"Ilo Sungila could see vast expanses of war-torn Mozambique from the hilltop of his new
agricultural supply store. The store shined light into his rural Bantu village. It had been stagnant and depressed for the past forty years.
“It will not be easy, but farmers’ yields will be better. Life in the entire village will improve,”
said Olumide, Ilo’s uncle.
The Sungilas worked hard. The shop, which doubled as their home, became the focal point of the village. Villagers sat on Ilo’s stoop in the late afternoon, drinking and telling stories.
Only Huso, the mason, worried Ilo among all the village members. Huso had been out of
work for a long time. He drank too much and often spoke enviously regarding Ilo and Olumide’s success. One night, Ilo heard glass breaking in the store. His uncle got up first and left to investigate. As Ilo rose, he heard sounds of a struggle. He heard something large hit the floor.
When Ilo entered the store, he found Huso, drunk and armed with a club. Huso clutched the
small cigar box filled with their money. Ilo’s anger took over him. He ran at Huso, who struck
him three times with the club. Ilo heard his bone crack. He watched powerless as Huso pocketed the money and fled.
Cautiously, Ilo attempted to probe the damage to his arm. The slightest touch sparked a burst of pain that made him woozy. Ilo held his injured arm still. He now rolled onto his knees, stood up shakily, and limped to the rusty tap in the backyard. He tried to lift a bucket with both hands and winced in pain. He turned on the tap and filled the bucket, using one arm. The world spun around him as he lugged the bucket into the house.
With no doctor within thirty kilometers, Ilo had no choice but to treat his uncle’s injuries.
With his good hand, he washed the blood from his uncle’s face and shoulder.
“Wake up, Uncle! We worked so hard to bring agricultural technology to our village. At last,
we’re seeing results; don’t let everything fall to pieces.” Olumide didn’t move or make a sound.
He found a gash on Olumide’s head, Ilo wrapped it with a piece of cloth torn from his sleeve.
“Please, venerable ancestors, save my Uncle Olumide, the son of Folami, the son of Chinedu, the son of Dumisa,” Ilo prayed. He paused, feeling confused and foolish, and tried again.
“Most honored ancestors, whoever is the true God, ask him to save uncle’s life!” Ilo listened
for an answer. The crickets chirped, the night birds chattered, and the jackals growled. Ilo
shivered, bore his pain, and remained next to his uncle throughout the night, dozing off here and there.
At dawn, his uncle moaned. As the rising sun appeared through the slats in the window,
Olumide’s eyes flickered. Ilo brought him a cup of water. Uncle smiled, sipped the water, and
patted on the mat for Ilo to sit. “There are stories I must tell you. They are a treasure, a tradition, passed from father to son that will end with me,” Olumide related. He glanced at his nephew.
“But you are like a son to me.” “What is this treasure?” “Stories,” said Olumide, “of a great king who ruled with justice, righteousness, and faith. People called him the Light of Justice. Any person, great or small, could speak his mind to the king.”
By now, opening time had passed, and people crowded around outside the store, banging on the door, rattling the shutters, and shouting. “Open up!” Ilo limped to the window and raised the shutter three centimeters.
“My friends, Olumide is ailing. I promise to open the store as soon as possible!” he
whispered. He let the shutter drop. Ilo listened as Olumide taught him the art of storytelling. How to touch people’s hearts. Olumide emphasized the dissimilarity between true and false humility.
“I will teach you how to address a crowd. The correct manipulation of words can give each
one listening, words will change the way he thinks.” Ilo learned to control his face, body, and
tone of voice.
After five days, Olumide succumbed to the beating. Ilo embraced his uncle’s words and began his career as a storyteller. For the next twenty years, he ran his shop and told stories about the Light of Justice.
People came from near and far; walking up to twenty kilometers across the parched savanna
to listen to the superb storyteller, Ilo Sungila. People arrived alone, others in groups—by foot, bicycle, bus, and car. Throughout the day, people gathered from surrounding villages and towns. They came to learn about the fabled king, the Light of Justice.
One particular night, Ilo gazed at the gathering of child-soldiers, looters, rapists, and
murderers. Their way of life had been cultivated by selfish leaders. “As a young man,” Ilo began, hushing the crowd, “the king served as a junior judge in court. Two men claimed the same girl as a bride. The first man presented a document signed by the girl’s father. The second showed a contract signed by the mother. Reputable witnesses made their marks on both documents. Each parent promised money to the groom.”
Ilo stroked his beard, playing a judge deep in thought. He slid to one side of his chair and
acted the part of the haughty father. He slid to the other side and played the mischievous mother.
“The king and his fellow judges questioned each groom’s motivation to marry. Both men
cited good looks, money, and social standing. The judges examined the grooms’ and parents’ intentions. The senior judge called for a recess in another hut. ‘If we consider only legal documents,’ he said, ‘the father’s words have more legal weight.”
“Let us question the intended bride,” the young king pronounced. The judges questioned the girl. Afterwards, the king made a pronouncement. “On the surface, we have here two parents who seek a husband for their daughter,” the king summarized.
Ilo paused as the people moved closer to catch every word. “But to let either of these men marry this girl is a travesty of justice.” The plaintiffs burst out shouting, and the senior judge hammered for silence.
“Parents spoke separately to two men and made two separate contracts on the same night!
They intended to sow discord. In fact, they didn’t consider their daughter’s desires! I wouldn’t want either of these men as sons or brothers-in-law. Why, you ask? They want a wife for the wrong intentions! It’s clear the young woman is well-intentioned and respectable. These two don’t want her virtues; rather, they want cattle and social esteem. My opinion is that the parents wrote both engagement documents in bad faith toward the bride. Therefore, the court declares them null and void!” the Light of Justice declared. Everyone in the audience remained seated; each person deep in thought, absorbing Ilo’s words.
Wherever people strive to live a more moral and just life, you find stories of the Light of
Justice. The Mayans, Chinese, Incas, Malaysians, and Fijians tell stories of ships lost at sea in
terrible storms. Only after the storms did they reach the land of the legendary Light of Justice. In the far North, the saga is told of Andvett the Terrible. Shipwrecked with his crew after a storm, the murderous company encountered the king, and returned home as changed men.
Father Leonardo Franconi was researching a book on the history of the Church during the
fifteenth century. In the Vatican’s archives, Father Franconi came across seven unusual
references. They referred to accounts of troubadours who sang of a mysterious king called the Light of Justice. Fascinated, Father Franconi sought the identity of this fabled king. He searched the library for the originals, but found none.
After consulting with the librarian, Father Franconi found out why the originals weren’t
available. Pope Alexander sealed the originals in an underground vault beneath the Vatican. Inside the vault laid dangerous secrets of the Catholic Church. Among those secrets were many references to the Light of Justice. The church worked hard to bury those stories.
In cities across the world, secret communities wait for a sign, a secret name, and a day to
come. They waited to fulfill an ancient prophecy.
For twenty-five years, Yoshua Rosenberg, Hebrew University Professor of Archaeology,
stalked the legendary Light of Justice. His search took him from the lowlands of East Africa to Scandinavian Vikings to Mayan adventurers. He struggled to explain how this king’s fame was found in so many far-flung ancient cultures. People who met this king lived hundreds of years and thousands of kilometers apart. It was as if his timeline was spherical rather than linear. Yoshua’s search continued until his work centered on these legends."