AJÉÌÍGBÉ

I

Ajéìígbé struts into the marketplace
His shoulders as high as Òkè Olúmo
His abetí ajá cap towering on his head
Like the heaps of yams on his slaves’ heads
His slaves rallying around him like èèrà around honey
His smile wide like that of a fool
You can smell his arrogance from miles away
You can hear his agbádá flapping in the wind
His slaves calling out, “Baba, e rora o! Be careful!”
Sycophants singing, “Ajéìígbé! B’ójà tilè kùtà!”

Ajéìígbé sits under a shed in the market
Drinking pamwine and eating eran ìgbé
Two slaves attending to him, while the others sell the farm produce
He responds to the greetings of passersby
When they shout, “Ajéìígbé! Prosperity never perishes!”
He replies, “B’ójà tilè kùtà! Even if goods fail to sell!”

Ajéìígbé’s departure from the marketplace
Is louder than his entry
He struts out, shoulders now higher than Olúmo
His agbádá made bigger by the hundreds of handfuls of cowries
His slaves carrying empty baskets
And bulging sacks of cowries
Chants of “Ajéìígbé!” even louder
Ajéìígbé’s smile even wider

In an effort to clear his path
His slaves push people around and over
But even more people rush before him
Shouting his name and grovelling before him
In an attempt to have some cowries thrown at them

Hmmn.
All of this ended on ojó burúkú
The evil day, when Èsù decided to forgo his usual drink of blood
And had a drink of water
It was evening in the marketplace
As traders packed their igbá of goods
Ajéìígbé strutted like eye ògòngò, the bald ostrich, out of the market
His slaves cleared his path, shoving people out of his way
Ìyá Àjé, the witch, refused to move
Ajéìígbé dug his hands into his pockets
And cast some cowries at her

Ìyá Àjé picked up three of the cowries
Licked them, and raised them to the sky
Like an offering to Irúnmolè, the deities
And, in an unearthly voice
That caused the entire market to go still
She cursed him, saying…

 

…The rest of the poem will be revealed in part II. Do come back!

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UNSURE

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Unsure of myself
The pen seems to fail in my hands
Afterall, it has been so long
Together, we have written so much
Literature reviews, assignments, microbial assessments
But no poems, no stories, no songs

I hold the pen in my hand
My fingernail in my mouth
And ideas in my head
Flurrying about like birds before a storm
Unsure of where to fly
Unsure whether to converge or disperse

I am unsure of what might be made
When I put pen to paper
After all, it has been so long
I am afraid of what I’ll make
Of whether I’ll even be able to make anything!

But unsure though I am,
I would rather venture out into that uncertainty
Than remain seated here in discomfort
Pulled in many different directions
By the birds in my head which continuously chirp
“Fly! Fly! Let us loose! We want to fly!”

 

3:11pm
Queen Elizabeth II Hall
University of Ibadan.

LONG TIME…

When I was much younger, an older cousin told me that once I got into university, the rate at which I write would reduce, if not stop completely. I disagreed with him,  and told him I would write no matter what. We had a kind of bet, and he said, “You’ll understand when you get there.” I am here now,  and I think I now understand what he meant. I still refuse to admit and let him win. 😋Besides, he’s away in China, studying, and I’m not sure he even remembers our bet.

Since my last post, which was in August, I have been busier than I have ever been. Labwork was just gulping down my time. It was a new experience for me because we only used to have a few hours of practicals in the lab before. All of a sudden, I had to get used to spending my whole day at the lab, culturing, pampering, and storing microbes that were sometimes colourful, glittery, but mostly smelly.

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I had to learn new things, withstand disappointments, calm my fears (and my trembling hands), and learn how to spend my entire day around my supervisor whom I didn’t really fancy at first. It wasn’t easy, and I would get back home in the evenings, utterly exhausted.

I am working on a kind of meat for my project, and I had to go to Hausa populated areas to get my samples. At first, I was wary, (I’ll soon put up a post about the first time I went to Sabo alone) but I soon began to enjoy bantering with the Hausa men, speaking my really bad Hausa, and laughing with the men. But with time, I soon got tired of this too, especially with the stares from some of the men, the cigarette smoke that sometimes got puffed in my face, and the lewd jokes.

In the midst of all this, I got sewing jobs, and I worked to get them delivered to the owners on time.IMG_20170817_170943_819.jpg I was tired here, and decided to practice my gele-tying and take selfies. 😝

I would get back home in the evening and sew till almost midnight when the sound of my machine would be the only thing disturbing the quiet night. I would also wake up early to sew before going to the lab. Sometime last month, I got a big job, the biggest I’ve ever gotten, in fact. I have to make clothes for my fellowship choir, in preparation for their concert. When I first got it, I was soooo tempted to turn it down because I was scared, but my mum would not let me. “How do you expect to improve if you turn down jobs?” she asked me. So I took it, and I am still working on it. It is the major thing taking up my time now, in addition to labwork. Add to this, the fact that school has resumed, and I have to go to classes. Phew!  😰

I did manage to write a few things, but they are mostly incomplete. In fact, for some, all I’ve managed to do is write down the title, or the idea. I however did not post any of them, hence my absence. Forgive me, will you? I have been on my machine since morning, but I took a break to read some blog posts. As I read, I missed my blog even more, and then all of a sudden, I stood up from my stool and, like one that was demon-possessed, I went to look for my blog book, and started scribbling.I put my book on my machine to write, and I was so fast that I caused the machine to rattle. I still haven’t learnt how to put my ideas straight on my phone or laptop, I prefer to write on paper first, but today, I was so excited about putting up a post that I stopped writing in my book halfway and continued on my phone. 😍 I have missed blogging.

It’s good to be back. I hope it will not be too long before I come back. I’ll return to my sewing now. I have to go show the choir a sample of the cloth, and do a fitting for one of the ladies tomorrow. I pray they like it. 🙏 Fingers crossed.

How have you been? Please drop your comments, eh?  I would love to hear from you.

 

THESE THINGS CALLED BROTHERS

These things called brothers
Can be so much of a bother
Their noise smothers
And can disturb even the calmest waters

These things called brothers
Unduely stress the vocal chords of our mothers
And though they seem angelic to others
They are most annoying to their sisters
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They turn the living room into a playground
Take stuff and scatter them around
Their clothes they pile in a mound
And a mountain higher than this I have not found

They hardly care if the toilet is neat
They piss on the toilet seat
And I can hardly keep my voice sweet
When I tell them to “stop that shit!”
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They argue about everything in loud tones
They only talk about football, girls, cars and phones
Their voices rumble because of their hormones
And sometimes they sound like crones

They are inaccessible when they play playstation
They are voracious and eat other’s food ration
But when it comes to sharing chores into portions
They move in slow motion

These things called brothers
When they fight, sound like thunder
Cause a ruckus like raging waters
Separating them is not an option for their sisters

These things called brothers
Although most time are bothers
Can be sweet when they keep away monsters
In form of pesky ‘toasters’

They give a sense of security
When our fathers are away on a journey
They are an alternative source of money
When to our requests, our parents look at us funny

I am grateful to our mothers
For this gift of brothers
At the thought of losing them I shudder
My love for them is forever

These things called brothers
Are one of the world’s greatest wonders
And though they are not like others
I have to say, I love my brothers!
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TÒRÒMAGBÈ-ODE TO THE BLACK NYLON BAG

Concealer of my disposed haemorrhagic absorber
Shielder of hair- natural and exotic- from deluges
Carrier of comestibles
And every other carry-able
Ultimate concealer, and propeller of “shot-put”
Exterior décor of Ibadan roads after downpours

Symbol of dirtiness and disorder to some
Seal of the lower class to others
Logo of the everyday market
Distinct from its fancy yellow cousin with red lettering
Bare, bearing no name
Trustworthy, though not always
Occasionally opening “yansh”
And exposing its contents
Evidence that its low price
Cannot be trusted always

Unassuming, unpretentious
No airs, unlike it’s white cousin
With green lettering
That has its home in Old Bodija
Unanimous package of several unregistered Food Co.-operations
Useful to virtually all trades
Elder sibling to Tóró
Younger sibling to Ègbon Tòròmagbè
Everywhere you go
Like the Yello! people
Tòròmagbè.

 

P. S: Can you decipher the overt codes in the poem and name the cousins of Tòròmagbè?

Thank you for reading!

BUSY DAY

They file in, in a straight line, their leather flip-flops slapping against the tiled floor. Heads, mine included, slowly raise from studying books to look at them. They are four girls, dressed in black and white alternatively. The first and third girl are in black, the second girl is in white, and the fourth girl is in black and white stripes. Some of us who recognise them smile. These same girls were here yesterday, although they were five then; and had been dressed in black and yellow alternatively. They had also walked in, in a single line; yellow, black, yellow, black, and yellow, bringing to my mind the image of a bee. 😉

We had smiled yesterday too, wondering if their dressing was intentional or purely by accident.

Many people have come into the Third Floor East section of Kenneth Dike Library today, and have turned back, disappointed to find all the spaces occupied. But these girls, they catch everyone’s attention with their walking arrangement and dress code, and the way they seem to draw confidence from being together; and make one word flash in most minds, “FRESHERS!” The way they cluster like a brood of chickens is so funny. It’s particularly funny to me because I have always been a loner. These kind of associations where you have to wait for other people before you can go anywhere amuses me.

Hello there. It’s a rainy day again, just like yesterday and the day before that, but I dared not lie in bed and read a random book (like I did in my post Lazy Day). Nope! 😉 School has resumed and exams have started. My routine has changed from what it previously was. Since I resumed, my new routine has been majorly to get to the library as soon as it opens at 8am, and read till evenings. I only read non-academic books now, shortly before going to bed. If I continue with my previous routine, then, my grades, and my hope of graduating this year would just have to “sémpé” like the old women in Wasiu Àyìndé K1’s song. 🙂

It’s a busy day, I just came back to the library from writing a test. These girls gave me a little break to stretch my neck and smile, and even inspired this post. Today, their dress code today reminded me of black and white carpet tiles, or a chessboard. 🙂

What were you like as a freshman? A loner, or a…what’s the opposite of a loner? A symbiont? A clique-lover? Which were you?

Thank you for reading.

*sempe- Nigerian slang meaning to cool down, or hold on for some time.
Photo credit: Google.com

WHY NIGERIA WILL NEVER BE BETTER


Photo credit: Google.com

“Change begins with me.” Everyone is encouraged to say these words, but more importantly, imbibe them. Honestly though, I think some people should not bother saying it, because they totally do not even believe Nigeria can get better. I think I prefer people who would rather not say anything because they know the change cannot begin with them; it will catch up with them sometime later. And for those who think the government must do everything…all the best to you.

An occurrence that involved me and some seven other people prompted this post. Upon the closure of my school, I travelled to Ijebu Igbo. When returning, I travelled back in a Peugeot 504 station wagon that was driven by an elderly Ijebu man. The car, though an old model, still looked good, and even had a nice interior with the upholstery still intact. The driver was very boisterous, shouting out greetings to people as we drove out of the Ijebu Igbo motorpark. One thing became apparent about him as we travelled- he didn’t give policemen money. I wondered how long he would do that before finally giving in. We went through about five checkpoints in all and, at every stop, he would smile at the policeman and say in Yoruba, “I will ‘see’ you when I’m coming back.”

When we got to Ìdí Ayùnré, the policemen there refused to be ‘seen’ later, and asked the driver to ‘settle’ them there and then. The driver apologised to us as he parked beside the road and got out of the car to go talk to them. He spent some minutes discussing with them, and the more time he spent, the hotter the car got, and the more unbearable it became to sit in it. At a point, the other passengers began to complain about the driver, and how he was being selfish. Why wouldn’t he give the policemen some money? Why was he bent on ‘standing on his rights?’ How many more policemen was he going to refuse to ‘settle’? How much longer was he going to delay us? What was wrong with these Ijebu people sef?

When he got back into the car, apologising profusely, they repeated all they had said while he was gone. He retorted as he started the car, “If you care so much for policemen, why don’t you give them some of your money? No portion of the money with me is for policemen. Whoever has money for them should please go and give them, and stop yelling.” I smiled to myself as I mentally applauded him. As we left, the other passengers continued arguing with him about his refusal to give policemen money. I did not say anything throughout; I have this funny habit of keeping quiet in public transport vehicles, and only talking when talked to. I prefer to listen to other people, observe them, or just read a book. On this particular journey with six other passengers and the driver, only two of us were quiet- the lady in front who didn’t appear to understand Yoruba, and myself.

We soon got to New Garage and just as we were about to enter, we were stopped by another set of policemen. A junior officer with particularly big eyes with even bigger bags beneath them, and an overall sullen look about him, came to the car and said, “Welcome sir.” The driver looked up at him through the window and said in Ijebu, “What does that mean?” I smiled; apparently he had decided to play dumb.
“Baba, I no understand Yoruba, na English I sabi. I say welcome sir. You no hear that one?” The policeman retorted.
“I said what is the meaning of what you said to me?” The driver asked again, as a lady sitting directly behind him pointed out the policeman’s name tag to the rest of us in the car. He wore a safety jacket, and it covered the rest of his name; all we could see was “Aye”. The lady concluded that he was Yoruba but was also pretending not to understand. So much drama in one place. I had to suppress my laughter as the policeman decided to ditch pleasantries.

“Where are your particulars?” Patiently, the driver brought out a small bag and showed him his particulars. The policeman went through it all, and apparently, the driver had all he could think to ask for. But unwilling to let him go so easily, he held up a card and asked, “Where is the original for this one?”
The driver replied in an angry, cutting tone, still in Ijebu, “I hope you’re not mad. How would I have this one if I didn’t have the original? Do you even know what you’re talking about?” Too annoyed to sit in the car any longer, he got out, slammed the door shut, and brushed the policeman’s hand off the side mirror, saying, “Don’t break my mirror. Does it look like an armrest to you? If you break it now, you’ll stop me for it later and ask me to pay some money.”

“Baba, respect yourself. If not, I will throw your particulars on the ground and march on them.” The policeman said, his big eyes narrowing, seemingly being swallowed by the bags beneath.

“Don’t tell me rubbish about my particulars, young man. I have been driving before you were born. Your mother was probably still in secondary school at the time! And you talk about marching on my particulars?”

The driver and the policeman went to meet his superiors some meters behind the car while we sat in the car, sweating. My co-travellers resumed their whining about the selfishness of the driver, and Ijebu people in general. I wondered if they would say all that if they knew I am Ijebu. The man who sat two seats away from me, and who happened to be the only male passenger, was particularly annoying.
“Baba is just suffering us for nothing,” he said in Yoruba. “Why can’t he just give them fifty naira or hundred naira instead of putting us through all this stress and wasting our time? Other drivers do it, why is he standing on his rights? He should know that in Nigeria, no one can stand on their rights; there is no such thing. You will always lose. He should just give them what they want. That’s how things are.”

The driver soon came back with his particulars, a triumphant smile on his face.
“Sorry o!” he said, as he stored away his particulars and started the car. Once again, my fellow passengers yelled their complaints at him, and once again, he replied them appropriately.
“I have told you before; if you have money for them, you can give them. As for me, the money with me is for my family. You passengers are wicked. You’re asking me to give policemen money. If I do that, what will be left for me and my family to spend?”

“How much is fifty naira that you can’t give them? You left us all in the heat of this your car because of fifty naira!” someone said.

“Why are you complaining to me about the heat? Am I the one who asked the sun to shine? And, in case you don’t know, it takes money to maintain this car, so you can sit comfortably in it. I starved myself to pay for that licence. Why should I pay anyone bribes after that? If you don’t know what to say, please keep quiet.”

“I have paid my fare o; you didn’t carry me free of charge. I have a right to express my mind,” the sole male passenger said. I wanted to slap him in the face with my book. Didn’t he just say there’s no such thing as rights?

“How much did you pay that you’re running your mouth? Six hundred naira! Seven of you paid four thousand two hundred naira in total. If I keep dashing policemen money, what will I take home to my family? Ògbéni*, it will not be well with your rights!” the driver replied hotly and the whining passengers all kept quiet. He he! If that had been some social media battle, I would have commented on the driver’s words and said, “#Savage!” 🙂

Seriously, if people keep on with the attitude that corruption, bribery, and regular unwarranted payments to policemen are normal, ‘the way things are’; that we don’t even have rights that we can stand on as Nigerians; then Nigeria will never be better. We want change but somehow, we want it to happen without our involvement, without changing our mindsets and bad habits. Who are we fooling?

Photo credit: Ziglar.com

Change is a process, and it can be painful. In this case, we had to sit in an old, extremely hot car with no air conditioner. In other cases, it could be more: it could be recession, falling value of our money, rising prices of commodities…But if we endure it, stand on our rights, and fish out corrupt people for due punishment, we will see the end of corruption. It might take time, but it will happen. We will be triumphant, just like that old driver.

Photo credit: Google.com

As for people like Mr Running mouth whose knowledge of ‘rights’ I seriously doubt, God be with you o.

*Ogbeni- Yoruba word used to refer to men.