In court today, a yellow skin middle aged man in his fifties was appearing for himself without a lawyer. Your Worship invited him to the witness stand to say what brought him to court.
The court clerk stood to lead him in his affirmation,
“I do solemnly swear…” she started
“I do so..li..ma…ni swaa..” he repeated
“No, I do solemnly swear that the evidence…” she repeated slowly.
Bending his glistening brows in frustration shaking his head slowly as he stared down at a paper in his hands.
“Do you understand English?” Your Worship asked
“Small, small your Worship”
“What do you speak”
“Igbo, your Worship“
She turned to the Registrar, “is there an Igbo interpreter in this court?”
“He traveled “
“Is there any Igbo court staff that can help us?”
“I can’t think of any but I can go find out your Worship”
“Please find out or I’ll have to set aside this matter”
The plaintiff looked on dejectedly.
Your Worship turned to him, “I’m sorry Sir but I’ll have to stand down your matter while we look for an Igbo interpreter”
Nodding in defeat, “but I can ti..lie..your Worship”
“I’m not comfortable with you trying” your Worship stated firmly, “this matter will be stood down for fifteen minutes”
“As the court pleases “ the court chorused.
From where I sat, I watched as the man stepped down from the witness stand, his shoulders slumped in defeat.
I was surprised none in the courtroom could speak Igbo. Well, I honestly can’t say that for a fact but none seem to be coming to the man’s aid.
Your Worship soon finished her matters and was about to rise for the day with still no interpreter anywhere in sight.
We were remaining only a handful of lawyers at this point. I had long finished my matter but I stayed back, curious to see the end; plus one can’t leave a sitting court empty of lawyers.
His matter was called out again.
“Were you able to find an Igbo interpreter?” She asked the Registrar
She sighed “I believe at this point I have no choice but to set aside this matter”
I shot out from my seat “if I may your Worship?”
“I believe I can aid this honorable court In interpreting”
I could not make out her smile In her mask covered face but I could see the broadness of the smile in her eyes.
“Thank you so much Counsel “ she breathed out in relief.
I have never had a reason to speak Igbo in an official capacity. Especially where people’s assets are counting on my every words.
Fortunately, I pulled it off.
Got myself a new ally in a grateful Magistrate.
Got a new client.
And lastly, got myself a new suit as it turns out my new Client is a boutique owner.
Is God not wonderful.
It was a perfect beginning to a wonderful weekend.