SISTERS AND BROTHERS! FANS OF OKUMU. THANKS FOR YOUR SUPPORT DURING OUR CAMPAIGN. EACH AND EVERY CONTRIBUTION IS MUCH APPRECIATED. AS YOU'LL SEE OKUMU RAISED $1,035 AND OKUMU THANKS YOU ALL. HERE'S THE GAME PLAN (1) A FEW FRIENDS HAVE OFFERED TO HOST READINGS FROM THE MANUSCRIPT FOR ME TO RAISE ADDITIONAL FUNDS AND I WILL DO AT LEAST THREE OF THESE DURING THE MONTH OF JANUARY. HOPEFULLY THIS ALLOWS US TO COMPLETE AT LEAST 6 MORE ILLUSTRATIONS AND THEN THE LAYOUT AND PRINTING. I WILL ALSO BE CREATING A FACEBOOK PAGE TO INVITE MORE SUPPORT AND. I PLAN TO PRINT THE BOOK FIRST WEEK OF FEBRUARY. IN THE MEANTIME I WILL SEND A PDF OF THE MANUSCRIPT (NOT THE LAYED-OUT BOOK FORMAT BUT JUST STRAIGHT PAGES WITH THE IMAGES) SO YOU CAN ALL EXPERIENCE THE ENTIRE STORY IN THE MEANTIME. PLEASE SEND ME AN EMAIL MESSAGE TO firstname.lastname@example.org if you don't have the pdf by FRIDAY January 4, 2013. THOSE OF YOU WHO MISSED OUT ON THE INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN DON'T FRET. IT'S NOT THE END OF THE WORLD. YOU CAN STILL SEND YOUR $25 (ADD $2.50 FOR MAILING) CHECK OR MONEY ORDER MADE OUT TO: OKUMU BOOK, 2150 5TH AVENUE, SUITE 3, NEW YORK, N.Y., 10037. OR YOU CAN SEND IT VIA PAYPAL TO email@example.com
Also visit OKUMU's Facebook page
HAPPY 2013 FROM MILTON, OKUMU, AND AYOM THE MONKEY!!
WHY YOUNG OKUMU HATES SCHOOL
My name is MILTON ALLIMADI and I wrote "Okumu And His Magical Drum" a story about a young boy with the grotesquely huge head who is teased so viciously that most days he doesn't want to go to school.
Okumu lives with his grandmother Min Akello, in the village of Bungatira. He cries all night because of the bullying.
One day a mysterious little old man visits and gives Okumu a beautiful drum that allows him to play the most beautiful music that anyone had ever heard before.,The stranger warns Okumu that he's the only person allowed to play this drum -- to pound on it.
The bullies at school laugh at the warning. They beat up Okumu and steal his drum. But when the biggest bully pounds on the drum, instead of beautiful music, his ears grow so large that it becomes bigger than an elephant's. Another bully's feet grow so large that he trips over them. Another bully's lips grow so long that it reaches the ground. All the other kids and even the teachers are terrified and run.
The villagers are angry and they surround grandma Min Akello's house. They say if Okumu doesn't surrender the drum so they can destroy it, they would chase him and his grandma away and burn their home. When Okumu hears this he runs into the dreaded Bungatira forest. He hopes to find the mysterious old man so he can return the drum.
Okumu has to survive giant snakes, wild animals and Obibi the 10-eyed monster before he finally makes it through the forest. He's tired and falls asleep on the banks of the great river Nile whose water level had fallen because of a drought.
Okumu wakes up sad and lonely. He cries because he wants to be home. He starts pounding on the drum hoping the music would cheer him up. Lo and behold! the water level begins to rise on the river Nile. Suddenly the fish begin to jump high into the sky, dancing to the music and twisting in mid-air before plunging back into the water. But some of the fish jump so high into the air, instead of dropping back into the river, they fall by the river bank right next to Okumu. Soon there is a mountain of fish by the river's bank.
Okumu was so delighted and having such a wonderful time he didn't notice two hungry fishermen from Palabek village sneaking up behind him.
The fishermen had not caught any fish for months. They could not believe their eyes when they saw all the colorful fish dropping by the river bank just waiting to be picked because of the drum's magical powers.
The fishermen grabbed Okumu and tied him up. He struggled and cried in vain. The fishermen packed the fish in their huge bags and ran off with the boy's drum. They left Okumu there hoping he would be devoured by wild animals. The fishermen knew they would be welcomed like heroes when they returned home with food.
Ayom the monkey heard Okumu's cries and emerged from the forest. Okumu begged Ayom to untie him but Ayom didn't understand the boy's strange language and wondered why the boy couldn't speak his own language. Okumu feared that if Ayom left he would be at the mercy of wild animals.
Later, when a search party from Bungatira village saw that the people of Palabek had Okumu's drum in their possession, and when they couldn't find the boy, they concluded that he had been killed. So they started preparing for war with the people of Palabek.
So what happens next? Will Ayom help free Okumu before he's eaten by wild animals? Will he find the fishermen who stole his drum? Will he ever see his home and his grandmother again? Will the people of Bungatira and the people of Palabek go to war?
These are some of the many questions that are answered in the rest of the story "Okumu And His Magical Drum."
Okumu is a book for all age groups. My four year old niece Alysa loves it.
My grownup friends, in their 20s, 50s, and even 70s also love it. I also sent the story to a very famous grownup and this is what he said -- words that will appear on the back jacket:
"Okumu converts awful bullies into admirers after he survives the 10-eyed monster and captivity! His friend Ayom the monkey mocks humans who can't understand his language. The fish are dancing. Okumu helps prevent a war. This is a beautiful story that should never end."
Guess who this famous person was? None other than Dr. Bill Cosby -- yes, the one of The Cosby Show fame and many other productions. He's a generous philanthropist, educator, entertainer and author of several books.
I agree that the story should never end. That's why I'm already working on a second story where Okumu rescues a girl named Anena who's also bullied at another school. The two then team up with Ayom and they embark on a journey to rescue other victims of bullying.
I've posted the first two chapters from the "Okumu.." manuscript so you can get a taste of this story. Journalism is my regular day job; covering crime, corruption, disasters and even murder. So writing "Okumu.." was great fun. I wrote the first draft on a notebook with a pen -- sometimes on the subway and sometimes while waiting for my steamed fish order at this joint in Harlem.
Now, with your support I can have "Okumu And His Magical Drum" ready for shipping by the first week of December so everyone can enjoy it or send it out as a Christmas, a Kwanzaa, or as a New Year's gift to friends, family and loved ones.
With your support: the artist Brigette Burns gets to finish the illustrations; a graphic designer produces a beautiful layout; and we get print and ship the book to you and other supporters.
All the gifts you get in return for your support is outlined on the side of this page.
Please support this Indiegogo campaign so Okumu and his friend Ayom the monkey can come to life. If you can't contribute right now, if you like the story help spread the word using the share tools at the top of this page to tweet, e-mail, or otherwise let people know about Okumu and Ayom.
THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.....
WHERE WILL THE MONEY GO?: Your support for my Indiegogo campaign will help bring Okumu to life. Your support will allow me to: pay Brigette to finish all the drawings needed for the book; pay for a nice layout work of the book; pay for printing copies of the book; pay to build a decent website for promoting the book; and cover the cost of shipping the book to people like you.
I also plan to produce Okumu and Ayom T-shirts.
WHO IS THE AUTHOR, MILTON ALLIMADI?:
I grew up in Uganda, in Tanzania and here in the U.S. My late father, Otema Allimadi, was ambassador to Washington, D.C.
When my family returned to Uganda, we lived in Bungatira village, where I remember hearing beautiful folk tales called "ododo" from grandmothers while sitting outdoors around a fire at night. In most of these stories "Apwoyo" the rabbit always outwits bigger animals who want to harm him. When I was 10, I started telling my own stories to my younger siblings. At that time only Andrew, Walter and Sue were old enough to understand. My siblings enjoyed my stories so much that they even gave me their daily allotment of cookies! One day I was tired so I had a truck run over the main character Oyo. My sister Sue burst into tears. I quickly resurrected Oyo.
One day, my family had to leave Uganda in a hurry. General Idi Amin was doing nasty things to folks and tried to kill our dad. My family lived in Tanzania for almost 10 years. My family went back to Uganda years later after Amin himself left in a hurry; I came back to the United States.
My father didn't think telling stories, or making movies, my other dream, were serious professions. I studied economics at Syracuse University. Later, I studied journalism at the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia University.
Many years ago, I bumped into Bill Cosby while jogging. About 10 years later, I wrote him a letter with my idea to start a weekly newspaper. He sent me a check for the seed money.
That's how I launched The Black Star News with two friends Ben Otunu and Mana Kasongo, who's now a doctor.
I Spend much of my time during the day HELPING OTHER people by reporting on and covering stories about injustices people face every day. Stories that are ignored by the major media -- even when the cases are compelling.
I've always cheered for underdogs. Here are a few stories I've covered in The Black Star News:
I wrote about an elderly Jewish Holocaust survivor who was in her 70s and now 80s, Mrs. Gizella Weisshaus, who filed a lawsuit against Swiss banks for looted assets of Nazi Holocaust survivors. Other victims joined her in a class action and the banks settled for over $1 billion. It turns out that her own lawyer who initially helped her with that case was shady and also stole money from her. He even stole $500,000 he had won from the Swiss banks on behalf of another elderly Holocaust survivor; didn't give her a penny, and later "donated" $7,000 of her own money for her funeral. Partly due to my stories that lawyer has since been disbarred. The same lawyer had wanted to represent African American clients who were preparing to sue for Reparations.
I also wrote about a Taiwanese immigrant named Sunny Shue, who was fighting against some banks that wanted to wrongfully foreclose on his house -- and the bank was aided by several biased rulings by a New York State Supreme Court judge. Sunny on several occasions told me he feared for his life. I published several articles about his case. Sunny made a video, which is now posted on YouTube expressing fear for his life. It turns out that Sunny was right. He eventually died under very mysterious circumstances which are yet to be investigated by the New York Police Department -- I am still working on that case together with a friend of Sunny's named Wil Galison who is now also a freelance writer for The Black Star News.
Another story I recently wrote is about a man named Benjamin Cunningham who was dragged one morning out of his house here in New York by Federal marshals without a warrant on suspicion that he was allegedly harboring his brother who lived in North Carolina and was a suspect in a drug related case. It turns out that the Marshals were wrong and Cunningham had not even been in touch with that brother who was later arrested in another state.
Cunningham was beaten during the search and even struck by a bus as he tried to flee the assault. Later, a Magistrate Judge recommended that Cunningham's case should go to trial and be decided by a jury. But a trial judge ignored the magistrate judge's recommendation and ruled in favor of the Marshals (U.S. government) who argued that they had qualified immunity and dismissed the case.
While these kind of stories sometimes help people as in the case of Mrs. Weisshaus -- who herself is a formidable fighter and is still fighting other cases of injustice against her-- they are also very draining. (My next book will focus on The Black Star News and the kind of cases I cover).
In addition to my own reporting, every Monday, I teach a free journalism workshop in Brooklyn to ordinary people in the community so that they too can learn to report and write about news in their neighborhoods.
So writing children's stories is also a nice way for me to relax and eventually share a wonderful story with young readers and adults. Since The Black Star News is a small independent newspaper the company can't devote resources to publish a children's book such as "Okumu And His Magical Drum." Also, even though a book agent loves the manuscript that process takes a long time and there's no guarantee of publication.
And while philanthropist Cosby was helpful with seed money to launch The Black Star, he supports thousands of other projects and one can't go back to drink from the same well every day.
So that's where you can come into the picture and help bring Okumu to life by supporting this campaign for independent publishing of Okumu.
Sometimes as adults we become BORING and forget about some of the things we used to love and enjoy. A few months ago when I was stuck on the subway train here in New York City I pulled out a notebook and started writing Okumu.
I tried writing the story many years ago but never went more than a few pages. This time, I found that I couldn't stop writing.
Within a very short time I had finished "Okumu And His Magical Drum." Most of my friends who've read sample chapters love Okumu. I really hope you too love the boy and his friend Ayom the monkey. I'm almost finished with a second book.
So, if you'd like to share in Okumu's adventures, please support this Indiegogo campaign. Send a link to someone you know. Who knows, if we get enough support, one day we could make an animated movie version of Okumu and Ayom. Maybe I could end up making films after all....
HOW MUCH IS THE BOOK?: The book (Hard Cover) will be priced @ $25. Please look at the rewards section to see how much to add for U.S. or international postage.
I will try to start sending out orders by the third week of December, 2012 so people can get the book during this holiday season. While I can't guarantee you'd get the book before the end of the holidays because of the volume of mail that's sent out in December, I believe Okumu will still be a timeless gift even if you get it in January, 2013.
WOULD YOU LIKE TO HIRE THE ARTISTS?: If you like the Artist Brigette Burns's work take a look at http://brigettemarieburns.weebly.com for more of her work. If you'd like to hire her too contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
WOULD YOU LIKE ME TO DO A READING AND BOOK SIGNING?: Yes, I would be happy to after the book comes out in December, 2012. You can send me an email now at email@example.com to discuss and make plans.
I've already finished the first draft of a follow up story so if enough people like Okumu maybe we will have a series.
OKUMU AND HIS MAGICAL DRUM
Chapter One: The Ugly Boy
Okumu's parents and five siblings perished during the Great Famine in Palabek and that's how the poor boy ended up with his Grandmother, Min Akello in Rwot Obilo village. Min Akello's husband, Tung Dyang, had passed away long ago.
Today, Okumu sat at the very back of the class, as always.
The boy used to sit all the way up front. He was quick to raise his hands back in the day; and he always answered the questions correctly. But then the other children started throwing peanuts and pieces of chalk at the back of his head. The boy shifted to the back of the class.
The other children laughed.
The boy ran into the small house he shared with Min Akello. Min Akello begged the boy to stop crying.
Min Akello sat outside by the door. Tears rolled down her wrinkled and aged cheeks.
The taunts and abuses at school were becoming too much. She knew she could no longer sooth the boy with words.
She had noticed that recently, the boy's large head had grown even bigger.
Could it soon grow so large that the boy would no longer be able to stand on his feet? Could it grow so large that the boy would not be able to emerge from the house one day?
These were the thoughts that tormented Min Akello. When Okumu was not around, she cried for the boy.
All night, she sat by the door. What could make the boy stop crying?
Chapter Two: The Little Man With The Drum
Early the next morning, when the roosters began to crow, Min Akello heard a strange voice greeting her from outside.
"Amoti do, Min Akello," the stranger declared, meaning "I greet you, Min Akello."
Min Akello wondered. She had never heard this voice before. She knew everyone in Rwot Obilo. She even knew the people who lived over the hills towards Katikati. Who was this man? How did he know her name?
"Amoti do, Min Akello," the stranger repeated.
Should she reply? Min Akello was reluctant. How could she greet someone whom she could not even see since she was inside the house? Who would come so early and unannounced? Did he bring bad tidings of some calamity? These were troubling questions.
The boy was still crying.
"It is not good for a young boy to cry without stopping," the stranger declared. "This must stop."
Who was this man? What did he know about Okumu? What did he mean when he said the crying must stop? Did he mean to harm the boy?
"Who are you?" Min Akello demanded, sternly. "I tell you that I am not alone. I will cry uduro and all of Rwot Obilo will tear your limbs to pieces if you try to harm the boy."
Uduro was a piercing, shrill sound of distress that women made when faced with danger, in this part of the world.
"Mmmm!! Since when do people in Acholi speak words without showing themselves?" the stranger asked. "Why not come out? I come in peace. If I meant harm, could I not have set fire to your house while you were asleep and ran away?"
These words spoken by the stranger made sense. Min Akello opened the door. She looked out and was surprised to find no one standing in front of her.
"Amoti do, Min Akello," the stranger said.
When Min Akello looked down, she was so startled that she almost fell to the ground. There, before her, stood the tiniest man she had ever seen in all the many years of her life. The little man barely reached Min Akello's own knees.
Next to the little man, on the ground, was a beautiful drum whose surface was made of tanned crocodile skin.,The man himself was barely taller than the drum.
"Amoti do," the little man repeated.
"Amoti do, bene," Min Akello responded.
The stranger lifted the drum gently. He pressed it against his chest with his left hand and pounded ,on it with his right hand three times. The most beautiful melodious music emanated from the drum.
"This is for the boy," the stranger said, placing the drum back on the ground. "No one but the boy is allowed to beat this drum. Otherwise calamity shall visit those who defy my command."
Then, with that warning, the stranger turned and walked away.
"Who are you?" Min Akello demanded, still puzzled. "What do they call you? Where is your village? Who are your relatives? How do you know me?"
The little man ignored all these questions. He walked pass the chickens who did not even run away or move out of his way. He was so tiny they were not sure whether to be afraid or not. He walked along the narrow path leading to the main road from Min Akello's home. Then, as suddenly as he had appeared, he was gone.
Min Akello shook her head. She did not know what to make of this strange encounter with the little man.
Then she realized that Okumu was now standing right next to her. The boy was no longer crying. The boy lifted the drum and held it up high. He wore a huge smile; from ear to ear.
This was something that Min Akello had not seen in a very long time and it warmed her heart. She wiped away her tears before the boy looked up at her.
The boy sat down and placed the drum between his legs. Then he started pounding on the drum with the palm of both hands.This time, Min Akello was so amazed that she actually did collapse.
The boy had never pounded on a drum before. Yet the most melodious sounds now flowed from the drum and enveloped the surroundings. The drumbeat traveled across all of Rwot Obilo.
It was a sound that even the best drummers in all of Acholi had never summoned from their drums.
Some of the best drummers in the country came from Rwot Obilo. There was Onen, who was born in Katikati, but who grew up in Rwot Obilo. There was Kilama whose parents moved to Rwot Obilo from Custom, Corner. Then there was Kidega, who was so good, they called him "lapwony," or the "teacher."
Finally, there was Otoo, who was called "bwul" or "drum."
When any of these men pounded on their drums, grown men stopped tilling their land and began dancing at once. Women removed the loads they were carrying on their head and began to shake their waist back and forth.
But none of these great Acholi drummers had ever been able to produce the kind of beautiful music that came from Okumu's drum today. Within a short time, men and women began to appear at Min Akello's home to marvel at the sound coming from the boy's drum.
Suddenly, no one was talking about the boy's head or calling him names such as "lababa" or "obibi" anymore.
The boy stood up and placed the drum atop his head. He started walking along the path leading to the main road.
"My son. Where are you going?" Min Akello asked.,
"I am going to school," Okumu said.
Min Akello marveled. The boy did not like going to school because of the ugly names the other children called him.
This was a very confusing morning for Min Akello.
Chapter Three: Ojara's Big Lips
When the boy started pounding on the drum again men and women emerged from their homesteads and rushed to the road. Even the birds hovered overhead and sang. Wild animals, including gazelles, leapt, as if following the drumbeat, by the road side.
The men and women broke out in dance. Rwot Obilo had not seen such festivity for many years.
The men, women and children accompanied Okumu all the way to Rwot Obilo primary.
Hearing the commotion, the headmaster, Lapwony Odong, came and stood in front of the school's gate. He marveled at the huge crowd following Okumu. The boy stopped playing the drum when he saw Odong.
"Man gin ango?" headmaster Odong inquired, meaning, "What is this?"
In response, the boy pounded on the drum. "Dung, dung, dung. Dung, dung, dung."
To his great surprise, headmaster Odong, who was no longer young, found himself shuffling his legs while thrusting his chest rythmically, back and forth, while moving in a circle. This was the dance preferred by Acholi men.
"Okumu, who taught you to beat the drum like that?" headmaster Odong asked.
"Lapwony Odong, who taught you to dance like that?" one of the teachers asked.
Okumu laughed. He had a new confidence today. He told the headmaster about the mysterious visitor who had delivered the gift that morning before disappearing without explanation.
"I am the only one allowed to play the drum. Anybody else will bring calamity," Okumu explained.
The crowd that had followed him was waiting for the boy to beat the drum.
"No more drum beating for now," Odong said. "This is now time for our children to learn from books. Go back to your homes if you are not a pupil in this school."
There was some grumbling. But the men and women left. They wanted their children to be taught by the teachers.
In class, Lapwony Chuchana had a hard time teaching geography today.
"N-I-L-E...," she said, spelling out the great river. "What is the name of the river?"
She drew on the blackboard, the long, bending river, winding up Africa's neck, starting from its beginning in Lake Victoria.
All the children were distracted. All eyes rested on Okumu's lovely drum.
"Pay attention children!" Chuchana commanded.
But every time she turned her back from the class to draw maps on the blackboard, all the children turned their attention to Okumu.
Today, the children were not making ugly faces. They were not calling Okumu an "Obibi" or "lababa" or "ukwan."
This time they admired the drum.
Before midday lunch, Lapwony Odong entered the classroom.
The children all stood up to hear what the headmaster had to say. He whispered some words to Lapwony Chuchana and then walked out.
"Okumu let me see you outside," Lapwony Chuchana said.
This could not be good. Whenever Lapwong Odong came to summon a student it meant the boy or girl was going to be caned as punishment for some offense he or she had committed.
When Okumu and Lapwony Chuchana joined Lapwony Odong outside, they found him wearing a huge smile
"You have been blessed with a great gift Okumu, you hear?" the headmaster said.
"Yes, I hear," the boy said.
"You must obey the warning that came with it, you hear?"
"Yes, I hear," the boy responded.
"Do not allow any other student to even hold the drum, you hear?"
"Yes, I hear," Okumu said, firmly nodding his head, up and down.
Then one of the older boys started hitting on the rusty iron rim-of-a-wheel, tied to a tree branch, which served as the school's bell. The children ran out of the open classroom doors to play on the soccer field.
Okumu liked to read. So he went and sat under the shades of a mango tree and read a book that Lapwong Chuchana had given him.
Soon, he was surrounded by children from his class and from other classes.
"Beat the drum for us," Ojara, a very mean boy from Okumu's class, ordered.
"I shall not play," Okumu said. "Lapwony Odong said I must not."
"Beat the drum!" Ojara demanded.
"No, I shall not," Okumu said.
Suddenly, Ojara tried to grab the drum. Okumu held on tight to it. The two boys struggled. Then Ojara pushed Okumu back and his friend, Bosco, tripped him. Okumu fell on his back and the drum came free of his grip.
Ojara grabbed the drum.
"Give it back to me! Give it back to me!" Okumu begged.
The other children laughed at Okumu and started taunting him again.
"Everyone in Rwot Obilo can fit inside Okumu's big head," Ojara said.
The boys and girls laughed at Okumu.
"Okumu is so ugly even a baboon would run away from him," said an older girl called Amwa, from a primary six class.
The boys and girls laughed at Okumu.
"Okumu is so ugly, his father and his mother abandoned him," Bosco said.
The boys and girls laughed.
"Okumu is so ugly, I would rather marry obibi," Angelina said.
The boys and girls laughed.
This was just too much for Okumu. He covered his eyes with his hands and burst into tears. The boys and girls
formed a circle and surrounded him. Okumu was pushed back into the center of the circle. The children jeered at
him. Okumu tried to run away. Bosco tripped him again and he fell flat on his face.
The boys and girls laughed.
Then Ojara asked everyone to follow him and he led the boys and girls to the middle of the soccer field.
"If this ugly boy can play the drum, I can do it 10 times better," Ojara said.
Ojara started pounding on the drum. The sound produced was not melodious at all. It sounded like the crash of thunder. Indeed the clouds began to darken ominously and lightning flashed.
One of the girls screamed and pointed at Ojara. All the boys and girls started laughing. Right before their eyes, Ojara's lips were beginning to swell. His lips stretched so quickly that they were soon resting on the soccer field. They continued to grow. They started approaching the children, like a snake.
Another girl screamed.
The children turned towards Bosco. The boy's feet were now huge and still growing quickly.
Then someone else screamed.
The children turned towards Amwa. Her ears were huge. They grew so quickly that they soon reached the ground.
All this was too much for the children. The cruel taunts and laughter had disappeared from their lips. They started running for their lives instead.
When the teachers came to see what all the commotion was about, they also started running for the gates. Some teachers even ran and left children behind them.
Ojara tried to run but he kept tripping on his own lips. He started crying for his mother. "Ma konya! Ma konya! Ma konya!" Ojara cried, meaning "My mother, save me!"
Bosco tried to run but fell flat on his face. He started crying for his father. "Ba konya! Ba konya! Ba konya!" Bosco cried, meaning "My father, save me!"
Amwa tried to run but fell flat on her face because her feet got tangled with her ears. She started crying for any one to help her. "Ujone ukonya! Ujone ukonya! Ujone ukonya!" Amwa cried, meaning "Someone, save me!"
Okumu was the only one left with Ojara and Bosco and Amwa. He did not laugh at Ojara and Bosco and Amwa. He did not taunt Ojara and Bosco and Amwa.
Okumu approached the drum slowly. He stepped over Ojara's lips, and over Bosco's feet, and over Amwa's ears. He did not want to trip over them.
The boy lifted the drum and started pounding. "Dung, dung, dung! Dung, dung, dung!"
Suddenly the melodious music was back. Suddenly, Ojara's lips, and Bosco's feet, and Amwa's ears returned to their normal size.
Ojara stood and ran. Bosco stood and ran. Amwa stood and ran. They did not look back.
[On November 25 I added another sample chapter -- which follows below. The book has a total of 15 chapters]
Chapter Four: Okumu Flees From Home
Just this morning Okumu was a happy boy. The people of Rwot Obilo had followed him
all the wayto the school dancing and singing to the music from his drum. But then Ojara,
and Boscoe and Amwa had rejected his warnings not to touch the drum.
Now, Okumu found himself standing on the playing field alone. All the other children had run away.
All the teachers had run away. Even headmaster Odong was gone.
Okumu was alone with his drum. Not even a single bird was flying overhead.
The gazelles and other animals were not there by the road side.
This was too much for the boy. He tucked the drum underneath his arm and ran back home.
Along the way, he noticed that most of the homesteads were abandoned. Where was everybody?
Were the people hiding from him and the drum? Did they fear that the lips, and the feet, and the
ears of their children would grow?
The boy panicked. He ran faster. When he reached near his home, he could see a huge crowd on
the compound. He veered off the main path so that no one could see him as he approached.
Okumu followed a narrower path that took him to the back of his grandmother's house.
The boy could hear Ojara's father, Kilama, complaining about him to Min Akello, in front of their house.
"That boy Okumu is lajok," Ojara's father said, referring to Okumu as a sorcerer.
"He placed a curse on my son and caused his lips to swell until they reached the ground.
Everyone saw this with their own eyes."
"That is bad! That is bad! That is bad!" the people of Rwot Obilo chorused.
The women and men shook their heads in disapproval of the boy.
"Those are true words spoken by Kilama," Bosco's father, Oringa, now said to Min Akello.
"He placed a curse upon my own son and caused his feet to grow until it was as big as your house.
Everyone saw this with their own eyes."
There were more grumblings of disapproval from the people of Rwot Obilo.
"Kilama and Oringa speak the truth," Amwa's father, Okwera now said, in a loud voice.
"My own daughter's ears became larger than the ears of an elephant. Everyone saw this with their
"But what kind of boy is this?" one of the villagers demanded.
"My child is a good boy. Please do not harm him," Min Akello pleaded. "Perhaps it was the drum."
"We cannot allow the boy to keep the drum," Kilama said.
"The boy can stay in Rwot Obilo but the drum must go," Oringa said.
"You must obey us! You hear?" Okwera demanded.
"Yes, the drum must go!" the people of Rwot Obilo chorused.
"Otherwise we shall have no choice but to chase you and the boy," Oringa said.
"Do you hear us?"
"I hear you," Min Akello said, in a quivering tone.
There was a sadness and fear in Min Akello's voice that Okumu had never heard before.
"We must burn that drum at once," Kilama insisted. "Where is the boy?"
"The boy has not returned from school," Min Akello said.
"Min Akello, do you speak the truth?" Kilama asked, in a harsh tone.
"I speak the truth with my own mouth," Min Akello said.
"Very well. We shall return at the break of dawn for the drum," Kilama said. "You hear us?"
"I hear you," poor old Min Akello said.
Okumu did not want to bring any trouble for his grandmother. But he also did not want
the drum to Kilama and Oringa and Okwera. Who knew what calamity would be visited
on the people of
Rwot Obilo if someone else played the drum? He would be blamed and the people
burn down their home. Where would his grandmother stay?
Okumu was saddened. What was he to do? He would have to get rid of the drum himself.
He would search for the little man until he found him. He would return the drum to the stranger.
The boy started running away towards Bungatira forest. When he reached there he stopped
to gather his courage.
The thick trees rose high towards the sky. For a minute he was almost sure he saw some
of the tree branches
reaching down to touch him. Was that an outline of eyes on one of the trees? Okumu had
never been inside the
forest and he had heard stories about children and grownups disappearing inside the thick
He could already hear the sounds of the strange animals that lived inside the forest.
Would he come out alive on the other side? Would he see his grandmother again?
The boy closed his eyes and dashed into the forest following the narrow footpath.
He ran and kept running.
It was so dark that he could not tell whether it was still daytime or night time.
He heard the owls.
Then there were strange sounds he had never heard before.
"Awuuu! Awuuu! Awuuuu!"
What could that be?
"Hee-ya! Hee-ya! Hee-ya!
What could that be?
"Nyakar! Nyakar! Nyakar!"
What could that be?
The boy was terrified and he ran even faster with the drum safely tucked
under his arms.
Okumu saw wild animals, including giants ones, running in different
directions throughout the forest.
Other times he could only see their shining eyes at a distance.
What was that? Was it Obibi the feared
10-eyed ogre or were those five hyenas standing next to each other?
There was no time to find out;
the boy ran as fast as his short legs could carry him.
Then the boy tripped and fell and the drum flew out of his hand.
The boy was rubbing his sore knees
when he noticed that the thick brown log he had tripped on was
suddenly moving. It was then that the boy
realized it was actually a huge python. The great snake was now
curling its long body around the drum.
The boy gathered courage and grabbed the top part of the drum.
He pulled with all his strength and the drum came free.
Okumu fell on his back with the drum back in his grips.
The python gave him an angry look and flashed his fangs.
Okumu pounded on the drum. Instead of attacking him the great
sneak rose and twisted and turned as if dancing to the music.
Okumu turned and ran farther into the forest, glancing behind him,
now and then, to make sure the snake was not
chasing after him. The python did not follow but the boy just kept running.
Okumu ran until his feet could no longer carry him forward. Suddenly,
he felt a slight coolness in the air.
He had reached the banks of a river. The boy did not know it but this
was the river Nile that his teacher, Lapwon Chuchana,
had spoken about in class.
Because of the Great drought, the water level had dropped very low
and the river was almost dry.
The water level barely reached Okumu's waist. He used the cusp
of both hands to form a cup and he drank
some water from the river.
The boy was very tired. He curled up on the dried grass
beneath a huge Tugo tree and fell asleep.
Okumu dreamed that Kilama, Oringa, and Okwera were all
chasing after him and demanding
that he surrender the drum to them.....