Soaring Above the Storms of Desolation

“If you see a tiny bird dancing by the roadside, then someone in the nearby bush is beating the drum to which it is dancing”—African proverb.

Ura’s agony cut through her like a raging storm as she slowly walked down the bush path to the stream. Moments ago, she passed two women effortlessly balancing jars filled with water on their heads.  Ura stepped aside for them to pass. One nodded in acknowledgment, but the other, with cruel words, sneered, “Look at her, dead wood. She can’t even give her husband a child.” The words echoed in silence as the dagger of disdain pierced her heart, adding an incredible weight of despair to her troubled soul.

In many African cultures, infertility is perceived as a curse, primarily affecting women who become victims of societal contempt. Sadly, any pointers to infertility lead to discrimination, abuse, and derogatory labeling such as “a dead wood” meant to humiliate.  Occasionally, the men would join in the tirade of verbal abuse and labeling, calling such women “fellow men.” This experience is highly distressing, and in the unfortunate event that a married woman faces difficulty conceiving after the first year of marriage, she becomes desperate, willing to go to any lengths and pay any price to reverse the situation.

Nwanne suffered from this horrible experience. In desperation, she visited all the native doctors, spiritual healing homes, fake pastors, and traditionalists that anyone recommended, including one recommended by the village imbecile whose heart went out to Nwanne because of her predicament. Nwanne drank holy water and ate stale food left overnight in the graveyard in the hope that the spirits of her ancestors would look at her with favor. She drank whatever concoction her healers prescribed.

Finally, an older, wise woman who lived in a nearby city spoke to Nwanne about child adoption services in her town and convinced her to give her system a break. Over the next two years, Nwanne was able to adopt a son on whom she showered her affection and love. By the end of the third year, Nwanne conceived and had a second son. Within five years, Nwanne had three other sons in quick succession. Her recovery was bordered by the miraculous, beating everyone’s imagination.

Ura’s story was different but just as dramatic. Ura was the first and eldest among the three rival wives of Okonkwo. Despite her seniority, her hut was the smallest in one corner of Okonkwo’s expansive homestead due to her infertility. Her rivals taunted her many times, booing at her if they had a misunderstanding. This made Ura miserable and drove her to the brink of depression. On several occasions, Ura shed tears of agony through the night. Okonkwo was sincerely concerned but felt helpless.  

While other women left for their cassava farms one morning, Ura remained in her hut without preparing for farm work. This unusual behavior puzzled the other women, who couldn’t fathom what had come over Ura as she appeared perfectly healthy the previous evening.

Around mid-morning, Ura stepped out of her hut and exited the compound. An hour later, she reappeared, accompanied by workers, bricklayers, and masons. As the other women returned from their farming activities later in the evening, they were met with the sight of Ura, who had, within that brief period, laid solid and expansive foundations for additional rooms adjoining her once tiny hut. The astonishment was palpable, and everyone was left in bewilderment, their jaws dropping as they tried to understand Ura’s sudden transformation. Some imagined that she was becoming mentally deranged to contemplate such an ambitious expansion. Who would occupy the additional rooms? They queried. Yet a few in the village noted that Ura was normal. They waited with fingers crossed to see what she was up to. Meanwhile, Ura was joyous, singing loudly in anticipative jubilation for her unborn children, who would occupy the additional rooms she was putting up.

What would make a barren woman break out in such joyous, anticipative celebration? What gives such impetus, such hope? What could be responsible for the transformation that Ura is experiencing? A transformation in her attitude, perspective, and outlook? It appears ironic that Ura would contemplate such expansion in her unfortunate situation.

Indeed, someone in the nearby bush must be beating the drum to which the tiny bird is dancing.

Ura’s unconventional decision to expand her humble dwelling left the community curious and perplexed. As the news spread, people couldn’t help but wonder what had triggered such a drastic change in her outlook.

To be continued.

Okike Offia is a Life and Leadership Coach. He applies Biblical principles to leader and leadership development.

27 thoughts on “Soaring Above the Storms of Desolation”

  1. Like Ura’s neighbours, we (the reading community) are curious and can’t help wondering where you (the writer) is taking us. We can’t say whether it is the charm (as of a snake charmer) tugging at our inward familiarity with Ura or merely the beauty of the music (words) that lure us on; longing to see where this ends…

    We will know soon and, who knows, we may just as well begin to expand our own huts…

    1. Thanks Obi & all. Each of us probably has a hut to expand. I just hope we are listening to the drum bits from the nearby bush.

      I appreciate all of you who read and left a comment.

  2. Intriguing and thought provoking.
    So many are passing through life challenging situations on daily basis and need a shoulder to lean on but few are available.
    Thank you our Old Boy for being one of the available shoulders.
    I wish you more inspiration as you go about remoulding lives.
    Remain blessed 🙏

  3. Thankyou for sharing
    I Don’t have yet an idea about how the story will end ,But I like how it illiterates faith
    ” the assurance and conviction of things we don’t see”

  4. I was reading with eagerness to see the disappointment and shame on the faces of those who were mocking Ura for not conceiving. Ura adopted a son that is not hers biologically but she wholeheartedly loved and care for him, that attracted her own blessing. Lesson learned: True love attracts long awaited blessings.

  5. Sadly how this unfortunate situation has left so many women the option of running from pillar to post seeking unconventional solutions to their problem out of desperation. There are many options available to tackle this issue of infertility but most people are not open to trying new things because society expects more. Hopefully this would shed more light and educate us to embrace the options at our disposal.
    I can’t wait to complete Nwanne’s story. Well done Uncle Okike

  6. Hmmmm…. very intriguing and captivating. Looking forward to the continuation. Indeed “nwa nza na agba egwu na akuku uzo nwere ihe na akuru ya egwu….

  7. Truly worrisome. The pressure women experience due to inability to conceive. The story of Ura is a common one especially with Mother In-laws.
    I appreciate you Chief Offia for establishing the blog and your leadership coaching role.

  8. Emmanuel Zakariya

    Captivating and intriguing. Can’t wait to read the rest of the story.

    The stigmatization that comes with infertility is a big area Africa needs to grow out of. I understand the deep rooted desire to reproduce biological and its cultural implications. However, I dream of the days infertility will not be stigmatized in Africa.

  9. Winifred Ugoeze

    This is a very intriguing story. I believe Ura decided to overcome her challenges with Joy. Just the way we prepare ourselves and get the necessary skills for the kind of job we’re expecting, Ura decided that nobody will take away her Joy and went ahead to get herself and house ready for the bundles of Joy that she’s expecting. She didn’t want to be caught unawares with the little space so she decided to expand. Well-done dear Okike. This story will surely go places and encourage many in this troubled times. I’m also eagerly waiting for the continuation of the story 😍

  10. The pressure on women is so real and unfortunate where conception is concerned .
    Waiting with baited breath for part 2.

  11. May the Lord help me to look beyond the storms raging all around me to see Him on His throne.ay I persevere as I wait patiently for what He’d finally bring about.

  12. Hmmm! Two things come to mind: Isaiah 54 and the Prophet Habakkuk with his theme: Though the fig Tree does not bud; I will rejoice in the God of my Salvation.”
    Ura’s story depicts, some how, what we as the Church, the people of God and a nation Nigeria, are going through. We are at a point of utter helplessness as we witness the instrument of our judgment – Fulani herdsmen, bandits, Boko haram and all the violences that ensue – as God responded to the complaint of Habakkuk the prophet( Habakkuk 1:6). These are they whom we tamed and raised with our very own hands and lost the opportunity to make plain the righteous ways of our God. Like prophet Habakkuk, we have cried, wept, grieve, prayed and do have our complaints – ” how long…, O Lord, are you not from everlasting? But, should we resign like the prophet seems to suggest: “I will stand at my watch and station myself on the ramparts; I will look and see what he will say to me and what answer I am to give to this complaint.” ?
    No! God calls Habakkuk to take action: “Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets … for the revelation awaits an appointed time, it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and not delay.”
    Prophet Habakkuk harkened to God’s call, he was transformed and ended up with joy: ” Though the fig tree does not bud; I will rejoice in the God of my salvation!”
    Ura stepped out of her hut in faith and determination and got transformed in attitude, perspective and outlook. And the trigger? Wait for the appointed time when our dear brother Okike will draw back the curtains for the next scenes.
    For me and all of us, God wants us to be a transformed people in the midst of all we are facing. He has watched and seen us grieve, he has heard our cries and prayers and has come to comfort us. He wants us to see things on a wider scale because he has a bigger vision. Let’s look and see what he is doing and key into it. Let’s look beyond what’s happening in our churches, communities and nation as a whole. He calls us not to sit on the fence but to boldly live and walk with him by faith – “The righteous shall live by faith.” So it’s up to us to boldly proclaim and make plain God’s judgement to the wicked come what may!! Amen.

  13. Hope is the function of the imagination. Okike’s beautiful and anticipatory yarns excite the imagination and keep hope alive for the many men and women who have to wade through the storms of desolation and despair to find true consolation and joy.
    He has deftly positioned himself as a reliable and dependable guide through these storms…pay attention to him!

  14. Life is a mystery. God chose who wishes to bless at His time . My late father always said that “na ejiró Ûtûtû ama njó afia” people cast others down too early in life and they totally forget that all we have is given by God. I like the story line& hope to read the next till the end. It is intriguing, full of suspense, hate & love . I am waiting.

  15. What an intriguing scenario!
    Something must have triggered her real personality. Ura that was created to be the manager of her own life. She realized that children will certainly come when the appointed time comes. So she started making provision for their dwelling.
    This is power of hope and power of positive dispositions!

    Thank you so much for this immersive piece. Keep up the good work!

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