Memoirs Of Paul Okonji-I

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May/June 1768

I sit here in my quarters comprising of a mug, a plate and a pile of dried Zelkova leaves where I am writing this. Which hour of which day it is I am not aware. For starters, my name is Paul Okonji. I was very mercilessly snatched away from my family a few weeks ago. Many of our tribe were through coercion packed in hundreds and shipped off to Europe by a group of white people. I had often heard frightening tales of Africans being taken away by the whites as slaves, but had never in my worst nightmare thought of being that African.  Where my sisters and brothers are I do not know, and the truth is I don’t want to know. Lest I find out the state of their hapless misery I might end my life!

These diabolical white masters roam around in a wagon with their eagle eyes and dangerous whip, ready to peel our skins off any moment we take a break. They make us work like donkeys all day long.My slumbers of late have been disturbed and twice I have been whipped and trashed for showing signs of lethargy.

The hygienic conditions are worse than that in our villages. I’ve heard stories of fatal maladies ranging from dysentery to blindness. We work and live under inhumane conditions where our food and beds are shared by rats and rodents alike. Food is a luxury. We are fed two times a day; before sunrise and after sunset. It’s a meager meal of, sweet potatoes or maize and sometimes mackerel.

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My quarters are shared by two other men both of despondent and taciturn disposition. Despite the silence that ensues after each meal and day I have come to known that we’ve been here for four days. They tell me that no escape whatsoever is possible. We are stuck in this awful place for the rest of our days! Oh Lord! How and why such horrible circumstances beset me I do not know.

All I want is to see light again. To see my family again. To be a child and be in my mother’s arms again; to be a brother and embrace my sister again; to be a boy and play again; to be a man and live again!

 


 

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