By Chukwuma Osondu

The above is a question posed by the king’s men not this writer.

It starts as a facet of uncountable chats of the king’s servants. The king’s domestics have seen days in this place. The palace is a theatre of games in life.

Games of winning.
Games of loosing.
Games of the absurd.
Games of survival.
Games on thrones

The domestics are not important men and women swinging in and out of the palace like a swing door. Despite the courtiers lowly status they get props for successes attained in the palace. But they could be invincible wind that wrecks havoc in calmness.

The expression king’s courtiers is not simple. In a language, it covers those who work in the king’s court. But the usage here is Idoloma Oba – literally, followers of the king. All of them do not necessarily work in the king’s court. Some are impressed to service like the Cyrenean who carried the Lord’s Stake. Idoloma oba could as well mean Oba’s henchmen and other Aka efi isi na alahu – ‘hand’ or ‘pillow’ without which the king cannot sleep’. The list of idoloma Oba is long.

The king’s servants ‘see beyond everyday’. They are gods of a kind. With insight they understand subtle games of king’s advisers and lieutenants.

They know it is not proper for the slave to die.
Yet it is uneven for the slave to get home with his head still on his neck.
The slave is trapped!


There is always a way. Yet no one has explained it: Why do king’s men die prematurely? It resonates in the chat again.

Philosophers explore beyond the normal. Philosophers are not only found among the ‘educated’! Life itself trains men beyond the theatrics of politics.

From life reservoirs of knowledge come enquiries always probing the minds of the living. At crucial moments, such enquiries transcend a passing probe. The mind tends to rise minutely and lends itself to linkages. Such linkages may not outrightly peer all dimensions of the probe but they assume steps, perhaps, inroads to destinations that provide greater illumination.

The kings courtiers are in forms. In cultures many are traditionally adorned with responsibilities. Some add colour and significance to their forms by being creative beyond their works.

The greed for visibility oils sycophancy and intrigues. Some of these art and acts are unknown to the king, while in others, he is hand in glove with the courtiers.

Many things play out commonly among the courtiers – surreptitiously exchanging hands in minutes and hours even years in collusion and audacious moves of power play.

The desire to acquire more power and importance create a surge of dark pages on the lives of these courtiers. In some cases this surge inadvertently complicates the life of the king.

But a king without courtiers is naked.
A respected masquerade never walks alone.
Followers adorn the masquerade.
The king must live for the courtiers to live.
When the king passes, the band is largely disbanded.
New entrants change the equation.

From the past to the present, that is how it goes. The roles of the king’s courtiers regardless of their titles and sophistication hover domains.

You find out now that in some societies diminished or collapsing institutional powers allow confusion to set in. It enables subtle power outside the king’s domain attain egregious status. Often, it is used to overrun statutes even the state. Preponderance of such atavistic, non- canonized subtle power undermines the people’s power whence the kings power to rule derives. Take a look at some countries in the twenty first century!

This happened in our homestead.

Our aboriginal homestead at a time was one. It was not on the basis of a Homestead Act for it to be accepted as authentic homestead. Later, our homestead became two. Neither is by imposition or limited by fiat. Residents can take East, West, North or South – truly open choice.

Why are there two homesteads bearing the same name at different locations?

It is common in our community nay African communities.

The aboriginal home stead.

Then, the second one emerges from the vagaries and circumstances of life.

Wars, floods and instability are sometimes fingered.
Or a search for life bounties in a new location. Regnal controversies and desire for autonomy can give rise to movement. Emergence of such autonomous communities only make differences on paper but not in flesh and character as the people remain the same people.

You find Isé- Ilé and Ise- Ugbo, Onicha-uno and Onicha Ugbo, Ile-Igbo and Abule-Igbo.

Various homesteads representing people with same root but inhabitants at different locations enjoying same cultural affinities and sentiments with the original – the aboriginal home.

A courtier has some words for the new entrants to the theater who smack down ‘old things’, old names and our people, yet, substituting these in another form as vogue.

When you hear of New England, New London, find out the reason for the ‘new’. Is it merely a sobriquet indicating the existence of a former? What happened to the old? Why is the new location cherished by the new people? What is really new?

When you happily wear a T-shirt with the inscription, New England, or New Havens, New Hamsphire there is nothing worrisome about it. But if one is ashamed to don one with the name Ugboko, Ofia, Ugbo, Iga, what difference is there in your ‘wisdom’?

Of course, one should not impinge on the choice of others. It is only that one is simply substituting the same thing in another language and one is proud of it!

We contrast little things that happen here and give it meaning. It is a balance and means to check excesses of newly initiated.

As we say in this theatre: Be careful in assuming there is wisdom in the euphoria of all new things.

It is applicable to new words too that easily turn to a fad. Did our ancestors not say that “Agbogo ni mana akukü ga esoloya naa.” “Only a foolish young lady allows herself to be led astray by a fad.

When Ndi oyibo arrived, some persons thought it will bring lasting peace, change and progress. It was not long before they realized that Enuoyibo means alteration of traditional social formation. In some areas great lose.

Later, our people arrived at the shocking find that a federation does not always mean decentralization just as democratization remains a far cry from representation. Industrialization does not mean goods and services as railroad to new locations is not same with movement of people,goods and services. Sometimes, these stand for very little, simply sounds, even nothing.

Such awareness urges marketers and advertisers to innovate by adding something to the word ‘new’. “New improved” becomes their mantra as the ‘old new’ fails to deliver at all seasons!

This is a lesson in the king’s court. Other lessons are to follow.

For ndi Idoloma oba, some years are for the hawks and others for the doves. Inconvenient remark!