Tuesday, April 29, 2008

RECONCILIATION

Back in the days, I used to consider myself a poet. I even went to the extent of performing the poem below, before an audience of talented artistes at Jazzville, during the Open Mic of the Word n Sound programme organised by one Majek (can't remember his other name)and Beautiful Nubia. One notable talent that has continued her work in what she believes in from that place, is the rave of the moment ASA. Back then, just with her guitar, she blew our minds.

I had memorized the poem and learnt some gesticulations to follow. I even bought a new top and jeans for the night. I remember the top was red. My friend Pat accompained me there, and when I got on stage, I pretended not to see anyone, did my thing and left quickly, but the audience applauded sha.

RECONCILIATION
Let us perform
Some simple ablutions.
In the act,
Let us pause,
And lock eyes.
Let us see
Our inner thoughts.
Let us realise
What we want.
We have grown
Beyond the age of derision.
We have seen
Beyond the eyes of a precognist.
Only we can determine
If forever we should be.
Let us gather
The dust of yesterday.
And hand in hand
Let us walk,
The stream towards.
Let us stand at the shores,
And the dust we sprinkle away
-As though the ashes
Of the corpse
Of a bad man-
Our bad memories,
Let it flow down the stream.
Let us perform
Some simple ablutions.
To welcome reconciliation.
You and I,
We fit together.
I could love you again,
I know I can.
And before that day comes,
We have to wash the dirt
Of yesterday.
Wash and wash.
But, a simple ablution?
I don’t see you and I
Performing it together.

(c)UZEZI EKERE. 11th FEBRUARY. 2003.

Friday, April 18, 2008

African Insurance And Festivals

For some time now, I have been thinking about festivals and what I have come to understand by the term, African Insurance.
The first time I heard about African Insurance, it was from a neighbour, when she was describing what happened when robbers attacked another neighbour’s family and shot at some of them. Of course the bullets bounced of the kids and wife, because they all had African Insurance.

Thinking of it, I then realized that at some point in my life, I also had an African Insurance, to ensure that I wouldn’t be harmed by a cutlass.

For those who know the Isoko people, they will understand why we are called Isoko Tolopia (The Isokos picks cutlass).

I really don’t know why the term is used for us, except that the Isoko’s use cutlass for a lot of things, including war. It is the reason why people will joke about an Isoko man chasing men sneaking around to see his daughter, with the cutlass he has under his bed. My papa no get oh!

A friend of my brother accompanied us to the village in 2003 to bury my grandfather, when he encountered a woman chasing her son with a cutlass, because according to her, she carried him for nine months, and before he kills her, she will kill him. So my brother’s friend said he now understands why the Isokos are related to the cutlass.

But I digress.

When I was six years old, I got an African Insurance during the period of the village’s yearly (or was it once in two years?) festival.

The festival consisted of three warring side, which represented the three quarters of the village, which again represented the three brothers, Urabe, Ukoli, and Egbo, sons of the king of Olomu, whom many years ago, left their land with their village god on their head, running away from God knows what and for the safety of their god, to protect it from whatever war was going on back in the days.

After journeying away from their Urhobo land of Olomu for many days, they decided to rest, so they dropped their god (owa olomu, which means Olomu’s load). After resting, they decided to continue but Owa Olomu refused to be carried, and they decided it liked it where it was among the Isoko people, and they settled there, married and bred and my sweet village- Olomuoro, out of Olomu, but renamed Olomoro by the white men, again- came into existence.

There after, before Olomoro’s festival, some sort of permission is taken from the king of Olomu and elders from Olomu attend our festivals. While the festival really wasn’t about the three quarters warring, they tried to relive the greatness of Olomoro, a warring town that bred a warrior like Owowo, my great grand father, and others. And also to pay some respect to whomever, and display what they are known for. Cutlass. (for the record, this isn’t entirely precise, but I know I am on the track, with a lot missing. I will save it for my book)

Anyway, I digress again.

Before the festival proper, the whole village prepares, farming ceases for a while, and priests prepare the warriors.

One fateful August, a break in my primary school, we traveled home and it was a festival period.

I woke one morning and saw one of my cousins with leaves in her mouth. She had gone to do a sort of medicine, so that if she pierces one cheek with a needle, it would come out on the other side.

I was intrigued. I think I was seven not six. I asked lots of questions and realized there were different types of medicines to do. Without telling anyone, I was off for an African insurance.

A new blade was used to mark thirteen marks each above my breast, and a needle was used to draw three lines on my chest. The medicines were robbed in and I was ready for the festival as long as I didn’t go near water the rest of the day (those med marks don go back to where them come from).

Another of my cousin did a different insurance and later was tied to a tree, just like some other guys, and shot at with a gun. Of course he wasn’t hurt.

My insurance, insured me from cutlass. The festival then, is full of cutlasses. At the village square where the parade holds, all the warriors fighting the fake war are busy throwing cutlasses left right and centre into the air. If you dare to look up, you will be so confused because all the cutlasses looked as though they were fighting in the air. What’s more, every cutlass thrown into the air is always caught by who ever threw it. They never fell to the ground, and there never were calamities, but just in case, the African Insurance protects one from harm. And the warriors are dancing as they throw, moving around, but still, a cutlass will locate its owner.

It used to be fun. I attended just one of such festivals, before they stopped holding them. And their reason for stopping, I know not, except I hear that once you are a Christian, you cannot attend such festivals anymore.

I miss the festivals really, because it is tradition and passing our history down to the next generation. It is our identity and our roots, and I wanted my own children to experience it, without the insurance of course, from a distance. And that brings me to wonder just how in the name of God, does all these medicines/African Insurance work.
I do wonder.

Nice weekend ya all.

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

My Sister And I

My fourteen year old sister is almost driving me bunkers. I have no idea if what is happening is normal among sisters, because I never had an elder sister.

At fourteen, she is almost as tall as I am, 5’7``, and my clothes; tops and jeans, would fit her, although not so perfectly.

It began when I left home. Whenever I went back for a visit, I noticed that my sister who is going to be taller than me no doubt, and soon would look down on my head while I’m talking to her, has taken over some of my clothes. And I am still alive, and my stuffs are being taken over. First, it used to be my precious books that she and my almost sixteen year old brother, would give out as gifts to whomever they discover reads books, because their big sister has lots of books. You can imagine me outdoors, noticing someone, walking around or sitting down with an ‘Uzezi’ (When ever I buy a new book, I design it with my name at a corner, and most times, seeing all those books bear my name, make me so happy like the most prolific mother in the whole world).

Someone I had never met had actually come over to make a proposition for one of my Steven Kings. I said I don’t sell books. He said he knows, that he is a collector of Steven King, and the one I have is the only one he doesn’t have, and was surprised when my brother told him I had the big King bible, and he has searched everywhere for it. Where did I get it? Really? I ended up borrowing him to read and threatened to have my kid brother’s head, if I don’t get the book back. It came back thankfully, with some obvious surgery having taken place, because while the book was with me, it had no reason to go into intensive care and come out with stitches of cello-tape. From their giving out of my books, they entered my CDs and DVDs, because they soon realized that when one book misses from my shelf, I notice, because I know how I arrange my stuffs. I had even locked two of them once, outside, till I get my missing books. I think I got some back.

Anyway, I digress. So she was looking chic in my clothes, and I screamed and all that; ‘you can’t take what does not belong to you! It’s stealing. If you try it again, bla, bla, bla.’

Another visit, I noticed the same thing. I never announce when I’m coming, so she never had the time to hide the clothes. I would scream, my mum would scream, but apparently, her ears have a life of their own, and she will do it again.

I buy her clothes, I even pass some of mine down to her that always make her the envy of her friends. At fourteen, I wasn’t into fashion and stuff, but this babe knows more than me. Even the handbags I gave her, I can swear she doesn’t have one of them left.

The last time this happened, I couldn’t scream. I started to think it is probably what younger sisters do with their big sisters’ stuffs, because I have reasons to believe she is experimenting with some makeup I left behind. All my threats of don’t make me so angry I will take a harsh decision towards you are very empty. I know that. What will I do? Not buy her stuff or pass some down to her? I know I will always do that, she is my sister. But she should have more respect for my stuffs now. Abi?

Talked with a friend and she can’t tell me what to do, cause she is an only daughter. Another friend says she and her sisters – they are all closer in age – wore each other’s stuffs all through their growing up days.
Now really, what do I do? Those of you female bloggers with younger sisters, or big sisters? Is this a normal thing among sisters?

I cannot put a restriction stopping her from entering the room, cause when its empty, it cries to be visited. I believe that even when I was putting a new lock on the door to save my last books, they might have been thinking I am only wasting my time.

I will start wearing all my clothes at once oh! Because once she takes over any, I can’t wear it anymore, before all those her friends that call me aunty will start smirking that I am wearing my younger sister’s clothes. Maybe I really should just thank my stars that we don’t wear same size of shoes. For now, she deals with mumsie’s own. I adore my heels, although I know she did something real terrible to one of my favs. I mean, who else would have done it? My mum won’t wear such heels, and my eleven year old sister who could have been a suspect, cause of the size she wears, is out of town.

Anyway, I just don’t know. I better don’t lose it.