The initiation ritual was horrendous in its scale and bitter in its experience, the GFNDF aimed to make animals of its men. On the first night the 67 neophytes had been stripped to their underwear, completely blindfolded and made to swim across a 71 meter riparian strip into the forests surrounding the camp, before they were beaten senseless in the confused darkness of their blindfolds.
By morning the men had all been reduced to a groaning mass of bodies.
Leo was numb all over, men were whimpering like children all around him. From the heat of the sun he could tell that it was mid-morning. He tried to get up from the damp muddy ground but his thigh muscles where sore, swollen and throbbing so he sat down and ran his fingers over his body searching for injuries.
There was no open wound as far as he could tell but he was thoroughly battered, the proceedings of the previous night had been conducted in perfect silence by their initiators. Not a single word was uttered as they were jostled and mobbed, only grunts and painful, sometimes ear piercing wails. Leo had attempted to hold his ground and fight back but he was beaten to submission amidst flailing arms.
His fear grew as time passed, for hours they had remained unattended, he tried to remove the blindfold but he got a quick hard slap on his face. They where not alone but the silence, the flies, mosquitoes and darkness was disorientating.
A man had been crying next to him since the beatings stopped, he must have broken a limb Leo concluded. At first he felt sympathy but as the day progressed into noon the sound of his cries became irritating and unbearable, he heaved a sigh of relief when one of the militants stuffed the mouth of the crying man and reduced the cries to a muffle.
Leo didn’t know when he fell asleep or how long his slumber had been but his dream had been long and terrifying. He couldn’t tell if the scream that woke him up was from his dream or from the men scattered around him, his day had become a blur of hallucinations and blackened reality, the difference between which Leo could not distinguish.
Night was introduced with the monotonous ring of crickets, the evil whining of a million different blood sucking insects and the glare of the sun abated. The mosquitoes feasted on the tangled, sweat drenched bodies of the men for what seemed like forever.
Then they where dragged up a few hours later, forced into a line and led out of the forest, each man holding the shoulder of the man in front. Leo wobbled, he was dehydrated and starved, those that fell were kicked back in line promptly so he struggled to steady himself.
Their eyes where untied by the banks of the sea. Leo could see nothing, eigengrau crowded whatever was left of his stifled vision. Just as he got his bearings the militants kicked them into the sea yelling ‘swim or die’ repeatedly before they broke into a sing song.
“I must swim o!
Iiiiiiii mussssst swimmmm!!
Iiiiiiii mussssst swimmmmm!!!
GFNDFffF we must swim
Ini, Ini, Ini!
Ini, Ini, Ini!
I want to join the strugggggle!
The Niger-Delta Liberrration
Oya o! Congratulations!!
we must swim to survive!
Ah we must swim to survive!
we must swim to survive!
We must swim to survivvvvve!!!
Leo could barely move his bloated muscles as he struggled to stay afloat, his body, weakened by the beating, the dehydration and the hunger was a bag of disjointed bones on the water. The eerie sing song continued as he went up and under, gulping copious amounts of polluted water in a dazed battle to stay alive, he pushed with all the might his battered body could muster but made little progress.
The crying man had lost his muffle and was screaming amidst mouthfuls of water, he was not alone in the crying and anguish as people battled to escape Egbesu’s cold embrace. People were drowning all over the creek, Leo pushed on in the darkness focused on getting to the other side. A hand wound its way around his right ankle, Leo kicked hard but the grip tightened.
The battle to stay afloat and alive was almost lost when Leo’s hand hit the muddy banks of the strip, he made a final push with the dead weight trailing him. He trudged on all fours out of the dank water, coughing, retching and vomiting in one sinuous sequence.
A bonfire was lit up as more of the survivors came onshore. The illuminated night revealed bodies scattered about with an indeterminate amount of bodies afloat on the water. They were allowed some respite for about 20 minutes then a hoarse, slithering voice called them around the fire, the warmth of the fire was the only comfort the men had encountered since their ordeal began, Leo wondered what else the militants would throw at them. The broken men around the fire were far less than the 67 of the previous night.
Abiye walked closer to the fire a bottle of hard liquor in his right hand, the fire raged as he offered libation to the gods of the GFNDF and their departed warriors. The initiates where wedged between petrification and resignation transfixed at the spectacle and the sound. Then he started a guttural chant in tune with the thumps of drums.
“Ogbu agbakara crocodile shibrekeshewu.
Agbakara go shit he no clean yanshi kolokolo di yangba si ko.
You wan try me akatabrukata, ketegbe 44.
A whole me sokoto rafia, the man gbemisale from the city of oshodi.
A baby fight a gana, a gana fight a baby. Ogbuefi the wonderful child, urie AAAAAMMMMEEE!!!”
From thence the militants commenced a melodious sing song that lured Leo and the other neophytes deeper into hypnosis as a witch doctor hit their chests with a beheaded cock.
That was the last thing Leo remembered.