery tongues kept on persisting with their message even when they faced an initial resistance. They came up with miracles to prove their point to the people. Again, they should have carried out a necessary swift massacre but in their usual godlike reluctance to act, they left it up to the people. They had performed similar miracles for our people. This should not be a new sight to them. But the Christians performed theirs at no cost. Where the gods would need a great sacrifice to perform the needed actions, the Christians just kept bellowing to the big man upstairs and speaking in strange tongues and in a show-off of power, he would do it without even a wave of his hand. The promise of free miracles was what it took to lure the people away. Humans, in general, love free things. They even came up with a saying that the best things in life were always free. By the time, the gods had realised it was time to act, it was already late. The people had stopped paying homage to them or praying to them. They stopped offering sacrifices and instead, chose to wear colourful regalia and attend that abominable place of worship they call a church. Its main attraction was a plastic replica of a man, rumoured to be the big man’s son, nailed to a piece of wood. It was laughable to think the big man would let a son of his be butchered and displayed in public like a common dog. It was borderline ridiculous. It was clear these people were delusional. But it was the gods that suffered from the illusion that these delusional people had made their people believe. They were left to suffer and lick our wounds. The major gods still got a fair share of sacrifice but the minor gods were left to face oblivion.
The big man just sit upstairs and does nothing for us. To the other gods, he does not care if they exist. It is known he is all-powerful but in all that might, there should be a bit of sympathy for the little ones. All he does is sit on his throne in his mighty city with his winged servants flying all over the place in their shiny armour. The gods would have gone to lay their complaints before him but their pride and the intimidation his servants pose to them was enough to keep them in their homes with hopes that one day, their fireplaces would be rekindled, stoked and filled with enough flesh. Of course that was a long shot, what stared them in the face was oblivion. Now the tale of oblivion was one every god, big or small, knew so well. It was a folklore amongst them. When you fade away into oblivion, you fade into nothingness. It becomes a place where you do not exist anymore. You are totally forgotten. All your senses are robbed from you and you lose all sanity after a while. It is a place all gods dread, a place where no one has returned from.
He did not plan to be forgotten. He did not plan to head for oblivion. He was Akanni, the mortal man whose feats earned him a place among the gods. He came from a line of great hunters but even so, he was the greatest of all his ancestors. He had once faced two leopards in the forest and his dane gun failed to fire. He fought them both with his bare hands and dragged their carcasses to his home. He was also a man of war. In their inter-tribal wars, he killed more men than all the other villagers combined. He was a fierce warrior during his time. His tales made the ears of mortal men tingle. He did not even die instead the gods requested for him and he was no more. He became Akanni, god of the hunt. He provided the people with meat and guided their guns and arrows to the kill. But they had ignored him and would face the consequences. He would punish them all. Every single one of them would taste his wrath. They would all go hungry. He would turn the forest on them. He would form alliances with the other gods and they would flood the entire village. They would kill everybody. They would even kill the big man’s people. Let him get angry. He started this all. But for now, they were powerless. What they needed was one big sacrifice to empower them. One massive sacrifice for them all. He was Akanni. When he sets his mind on something, not a single god can dent his resolve. He kept on fuming.