They think they have won, that their victory is assured. And I do not blame them. We do not look anything near dangerous; not with our soil-strewn farm wears, pitch-forks, axes, machetes and dane guns. If anything, we look imbecilic, especially in comparison to the sight before us: neatly-aligned rows of gleaming sinewy bodies sheathed in equally gleaming armor, armored horses hoofing up the red earth beneath them are hitched to fire-red chariots stocked with swords, spears, arrows and cannons.
You won’t believe it but I swear to you that they have lost.
Standing here beneath the blazing sun, a ragged motley of men, we are not the farmers they see. We are not even men. We are empty containers yearning for the devil’s manipulation. We shed neither blood nor tears, we break neither bones nor heart, we only kill and die.
And it is all thanks to them. They made us this way when they rode into our village while we were away, stole our harvest and burnt out huts to the ground; when they tore open the bellies of our pregnant wives and fed the bloody fetuses to their dogs; when they defiled our children and stripped away the sheer curtains that protected our pride. They made us unbeatable.
They think they have won, that their victory is assured. But I swear to you that they are wrong.
I hear my blood bubbling up just behind the wall of my throat, and my heart thudding funeral beats as the sun sinks lower in the horizon. Or perhaps it is the blood and the heart of the men all around me that I hear. We are men of different tastes, colors and families but today, we unite as one. The heat of our resolve makes the sands jump and turns the sweat on our skins to vapor. It will only be assuaged by death – ours and theirs.
I can see their commander prancing to and fro along their frontline, he is very sure of victory. But I swear to you that he has lost. He inspects a sword, spots dust on a shield and harries a slouching man. He is yelling, calling on them to fight for their king and their god, Vusu. I pity them, the rabid dogs. They can take all the time, pray all they want, we are in no hurry. We have no one to fight for – Alab Muntah hanged himself from the center beam of his inner chambers in submission to the sentence of the Inner Council and our god, Mijashu, we broke into pieces and set ablaze ourselves. We are a kingless and godless lot, soul-less demons waiting for the doomed enemy to advance.
And eventually they do, their mouths open in war chants we cannot hear, their pounding footfalls raising dust we cannot see. We stand still, mute, waiting. Their arrows hit their mark and their cannons tear gaping holes in our numbers. But we dust off the blood of our brothers, we kick aside the corpses of our sons, and we wait.
We have waited a long time…I have waited too long.
I am Mugando Xubhallallah Djibitou, descendant of Xhodashimu, the great zuzula of the ageless Zulu dynasty. And I swear to you that today, they have lost.