What Challenges is Mende Chiefdom confronted with in John Kolosa Kargbo’s Let Me Die Alone?
At different segments or stages of Let Me Die Alone, Mende Chiefdom faces different challenges. Some of these challenges stick to it like glue while others simply wear away with time. But what these challenges have in common is that they have human causes.
The first challenge Mende Chiefdom is beset with is colonialism. Let Me Die Alone is presumably set during the colonial rule of the British when some parts of Africa were vassal states, extensions, annexations of the British Empire and are subjected to the authority of the British monarchy and its Crown laws.
Mendeland, comprising of smaller villages like Senehun and Moyamba, is as a matter of fact one such state. It is directly under the authority of Dr Rowe, a British administrator on African soil. Traditional rulers act in accordance with the dictates of the colonialists.
Any contravention would/could attract severe punishments as in tbe case of Gbanya, a respected village chief, who was flogged like a child under the instruction of Governor Rowe for pitching his tent with John Caulker against George Caulker, both white brothers, in an all white war, thereby flouting an “unwritten law”.
The humiliation of Gbanya is suggestive of the puppetry of traditional rulers during the colonial rule and the overwhelming influence of colonialism on the African society.
Colonialism is one challenge that stuck to Mende Chiefdom like an adhesive. It also robs Yoko of her territorial conquests; Mendeland of its territorial expansion. This robbery happens despite Yoko’s curtseying before the towering figure of the white man’s rule; despite the many times she has to go through the indignity of seeking the white man’s permission before she can expand her chiefdom; despite her seemingly good relationship with the white man.
Another noticeable challenge Mende Chiefdom faces is the spate of human sacrifices and children’s disappearances in the land. These practically threaten the internal security and the stability of Mende.
Children disappear, their bodies mutilated and offered as sacrifices for an individual’s prosperity and longevity. Musa, for one, is identified as one such perpetrator. He covertly sacrifices Yatta’s son and Mama Kadi’s daughter and much later, Jeneba for prosperity and longevity.
In such society where there are wanton disappearances of children and constant human sacrifices, there is no safety. Such society is on a time bomb, it is only a matter of time before it explodes.
There is also the challenge of succession. After Gbanya is poisoned to death, the throne of Mendeland is left vacant.
Lamboi, who together with Musa staged the death of Gbanya, wants to usurp the throne. Yoko, on the other hand, has been bequeathed the seat by Gbanya in his death throes. There is a clash between these two parties for the throne. This moment constitutes a period of uncertainty for the future of Mende.
The most part of Mende Chiefdom’s challenges stems from Musa and Lamboi. One is the chief priest and the other, an adviser to the chief. The troubles, conspiracies, and betrayals fomented by these two throw Mendeland into chaos and disorder, fueled by their excessive crave for power, greed, cruelty and infidelity to Mendeland.
Their conspiracies and plots rid Mendeland of Gbanya and Yoko, two successive chiefs. They rock Mende Chiefdom to the bottom, they shook it vigorously.
Mendeland is therefore faced with challenges of colonialism, children sacrifice, infidelity of public officials, and betrayals from high places.