Abakwa was not confident that they would ever succeed in finding the mysterious object of their quest but Janakwa reminded him that many generations of Imekana men had set out before them on exactly the same quest and had succeeded.
“They were all young men like we, they had no special power that we lack and they found it”, he said.
Abakwa was pleased to be with his optimistic brother. “If I had half of your optimism
then I would be a great chief”, said Abakwa.
“If I was half as good a chief as you then I would have a good reason to feel optimistic”, returned Janakwa.
Suddenly an orange,blue and green parrot landed upon Abakwas shoulder and screeched “Chirimoya! Chirimoya!”, before flapping away further into the jungle.
“This can only be an omen”, said Abakwa, “Come and let us follow that talking parrot”, he ordered his brothers.
The Parrot was swift but, just like someone who wanted to be followed, it always seemed to stop and perch upon some branch and wait for them to catch up before flying on screeching, “Chirimoya! Chirimoya!”.
But suddenly the parrot seemed to disappear altogether. “Where is it? I cannot see it.
I think that we have lost it!”, said Abakwa catching his breath.
Janakwa and the other brothers searched for the bird but none could find it. However, one of the younger brothers called Imetuwa, which means Discoverer, parted some branches and saw what looked like an abandoned village beyond, “Look! Look!”, he called to the others.
The village was completely deserted of human life; all its huts were empty but more strange than that was the large flock of parrots and cockatoos that gathered in the centre of the village. Suddenly the blue,orange and green parrot who had guided them to the village again swooped down and perched upon Abakwas shoulder.
“You see”, said the Parrot to the other birds, “I knew that eventually some brave warriors would enter the Nameless jungle and find us”.
Then one of the large white cockatoos spoke, “I am the chief of this tribe. Chief Akawkaw of the Wirrima tribe. Who is your leader?”
Abakwa stepped forward, “I am not a chief but I am the eldest here and these are my younger brothers”.
“Then I will address you as one chief to another”, said the Cockatoo, “We were once
all human like you but the evil medicine woman Malaguna transformed us into parrots and cockatoos because we refused to give in to her crazy demands. She demanded from us a human baby each month for her to sacrifice, by sacrificing human babies she retains her eternal youth but we defied her and so she changed our shapes. Our true forms are kept by her in her cave and we have waited years for some warriors to find us and help us retrieve our true forms. Now you have come and you must help us.”
Abakwa was uncertain and so he talked with his brother Janakwa, “Our quest is to find the Chirimoya, whatever it is, not to help these people regain their true forms. If we help these people then we may be diverted from our goal”
“But”, said Janakwa, “Is it not the code of our tribe to help those who cannot help themselves and how do we know that Chirimoya is not another name for our destiny or another name for kindness or justice, perhaps by helping these people we will find Chirimoya”.
“As ever your words bring light into my mind, my brother”, said Abakwa, and to the Cockatoo chief, he declared courteously, “We will help you, great chief of the Wirrima people!”
“Good,good”, said the Parrot upon his shoulder, “I am Kankanwa, the chiefs eldest son, once a great warrior but now,sadly, just a multicoloured parrot, but I am still brave and cunning enough to accompany you on your quest”.
“I have no doubt that you are brave,feathered warrior”, said Abakwa, “And you were certainly cunning enough to lure us here and we will have need of a guide and of local knowledge if we are to find and defeat this witch called Malaguna”.
“Good!”, answered the bird, “But you must know that the witch carries a Dragon's ankle bone which gives her power to work her curses”.
“Then we must either take it from her or kill the witch more swiftly than she can curse us”, said Abakwa.
“Kill?”, said Janakwa, and then confessed, “I must tell you now, Abakwa, I would find it hard to kill a human being. My heart would get in the way of my hands”.
“But Malaguna is only a human in shape”, said the parrot, Kankanwa, “She is a heartless devil beneath the skin”.
“Nevertheless”, said Janakwa, “I even feel sadness whenever I kill a dear. I feel sometimes that I am closer to the dear than to my fellow hunters. I would feel it a hundred times harder to kill a woman,even a woman that had a devil inside her”.
“Do not worry,my gentle hearted brother”, said Abakwa, “Although killing may be necessary, I will be the one to do it and I will find another job for you which is far away from the witches death”.
And so Kankanwa guided the brothers to the place where the evil witch,Malaguna, lived. It was a large cave marked with magic symbols and nearby Abakwa heard a waterfall and saw that the waterfall ran over a steep cliff,down several hundred feet, into a roaring river below. “That may be a useful waterfall”, said Abakwa, “But
we must find a way of luring the witch from her cave so that we can enter and steal back the true forms of your tribe, Kankanwa. Is there anything that the witch desires so badly that it would draw her away from her home?”.
“Only a human baby”, said Kankanwa, “She craves immortality and eternal youth and she steals the life and youth out of infants”.
“But it would be a terrible sin to use a human baby as bait”, said Janakwa.
“Yet if we could imitate the sound of a baby crying then we could lure her out,could we not?”, said Abakwa, and he asked his twenty four brothers, “Is there any among you who can imitate a baby crying?”.
The brother called Octoya, which means “The Echo”, stepped forward, “I can imitate all things in nature, a bird, a startled dear, a barking dog, the wind in the trees, even the sound of the waterfall”, and to prove his talent he imitated all these things and then imitated a baby crying.
“That is excellent”, said Abakwa, “you will hide and make this noise and you will lead the witch away from her cave to the edge of the waterfall, understood? And while she is searching for the source of the sound, Janakwa and Kankanwa will enter the cave and search for the true forms of Kankanwas tribe, understood? And while they are searching I and the other brothers will wait in hiding to attack the witch, we will try to push her over the waterfall which we must do before she can lift her dragon bone or speak her curse, understood?”.
All the brothers and Kankanwa nodded and they got into their positions. Octoya, who will be forever remembered by the Imekana people for his talent and his bravery, hid behind a Halanwi bush which grew near the mouth of the witches cave and he made the sound of a baby crying so loudly that, within the cave, the evil Malaguna pricked up her ears.
“A baby! A baby!”, cried the witch, smiling
evilly, “What good fortune! Just when a new wrinkle has sprouted upon my forehead, a baby is what I need to uproot it”.
And Malaguna stuck her head out from the mouth of her cave and looked around but could see no baby, “Where is that crying coming from?”, she wondered, and went out to investigate.
Brave Octoya then crept away upon his hands and knees and into the undergrowth, still making the cry of an infant so that Malaguna would follow and Malaguna did follow because her wicked thirst for youth and the life of others was too great for her to resist and, by the edge of the waterfall, Octoya hid behind a large boulder while, also hidden nearby, Abakwa and his brothers waited and watched as hunters do
who stalk their prey and while the witch was seeking what she thought to be an abandoned infant, Janakwa and the parrot Kankanwa entered the witches cave to search for the true forms of Kankanwas tribe.
“The true forms are bound within a parrots egg that is marked with magic symbols”,said Kankanwa, perching upon the edge of a large birds nest full of eggs that lay within the cave.
“Look at all these eggs! They must be all the evil curses that the witch has placed upon all the tribes within the nameless jungle!”, he said searching through the eggs hurriedly with his beak, “Among these is the curse placed upon
my tribe, the Wirrima tribe, break the egg and we break the curse,but which egg is it?”.
“Why not just break them all?”, said the good hearted Janakwa, “Why should any tribe be cursed?”.
And so Janakwa and Kankanwa did their best to break all the eggs within the nest, as fast as they could before the evil witch Malaguna could return. They need not have worried or hurried though, because just as Abakwa had planned, the evil witch was lured to the waterfalls edge by the sound of an infant crying.
How startled she was to see Octoya curled up behind a boulder instead of the infant she had expected but her surprise soon turned to anger as she realized how she had been decieved, “Trick old Malaguna,will you?”, she snarled, “I’ll show you a trick of my own!”, and she reached for her dragons bone which she used to curse people with.
However, just as she was about to whisper an evil incantation, Abakwa sprung from his hiding place and pushed Malaguna over the waterfall and the old witch fell a hundred feet into the rocky river Gwaranga which flowed below.
Kankanwa now stood among the mess of broken eggshells and lifted curses, a tall
handsome man of about 25 years old wearing the headdress of bird feathers that all warriors of the Wirrima tribe wore.
“Thankyou! Thankyou!”, he said,leaping with gladness, “The witches curse is lifted! I am a man again and the only bird about me is the happy bird of my heart and my tribe too must have been given back their true forms!”, and Kankanwa was right, because the Wirrima Village that they returned to was filled with happy men,women and children all singing, “Akua jaman kamana kuan namia nya!” or “How happy I am to be myself again!” and,viewing their happiness, Abakwa told Janakwa, “I believe that I have found Chirimoya!”