As the car drove past there were many drawn faces by
The roadside, withdrawn, tired faces hanging on to a thread of hope
That the Mammy wagon painted yellow and Black would come their way
This same ray of hope would wake them up at 3.30 am
glide them through the smell of damp sweaty clothing, hanging in all manner of shapes,
Showing the owner to be a “corporate worker”.
Then through the weave of “compound’ and the dingy winding footpath
Bush, marsh, and then to the undulating road…
Sleep had learned early enough in their lives, not to linger for long
There certainly would be deep sleep in the mammy wagon
Too much sleep and your purse or phone would travel on a spiritual
The journey never to return or you would be rudely
Awoken at the “last Bus stop” by the Conductor
Some of these same people would be at the car park somewhere at about 7.00 am
Hustling, jostling to get a better view of the “Iya Rasheed’s hot rice, Amala
Eba, Bokoto, Pomo, and Meat, steam rising from the pot
And the flies beginning to buzz for their share of the booty……
One picks up his phone, looks around for an audience, and begins to talk like
A “big man” “Hello Please, Yes please having a brunch here. Coming please”
He then clears his throat and holds on tenaciously to his plastic plate,
The Lady in the second-hand suit and long neck and bulging eyes…from years of lack and wanting, has her head cocked to the side
Looks like she was forced to come….shouting “I’m busy, I’m busy Iya Rasheed hurry up..”
The area boys too ..huffing, puffing pouting, and reminding themselves that rich people are lazy and must pay for their poverty…..
A broken window here and there and snatched handbag…
They say somebody must pay for their Father that ran away before they were born or their Mother that couldn’t take care of them or send them to school beyond Primary School
Indeed they say …somebody has got to pay…
Marijuana assures them all is well, calms them, and then reminds them of their fear and anger all over Again … somebody must pay… least they hope so
The young Lady in her shinny over a waxed car, basking in the euphoria of pseudo wealth has her nose in the air
Certainly, someone must be watching, her gold, Liquid Matte Powder, and human hair cannot go unnoticed……
Her swagger to the left and right on those platforms assures her that she is a celeb……
She pouts her lips to talk to everyone, forcing vain femininity down your throat as you do your best to catch your breath from the ooze of 5thAvenue, Chanel, and Gucci…. She never forgets to let you know…” You don’t know?? I live on the axis” She should have mentioned that she parks her car on the axis and takes a flying boat of N100 to the other side of the island where the water is still and there are no toilets or staircases or walkways or lawns, just marsh…the platform SHOES are well wrapped in the boot of the car and the rubber sandals are on the move…blackberry in hand pinging chatting, I M-ing her way without looking as she had passed the marsh walkway so many times she CAN pass through with her eyes shut, her DP still has the picture of her by the Empire state building…Thank you to Frank …whose business it is to download pictures of popular places and superimpose PERSONAL pictures on them, still is there hope chiseled on her face…?
The Boys in Black…are not left out ….they wear hope like a glove, live by it…a kind of retail sales marketing / Microfinance strategy……a flag down, a greeting, a smile or harassment, some particulars particulars
A handshake .a reprimand …a smile …and then a hand in the pocket…still there is Hope…
The man in his purple and white cassock, jumping shouting prosperity, whipping a mad frenzy ….it looks like shared malaria…….and then…..he lunges at the congregation….if you DO NOT GIVE …..then you have no faith…he huffs, he puffs…he blows the house down……..the HOPE STARTS to show…in torrents……
Still …there is hope!
Open your Mouth
Whaaaaan… Shannon the baby screams….!
Its Mother is not moved, her Ankara aladire, Iro, and Buba are slightly rolled up
At the sleeve and the wrapper parted and tucked into the crotch area to allow
For ease as she gives the baby its African exercise…
One arm up a stretch here, there
Folding clasping, gripping massaging, throwing up (they say this is to prevent fear in a child)
When it is a girl baby a special massage is done to bring the hips out, make the waist small
And impose dimples on her cheeks.
Some have gone further to mold a misshapen head, where the babies head looks like it is developing “Ogo pion”
A stubborn baby who refuses to eat that soya meal will soon know why he/she should comply
Hands behind the back and tucked somewhere between mama’s thighs, the head is thrown backward and down the throat, it all goes….
I wonder whether this initiation is a precursor to the life that many of us live.
No sooner has the child learned to walk, do the skills of fearlessness go out the window
Indeed some are never forgotten
They will live with the African Child till old
At infancy, we are told not to whistle at night
Not to eat snail
Not to drink coconut water (because omo a ye olodo ni ile iwe)
Not to eat eggs, except on Sundays (because omo ma di ole)
Not to go into the arts because “were dun wo ,ko se bi”
Not to marry from here. There and everywhere
Not to give a wife too much money so it doesn’t go to her head
Not to be stingy
Not to look longingly at an elders table
Not to and Not To!
Slowly and slowly the wheel of life opened its bowels and let out
Waves of changes
I don’t hear the cock crow anymore
I can’t remember the last time I saw a little throw a stone at a redheaded lizard
Why did the Ibos give the proverb of the Lizard and running stomach?
They did not foresee that there would be a fancy estate for the
Near nouveau rich, sitting right on top of the little forest where
The lizards should have procreated?
Did their Ofo not tell them ahead of time that the proverb cease to be relevant?
And when the Yorubas said “A le fi fila bo di nitori a beru ori”
They were talking about history, they failed to look forward
The talking drums have long been silenced and
Were replaced by Hunger, Greed, and selfishness
Indeed not only is the cap worn on the buttocks
But adorns every other part of the body but the Head
The Masquerades kept the peace as the spiritual police
Have been given akamu to drink, hands tied back, and the head was thrown back
They are drunk with it…
Blind by it…
Like the proverbial Dog that no longer hears the sound of his Masters whistle
They have sold their birthright for a stick of cigarette and pure water.
The Baales and Obas palaces have become face me I face rooms, shops, and viewing
To be continued…..

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