Omo, things we do jest to collet “safticate”… Of all the things that happened in my undergraduate days, I will never forget thi one.
So it was my third year in Unilag, and Dr Ohiovoriole sent us to our villages to rescue our indigenous cultures from extinction. Wait o, have I told you about Dr Ohiovoriole and her voice modulations before? Let me check ferst if she is on my friend list. #checked. One advise, if you have IPP (high bp), just don’t near her class because one minute she is whispering to herself; and while you are straining to make out her werds, she’s speaking at top volume (and that’s to put it charitably) and you’re wondering what just went wrong.
One moment it’s all fun and games and the next thing you hear is the loudest “ARE yoUuUuUuuu TELling MEEEEE GABRIEL OKARA is from MAL-a-WIIIII???? #culledfromMoyor’scomment
My first encounter with her during diploma days, we all echoed her scream in horror. Bert das not evin the gist.
ENG 3 somtinsomtin (Oral African Literature): Moyosola Tugbobo, Tajomavwo Fejiro, et al had somtin like Ijala, Bridal songs (Ekun iyawo), Oro, Oriki… Bert me, drama be following me from birth. She asked me to gwan collet “Blessings and Curses in Ijebuland” #lobatan. I pazz out.
Okay o, I go house and tell Mama Dele, she scream, “blood of Jesus, that is not your portion, errriimmmamamskintorobo”… I say “too late, “we beta gbera and find answer for this 2-unit-compostry-course o”. I fear Dr Ohio’s voice than her F.
Mummy call her cousin, Bodah Biodun. Bodah Biodun is “shonoftheshoil” so he epp us rrange one baba like that. We later found out baba is medicine man, bert my mum had sensed it in her spirit-woman all along.
Ferstorfors, Bodah Biodun ask mummy for money for schnapps, mummy say “will you clear off. O mo mi nau. Aarrrmm a Christian (if you know my mum well, you’ll know the intonation she uses for that line). I thought it was a good time to laugh, so I intervened, “Mama Dele cam dan, is baba and his erumole das drinking ogogoro, not you”. She say “tinba brush oju e (another favorite phrase; when we were kids, it used to be “your blighter”; no kain English i never carry my ear to hear.)
We entered the hut and its aura was so tangible you could touch it. It reeked of history and the impact of time on African civilisation. I could tell where he recently patched the brick wall. I looked up, and the sparse ceiling afforded a generous view of the beautiful sky. Mother Nature gave me a smothering embrace and I squirmed just to breathe. The hut scented of herbs and roots and memory and loss. The cane chair crackled under our weight, so we shifted to the edge for fear it would give.
Before baba entered, Mummy lectured me to conduct masef, so that I won’t be possessed join the one wey dey worry me. She say she will interview baba hersef, I say “bert…” She say “sharrap”. Dr Ohio would kill me, she say “sharrapp” again with a vibrato “R”. If my mum tells you to “sharrap” you’d best shetup before her backhand send you message. Bert is not me paying school fees, so I sharrap for real. And watched my G.P take a dive. In the Lagoon.
Baba entered, and as Yoruba geh consyn, I went down on both knees, bert ain’t no way her Christian knees would kiss the heathen Earth, so my mum merely genuflected. #ilaugheth. Me, I was so at home, taking in the artefacts and history. I’m smiling and smiling, my mum’s heart is knotted, I could tell from the twitching of her toes somebody will be collecting back hand soon, so I take dressing.
Where was I? Okay, baba fersofors drink schnapps, and then a drop for each ancestor and erumole. He handed the cup to Mama Dele, Mama Dele is fasting.
Baba started with the first aspect of the assignment: “Blessings”. I pressed the record botton, that’s how my mum started speaking in tongues o. With every line he dropped, was an #erimamaskintorobo. I could’ve guessed I heard Russian. Baba paused intermittently for a shot or two.
In about ten minutes, he was done with the Blessings, and my mum said, “ehhnn, baba, ibi epe yen nko?”… Baba no evin do like say he hear. If he was doing the blessings and Mama Dele is doing #rekekemasantaliba, definitely, her hands would be wrapping around his wrinkled neck when he gets to the “Curses”. She look me askance, and I pressed STOP shrugingly, like “what did she expect?” That’s how I do half of d assignment o.
I went home to transcribe, it’s mummy’s tongues I was hearing, while Baba’s voice was smothered in the bagrand. My siblings could not recover from the laughter in days. Well, Dr Ohio was in good mood, she gimme a B. For my trouble.