The peace treaty her father brokered between Roene and the six territories had been broken. Tiara shrugged as her mother informed her of the happenings since she got back from Lagos. I guess they decided to speed-dial their plans. She thought. She continued to sip her coffee without a care.
“I know you hate being here,” Ebiere said. “But you are the last surviving child of Preye Ayebatari.”
Tiara rolled her eyes because she knew the direction her mother was stirring. “Mother!” She yelled. “Enough! Do not dangle the golden pie to bait me. You told me I could never have a seat at the council so what do you want me to do?”
“Fight!” Ebiere snapped. “You are your father’s legacy, do not allow all he fought for go down the drain.”
Tiara closed her eyes at the painful memory Ebiere’s words evoked. It was a rainy evening, she had accompanied her father and her brothers to an event. As they approached the road leading to Urau, armed masked men struck. For some strange reason the two security vans that escorted them were nowhere to be seen. They were usually sandwiched between the security vans but this evening was different.
The masked men dragged them out of the vehicle and made them kneel with their hands on their heads. Tiara screamed as she watched them execute her family, at a point she thought she would die. A wave of nausea struck and she passed out. When she opened her eyes, all but she and Tari had been killed. She reached out to him, he crawled to her side.
“You are alive.” She smiled, clasping her hands with his.
Tari shook his head, “Not for long.” He groaned, revealing the mortal injury on his abdomen. “I need you to fight for us, you are the last Ayebatari.”
Tiara shook her head, “You will be fine.” She said. “I just need to get my phone.”
A masked man came into view and shot Tari in the head. Tiara gave a shrill scream as her body trembled with fear and pain. She clutched her hair and bit into her hands.
“Just shoot me, you bastard.” She yelled.
The masked man gave a hearty laughter, “my bullets are numbered and you are not on the list. You are a woman, you can never be given a seat at the council.”
Tears streamed down her face, Ebiere wiped them away and hugged her. “I have been doing some investigating,” Tiara said amid sobs. “I owe it to my father and my brothers.”
“You did not think to tell me?”
“It is a can of worms, Mother. I did not know if you could handle the truth.” Tiara threw her hands up.
Ebiere frowned, “I ruled Urau beside your father all these years and I have seen things your young mind can’t comprehend.”
“You are not ready for this can of worms.” Tiara repeated, grimacing. “What if I told you that Uncle Kenneth and your cousin, Roland were behind it all?”
Tiara brought out a flash drive from her brown handbag. “Father’s brother, your cousin has teamed up with the King of Roene to break the peace treaty so that they can claim Urau.”
“And what is Kenneth and Roland’s gain?”
“Power and wealth,” Tiara replied. “Kenneth was promised a seat of power and Roland was promised wealth.”
Ebiere balled her hands into fists, her chest rose and fell heavily. “We need to present this to the council immediately.” She said.
“You think I haven’t?” Tiara quizzed. “To them, I am the aggrieved daughter of a slain chief that wants power.”
“Did you show them the content?”
Tiara shook her head, “they did not let me.”
“Get dressed,” Ebiere said, through gritted teeth.
“Where are we going?”
“To take what is rightfully yours,” Ebiere replied.
The council room was just like a boardroom, a round table and six chairs. The light was a bit dim. All other chairs were occupied except for her father’s. Tiara fixated her gaze on the chair. Ebiere gave her hand a slight squeeze of reassurance.
“You will never have a seat.” Dabara, A stout man at the table drawled.
“And there would be no seat to occupy if you do not listen to what I have to say.” Tiara countered. “I am sure you are aware the peace treaty has been broken.”
Oteri, a council man with grey hair and beards, shrugged. “Everything is under control, we are working with the king of Roene and we assure you that all will be resolved.”
Tiara slammed her hands on the table, jolting the men. A security operative rushed in but left after he was dismissed.
“The king of Roene will never listen to you,” Tiara said. “There is a viper amongst us.”
“You women and gossip, we discuss real business here. Do not say what you do not know. I spoke to the king myself and he assured me.” Oteri snapped, rising to his feet.
Tiara held out her phone. “I have proof.”
It was a video recording of the King of Roene, Kenneth Ayebatari and Roland plotting. The king of Roene wanted to claim Urau as his with Kenneth becoming chief and Roland a respected statesman. The look of shock plastered on the faces of the council men was priceless. Oteri opened his mouth to speak but Tiara interrupted.
“These men murdered my father and brothers for their selfish purpose. If they succeed in taking Urau, your territories will be next. Remember, six territories are stronger than five.”
“Where did you get this?” Adango asked.
How all these happened under their nose astonished the council men. Oteri was adamant, he wrinkled his nose and cleared his throat. “You can’t sit at the table.” He scoffed. “It goes against the customs and traditions.”
“And you think you are worthy to sit at the table?” Tiara arched a brow. “Anarchy is happening under your very eyes.”
“We will take it from here,” Adango replied. “You have done your part. We admire your courageous act but…”
Ebiere stepped in front of Tiara and groaned. “If my daughter still can’t sit at the table, then a public hearing will decide and you would not want your reputation to be ruined.”
The council men knew what Ebiere was capable of, they were aware of how she stood by Preye when he was still alive. They did not want her as an enemy because of the love the people had for her.
Brasin looked at the other council men and raised his hand, “all in favour of Tiara Ayebatari raise your hands.” Dabara, Adango and Idah followed suit, leaving Oteri. When Oteri noticed that he was alone, he succumbed and raised his hand.
Immediately, Tiara Ayebatari was announced as the first council woman in history as Preye Ayebatari’s replacement. Kenneth and Roland were arrested and tried for crimes under the unifying laws of the six territories. With the six territories unified again, the king of Roene retreated, relinquishing the land Preye gave as a peace offering.
7 thoughts on “A seat at the table”
It takes a doggedness to sail through a misogynistic word. Oteri represents the people out there who do not revere the female child even when they break glass ceilings. Ebiere, a woman and more.
The story was well told, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading. Du courage !
The interesting about you Roseline is that you know your stuff; you pick your theme, you let it marinate and just drop them as bangers. I love that this was set in Niger Delta, a fictional ijaw kingdom, no? Love everything about this, the dialogue, characterization and writing style. Well-done.
Nice! Loved it!
Power of a determined woman, what was against custom and tradition ( as they said) she was able to accomplish it and in doing that brought peace to the kingdom but although at a very heavy price.
I love the simplicity of your story telling, very captivated
Just amazing! This is a great plot, I mean, the twist up there got me glued to read more about the story of Tiara and her family, the injustice and how she was marginalized because she’s a woman.
I can make of this piece as a call towards gender equality and claims of equal rights for all. No one should be sidelined because of their gender, socioeconomic class, race or religion.
And yeah, the literary coherence, syntax, and use of figurative expressions was amazing, I got particularly amused with the graphical imagination of “ They were usually sandwiched between the security vans” 😄 that gave me some comic relief.
Our world will be better if we continue to champion a world of opportunities for all, without bias or sidelining.
Thanks for sharing.
I was totally captivated all through.
I was practically visualizing the whole plot in my head.
It is a beauty to see women standing and fighting for their rights in a sexist governed environment.