Augustine C. OhanweTuesday, October 1, 2013




kpoko is a bird whose head is odd and abnormally large. Other birds of the air frequently teased him and made disparaging remarks about his appearance. They did so with intent to hurt his feelings and to provoke him into a fight he could not win for they always teased him in league. The rapidity with which they hauled insults at him was unimaginable. Realising that discretion is the better part of valor, he retreated to his nest, remained cool and refused to blow his top. Okpoko viewed himself as one who had been battle-tested and hardened by the canons of many years of verbal attacks from his fellow birds. Teasing and other abusive remarks were to him like mild ripples on the surface of the ocean.

Having failed to lure him into a fight that could spell his end they devised another strategy. A group of birds made representation to the eagle, the grand master of the bird kingdom and urged him to banish the bird from their abode to the desert. They cited his big head as a disgrace to them all.

The eagle, being a smart diplomat and an adept in conflict resolution assured them that he would study their request carefully and apply required executive action. After they have departed he summoned his secretary, the hawk and asked him to call for a plenary meeting of all the animals of the air and to have Okpoko’s head as the only agenda for discussion. The eagle further informed his secretary that the bird will be asked to tell his colleagues why his head is extra large and his failure to offer an explanation will culminate in his being banished from the kingdom.

Both the Eagle and his secretary slated the meeting for Eke market day. The time for the meeting was fixed at 09:00 a.m, the time when hunters and traders will be busy at the market square instead of roaming around the wood with their guns. The sky is the wood for the birds but they decided to make the womb of the wood their venue for the meeting. All the birds attended except the dove. He was said to be recuperating from wing injury he sustained from the hunter’s trap while returning from familiarisation tour. From his nest he wished his colleagues a fruitful outcome in their deliberations.

Okpoko was at the venue on time. He avoided eye contacts with other birds present and retired to the corner of the wood where he relaxed on a tree trump in a pensive mood. He behaved as if he had a premonition that the agenda of the meeting had something to do with his head. Hawk, the secretary was the first to arrive but left the venue for a site seeing at the waterfall not far away from the venue. While at the vicinity of the waterfalls he stood still and watched how the silvery waterfalls emptied into the shimmering river below. He was so enthralled by its beauty and purity that he forgot to return to the meeting venue.

The eagle delegated the big-headed bird to go and fetch him. On their way back to the venue the hawk stopped to watch the spider’s web that hung like a gossamer silk between two branches of oilbean tree. The web strands were laden with dew drops that glittered in the early morning sunshine like miniature crystal tinsel. The hawk watched as the webs swayed to the music of the morning breeze and found it awesome. Okpoko reminded him that his exalted position as the honourable secretary should not be abused and urged him to leave for the venue.

On arrival at the venue, the hawk apologised profusely to the eagle and his fellow birds for his lateness. The meeting was there and then declared open. Assuming a magisterial air, he eagle flapped his wings three times to secure the attention of the birds. “Okpoko” said the eagle “you have been teased and provoked by your fellow birds due to your head which they say is abnormal in size. Could you please explain to all present why your head is extra large”. He continued: “I must also add that should you fail to offer us an explanation, a resolution will be passed empowering us to banish you from our kingdom” the eagle said in a tone that reflected the seriousness of the matter.

Okpoko flashed a look at his fellow birds as if trying to gauge their thoughts, looked at the eagle and then looked down soberly. He was shaken and deeply touched. Having observed that Okpoko was deeply touched by the question the eagle advised him to step aside from the meeting for three minutes in order to re-energise his spirit and to stage a comeback. The bird left and returned with renewed vigour. “Now that you have overcome the emotion, you can respond to my previous question”, the eagle said.

“I was not born with this big head that has attracted and withstood verbal onslaught for years”, pointing at his head with his right wing. “The Okpokos”, he went on, were the first specie of birds to be created. When members of my family came into this world, there was no earth, not to talk about trees to perch on. We flew around the space and when my father died I buried him in my head. My head is a silent cemetery where my father was laid to rest and I revere that part of my body deeply. I deserve the understanding of my fellow birds in this regard” he said in a tone full of emotion and with eyes pregnant with tears.

His defense attracted much sympathy as well as respect for being the first family of birds to be created. The eagle turned to the birds and said: “The floor is open for your reactions to Okpoko’s defense”. He added, “Will the Honourable Secretary create an ad hoc committee to immediately deliberate on response to Okpoko. The secretary conferred with the other birds and told the eagle that they were deeply touched by Okpoko’s testimony and have unanimously resolved:

  1. to reverse our previous teasing attitudes toward Okpoko and
  2. to appoint Okpoko as the Deputy Grandmaster of the bird kingdom.

It was an offer Okpoko gladly and gratefully accepted with a bow. The eagle then gave the resolution his seal of approval. He announced to all present that on the next Eke market day at the same place and time, Okpoko will be installed as the Deputy Grand master. The weaver bird moved for adjournment of the meeting. He was supported by the vulture and sparrow. The meeting stood adjourned at 10.30 a.m.


Interesting features one could glean from Okpoko’s case is the good administrative governance displayed by the grand master, the eagle. Sophisticated legal standard (devoid of jungle law) merged with admirable democratic principles. He created a conducive political space that allowed Okpoko to air his views. He also made the birds present to be the judge and the jury while he presided over the political gathering. He neither imposed his will on the ruled nor danced to the music of the faction that wanted Okpoko to be banished