My neighbour invited me over to his place over the weekend. He wanted to tell me his two favourite stories about land. Was I interested? Of course I was. What Nigerian today is not interested in land matters.
The chief protagonists in my neighbour’s stories passed away a long time ago, yet the land to which he drew my attention, remain.
It was considered a privilege for a king to request anything from any of his subjects. The subjects obliged their kings the objects of their desires as a mark of honour for those who wore the exclusive crowns. Sometimes the king did not pay anything or give any compensation. The subjects were
satisfied that the king was in their debts, in a sense, and they believed that the course of good administration was strengthened when the king considered how much had been given to him.
This was the background of the first land tale my neighbour told me about. The kind had approached one of his subjects for his family land, and he obliged him immediately, even offered to work with other people to make the land purpose-built to meet the needs of the king. Who gladly received his offer, declined the latter part, and paid him off handsomely.
In the other land tale, the subject in question refused to give his family land to the king. He would neither trade or receive a substitute land or even some kind of compensation from his king who wanted that portion of land so desperately. Of course the king was unhappy that he could not get the land despite his passionate overtures in that regard.
When my neighbour had finished telling me the tale, he asked me for the common denominators in both stories. I told him the king, land and subjects were the common denominators in the two stories. Why did one subject gladly offer the family land and the other refused, despite the offer of payment, he asked further. I told him he didn’t give the reasons in the stories, so I told him I did not know. “Can’t you guess?” he pushed me further. “I am sorry, I cannot,” I replied.
“Will you, at least, think about it,” he asked further.
“Wasn’t that the whole point in you asking me over to hear your favourite land tales, in the first place?”
“That’s a good answer. Your wise heart truly inclines to the right.”