Broken Eaglet - Introduction

The Broken Eaglet

I think he was scared.

Obatalá. Eons ago, him and only him climbed down from the heavens on a golden rope held together by the magic of creation. For forty dark days and forty noxious nights, he climbed down, braving the cold winds and crushing silence. And when he finally landed on earth, about to take the first action that would lead to the creation of humanity — I think he must’ve paused then, his hands frozen on the clay he would use to fashion the first man. It would have scared any person, even a god, no? The very prospect of going into uncharted waters, risking his home and his brethren — everything he knew — on something that may not even work out. Would it be worth it?

But he forged on and did it anyway.

And since then, the gods have looked down at the earth, eyebrows furrowed, wondering into the starlight if Obatalá brought down peace or destruction by creating the humans.

I could write maybe about a hundred essays on why I think Covenant is a horrible thing, a poorly clobbered idea that was let to grow and sprout into a poorly clobbered construct. I could rage and tell you about the abuse, the fraud, the bribery and the corruption that happen behind those large imposing gates, the ensuing essays dripping in anger. I could tell you how silly it is, the very idea of ‘making’ Christians and how the phrase ‘raising a new generation’ is almost always used when an institution is just revitalizing old prejudices and customs, indoctrinating them into a younger generation. I could whisper in your ear about how it tries be an academic and spiritual institution but fails spectacularly at both. I could tell you how ‘most employable graduates’ should never be a boast by intelligent people. We know there is more in this life.

I could easily do all that but I’ll be honest with you here, that’s not what Broken Eaglet is about. Because in all this, everything I’ve said, there’s one group of people who are affected the most by these policies and rules. And for a very long time, their voices have been stifled and snuffed out in a school system that uses cookie cutters to put them in the appropriate shape: the luminous Christian worker, spreading God’s word wherever she goes. But I believe that their voices — our voices, our opinions, and our truths matter. Statistics, awards and nominations have no place here. I don’t think reputation or clout is really anything to talk of when real people are going through so much — unnecessarily. That’s why there’s only one thing that matters in Broken Eaglet. One bright fire in the swirling black dust that has descended upon us.

And it’s you.

This body of work is not an argument, I don’t want to fight you. I think you’re actually kinda cool, really. I just…I just want to talk. Honest. I just want us to talk for a while and then ask you a question after. That’s all.

When I was punished for missing chapel services last year, I was in something I couldn’t describe. When I saw that all my exams came out with an F because I was suspended right before the examinations started with no prior warning, no hearing, just the invigilator looking down at the exam list and then up at me, saying quietly, “I don’t know, I think you have to see Student Affairs.” When all this happened, I was angry.

No, angry, isn’t the word —

I don’t know, it’s been more than a year and I still can’t find the right words to describe the feelings, the emotions I went through. Maybe it’s because I’m still going through them. Still toiling, still paying. Maybe you can help me find the words, friend, they’ve been eluding me for too long. It feels like poison in your heart, that swirls and coils around your throat just when you think it’s over. It drags you down as you walk, drenches you in sweat as you toss and turn in fitting nightmares, calls from the darkness that come to play every night. I was the biggest failure in the world, a waste of anything useful. I had disappointed everyone who had, maybe wrongly, put their faith in me.

Have you ever felt like that? I know others who have, I know people have gone through ten times worse in Covenant. There are people who have had their lights dulled there, people who have had their lights replaced and people who may never find theirs again. So, when I was low, I did what I always did, I talked to lots of people. I made acquaintances and friends, I experienced a lot more and heard a lot of stories. There was even this one time I almost got into a fight with some cantankerous member of staff because she made a stupid joke at a wrong time. But for a whole year, this idea, this spark ran through my whole body and a story started to form. This was another project that I believed in, and I believed in the possibilities of it. My friend, maybe you’re a past, present or future Covenant student or maybe you’re someone who works there, maybe you’ve heard about it but paths in life took you elsewhere or maybe you’ve never even heard of this place and you’re wondering now as your read what all this is about. Regardless, this is still for you. I’m giving this story to you, so maybe you can make more sense of all this. I’ve had it for far too long and I’ll be honest with you, I am tired. I am tired of this weight that follows me. I am tired of being angry. I am tired of being sad. I am tired of the tears.

I want to tell you a story, but it’s one with people who don’t have superhuman abilities. People who can be caring and kind, people who fuck up and make bad decisions sometimes, people who are worried and in doubt, people who are scared to look at their reflections in the mirror because they don’t like who stares back. People who are just…people. And I don’t know, maybe you can relate to them. I know I do.

I’m giving this story to you because I’ve had it in me for so very long. And I’ve been so scared of what may happen if I ever told it. For many dark days and noxious nights, I’ve come down to my laptop, opening and closing it in vain, my hands freezing over the keyboard. Enduring the cold winds and crushing silence.

But now I’m forging on and doing it anyway.

I don’t know how long Broken Eaglet will take. It may go on for a year or two or three, or maybe you’ll decide to take over after a while. It’ll be released in chapters every Sunday, stories from multiple perspectives, I hope you like them. I’ve also put something special in this series and I’d really like if you joined in. I don’t know how you’ve felt, how you’ve lived, but I want to hear from you, I want to know what you think. Not just about Covenant, anything! I’ll create a little email address and maybe some social media accounts you can send your words to or pictures or anything. Tell me about how life has been so far. Tuesdays and Thursdays will have entries from all over, people saying what they feel and think about Covenant or anything else in particular, I want to know you better if that’s alright. And if you want to be anonymous, fine by me. I’ll also be dropping by as I tell the story just to see how you’re doing.

But all in all, I want to tell you something and this is the most important bit. I need something from you when I’m done telling this story, when my part is done. I just need an answer from you. Because this story doesn’t end with me, no I’m not that important here, you’re the most important person in this world. Can you imagine that? You’re the most special person in a whole world and this story will end with you. I think that what we believe is the spark to our species’ greatest achievements, I think what we believe is important, the stories we tell ourselves in the present are integral to our future. Because when the last word has been typed and the lights have dimmed, the curtains drawn, there will only be one thing left along with you, a burning question simmering in the skies, a sword of Damocles hanging over your head.

My friend, my dearest friend in this whole world, all of this, do you believe it is right?

And now, what will you do?

Thanks for reading! For more Covenant essays, check out:

Cry Me a River

Much Abides

Sunday Morning Live

Anthony Azekwoh is a Nigerian-based author and artist. He has written five books so far, and is now working on the sequel to his fourth book Ṣàngó, Oya.