A very long time ago in Tumbara Kingdom, there lived a very wise king who loved his people and did everything within his power to protect his people. Because of his zeal to cater for the needs of his people, he devoted so much time and resources to train his warriors and fortunately, it was recorded in the history of Tumbara Kingdom that his reign produced the greatest King the Kingdom ever had. The gods too were highly pleased by his sacrifices and blessed him with a beautiful daughter that worth more than ten sons.

One belief of the Tumbarans that had on countless occasions been justified was the foreknowledge of death by the King. That is, their Kings perceived their death a little while before they died and thus, had time to make plans for the next reign. How good the reign of a particular King turned out to be was usually designed by the early plans of the erstwhile King.

One beautiful morning, the old King called his two children, Guna and Fanaga and asked them to sit on a mat that had been laid on the mud floor in his ‘Basha’ –  palace. He then began to enlighten them on the history of their father land and the ploy of the Samugese to usurp authority over them and make their sons and daughters slaves forever in a strange land. He was still talking when a warrior ran into the ‘Basha’ and whispered in the King’s ear.

Quickly, the King rose from his throne and summoned his children to come along with him as he rode on his horse’s back to the border. They got to the border just in time to prevent their oppressors from gaining entrance into the Kingdom. He kept his children under the care of two warriors in an enclosed place but in such a way that they could have a clear view of the battleground.

Normally, youths were not allowed in the  battlefield  but the wise King felt he needed to acclimatize his children with the things that happen in the Kingdom. The young Prince and Princess watched as the Chief Warrior stood at the forefront with his warriors behind him as they worked and fought hard to prevent the Samugese from advancing any closer. Fanaga was greatly wowed by the way her father and the Chief Warrior led the warriors at war rather than fearful.

Suddenly, the King fell down. He had been wounded by a stray arrow from the Samugese on his right thigh. Immediately, the King, his children and personal guards were taken back home leaving the Chief Warrior to handle the situation. The Chief Priest was called upon immediately and medications were given to the King.

On his sick bed, the wise King called his daughter and recounted to her what the Chief Priest had said at the time of her birth. Fanaga had been born with her umbilical cord around her neck. The King out of worry had called the Chief Priest to know the reason and he had said that she was a gift to the people of Tumbara and that she had been blessed by the gods of their land with beauty, wisdom and strength to fulfill her mission. The Chief Priest did not reveal what her mission was but he had said she’ll know in due time. As a result, the King took extra care to train her and her brother and had asked the Chief Warrior and Chief Hunter to train her to fight and hunt because he felt led to do so.

Meanwhile, the warriors fought day and night for several days and unfortunately, they lost the victory to the Samugese. Amidst the sore cries for the departed warriors, the good and wise King of Tumbara died and the Kingdom of Tumbara seemed to have gone extinct for the space of seven months. The King was given a befitting burial and was buried besides his father as he had requested while he was still alive. As expected, his son, Guna was crowned King and Fanaga his sister was made his adviser.

Things had started to fall in the right places for the people of Tumbara again after a long while when the Samugese sent a message to the King of Tumbara requesting for a meeting with Guna, the King. The King of Samuga wanted to discuss a way to go round his greedy and evil wish for black slaves who would work tirelessly in his colossal cocoa farm that was close to Tumbara Kingdom. King Guna however, completely trusted the wisdom of his sister as he had seen her display so much wisdom and maturity in her position as his adviser because of the innate blessings of the gods upon her and therefore sent her to represent him.

The King of Samuga was so displeased when he heard that King Guna had sent a woman as his emissary. He believed it was downgrading and insultive for him to negotiate politics with a woman and so when she finally met him in his ritzy palace, he refused to give her a chair to sit on as a welcome courtesy, at least.

However, in order not to make Fanaga feel inferior, one of her maids quickly bent down so she could sit on her back and negotiate with the King of Samuga.
Fanaga’s determined spirit and Guna’s resenting spirit did not permit them to reach an agreement after discussing for several hours.

Fanaga returned to Tumbara three days later to hear of the demise of her only sibling, King Guna.  The Tumbarans mourned him for days and ensured he was given a befitting burial.

Afterwards, she voiced her wish to be the queen after witnessing all the calamities that had befallen her people but her people would not crown her because she was only a woman. She left Tumbara for good and went to live in the mountains as she could not bear to see her people suffer another calamity when she was sure she could liberate them.

She got to meet some refugees who had escaped with horrible injuries from a recent war between two villages close to Tumbara one night as she went hunting for food on the mountain. At first, they wanted to kill her because they thought she’d been sent after them to kill them but with wisdom, she placated their fears and even offered to treat their wounds with herbs. Soon all the refugees scattered across the mountain got to know about her and came to her so she could help treat their wounds. She treated their wounds with joy and they in turn made her their master as she became very powerful. Fanaga later trained them to become strong warriors and built forts around their little dwelling place in the mountain.

As expected, the King of Samuga heard of her power and fame and launched an attack to take back their men who were part of the refugees she’d met, treated and trained and subsequently capture the rest of the warriors as slaves. Fanaga loved her warriors and refused to exchange them for the cowries of the Samugese. They tried every possible ploy to get her to surrender but she was too powerful that they could not overcome her nor her warriors.

After trying desperately to get to her and all efforts proved abortive, the Samugese decided to use her warriors to get to her. It happened that a warrior from Samuga had a relative who had been long lost. He’d been searching for him for a long time until report came to him that his relative was seen in the camp of the ‘resilient ruler’. They had nicknamed Fanaga to be a resilient ruler because of how persistent and powerful she was. Hard times hardly weighed her down. The warrior schemed a way and got his relative who was named Danga, to talk a large number of his fellow warriors to tyrannize Fanaga’s reign.

One cold night, Fanaga woke up to hear the whisperings of her guards. She was sleeping on a mat close to the entrance of the cave where her guards stood on duty. As a warrior and hunter, she’d been trained by the Chief Warrior of Tumbara to be at alert always even while sleeping. And given that she was born with the blessings of the gods, she had the ears of the spirits. She could hear things even while sleeping.

One of the guards was telling the other of the plan to overthrow and if possible, kill Fanaga the next night. Though they were speaking in hushed tunes and in a language that Fanaga could not speak, the gods were kind to her such that she could hear and understand them clearly. She laid quietly and waited patiently for the first cock crow. She had been taught by Ruga of Tumbara Kingdom; a man who stripped a Leopard of its skin with his bare hands, who taught her to war, that it was foolish to try to defend oneself in the midst of strangers. He had said that, “if you must fight, you should do so in a land in which you and your opponents are aliens for it is better that both of you lose than for you to lose to him”.

At cock crow, when the cold of the night fanned sleep into the drowsy eyes of the refugees, she took her sword and a little bag that contained a bottle of water and a large chunk of meat and sneaked away into the welcoming embrace of the dark. She decided to go on foot so she wouldn’t awaken the sleeping warriors and make her escape a Herculean task.

She wandered on foot for days and slept in caves in different places. She was weary of the journey as she had no destination in mind. She thought about going back to her father land but she was afraid of rejection by her people especially since they believed that she had killed her brother.

After ten days of travelling without meeting a single soul, she met an old man who seemed to be travelling on foot carrying a very big load on his sagging shoulders. She felt pity for him and went to help him carry his goods. He had politely refused her help and told her to run to her people as fast as she could because something disastrous was about to happen. She looked closely at him and was about to ask him where he was coming from and who he was when he disappeared. She searched for him in the surrounding bushes but she couldn’t find him. That was when she realized that she had spoken to one of the gods.

Fanaga arrived Tumbara just in time to prevent the Samugese from completely destroying the Kingdom. They had learnt that she was no more ruling Tumbara Kingdom and had come to attack the Kingdom. Her brother’s son who was supposed to be King in his father’s stead was killed in the battlefield. When the people of Tumbara saw Fanaga, they welcomed her with open arms. She immediately set to war with the few warriors alive. With their unwavering support, her resilient spirit and the blessings of the gods, Fanaga was able to put the Samugese to flight and on edge as long as she lived.

After the historic war, the people of Tumbara non hesitantly crowned Fanaga as the first Queen in the history of Tumbara Kingdom without a husband. No slave trade was recorded as long as she lived and even after she died, no Kingdom dared to come against Tumbara. When she died, the people of Tumbara mourned her for fourteen whole months and subsequently celebrated her death every year. She died in her sleep at 107 years.


Tony Orji

Dr. Tony Orji is the founder and owner of Success Tonics Blog. He is a Senior Lecturer at the Department of Economics, University of Nigeria, Nsukka.

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