Continuing our ongoing investigations into the unpublished stories in our community, our reporter Ophaniel Gooding set out to investigate the mystery Island off Tokeh, and this is his report
After hours of waiting, an overused mini bus (poda poda), which resembles a rusty rectangular metal box, finally arrived at Funkia junction leaving a dark brown cocoa colour like trail of dust behind.
The bus conductor (poda-poda) who resembles a ‘ginger bread boy’ being decorated with dust from crown to foot-sole shouted: “Tokeh! Tokeh!” calling for more passengers, while the already fatigue beating passengers who have been waiting for hours board the bus sluggishly.
After cramping passengers, on this rust metal box of a bus as if it were a slave ship on land, the engine then roared and it zoomed off the rugged road for Tokeh
The sunrays illuminate the blue sea that coasted the village giving it a dazzling silver reflection; the fishermen under the shade of coconut trees, which beautifully coast the beach, sat on the white sand mending nets while others carefully repaired broken canoes.
Women in makeshift kitchens smoking fishes, constantly adjust firewood under grids positioning them to give out more smoke than fire.
The island stood like a wrecked ship few meters off shore- “‘Tokeh island’ the heart of the village, the spiritual stronghold; a place where no stranger has ever been and where no stranger will ever be…” a villager once said.
After hours of searching for the head of the village elders we finally arrived at his home; a mud house half plastered with cement.
The unswathed areas expose the mud and sticks, which seemed to have been skillfully, merged together in an awkward art form, as if it was a beehive.
The head of elders, an old man clad with sliver and brown shawl sat on a bench at the backyard of his mud house and as if he was in a trance relayed the enchanting story to Awoko about the mystery that surrounds the island and also its significance to the village.
“My name is Francis Koroma. G’bankandeh is my spiritual name; that is the name I use whenever I perform rituals at the island” he said as if addressing a fund raising function.
“I’m the only person responsible for performing rituals at Tokeh Island to the spirit which governs this village,” he explained.
G’bankandeh narrated, “this task was handed over to me by the late Pa Cummings (of blessed memory).”
“Before Pa Cummings died, he chose me and taught me how to perform the rituals to appease the spirit whenever it is angry with the village.
When the spirit is angry, the high priest narrated, “people usually see it in physical form looking at the village.”
When this happens, G’bankandeh said, “everything we do in the village will become unsuccessful; turnout from our catch will be poor, plants will not bear well, lots of things will start going wrong,” he maintained.
“No sooner we experience such happenings, the village head and elders will request for a ritual to be performed,” he said.
G’bankandeh explained that “the items needed for a spiritual appeasement ritual are: a male sheep (not castrated), a cock with stripped marks, two pints of soft drinks (vimto) to be more specific), four white and red kola nuts; one yard satin, and a cup of rice.
“I usually perform rituals on Friday,” he said.
G’bankandeh said, “before the performance, I usually go to the island two days before the day of the ritual to inform the spirit that I would be coming on Friday without fail. On that Friday, he continued, “I would be by myself throughout the day, and I would not drink palm wine on that day.”
“I would keep myself reserved and pure throughout that day,” he maintained.
The one-cup rice, G’bankandeh said is milled to flour and the flour used to bake bread for the spirit.
“This is a fishing community the spirit is what provides for us; it touches all aspects of our livelihood,” he explained.
Whenever I perform this ritual the response is immediate; everything would start to operate normal again. He explained that in the island there is a calabash with water in it as chilled as one from a refrigerator, but it is not for consumption
“It is difficult to come across the calabash. I’m the only one who sees it,” he said smiling.
There is a garden in the Island, which the spirit is looking after.
“Different people have gone to this Island to seek out the mysteries that surrounded it but it always ends up in disaster, in the end explorers usually die. This island is very, very dangerous!” G’bankandeh warned.
As I walked away from G’bankaneh’s mud hut I kept getting the strange feeling that someone was watching me. I went back to the waters edge to have a last view of the “Debul” (Devil) Island and it looked so serene and peaceful yet …