Once Upon a Child XI

I made a curious observation at a-year-old birthday party quite recently. Babies born in this era of accolades don’t cry during their one year birthdays as much as we did during our era. Why? I asked. The answer is simple; they are selfie natives. Every day is a holiday, an excuse to be vain and […]

Once upon a Child X

Wednesday and I were never friends, and I had my reasons. From kindergarten to secondary school, the only time I had proper secular education was when I went to Unilag. Mrs Peters, the proprietress of Philomena Nursery and Primary School was a devout Apostolic Faith woman. So every Wednesday like this, we all sat in […]

Once upon a Child IX

This time years back, my mum would take my sisters and I to Eko market and buy us “ready-made” a.k.a imported dresses, knee-length white socks, konkon shoe and other paraphernalia of Yuletide. We’d elbow our way through the pressing crowd, momentarily getting missing, as my mum tore through the crowd, screaming “omo mi omo mi” […]

Once upon a Child VII

Her skin was the richest shade of brown with the gleam of good furniture on it. I could’ve sworn she polished it all night with Cocoa Butter. She wasn’t quite mad you see, but her life had its own pace, a little relaxed than ours. Often, she recalled a joy locked away in the distance […]

Once upon a Child VI

I told you once about my time in Herbert Macaulay Primary School, where my class teacher, Mr Andrew use me and collet plenty gold medals (panda achilli) for the school. So he noticed I spoke better English than other kids, and I keep eye contacts; confidence lomo. So dasow he made a debater outta me. […]

Once upon a Child V

It’s Inter-Out (as we called it) Sport. And Mr Andrew had yet to recover from the Gold Medal (kpanda actually) from Children’s Day. I forgot to add in the earlier post that it was aired on NTA 2 Channel 10. So he thought to add 100m, 400m, 100×4m and baton race to my itinerary. I […]

ONCE UPON A CHILD IV

Don’t be deceived, I was a tall kid. In fact my mum said on seeing my long fingers and long limbs at birth, folks exclaimed “omo baba e re o” (like father like daughter). But somewhere along the journey, my mum’s genes intercepted, leaving me somewhere around 5 feet 5 (5 feet 6 when I fill forms).

So, in primary school, Mr Andrew thought I’d be good at sports. Me that I can’t run 5 metres per 24 hours. But I can march for Africa. I was new in the school, Mr Andrew was fond of me and made me the squad leader. And every competition we went for, we were sure to ace it and bring home the kpanda (fake gold medal).

Children’s day found me in National Stadium. I was probably on the same spot Samuel Okparaji drew his last breath so I took dressing. I don’t like tragedies. We were beaming in our green and white combo: green ceremonial robe (cape actally, but Mr Andrew insisted it was “robe”), the white canvas I borrowed from Bolatito (only rich kids wore canvas), white stockings and our white gloved hands clamped (the same way we interwove our fingers as we prepared to choroegraph Panam Percy Paul’s “Peace when Troubled Glows (abi is Blows sef)).

Ohh, how can I forget our square-shaped “ceremonial cap” (kite actually, but Mr Andrew’s fanciful ideas again). We looked like harassed chicks at best as we walked to the centre of the arena heralded by thunderous applause.

Eventually everywhere was quiet, and the only sound I heard was my troubled heart beat. Suddenly, I heard a voice I later recognised as mine holler: “ATis. ALat. ATis. ALat. “Ayez (eyes) right. Advance. Retreat. Salute”. And everything went smoothly as planned until I ordered: “Remove headdress!!!” Suddenly, I heard an uproar, Kafilat’s wig had merove with the kite. That laugh haunted me for years. I forgot my lines, but my mouth was on autoplay. “Left. Right. Left Right” Ayez right, One and Two. Three. Four. Two. Three. Four)3ce. Ambassadors forward march”. I had regained my confidence and “we were moving mountains long before we knew we could…”

Just when I thought it was alright, the Governor showed up…

I continued like I saw nothing. “One. Two. One. Two. One and Two. Three. Four. Two. Three. Four…” But the canvas wasn’t my size and the pain that came from my cramped toes was seeping into my brains. In addition to my cramped toes, the “ceremonial cape” was squeezing my lungs, what happens when tailors use estimated measurement. “Shebi it is ten years old children, their neck can’t be more than ten inches nah” And ten inches will leave a few inches from your early grave barely ten minutes into your act.

I tried hard not to yank it off as we negotiated a bend, all the while hollering “Left. Right” like it was Judgment Day. Because in spite of myself, THE SHOW MUST GO ON!!!

Totally oblivious of the long weeks we’d rehearsed for this, the brigade was intent on stealing my show. I don’t recall the nonsense tune they were playing, all I remember is that it was loud enough to drown every sound I made from that moment on.

Thankfully, on our second bend, it subsided, and before I could draw the governor’s attention, the announcer emerged. (Did I tell you I cried easily?).

“Hello chinchin!!! Hello chinchin!!! (Bang. Bang. Bang) Issorraaii!!! Dasokay!!! Hello, shidren.” Bangs it twice again before asking the mic, “are you appy? Okay, interexting! Good aftoanoan Your Excellency, it is ah plehyor to have someone of such iconic stashur ere amang us today in commormoration of Shidren’s Day”.

How could the Governor have seen our brilliant stunt on the third bend when “awa chudren from all over the state are ere”. He continued, “Please relax and enjoy the ongoing Marshing competition” (by the way, he mentioned all the schools present and in “abscential”).

When Mr Killjoy dropped mic, we were negotiating our last bend. At any rate, the band was giving us an accompaniment we didn’t ask for; trust Nigerians, the louder the better. “Who retires about turn,” I hollered. The Minister of Education had just arrived. As if his lateness wasn’t bad manners enough, he would suffer other dignitaries to small talks the remainder of our performance. Someone that would rather be “sinning” in his lounge than waste 45 minutes of his dear life on “the leaders of tomorrow.”

The judges were observing thankfully, and at the end, we got the kpanda again and some money, both of which Mr Andrew collected from us. In spite of the physical pain, I strode proudly back home with my ceremonial gab, honoured to have made Mr Andrew proud. I stopped by to drop Bilatito’s canvas. On my way home, kill-dog-kill-dog (paja paja in literal Yoruba) laid an ambush.

Ain’t nothing happy about that day…

Read more about ONCE UPON A CHILD IV

Once upon a Child III

From Kindergarten, Cadet through High Crusaders to Youth and Adult church, every Sunday was a drill back to back. Before you are taken in as a member, you had to recite The 22 Tenets of Faith before the whole congregation. And it doesn’t matter if you were born into the system; all protocols had to […]