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The chiefdomOnce upon a time in the land of Asali, there lived a mighty leader called Chief Biko. He was wise, strong and very gifted. Chief Biko was the leader of a fortified village which was famous the world over for its vast knowledge in combat. The Chiefdom of Asali was very prosperous and all its neighbours would contact them in case they needed back-up or protection for their village. As a rite of passage, all the young people of Asali would participate in a challenge that involved physical and mental races and trivias. After all, a warrior is no good without mental abilities too.

It is said that even the powerful grow old and weary at some point. Chief Biko was aware that time was close, so he had began sharing his skills and vast knowledge on combat and leadership with the youth in his village. He would soon have to pick a young chief to lead the people of Asali. These sessions were a very big deal, attracting youth from all corners of the land of Asali. Everyone knew they would change the lives of many in Asali; a few young people would be propelled into leadership positions, while the lives of the people of Asali would change because of the new leadership. In a society like this, it was important to choose a sensible and soulful leader.

It was not long before Chief Biko identified the next possible Chief of Asali among them. Fatu was a smart, fast and very charismatic young man from the more arid parts of Asali. In him, Chief Biko saw a very capable person who would lead the people of this land. Soon, the two (Fatu and Chief Biko) were  spending a lot of time together.  Fatu sharpened his skills on the daily running of the land, met all sorts of people and had to decide who he would trust with matters of the land. He met people who would help him organise the affairs and various events of the land; he even got acquainted with the best warriors, chefs, cleaners, writers, even messengers in the land. He was truly being prepared to be the next great chief of the land. However, as days went by, Chief Biko’s health began causing great concern.

Fatu decided to secretly confide in Asali’s head medicine-man, Daktari. Daktari already knew about the Chief’s health. He was also very worried about the up and coming leader. ‘Would he have challenges fitting into the shoes of the great chief?’ he wondered.

Daktari, seeing just how tormented Fatu was by the current state of affairs, decided to let Fatu in on a little secret.

“You know what my son….” he said, “ you need not to worry about Chief Biko, he has lived his life fully and he would love for a capable leader to continue the legacy of Asali as a great land, if he wanted to, he could reclaim his health in a second, the remedy lies atop Mount Asali!”

Upon hearing this, Fatu ran home to prepare for the climb up Mount Asali. He packed a bag and immediately began his trip. For days he walked upon a mountainous wilderness, his main motivation being to be back on time to save the Chief. When he finally got to the very top of Mount Asali, he was dismayed to find the chief’s crown at the peak of the mountain.

A very confused Fatu picked up the crown and headed back down towards the village. Upon arrival, he was even more surprised to find the Chief, medicine man and council of elders all waiting for him at the Chief’s home. They beckoned him in and offered him a seat among them.Chief Fatu

“Fatu, my son, how was your journey?” asked Chief Biko.

“Very exhausting, my Chief. I am glad to see you are much better,” replied Fatu

“Why did you go up the mountain Fatu?” he enquired.

“Well, I was under the impression that the remedy for your illness would be atop the mountain and out of concern I thought it best to go fetch it,” Fatu responded.

“Did you find anything you would like to share with us on the mountain?” asked the Chief.

“Indeed I did, I found your precious crown rested upon a peak most high!” said Fatu.

“Well then Fatu; I am very grateful that you would go to such great lengths to remedy my ailment. The truth is that, that crown now belongs to you, you have earned it through wit, endurance, strength and heart. Before the table of great leaders you are now pronounced Chief leader of the land of Asali!” declared Chief Biko

Thereafter, a feast was held in honour of Chief Fatu’s new chiefdom. The people ate, danced and made merry, believing they had yet another wise, strong and compassionate leader. And they were right. For decades, Chief Fatu led the Chiefdom of Asali into even more greatness.

Words by Christine Nderitu

Art by Joseph Barasa

First published in BINGWA Magazine Issue 15 2015