Calypso + Easter.

Sometimes, a song is your happy place. The rhythm, flow, cadence and lyrics coalesce into a magic feather that tickles your soul and fits wings on each ventricle of your heart. Continue reading →

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Fling-2

I do not know why I carried my phone with me on deck duty that Wednesday morning, was I planning on taking a selfie to send to Naomi? Well maybe, but I had already sent her a dozen pictures of me on the rig at sunrise and several others at midday when the sun struck the Atlantic at the angle that turned it into the golden sheen of sapphire and emerald that makes want to fall on my knees. It never gets old. Continue reading →

Fling

You wrapped it in a pink towel, tucking the ends of the towel in the folds that had formed in the towel as you wrapped. You placed the pink bundle in the Ghana-must-go bag you bought from Iya Lukman this morning after you had stopped crying. It took all of your will to clutch the zipper until you got to the end of the bag and sling the handles over your shoulder. Continue reading →

Recycled Stupidity.

These days, writing dey tire me. But this thing I have to talk about.

 

I read Buchi Emecheta’s The Bride Price when I was in primary school, with Akunna, Ma Blackie, Nnanndo, Chike and the rest becoming good friends, and were realer to me than the people I attended class with. When the book ended with Akunna’s death, I wept. It was the first time I was crying over a fictional character, it broke my heart that she would suffer all that to be with an Osu man and not even get to enjoy the happiness that love offered. But it did not occur to me that the Osu in the book was a real thing.

 

Just before I resumed school to start JSS3, I was answering one of the past questions booklets of Lagos state JSCE that my father had furnished me with, when I saw a question that struck me, I did not know the answer.
In which state can the caste system be found.
a. Osun
b. Kano
c. Anambra
d. Taraba
I had learned about the Indian Caste system and Mahatma Gandhi in social studies class and in the books at the school library (that library was awesome), but I had never heard about caste system in Nigeria. That evening, I asked my dad about it and his answer shocked me, the answer to that question was Anambra and in fact, the entire South East.

 

Was he talking about Osu as I read in The Bride Price? He confirmed that he was. He went on to tell me the history of that pervading evil, the differences in points of origin- those sold into slavery and those dedicated to gods. Actions that were centuries old, marking generations with the invisible stain that cannot be washed off.

 

Hasn’t civilisation brought any change? I wondered. Not necessarily, was his answer. You couldn’t go about calling people Osu/slaves or you’d get fined heavily but marriage to ‘freeborns’ was still off limits and a person from an Osu family couldn’t aspire to certain positions in the land.

 

When I asked my mother about it, she flatly replied “It’s a stupid thing.” I did not press further; by the time I was five I already knew my mother never talked about anything she considered stupid. I thought it was stupid too, extremely stupid to judge and discriminate against a person because of what his ancestors went through centuries in the past. It sunk to the recesses of my mind, pushed down by the pressures of becoming a teenager and the general arseholery of life.

 

From time to time, something would happen to remind me of the idiocy of the caste system, from Nollywood movies, to my friend from Enugu state who told me that if a person from their hometown chose to marry an Osu despite warnings, that person’s family would organise an elaborate mourning ritual for him/her and would act as if she/he was a ghost if they saw them afterwards. It was perhaps one of the most terrible thing I had ever heard, what broke my heart was that my friend didn’t even see how evil it was. It was normal, just another day in paradise.

 

With social media came a window into the minds of people, that no generation in history has ever enjoyed, the hidden and open vanities, vapid inanities and the most puerile flights of fancy of the human mind; laid bare for anyone to wade through. Igboist group perhaps is the headquarters of everything social media is- the primus inter pares of modern-day interaction, the pulse of the thought stream of the Igbo youths in this age.

 

Whenever I find Osu posts on Igboist, I get terrified by the comments. The comment section there is generally terrifying, especially when gender issues and child rights are discussed. In the case of Osu, what terrifies me the most is that a people who have succeeded in throwing away most parts of their culture that are beautiful and inspiring, continue to hold on to evil with relish.
“It is our culture and there’s nothing you can do about it”
“Case closed.”

 

Today, someone shared the picture of a young man who was rejected by his intended in-laws because he was Osu. His picture was accompanied by his words in which his anguish shined through, stark in its intensity. I cried for this handsome man whom I did not know, for the young woman whose dreams for the future have been punctured by a cruel fate. I also wept for her helplessness, it’s easy to tell her to hold on to him regardless but how does one let her family and history go because of a man? The thought of it is an instant nightmare inducer for me.

 

I wasn’t disappointed by the comments on the post, I knew where I was and what to expect from Igbo youths. I just felt sorry for us. In a world with technological leaps occurring every five seconds, with the things our ancestors considered miracles, hell! Even the things we thought of as impossible ten years ago- have not only become our reality, they are rapidly turning into past triumphs as newer technologies spiral out of labs and company showrooms.

 

We do not even work on the old technologies our ancestors developed to adapt to an unforgiving environment or map and document the flora they used to heal themselves. Instead we grab their hate- the dregs of their vomit and lick it up. Who did this to us? Who did we offend?

 

Sometimes, I wish I could pump the words and music of the maestro Bob Marley’s One Love into the hearts of the stiff necked, to those pushing the agenda of hate and stupidity in the name ‘awa tradition and customs’. But it is Redemption Song that we need the most.

“Emancipate yourselves from mental slavery,
None but ourselves can free our minds.”

 

Our forefathers built chains and bars and prisons in their ignorance, why the hell are we still clinging to them? Why do we forget ‘Onye aghala nwanne ya’ in the quest for money and yet remember to twist our lips in disgust and shout “Osu bu ajoo mmadu?” Christian and hip when it suits you and Traditional and rigid when it’s time to hate, umu Igbo ibem, I hail una.

 

Because I am Igbo, because my children will be Igbo- even if I marry a man from China. I will not be silent as we continue to recycle and repackage hate and idiocy to the ones coming after us. My children will not wonder if I tacitly support this or think it is even half sane to think this way. I will show them these words, a little over eleven hundred words, their answer will be there.

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Hodge Podge 2

You cannot listen to Good or Bad by J-Martins without thinking about your brother, the one who had bought speakers when he was in secondary school. Like you, he could obsess over a song and play it relentlessly until you suck it dry. Unlike you, he would not use headphones or earphones to keep the music within your head, if he liked a song, the house had to vibrate with the strains and strums of his new favourite song. But it wasn’t Good or Bad you were looking to listen to on an afternoon that was ultimately destined to be boring. You had just finished listening to Let’s Get Serious by Jermaine Jackson and your music player segued into the Timaya and P-Square flavoured buffet of a song. Continue reading →

Lost, Found.

December 2nd

 

She was bent at the waist with a broom in her hand when a movement at the corner of her left eye forced her to jerk upward, she straightened to see a wiggling bundle on one of the pews at the left wing of the church. As she got closer, she heard sounds she recognized as the cooing of a nursery rhyme by a child. Who would leave a child here, she wondered as she drew near. Continue reading →

Suddenly, a ring.

December 1st.
 
You are not the type of woman a man marries, not even if he is gay. You are the one he sits beside at a dimly lit bar, talking about Beverly or Vanessa or Sandra as you lovingly send shots of whisky to warm your stomach. He will tell you about the tiny frictions and abrasions of the love net she has woven around him, and tell you in full detail about the same things she desperately tries to pry out of him and fails without intermission.
 
“Why can’t she be more like you?” he would ask as he hiccups through his third drink while you think about your bed and the holiday you have been putting off for five years. You mutter three sentences of comfort, never more than three. It is pointless to waste your words on the vagaries of romance, it is one of the first things you’d learn when you become one of the guys.
 
The words are handy, even crucial, in a viewing centre- for cursing Arsene Wenger for beautiful games without fruit and for screaming offside! When you finally understood what it meant. They are important on the morning another friend gets married and he calls you at 5am with voice patchy with doubt and fear. Your words will warm his feet and propel him to the ceremony where his wings are snipped. Your life had just enough sauce and you intended to keep it simmering, and then, you met Kachi.
 
When you left your tiny flat that morning to the store, to get eggs, milk and flour for the pancakes you had craved for weeks, you selected your Whitney Houston playlist and hooked up your headphones. Headphones discourage stupid conversations; you had learned over the years. You were swaying to “I wanna dance with somebody” when an arm attached to a face with big eyes shielded by glasses and full lips curved upward with an aspiring lush beard as frame, tapped your shoulder.
 
He was still smiling when you slid your headphones down your head and neck to rest on your shoulders and the smile did not falter when he told you he loved the song you were listening to and he looked forward to dancing to the song with you on your wedding day. You were instantly frightened of him and scanned the floor for a quick escape route.
 
You were still looking around when he called your name, your ears warmed and burst into invisible flames while you desperately wished you could spray the contents of the bottle of holy water, carrying a label with the image of Father Oku Eligwe with his arms spread heavenwards, on the almost handsome face of this stranger. But it was resting at the top of your wardrobe when you left the house- the green plastic bottle and its contents would have given you enough confidence to leave him there- after wetting his body with it, of course. Your mother had pressed it into your hand at the park as you prayed for the bus to fill up quickly and give you respite from the nightmare that had been dancing around your mother’s questions about a man, the diminishing returns of a woman’s eggs, dying ovaries, and about marriage. My mother must have been psychic and known I would need protection from two-legged demons, you thought.
 
He told you where he had first seen you, at the house-warming party of your former friend- former, because his wife could not understand the friendship between a man and a woman that did not end on a bed. He had tried to get your number but you left the party too early. You remembered him at that point and even allowed a small smile wiggle through the wall of your face, he latched on that smile and by the time you were leaving the store with him beside you, carrying your items and the bottle of wine he had bought, you were laughing.
 
If anyone had told you that two months after meeting a man, you would be considering marrying him, your reply to them would have been- become a stand-up comedian. Kachi had decided he was going to marry you and you were faced with the relentless force that was his desire for you. At night however, in your room where you and your thoughts roamed free, you knew it wasn’t solely about his persistence, you had begun to like him too.
 
We’re going to see my mother next week,” he shouted above the noise buffeting the tiny nkwobi joint he’d insisted on taking you to that evening.
 
I don’t do mothers” you muttered before opening your mouth to swallow the chunk of meat dripping with sauce that he put just in front of your lips.
 
“And the next weekend, we shall go and see your own mother. I can’t wait to see her dance for joy when she sees the handsome man who is willing to marry her stubborn daughter.” You hit his shoulder and bit your cheek to keep yourself from laughing with him even as the accuracy of his words continued to wiggle your funny bone.
 
His mother turned out to be as restrained as her son was open, his father was a quiet man who’d shown you his precious collection of old stamps, ten minutes after you walked in. You had begun to relax slightly after lunch, even allowed yourself the luxury of enjoying the conversation when a voice that had always made your hands ball into fists, drifted into your ears.
 
Victor’s snicker on recognising you warned you that this was a battle you were ill-equipped to win. His evil delight reminding you of all the times he had tried to sabotage you just because you’d said no to his advances. Not even time and your leaving the company you had both worked at, reduced his fearsome menace
 
Are you here for counselling with my aunty? She’s a brilliant psychologist and that your sex addiction seemed rather serious to me” was his first shot after getting welcoming hugs from everyone in the room, except you and Kachi- who was on the phone with a supplier in Australia. He continued to yak, saying things that were technically true but were twisted so horrifically that you couldn’t even react as he’d punctuated each crazy story with “am I lying?”
 
Your hosts looked extremely confused and you soon mumbled goodbye and left before Kachi finished his call, you switched off your phone when you left the gate, your heart twisting with every step. You were flinging clothes into the leather bag Kachi had bought you when you heard a knock on your front door. You ignored it and packed even more feverishly but when you heard the clang of keys and the opening of the door, you were strongly tempted to jump through the window.
 
“It’s a good thing you gave me spare keys, I would remained outside, banging at the door uselessly.” He said as he stood beneath the door frame, looking handsomer than you’d ever seen him.
 
So you ran away because of Victor? My parents told me all he’d said. You know, he has always been evil but it took his performance this afternoon to convince my parents of my claims of over thirty years. He is the devil’s twin brother.
 
“Kachi, I cannot marry you, not with Victor being your cousin,” you whispered softly, closing your eyes to trap your tears.
He ignored you and brought out his phone and in seconds, you heard his mother’s voice calling your name. She laughed at your flight and wondered why you didn’t wait for her to handle her errant nephew. I have cut him off from our lives, she said, he will never bother you again and her husbands voice in the background grunting his agreement, dismantled the last brick walls around your heart and you began to sob, letting out joy and relief from your throat and eyes as he pulled you to him.
“I am not going to marry you, Kachi. I am marrying your parents and you will be my stepson” you whispered as you pressed your face on his chest.
As long as you’re keeping it in the family, I don’t mind,” he replied, just before kissing your hair and tilting your head to find your lips.

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