Life Turns Man Up and Down

Life Turns Man Up and Down







That I'm still alive is a miracle. I ought to be dead, I was on June 18, 1953, sentenced to death by the Ibadan Assixes for the murder of Mr. Hall, my European boy friend. I appealed against the death sentence, not because I was not responsible for his death, but because I was not satisfied that the Trial Judge appreciated the mental wound on Maurice.

Today I'm still alive, serving life imprisonment. May be that the crime I committed earned me my present suffering. At least, this is how many people will take it.


But let me make one thing plain. I did not know that I was about to commit a crime the morning I had a quarrel with Maurice. At least, I had no intention of causing his death. It all started too suddenly.

I have lived happily with Maurice for seven years. On the eve of his departure to the United Kingdom on leave, he suggested that the two of us should find money to buy taxi to play the lbadan Street. I saw that as a good business, proposal and gave him my life savings of 400.

He did not buy the car before he left for his leave. Four days after he has returned to Nigeria, l raised the question of the car. I did this as we were dining together. His reply to my question was to tell me: 'Pack and go away I have married an European woman while on leave" I was staggered but did not believe him. It was quite shocking to me to hear him saying that. But I soon found, he was quite serious. Then, I asked him to give me back my 400, before I pack away. His only reply was: "which money? You can't have it!" I lost my temper and threatened that I would report him to the police and get him out of Nigeria, not only because he had refused to return my money, but because he was a disgrace to his race for failing to keep a love promise to marry me. Maurice was very angry. But he did not do anything at about

5 am Maurice got out of the bed and woke me. He asked me to repeat what I had said to him last night. I repeated all I had said. Without saying a word, he opened a table drawer and got out a revolver and waving this at me menacingly, he said; "My, my! I'm going to to finish you now, Rose and shoot myself! Then he proceeded to load the revolver calmly. His calm rattled me a great deal,

And--then---I lost my head. There was a faint but a commanding voice in me telling me to defend myself or die. I could not resist the voice.


I turned towards the dining table and got hold of a knife with which we had opened tinned milk the night before. I threw it at Maurice and it pierced his side. He cried out and fell to the ground against the knife, and it went deeper and pierced either his stomach or the intestines. I do not remember which the doctor who performed the post-morten operation on him said it pierced.

I did not mean to kill Maurice. I only wanted to scare him off, from drawing the trigger, When I touched him I knew he was died. What had I I done?

Then I became confused. I ran off the house to the street. I saw a lorry and asked its driver to take me to the police station. But I did not know that the lorry was coming to Lagos until we had gone very far, and I could no longer stop the driver. I did not mind. The driver could take me to hell for all I cared then, there were-two desires in me to put many miles between me and scene of the incident, and to give my story to the police. In a Matter of hours I found myself at the Central Police station, Tinibu, Lagos.

Then my case become worse. I found out I had no money on with which to pay the driver. But I was in no mood to argue and plead with the driver. I gave him my wrist watch in hire of payment, and he drove away. When I entered the police charge office I met Inspector Pepple and gave him. Immediately I was surrounded myself by the police treated as far as their number went, like visiting royalty. I was conveyed to Ibadan by the police to face my trial.

It had since occurred to me that I did a very foolish thing by going to the police. I ought to have done quite a different thing. I ought to have killed myself immediately I found out that Maurice was dead. The world would have appreciated my case better if I had taken my own life at the same spot and gone away with Maurice away to wherever the dead go away from my present phcaly suffering, away from pricks of conscience, away from the jeers and misunderstand of the living.

There is only one thought that is often very consoling. I firmly believe that Maurice, if the dead are left with any sense, must have forgiven me the fatal wound I inflicted on him. I firmly believe that he must have appreciate why I did it. I'm surly he must have known that I never meant to kill him and I'm sure it must have occured to him that he left me down very completely. It is this belief that has given me courrage to continue to cling to life--a life without meaning, without purpose and without sense. Yes, I believe Maurice has completely forgiven us. That he is today even sorry that I am still suffering because of our foolishness -because of his faithlessness and my own mad anger and jealousy.

But Maurice is not the only one to forgive me have writen this with one purpose only: to let my own people and country know that I'm sorry for the crime I committed; to let them know also that I would live and die happy, if only I could know that they have forgiven me.



I'm 30 years old now, and I have lost everything. I have lost my youth and, worst still I have lost any case of conscience. And who knows how long I will continue to rot away its prison.

But how long my phyisical suffering will continue is not very important to me. What is more important to me is to ensure that try people and all those who may read me will appreciate that I'm not only sorry for having been resposnible for the death of the man I love, but also for having committed a crime against the laws of God and State.


In what circumstances does a women kill a man she loves? And how does she feel afterwards? And if her death sentence is reduced to life imprisonment, does she lead the life thus given with a perpetual feeling of guilt, with a death-wish as the only agreeable companion? These questions are answered here, in the story of a Nigerian woman who, in a fit of anger, dis-appointment and jealousy, murdered a man she loved. It is the story of a baffled lover who killed in a fit of trantrums and then surrendered to the police. It is the story of a woman who feels the urgent need to confess. It is the story of a 30 years old woman, Adaocha (Rose) Ntu, from Nsukwa, in Uguashi--Uki District, who is known to most as


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Excerpted from Life Turns Man Up and Down by Kurt Thometz. Copyright © 2001 by Kurt Thometz. Excerpted by permission of Random House. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.