Jungle Justice For Ubi
Ubi age 7, is out again with a tray of fresh oranges and bananas on his head. Unlike when he first started a little over a year ago, he has accepted his faith. He needed to start contributing into the family.
Days are very dull, Nights are very dim. Big and small mouths crave food when there isn’t much to go around. Ubi had to drop out of primary 5 to started helping his mother and older sister the only little way he could.
His head had found a way to balance a try without wiggling, his small neck quickly mastered to stay still, his shoulders are now stronger and could withstand the pressure of a long day of permeant heavy weight of fruits. His legs had walked a thousand mile building resistance, aching to get even.
That faithful day, he wore a bright orange T-shirt before setting off with his older sister Becca, with the hope of getting back early and having the luxury of watching ‘Super Story’, their favourite tv show at their neighbouring house.
While outside the outskirt of Ikeja market, Ubi felt the need and pressure to go and informed Becca. She asked him to be patient until they find a suitable area where he can do his personal business. When they eventually found a place, Becca Urged Ubi to head into the small bush by the uncompleted building for the business. This isn’t the first time, they do this all the time which made it another usual day.
While Ubi happily set off, Becca spotted a customer calling her with a hand gesture from a distance. Becca had only some few fruits left on her tray, so did Ubi. She bend over adding all of Ubi’s Fruit on her tray. Looking back where Ubi is possibly doing his business, she shouted out loud that she is going to attend to a customer and will be back, she also told him not to move. Excitedly she went to meet the customer whom she hope will buy all the fruits which mean they might go home early.
When Ubi finally came out, his sister was no where to be found. All of a sudden there where men and women running from the market towards him, anger written on their faces. Suddenly, one pointed at him shouting. ‘There is one of them, catch him! all of a sudden, there were more angry mobs running towards him.
Another one of them shouted. Ubi froze having no idea what the were talking about.
For a second, he was lost, lost in thought. Ubi came back to his senses when a big strong hand grabbed him. ‘Money Thief’ they crowed kept screaming. ‘I’am not a thief’, Ubi managed to say, but his voice was like the sound of pin that had falling on a concrete floor.
‘Are you sure this is him? The deep panting voice came from the big man holding his little hands like his life depends on it.
‘Yes he is! I recognise him from his shirt and height. He is among the gang of boys who stole from me, I saw him before he dashed out of my store, he was wearing this same orange top’.
Immediately, the man started searching Ubi frantically, and eventually found a bundle of money around his waist.
‘This is my money’, Ubi cried, but a loud heavy slap sent him into the darkest place he had ever been.
‘What should we do with him? The man protested, ‘We need to show an example and eventually a message to all this low life thieves! He shouted with more anger.
‘Lets chop of his hands’, One angry mob said.
‘Lets plug off his eyes, that will teach him’. Another screamed.
‘Lets set him on fire’, Another cried.
After selling to a customer and was about to sell the last set of oranges to another customer, this buyer who showed an interest quickly got distracted by the suspicious gathering a little further down the street.
‘Are you still interested in buying? Becca asked the customer, who waved her off taking more interest in the erupting drama further down the street.
She felt a little sad, and started adjusting her fruits, ready to leave, this was when it occurred to her that this angry crowd are very close to where she left Ubi, she began to walk frantically, praying that her brother doesn’t get lost in the mix of a dramatic scene.
What Becca saw when she eventually arrived at the scene brought an instant dizzy spell. Her heart instantly dropped in her belly like an orange falling off a tree, her legs became soft and boneless. It felt like a dream. Her little brother had been beating black and blue beyond recognition, what for? how? why?. An old motor car tire around his small waist. He looked helpless.
‘Ubi! Ubi! she cried. But someone held her back, urging her not to go any closer. “A thief had been caught and every action has consequences”. A voice said.
‘Where is the fuel! bring the fuel! bring the fuel!
Jungle justice is very common in some African countries like Nigeria & Cameroon. Some are the result of hasty verdicts and mistaken identities.