Zac 29: Episode 3

Zac 29 Episode 3

Now, Zac did not know that before that fateful day when he discovered the incredible Chain of the Leaps, something really, really bad had happened!

No one knew about it but Kwaku Obi, the bully!

It happened when Kwaku Obi met a very scary man in the woods!

It all began one terrible hot afternoon in February when Kwaku’s wire mesh fish trap failed to trap any fish, and instead trapped a big green snake.

It would have seemed funny, under any other circumstance, and everybody would have had a good hearty laugh after the initial fear they all experienced when Kwaku lifted his fish trap from the dark depths of the Wailing River and, instead of a wriggling salmon, the sight that met their eyes was of a green water snake trapped in the mesh, and wriggling around quite angrily.


However, you never laughed at Kwaku Obi, and you definitely would not want to laugh at him when he was holding up a huge green snake in a fish trap.

So nobody laughed.

It was a Saturday, and as usual the children of the Zongo Orphanage who were old enough to wash their own clothes trooped to the Wailing River to wash.

In the morning they had cleaned the orphanage, as was usual on Saturdays; they were only allowed to wash their clothes when their chores at the orphanage were completed.

The workers of the orphanage preferred to be called Companions, a name introduced by Mistress Ohenewaa, who had also chosen the title ‘Queen of the Orphanage’ for herself.

Each child had square piece of soap, an aluminium bucket and a little cloth sack with a drawstring in which they kept their dirty clothes packed inside. Each child’s name was carved unto the side of the bucket in spindly letters.

The river was just beyond the back wall of the orphanage. It was a gentle river that flowed morosely through thick bamboo trees. When the wind whistled through the bamboo and the river rushed through, the two sounds made a terrible sound as if many children were wailing at the same time, hence the name of the river.

The children washed their clothes and spread them on the grass beyond the bamboo trees to dry, placing little rocks on the edges of the clothes to prevent the wind from blowing them away.


A Companion was supposed to accompany them whenever they went to the river to wash, but of late none of them bothered to go along. This was because the river was behind the thick walls of the orphanage, and the whole area was surrounded by the thick bamboo trees that ended on a sheer drop more than a hundred feet to crushing rocks. No one, therefore, would dare scale that rocky cliff to come to the orphanage.

The Wailing River was also filled with good salmon.

Old Mr. Tito, the groundsman of the orphanage, had taught the children how to make a simple fish trap from wire mesh. It simply involved folding a wire mesh into a crude circle and folding the entrance inward. The salmon could easily glide into the inner circle, but couldn’t swim back out.

The fish trap was then tied to a long pole and the pole stuck into the bed of the river. By the time the clothes were washed and dried, those who were lucky would have caught a few fish which they would quickly roast over a fire and eat.

The fire was made in the middle of three huge stones arranged in a triangle with dry grass and twigs in the middle.

At that time it seemed that Zac had a permanent flu because he was always sniffing, and his nose always seemed to be running. Maybe it was because Mistress Ohenewaa insisted he slept on the lower floor in the dormitory. Most of the windows on the lower floor were broken, and the walls were damp. Zac was almost always cold.

When he was quite little he began to have very severe pains in his limbs. They could last for weeks, and it always kept him in bed, crying the hours away in agony. It seemed nothing could stop the pain. Later, a visiting doctor to the orphanage had diagnosed him and said he had Sickle Cell Anaemia.


It was a disease that made him have severe pain in his limbs, especially when he was cold or tired.

The physician had given Zac some medications, and ordered he should be moved to an upper floor. He should also not be made to do very difficult work, but although Mistress Ohenewaa had agreed, as soon as the authorities were gone, she brought Zac back to the lower floor and even increased his chores, making Zac suffer more at the orphanage.

On that fateful Saturday, Zac did his washing with Araba and Bobo, his two best friends.

Araba was ten years old, and she was very pretty indeed.

Bobo was thirteen, and he was fat, which baffled many of them because they ate only twice a day, and the food was not even enough to satisfy them.

Breakfast was mostly watery corn porridge and hard moth-eaten bread. Their second meal was always at five in the evening, and consisted mostly of beans cooked in palm oil and a local staple called garri, which was made from dried and roasted cassava turned into fine little flakes.

When warm water was added to the flakes it became swollen and hard. A little garri could swell and fill a plate, and so it was quite profitable to run an orphanage on.

The children were always hungry, but Bobo never grew lean. He remained fat, unlike most of them who were quite underweight from malnutrition.

Sometimes Araba would tease him.

“I don’t really understand it, BB,” Araba would say. “We all eat garri and watery porridge! We all lose weight! How come you always remain fat?”

Bobo, of course, never took kindly to being described as fat.


“Well, for your information I’m not fat!” he would reply with a scowl. “I was just generously made, so I have a generous body. It is because I drink a lot of water, that’s why I remain so generous. Anything I eat, I drink a lot of water! Even if I drink water, I still drink a lot of water!”

Sometimes nice couples came to the orphanage. These couples did not have children of their own and so wanted to adopt children from the orphanage. These were great occasions at the orphanage because all of them wanted to be adopted. They wanted to leave the cold, hard life of the orphanage and be with a family, to be cared for and loved.

Queen Ohenewaa would make them take a shower and dress them up in fine clothes she reserved only for those occasions. They would line up, and the couples would inspect them.

Sadly, Zac was never a part of this process.

Zac 29: Episode 4
Zac 29: Episode 2

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