There was a time I went to the Lagos Bonny camp barracks to visit some friends and we sat outside on the long corridors talking. There was this little boy who came with some fresh oranges and broomsticks . He dutifully offered each and everyone of us, one orange and a broom stick. I watched him with amusement as he rubbed his tiny fingers together in that satisfactory manner one would observe when someone does something noteworthy and he is fully aware of it’s importance.He provided a solution in his local way but he did.It didn’t take me a while to realize that the broomstick was meant for the peeling of the orange. My friend jokingly said “This boy’s local content is high”. We laughed hard at the joke because it was so funny, I never heard it put with such Wit. Then I smiled quietly ,knowing that my inner local content recognized his inner local content too…😊We learnt that in the Seminary in Mkar, in Gboko. With Orchards on the left and right, we learnt the broomstick connection for ease sake. We also learnt how to climb hills and fetch fire wood in the forest. I was eight then. We left the seminary with a box full of Korean novels from our Korean neighbours that we couldn’t even read. Yes, a horse chased me once and I literally felt my heart jump out of my mouth.
Do I throw away the experiences I picked up in the village when we moved with Father on his mission duties just because I don’t want to be called a village girl? Do I combine it with the new knowledge that I have learnt from the town? I think I will go with the later. I remember the day I used the well for the first time, I was big enough to know how to fetch water but I didn’t because I wasn’t exposed to it ,in fact I had not gone close to it and the village dwellers laughed at how ignorant I was, as old as I was. Father had decided that he was going to the village to preach and there wasn’t light and pipe borne water so we adjusted. It was a shock to most of them, when they learnt I was sixteen and I had no plans to marry but go to the university.To them, they saw bride price and the fear of an old bride. For them, I was ripe enough to give birth to five children and I wasn’t even thinking about .For them, I was lazy because I couldn’t bend from my waist to wash dishes, my sister and I opted for sitting on stools outside while doing that because there was no sink in the new kitchen, we just had to come outside to wash.There is a type of shame attached to these experiences by a lot of supposedly city dwelling folks ,so some people would rather keep their” local “experiences in the box than use or upgrade them and make use of it as they progress and learn the so called civilized things. Two weeks ago, I was called a village girl. Yesterday I was also called an uncivilized girl..🤣🤣. I learnt somewhere, I can’t really place where anymore ,that westernization wasn’t the same as civilization. What do you think? How does this apply here? I see a lot of people trying so hard to speak in an accent foreign to them and desperately hiding theirs ,whatever their motive is for doing that ,Should I still mention the OAPs with mixed accents being selected over the indigenous ones…😊 I also saw a class mate lately, we attended the same primary, secondary and a neighbouring university in Gboko and Makurdi and when we came to Lagos, we lost touch after some months …but when we reconnected I couldn’t understand her accent, she was a Brit some minutes and then American another hour .My shock was glaring and she later adjusted, whatever the motive? Was she bullied to change? Was she desperate to belong among the flock of “Been tos” ?
I remember they made fun of me while growing up because we brought Akpukpa (something close to Moi moi or Okpa, Bean cakes kinda) to school, instead of toasted bread and the likes, I was laughed at .These healthier options were put down ,it was to indigenous for comfort sake. They thought and taught the next generation Did we grow up to ensure that these opinions are not ever repeated in our lives? I see progress and acceptance of our culture in some quarters. This should be an awakening spreading over Africa like wildfire.
Everyday, I notice a lot of people threading softly lest they are labelled under the various categories based on whatever people may interpret their abilities and inabilities as, they sit still , incommunicado because of the fear of being seen as someone who can’t string a perfect sentence in a language foreign to them., They prefer to stay silent rather than say what they mean. I am trying hard not to blame whoever colonized us here.I am not to lay blames here and there, but take it, take the bull by the horns and be you, truly you. If you are selecting a little from the reservoir of your experiences and not pouring in the weight of what life presented to you, you may be short-changing your life, you may just be existing and not living fully.
Last week, I was trying to pour Garri, that’s tiny grains of cassava flakes, for those who don’t know, pouring into a narrow- mouthed container and I just couldn’t, it kept pouring over, I took it to the sink, placed it in a tray and it still was pouring all over the place; until I remembered a technic used by the women in the village we stayed in.They use their hands on both sides ,put their palms straight down, to control the movement of the grains into the narrow mouthed container…voila! It went through without a spill. A lot of us are not doing jack because we are thinking of the labels that may flow thereafter, live, live your life. There is a reason why you went through every experience, and each one had a lesson, you need to sit back and think, some solutions to your present issues lie in the lessons from the past, you just need to find the memory folders and retrieve the solutions. Don’t discard anything except Regrets.
“In order to love who you are, you cannot hate the experiences that shaped you” – Andrea Dykstra
Mimes 😊