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SUMMARY OF “THE HERESIAD” BY IKEOGU OKE

The Heresaid is about an author, Zumba, who is accused of heresy by a monarch. The monarch sends his Faithfuls- Axe, Avenger, Doom, Sword and Machet to kill him. The author (Zumba) pleads with Monarch to pardon him (Pg. 21), he also pleads with Reason to rescue his life- to plead on his behalf (Pg. 23).

After this, there is disagreement among the five Doom is the first to speak again. He shares his bitterness towards Zumba, that is, the author and his fellows. He further tells the group to let him lead then to the author’s ruin without remorse, also, to leave “their faith” alone is for him (Zumba) to leave in death. Avenger is the next person to tell of the conflict going on in his mind. He therefore asks rhetorically if it means that he himself also has a share of the blame or if it means that he should tread carefully. He further asks if it is an unchecked disgust towards the author; to kill him and heap woe on his children and his wife.

Sword replies that he is not amazed by treachery,

“life’s worst deceit are hatched in amity, easily trust people and regret your gullibility, one should be ever deadly, never allowed himself/herself to be eaten, be over shy but never bitten, never trust and don’t be smitten by anyone”.

He further refers to the ruin of Burkinabe where the head of state of Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara’s trust in people who led him to his end, he lost his life and scepter to a ” friend” and presently, some grave possess his remains- that is, his skeleton. He is a loser because he trusted people. He (Sword) further agrees that though they are to share in the author’s blame but with the harm he has done to their “faith”, they will have him killed.

Machete, after Sword’s outpour, clears his throat and talks about the error of their past. He tells others to let them let go of their past. He further tells them of the desire to have Zumba killed. Axe also talks angrily about the author and tells his fellow Faithfuls not to hesitate in killing the author. This said, Machete talks again but firmly, convincing others that the man’s (author’s) book has not been read by them, therefore, they should read it before they judge him. He also adds that it is wrong for them to march with hate against a human; his words send startling doubts in the minds of others. (Pg.36-51).

The next scene is where Reason sends the Stalwarts- Care, Smithy, Panther, Stone and Bluff to the earth in order to save the author and they obliged. On their way, Panther and Stone boast of how they will deal with the Faithfuls but Care cautions them to be careful because they have no arm. After this argument, Reason feels sad for not giving his Stalwarts some arms. In order to keep the unharmed, he sends a lad to them, to call them back to be armed.

On their way to destroy the author, Doom, the leader, tells them that they cannot have victory when there is no unity among them, therefore, they should all agree on carrying out the assignment given to them by their lord. Avenger supports Doom, he also promises to give his support but Machete says that their mission is not clear to him, whether to kill him (the author) at the slightest opportunity or not. Axe also feels that it is strange to be that violent towards the author. He says though they can deal with him but they should leave his life intact because if they kill him, then, they will triumph in defeat. (Pg. 54-57).

In page 58, Care tells the others that they have not reached a conclusion as to either go ahead unarmed to save their friend and put their lives in danger or not. Panther encourages Care and others that they are able to save their friend and that they should not hesitate, lest their friend is put to death. He adds that they should stage a ballot which they eventually staged against the choice of war and they went to protect Zumba from a fatal fall.

In Canto III, Zumba is seen lamenting his woes, especially the newest and sadder curse of his; his wife who vows to die as his help now deserts him. She deserts her crippled husband in danger. In the night, Zumba sees the Faithfuls as they creep in his dream. Axe instructs others to search for Zumba the author without delay. He tells them that though the man may not be slain as their master may change his mind but Doom tells others not to forgive the author whose cunning eloquence wants to trap their sense, that is, the Monarch’s and the Faithfuls’ sense.

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This said, the Monarch’s page (messenger) appears to them and tells them that Zumba, who their Monarch has instructed them to kill, has been pardoned, therefore, he should not be killed. (Pg.66). Because of this news, the Faithfuls became “disalligned”. They have heard the news but not all of them agree to spare the author’s life. Axe says he is content with the news and he is not surprised that the author has been pardoned but his mates are not happy with this. Doom replies him by telling others not to agree with the page because they are not sure if the order is from their master or not.

Machet adds that he can obey only the voice of the Monarch on whose words they hardly have a choice. Avenger also encourages others to let them proceed by leading the group. In page. 76, a figure appears to Zumba in a dream, he introduces himself as Reason to whom he (Zumba) prayed in a dream. He tells him that he has sent his Stalwarts to oppose the Faithfuls and help will rise for him soon. He also tells him to have his wife back and continue to love her and cherish her without having any grudge towards her. After telling him these, he left him with a silver strand which signifies hope.

Sword tells others not to be angry with Axe for being happy about the Monarch’s change of mind, rather, they should rethink with their lord and not carry out their initial plan. In page.50, Reason asks his page of the rest, that is, the Stalwarts, he replies that they have been seized by those they went to oppose, (there is a biblical allusion on how God regretted creating man). The lad says he went as fast as possible to tell the Stalwarts to return to their master but he was unable to tell them because a group of three seized them and take them as captives and tell them that if they must be freed alive, they must give Zumba to them as a ransome. They rescued Reason’s page so that he will tell Reason what has happened.

Reason asks the lad why the band of the Faithfuls was reduced from five to three, the lad could not answer but Reason knows that Axe and Sword have backed out as they have been instructed by their lord but Machet, Doom and Avenger remain stubborn. He does not want to be violent with the band, yet, he sets his MIMD on saving the author.

In the fourth canto page. 94, Zumba in his dream sees the groaning Stalwarts. He also sees the captors. The hostages are dealt with by the three Faithfuls- Doom pokes a captive’s side with a stick and boasts that none of them will be released unless the Monarch tells him to his hearing that he should release them. Another speaker asks Doom what they will do to the author, he replies that they must try to satisfy the lord who will determine the fate of the author. All these increased the author’s worries.

The next phase shows the Monarch, his page, Sword and Axe. The page explains that he delivered the message he was sent but the other three disobeyed and the fast two; Sword and Axe, return with him. He also tells the Monarch about their determination to demolish the author more than real but the Monarch is sad that the remaining three refuses to obey his choice and he promises to make them share the blame. He tells the threesome that he has purged his heart of bile, that is, he is not bitter towards the author anymore because he has pleaded, he has remove the curse from him. 

In Zuma’s dream, Reason and his page appear to Zumba and he tells Zumba to follow him to where the Stalwarts are so they can be delivered. Eventually, the captives were unbound with Zumba while Monarch listens as Reason tells them not to shut the gate of grace if anyone asks for it. Alao, the Monarch and his Faithfuls should forgive the author. The Monarch then replies that he has been reprieved, pardoned, absolved, forgiven and even grace and peace will enfold him as before and he should Gobans try to sin no more. Reason gives the Monarch an Olive branch on behalf of the author, (Olive branch drives away hatred from a person). Zuma wakes from his sleep, feeling a rare relief as sharp as deep.

The poem is an epic of 2392 lines divided into four cantos. A canto is a Latin word which means a division of a long poem. “The Heresiad” is written in heroic couplet lines of lyrical pentameter rhyming aa, bb, cc, dd, ee, ff, gg, and so on but the number of feet is not balanced.

Written by Ramat Olatunbosun Adebayo

THE HERESIAD BY IKEOGU OKE
The Heresaid, by Ikeogu Oke

The Heresiad can be bought on Amazon and Okadabooks

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