Monday, February 21, 2011

It Was Heard 'Round the World

"No!" Kopano screamed over and over again as the simple word leaped from his lungs and ripped through the hot South African air. It was December in 1774. This month not only brought the end of the year, but the end of Kopano's only son, Huru's, life.

When Kopano had left a few days earlier to go hunting, Huru had been the healthiest man in the tribe. "How could he be dead from a sickness in such a short period of time?" thought Kopano. As Kopano, weeping over the loss of his son, picked the limp body up off the ground to take it to the burial place, he saw two marks that looked like a bite from a spider on Huru's neck. Kopano examined these marks carefully and suddenly realized where they had come from. "Buibui!" Kopano mumbles under his breath.

Buibui was the tribe's leader - a brutal and harsh leader. He carried an elegantly designed staff with him wherever he went that had a depiction of the sand crab spider carved at the top. Located somewhere on the staff was a button that, when pushed, revealed two fang like spikes coming out of the spider's mouth. These two spikes were drenched with poison from the sand crab spider, therefore anyone who was struck with this staff died in a matter of days.

The tribe Kopano lived in was one of the largest tribes in all South Africa containing over 10,000 inhabitants in several different locations all within close proximity of each other. Almost every one of the citizens had experienced Buibui's wrath in some way and were getting tired of his persecution. Those who were affected by his wrath hated him, while those who were close to him received lush gifts and food. The people wished to rebel against Buibui, but were too scared and needed a leader to manage them. Kopano had been asked to lead the rebellion but he said, "No," every time because he thought the persecution wouldn't last long. Now that he had felt the sting of Buibui, he was ready to say, "No more," and lead the people against their tyrannical leader.

Over three months had gone by since the death of Huru, and Kopano had already gathered up an army of persecuted tribesmen. They were not well-trained like the men in Buibui's army but they fought for freedom and for their families - whereas Buibui's army fought for money. There lay but one problem in front of Kopano, and that was that his army had no weapons so the revolt would have to be held off until enough weapons were made.

On April 7th, 1775, a man by the name of Sadiki came to Kopano with a very interesting offer. " I can get you the weapons you need." Sadiki proclaimed to Kopano.

"Why would you do such a thing? Are you not Buibui's right hand man?" Kopano asked.

"I know you may not trust me, but I have seen what Buibui does to his people. To our people. I have seen the tears and the blood shed and I have grown tired of watching this persecution draw on day after day. I offer to you my services because I believe you can defeat Buibui."

"Your words have been spoken well, but I am still leery to trust you. There is but one way to gain my entire trust."

"I will do anything," Sadiki said a little hesitantly.

"Very well, in two nights you shall meet me in the field by the caves. When you arrive there you will be informed of what you are to do next." With that said, Kopano stood up and walked away.

Two nights later Sadiki found Kopano sitting in the field around a fire with some of the other leaders of his army.

"I have come as you have instructed me to do, what now?" Sadiki asked.

"We wish to discuss pressing issues with you. Come, sit with us." Kopano gestured to Sadiki to sit with them by the fire. But as Sadiki began to sit down, soldiers from Buibui's army came out of the brush and put bags over the men's heads. Sadiki fainted.

Upon awakening, Sadiki found himself bound by rope in a cold wet corner of a cave. There were men in front of him around a fire, laughing and talking. One of them spotted him and dragged him to the fire.

"What were you doing out in the field this night?" one of the men asked angrily.

"I was just meeting with some friends," Sadiki said boldly.

"About what? You were plotting a rebellion against Buibui weren't you?"

"No. I am Buibui's right hand man and I would never betray him."

"No? Tell me the truth or I shall kill you like I killed the others we caught!"

"I am! I swear I am!" Sadiki screamed.

A soldier standing behind Sadiki pushed him to the ground and said, "Prepare to taste my club!"

Sadiki let out a little scream and readied himself for the blow when he heard a voice from behind say, "Enough!"

He turned to look and saw Kopano standing at the mouth of the cave with a smile on his face.

"Very well Sadiki, you have gained my trust. These mean are part of the revolt and were testing you to see if you would betray us. You have not and we see you are willing to die for the cause. We can now trust your word," explained Kopano. "Now, when can we receive these weapons?"

Sadiki breathed a sigh of relief and said, " I can get them to you in ten days. I am very happy that you have chosen to believe me, but I must retire to my home and be with my family. I have never been threatened like this before and wish to be in the comfort of their laughter and talk."

"That is fine. You may go. Be safe Sadiki!"

During the ten day wait, Kopano began preparing his army with uplifting words. He spoke to them about tasting the sweetness of freedom, about waking up every morning knowing that their children and their children's children will be free for the rest of their lives. The men in the army began to get restless for the soon-to-come battle.

When the day finally came to revolt against Buibui, there was no hesitation when Kopano yelled from deep within his soul, "For freedom!" That day proved to be a loss for Kopano but even though the battle was lost, the war had yet to be won. The men that fought in that battle say that when Kopano let loose his war cry, "For freedom!" there was a loud explosion that seemed to echo across the earth. April 19th, 1775, will always be remembered as the day a shot was heard around the world.

Jacob Blankenship

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