In the house too we used to do the ‘swing’.
It was in a crude way. We did not realize how dangerous it was the way we did it, until a tragic incident happened. We were too young and carefree and this cost us a life.
On that day, which was a Saturday, we had planned to have a day-time outing. But as our outings in the day were usually held late in the afternoon we spent our morning cleaning the ‘house’, cooking and feasting. Occasionally we cry out our peculiar signal cry so that the villagers might know we were coming out that day.
When we had feasted we played some games. Then someone suggested our putting up a swing. This was easy. All we had to do was to get a strong rope from the bush, tie the upper end of it to the outstretched bough of a tree and tie the lower end to a two-foot wooden crossbar. The crossbar served as a seat.
To operate the swing, a boy will seat at the crossbar, keeping the upright rope in between his thighs and hold on tightly to the rope above his head. Then someone would move the bar and boy to one corner of the ‘house’ as far the rope could go and give it a big push to the other end. The rope would then swing with the boy from one end to another. The push was often repeated.
We did make a swing and we cast lots as to who will swing first. The winner sat on the crossbar and started to swing. Some of us who had to wait our turn lost interest and therefore went down onto the mat to have a nap. We were just settling down on our mat when something happened.
The rope used for the swing suddenly cut when the swing boy was on his upwards course. He was flung far into the air and he finally landed on top of a fairly low palm tree. But while, earlier on, we were cutting palm leaves for our mats, we had cut many of the leaves in such a way as to leave many of the ribs with pointed ends. When this boy landed therefore, with such force on top of the palm tree, these pointed ribs pierced in deeply in very many places. He was fixed there.
We saw blood. It flowed from many parts of the boys body. We took fright and ran away. We ran as fast as our legs could carry us leaving all behind. We did not even stop to think about the poor boy and when we came out of the bush we agreed not to say a word about it to anyone. We were young and foolish. On the one hand we meant to keep the oath of secrecy and, on the other, we feared being punished at home, but we did not realize that the boy needed immediate help.
When the boy was discovered by a palm-wine tapper later in the day, he was dead. That was a sad day in the village. The boy’s parents and relatives wept and cursed and we dared not show our faces.
But all my life I shall remember that boy’s last cry when the rope was cut
THE E N D….
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