King Gbin, The Iconoclast

In the heydays of the kings, there once lived an all-powerful King whose name was Keke Gbin. By all accounts, Keke Gbin was the most powerful and influential ruler in all the land. In those days, a measure of the king’s might and power was by the size of his kingdom and the number of aides or bodyguards who personally served him. Of equal importance were the level of political muscle he exercised and the extent of the material possessions he controlled. In the five decades of his reign as King, Keke Gbin fought and decisively won ten wars and subsequently increased the territorial size of his kingdom by nearly ten-folds. With more than one hundred personal aides, King Gbin was married to as many as fifty beautiful wives. He had seventy-five children, one hundred grand children and owned tens of thousands of cattle including cows, goats and sheep. The King also owned and annually operated tens of thousands of acres of farmland and, with the help of his subjects, he planted all manner of vegetables and other crops including rice, pepper, potatoes, apples, grapes, mangoes, paw-paw, yam, butter pears, almonds, corn, and many, many more.

For properly managing this massive wealth, the King heavily relied on three of his multiple wives – the head and two of his younger wives. Customarily, he occasionally assigned them the task of managing the harvest and storage of all vegetables and other farm produce. To the three oldest sons, the King assigned a lifelong responsibility of managing all cattle of the fields and gave them unquestionable authority to make final decisions regarding the slaughter or give-away of any of his cattle at all times. On the average, five cows and ten goats were slaughtered daily to feed the King’s household. Thousands more were given away regularly to the needy and destitute.

Although King Gbin controlled such abundance of wealth and power, he was not a great lover of meat as daily meals. What the King loved and ate everyday was fish. He ate roasted fish for breakfast, ate fried or grilled fish for lunch and, very frequently, he would eat stewed or boiled fish for dinner. For in between meals or snacks, King Gbin often ordered his head wife to prepare fish in soup. When he traveled, he often took with him no less than four dozens of his personal bodyguards. With this number of aides, Keke Gbin strictly ensured that fish supply for his daily meals continued uninterrupted.

Meanwhile, in Baniland fish was the scarcest commodity. Due to the lack of any professional angler or groups of anglers, the difficulty in catching fish on large scale remained a daunting challenge in the land. As though fish scarcity was not a problem enough for fish lovers like King Gbin, the law of the land was replete with “anti-fishing” restrictions in nearly every creek, brook or river. One of the strongest of these laws was in effect in a small river on the bank of which King Gbin’s city magnificently stood.

In spite of such colossal power and glory, King Gbin lived a secret life that none of his subjects in the entire kingdom knew about. Certainly, the King refused to reveal this secret part of his life to neither his closet aides nor senior advisers. Worse yet, he never told his wives and children his irresistible obsession for his personal and secret fishing hobby in the forbidden river on which bank his glorious city stood. Except for his head wife, no one, including the wisest of the wise in the entire kingdom, knew that Keke Gbin went down stream nightly under the cover of darkness and lonely conducted routine fishing activities with a fishing line and hook.

Mindful of a possible exposure of these secret and forbidden deals, the King planned and executed each of his nightly ordeals well before the dawn of day. Sworn to uphold the laws of the land and carry out the will of the gods, he struggled internally to reconcile his natural obsession for fish as daily meal and the wrath of the gods that might likely descend upon him should the ancestors become fed up with his ungodly fishing practice. Overwhelmed by his exceeding love for fish as his primary dish, King Gbin ruled out any possibility of punishments from the gods and ancestors, for after all, he has been doing this for all of his reign as king. That aside, many of King Gbin’s ancestors and great grand ancestors all lived and died as prominent rulers and powerful warriors. For the purpose of self-consolation, the King argued “why would the gods and the spirits of my grand and great grand parents want to strike me for acts performed under pure cover of darkness, whether forbidden or not?” He continued: “Except for my head wife, no one knows that I go fishing in the forbidden river because I do it all by myself.”

Now in just a short while in Baniland, the biannual inter-kingdom conference would be convening in the coming week. In the entire kingdom, the biannual inter-kingdom conference was viewed as the single most important summit of the Kingdom attended traditionally by kings, zoes, czars, and all the wise men in the land. It was a meeting of singers, dancers, magicians and soothsayers. To prepare for the up-coming summit, the King instructed several of his senior aids and advisers to liaise with his head wife to draft members of the delegation to the biannual conference. The team did as they always did: they carved out an impressive lineup of subjects for an entourage befitting a ruler of King Gbin’s stature. Included in the King’s travel team were his head wife and twenty-seven of the other (younger) wives, seventy-seven advisers, one hundred and seventy-seven knights and personal aides, seventy-seven musicians, seventy-seven dancers and seventy-seven soothsayers. There were over six hundred camel loads of assorted food and drinks and seven hundred and fifty horses in the entourage. On review of the lineup, the King granted sudden approval.

As the count down to convention date gradually zeroed in, King Gbin stepped up his secret and forbidden fishing deals on a nightly basis. To make up for the seven days he would spend at the inter-kingdom convention, the King spent twice as much time fishing nightly as he did normally. He caught twice as much fish as well. On the eve of the King’s and his delegation’s departure to the convention, he (at about midnight) made the usual solo maneuvers and made his way to the forbidden river to fish, using a line and fishing hook.

The night appeared cozy and looked all well and nice. It also seemed that this night, he would have a lot of catch because it just looked all too perfect and promising. “With a double catch tonight like the previous four nights”, he thought, “it would leave me with enough fish that would last about a week more, just time enough for the inter-kingdom convention summit”, he averred.

As King Gbin thought on these things, he cast his line and hook, loaded with baits, into the river. No sooner than he has done this, his fishing line and handle began to rattle as though an oversize fish had stuck onto its hook. Quickly, he pulled out the line and hook and, amazingly, he had caught a long roll of fish with each fish individually stuck onto the fishing line to the extent of the portion of the line that was submerged in water! There were more than a hundred pieces of fish of various kinds on that single pull. “What a great night!” he exclaimed. Again, the King loaded his hook with baits and cast it back in the river. Just like the catch before, the line instantly began to shake as though a baby whale has stuck onto its hook and (quickly) he pulled it out. However, to the King’s utmost surprise, the object on the hook was not a fish. It was an old dusty house broom! The dust from the old broom coming out of water temporarily blinded the King’s face and, for a moment, he stood still, terrified. A while later, he decided “I will cut short tonight’s fishing deal and go home with these hundred pieces of fish.” He continued: “Could this be a bad omen or just a mere accident of nature?” He then reasoned that “The gods may have a message for me; therefore I will take this old broom home after a couple of more catches.”

At this point, the King decided to make his third and final fishing attempt for the night. Then, he loaded baits again onto his hook and submerged it into the river. Suddenly, the line began to rattle and appeared to be automatically sinking down deep into the river as if a mother whale had stuck onto to its hook. Amazed, the King used all of his might to pull the object out of water. As he turned around to bag, what was supposed to be a fish, King Gbin was confronted by a diminutive, “dwarf-like” creature only about twenty-four inches in height! The Dwarf had an old hammock carrier of about six feet in length, when unfolded. On noticing the water genie, the King became exceedingly frightened as he swiftly attempted to bag all the fish he had caught so far and then flee quickly back home to safety. Before he made good his plan, the Water Dwarf came right to his face and ordered him to return his entire night’s catch to the river. As he did so, the genie then unfolded the hammock carrier and gave him the second order thus:

“Gbin, lie on it, le me carry you to my Mom.
Gbin, lie on it; let me carry you to my Pap.
Gbin, lie on it, let me carry you to my Grand mom.”
Gbin, lie on it; let me carry you to my Grand Pap.

Outraged, King Gbin kicked and physically knocked off the Water Dwarf and then safely made his way back home, all before dawn. Upon reaching home, he remained in total denial of the uneventful occurrence at the waterside in the early hours of the morning. He declined to tell his head wife his awful encounter with the Dwarf at the waterfront. After all, only his head wife knew his top fishing secret deals in the forbidden river. Therefore, would concealing information from the second party about a dreadful consequence of a two-person secret make a positive impact on the misguided pastime of King Gbin, henceforth? Convinced that he had fatally knocked out the diminutive man, the King inwardly reasoned that the Dwarf would probably never ever crawl back to the river again. Therefore, with the assumed death of the genie, the King concluded that the episode at the waterside with the Dwarf was now an end in itself. As such, it was not worth telling the story to anyone anywhere in all eternity. Just as he pondered on these things, the Water Dwarf was making its way to the king’s palace with the same message he has delivered to him earlier at the waterfront. At only twenty-four inches in height, it took the genie twice the time to travel the same distance as King Gbin traveled to get home. So slowly but surely, the genie trekked towards the King’s abode.

In the era of King Gbin, bath and rest rooms were constructed at the edge of the palace. Consequently, the King had to routinely walk a few yards out of his palace suite to be showered. So as he went in with his head wife at the edge of the palace to take his morning shower and prepare for the day’s journal to the inter-kingdom convention, someone suddenly rocked at the door. The head wife was shock and wondered, “Who would be rocking at the King’s door at this time when no one is allowed in here now?” King Gbin appeared perplexed and dumbfounded for a few moments. Although he was vividly reminded of the event at the waterside, the King defiantly refused to make mention of it. Meanwhile, as the head wife swung the door open, she was met by a 24-inch tall creature (Dwarf) dressed in shaggy clothes with a folded hammock carrier in his arms. The short man politely requested to see the King but he was disallowed by the head wife. Before she could inquire the man’s identity, the Water Dwarf sounded a short humming sound and then suddenly vanished in thin air; instantly he reappeared to Keke Gbin in the bathtub. Looking directly in the Kings face, the genie unfolded his old hammock carrier and ordered thus:

“Gbin, lie on it, let me carry you to my Mom.
Gbin, lie on it, let me carry you to my Pap
Gbin, lie on it, let me carry you to Grand mom
Gbin, lie on it; let me carry you to Grand Pap.”

Confused, the king promptly jumped out of the bathtub and, with the help of his head wife, he readily put on his royal garments and ordered the guards to take the stranger out of the palace gates and place him miles into the woods. The guards did as instructed. By mid morning, the King’s entourage including more than two dozen of his wives, hundreds and hundreds of advisers and personal aides, wise men, magicians, soothsayers, musicians and hundreds of camel loads of assorted food and drinks were all set and ready to begin the journey in just a few moments. As the King descended his palace suite to mount his horse and lead the delegation to the inter-kingdom convention, a stranger from nowhere, and only twenty-four inch tall, walked up to him. Without regards to the King’s mighty army, the stranger unfolded an old hammock carrier and order King Gbin thus:

“Gbin, lie on it, let me carry you to my Mom.
Gbin, lie on it, let me carry you to my Pap
Gbin, lie on it, let me carry you to Grandma
Gbin, lie on it, let me carry you to Grand Pap”.

More than ever, the King was horribly petrified and visibly shaken. Every member of King Gbin’s delegation and the entire city were held in utter shock and disbelief. Words then quickly spread like wild fire throughout the land that King Gbin was being pursued by a stranger only the height of a two year-old baby. The palace army (knights) moved in to remove the stranger but for a multiple times, they were unsuccessfully in doing so because each time the genie suddenly evaporated from the guards when he sounded a short but loud droning sound. As he faded away from the guards, he instantly resurfaced to the King and then re-issued his order for the King to lie on the hammock carrier to be taken to the under water gods. When the wise men, advisers and soothsayers conferred to determine the origin of the lone intruder and the root cause of his demands, they agreed firstly to hear from Keke Gbin. Their inquiry did not pay off because the King fell short of telling the truth to the wise men, soothsayers and magicians. “He met me while I was in the shower this morning”, he lied. Due to King Gbin’s refusal to tell the truth surrounding his initial encounter with the genie, the power of the soothsayers, wise men and magicians, were negated and made worthless in their attempt to nullify the invisible power of the Water Dwarf.

When the inability to stop the genie from pursuing his dreadful demands became apparent, the King then ordered that the Dwarf be taken several miles into the woods in unknown lands. The guards did as instructed by taking the elf for nearly two days of walk into the bushes. With that done, Keke Gbin and his entire entourage to the inter-kingdom convention began their daylong journey. The trip was smooth and lively as drummers and singers sang praises and glory to the name of King Keke Gbin. As they traveled the rugged terrain to the convention center, the King eluded all discussions relative to his recent palace’s encounter with the Dwarf and avoided any talks initiated in that respect; even those prompted by his wisest men and soothsayers. For a full day, the journey continued without a repeat of the incident with the water genie. Minutes prior to the arrival of the Gbin delegation at the convention, King Gbin, with all his advisers and soothsayers, requested the attention of all his delegates. When he had done this, the King declared that the issue with the genie was over for once, proclaiming that the Dwarf was eventually eliminated, one reason (they assumed) the diminutive creature did not re-appear during the entire journey and for nearly twenty-four hours since. He summarily decreed that his experience with the genie must never be a story told anywhere for all eternity by any member of his convention team. To re-emphasize his stern position on the issue, the King extended the law to all inhabitants of Baniland. A capital punishment would befall all violators.

On arrival in the city hosting the inter-kingdom convention, King Keke Gbin, the greatest of kings from Baniland, was received to a tumultuous welcome. With thousands of singers and dancers and scores of camel loads of assorted food and drinks and hundreds of horses, King Gbin’s convoy (procession) was a sight to see. More than half the city’s population lined up at street corners only to catch a glimpse of a “god-sent’” ruler. Women, men, boys, girls, clerks with pencils stuck behind their ears, doctors, nurses, students and professionals; the ordinary people, the old and young and people from all walks of life came out to cash in on a lifetime opportunity by laying eyes on a king whose power was said to be unsurpassed in all human history. Assumed to be divinely ordained, King Gbin’s arrival brought to a halt normal life routines and negatively influenced the city’s economic activities for a full day.

As all these jubilation and merry-making were taking place, and just hours before the inter-kingdom convention commenced, the genie with a folded hammock carrier, was steadily making its way to the convention center in pursuit of King Keke Gbin. A day earlier, the Dwarf mysteriously evaporated from its captors (the King’s knights) on arrival at the location where the guards had calculated to hold him captive indefinitely. At only two feet tall, it would take the elf nearly twice as much time as it took the King’s delegation to journey to the inter-kingdom summit. In the mean time, the little man has now has traveled more than three quarters of the way to King’s location. In spite of all else, the water genie had a mandate from the gods; a mandate to fetch the live body of the offender of the under water world. It must execute the mandate from the “supreme god” of the under water world or risk a fatal consequence for its failure to do so. “Risk my life for a filthy iconoclast? King Gbin must go today, no matter what”, the genie murmured.

The inter-kingdom meeting opened at noon. In the convention hall, King Gbin was seated on a highly elevated platform flanked by four other powerful kings on his left and five on the right. Also in the hall, there were more than a quarter million attendees and participants comprising people from all lifestyles and from all corners of the earth. The hall was guarded by tens of thousands of armed guards and undercover agents. On the platform, King Gbin was additionally surrounded by more than two dozens personal bodyguards. From everything humanly possible, all the kings at the podium were overly secured. However, as he sat on that overly protected platform with his colleagues, King Gbin was involuntarily reverted to the thoughts of his most recent and horrible experience with the miniature Water Dwarf. As the meeting progressed, the King’s thoughts began to draft back and forth about his terrifying experience with the elf. While he did so, he became visibly absent-minded and frequently asked repeated questions. He stammered at making obvious or usual statements and comments and visited the rest room more often than usual. He constantly kept his head high by looking not in the eyes of a speaker, but by gazing through the isles of the conference hall. He stared persistently at the guards at the front entrance as if he expected a darling visitor to come by.

It was now Keke Gbin’s turn to address the convention, but seconds before the King began his discourse, loud noises and sounds of gunfire were heard just outside the convention hall. It lasted for a few seconds and then a couple of minutes more. It continued with louder and louder sounds of yelling and shouting. People ran helter-skelter both outside and within the convention hall. Pandemonium had broken out! The summit was disrupted, at least for a moment. As the kings marveled what the matter was, word came that a dwarf in shaggy clothing with a broken hammock carrier was out the hall demanding to see King Gbin. When they heard this, the kings sanctioned that the intruder be physically held pending the end of the inter-kingdom summit. The guards returned to their post and attempted holding the Dwarf captive as they were instructed. When they laid hands on him, the miniature man sounded a short but loud droning sound and then instantly vanished. Simultaneously, the little man reappeared physically before King Gbin who had begun addressing the convention just minutes earlier. At the podium and to the astonishment of everyone, the water genie arrogantly unfolded his dilapidated hammock carrier before King Gbin and ordered thus:

“Gbin, lie on it, let me carry you to my Mom.
Gbin, lie on it, let me carry you to my Pap.
Gbin, lie on it, let me carry you to my Grand mom.
Gbin, lie on it, let me carry you to my Grand pap.”

Mystified, all the kings and their subjects became exceedingly dumbfounded and for a moment, did not know what to say or do. A while later, one of King Gbin’s closest colleagues ordered that the intruder be swiftly whisked off and executed. In seconds, the guards physically took the elf out through the back doors but before they proceeded to the execution grounds, the genie sounded another short but loud droning sound and then promptly diminished. In the same very instant, the little man resurfaced before King Gbin on the platform, unfolded an old hammock carrier in front of the King, and ordered thus:

“Gbin, lie on it, let me carry you to my Mom.
Gbin, lie on it, let me carry you to my Pap
Gbin, lie on it; let me carry you to my Grand mom.
Gbin, lie on it, let me carry you to my Grand Pap.”

Baffled about this most unusual development, the kings at the summit sought to get some additional information from Keke Gbin. They requested to know the genesis of the intruder’s demands and persistent attacks. Because King Gbin denied any previous knowledge of encounter with the genie, his colleagues decided that in order to continue with the inter-kingdom convention uninterrupted, King Gbin obeyed the intruder’s demand by lying on the old hammock carrier. The kings’ decision was influenced firstly by their lack of knowledge about Keke Gbin’s bridges of the laws of the land and those against the ancestors. Secondly, the kings sought to prove a case against the miniature creature as they argued that with thousands of armed guards and hundreds of thousand of ordinary citizens, the two feet tall elf would most obviously be unable to do any physical harm to Keke Gbin when he lay in the old carrier. Thus, to ensure the King’s safety against any deadly action by the elf, over two hundred armed guards were sent up the podium. The guards formed a thick ring of armed defense around King Gbin as he took off his royal robes and physically lay on the dwarf’s dilapidated and dusty hammock carrier. The genie then reached for a tiny piece of out-stretched string from one of his pockets on his shaggy rags. Faintly but smartly, he wrapped Keke Gbin into his makeshift carrier. When he was done, the little man asked a nearby-armed guard for assistance in lifting the King physically onto his (Dwarf’s) right shoulder. Before he ended his request for help, the lone prowler was hit with multiple gun butts and was rapidly raked to the floor with more than a hundred pounds of force by the guards!

On the floor, the genie remained unconscious for a few moments after which he sounded a short but loud buzzing sound and, all at once, he was up on his feet again. This time the crabby Water Dwarf asked no one for help. Once he was up, the genie simply placed his arms half way around the most powerful king who was now wrapped in a faded makeshift hammock carrier. The genie subsequently made one long and loud droning sound lasting for nearly five seconds. All of a sudden, in just a twinkling of the eyes, King Keke Gbin was no more! In full view of his mighty army (fully armed to its teeth) and tens of thousands of his royal subjects; in less than a fraction of a second, the King of kings, the most astute and powerful ruler ever in the entire kingdom, had been woefully snatched away by a lone, diminutive and miniature stranger! Along with the Water Dwarf, King Gbin had vanished in direct consequence of the little intruder’s insistence that the King of Baniland bore full responsibility for breaking the law. The convention hall became mute and motionless; the entire summit was astounded. King Gbin has paid the ultimate price. He was now being taken to the gods in the under water world to answer to the ancestors for his unpardonable offenses. Keke Gbin had disgracefully fallen from grace!

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Traveling the World: Quick Tips When Travelling Near and Far

Before you embark on your next trip, be sure to read the tips and advice written here in this article. Whether you are leaving for a weekend getaway or a month-long European vacation, these tips are sure to help keep you organized and prepared for whatever action comes your way.

Write out a summary of every single thing you’ will need before the things you will want. A good way of getting sidetracked is forgetting a number of the important things that you meant to bring along (toiletries, comb, etc.). Avoid shelling out your ‘spending’ money on tooth brushes, soap, etc… when you can use this on souvenirs, food, drink and activities.

Look at the weather and understand what the local climate is going to be like when you visit. Too often (believe me, I have done this way too many times) people do not prepare ahead and arrive with shorts & flip flops when it’s cold & rainy… You will either have a horrible time roughing it, or spend a bunch of cash on new clothes you didn’t plan on buying.

Research legal laws as well as other customs that are specific towards the area you are traveling. The last thing you need is to offend anyone or get into trouble ignoring a law you knew nothing about (don’t get caned in Singapore!). It’s always smart to stay informed, so make certain you know the general rules & regulations prior to exploring. Being up to snuff on local customs always helps when interacting with the local people.

If you are traveling with someone else, be sure to stay close, together, as you stroll through town. Keep your mobile phones ON & ready… and avoid separating from each other. Every town has the criminals that prey on tourists and travelers as we are easily identified in foreign countries. I am not saying you need to be paranoid, but just keep your head up and take notice of your surroundings. For more travel advice on the local spots, check out taxi travel blogs and portals.

When traveling to remote areas by car, there is not always a convenient stop at every mile marker. When you are traveling with children, in particular, this can be very problematic (especially with screaming babies!!). Take along a sheet so you can drape it over the open doors of your vehicle… This will give some semblance of privacy when making that emergency pit stop on the side of the road.

One of my personal favorites: wear sunglasses if you want to be left alone on a plane! Most people will simply mind their own business and not to talk to you if they see you wearing sunglasses. Wearing sunglasses during a flight can be a great way to get some peace of mind… or sleep after a long weekend or trip.

When traveling to a foreign country, become familiar with the local law enforcement. Find out how to call police in the event of an emergency. Also look for the closest police station to your hotel. In the event you do need help, knowing this information will come in handy.

When traveling internationally, make sure that your data roaming is turned off on your wireless devices– including your cell phone. Data roaming charges can get very expensive. Instead, take advantage of free Wi-Fi hotspots available at places like airports, hotels, and restaurants. You can also use your free Internet connection when available to make cheaper calls through applications such as Skype.
Traveling the world can provide some of the best experiences you will ever encounter. The opportunity to meet new people, try new foods, and see distant lands that you’ve only seen in movies, can change your life. I’m all for spontaneous adventures, but just make sure to plan a little bit ahead so you can eliminate the confusion and chaos, while focusing on the best things in life!

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