12 Sep

The Nigerians Have Come Again!

It is 3:35am, Monday morning. At this time I’m usually fast asleep- except the odd time I have a burst of energy and a determination to finally complete a project that has dragged on for weeks or months. That, however is not the case today.

I attended a Nigerian function with my Mother in law today. To tell the truth when hubby first suggested that I accompany her as it was important to her, I wasn’t too keen, but then I decided to go because I’m a good daughter-in-law- of course! Anyhue, Sunday morning arrived and she announced over the phone that I was to attend in my best traditional attire. It was a “heavy do” and we had to dress to the nines. I panicked only slightly, thinking about my green and black ankara dress that I love so much and how it would remain hanging in my closet indefinitely. I considered my lovely brown skirt and blouse which  I had made in Nigeria last year. No point really as it was now too small. Remember I have been growing larger? Then I remembered my grey lace from my cousin’s wedding. Surely that would fit. I would accessorise with burgundy- my favorite colour. I proceeded to dig out this outfit but instead hubby and I ended up spending nearly 2 hours going through old photos and old memories. It was something! The way the Lord has blessed us is amazing! We have grown and multiplied, hubby must have doubled in size since we got married. I saw photographs that told beautiful stories of long-lasting friendships. We made resolves to make an effort to spend more time and build fonder memories with our friends. Some have traveled every road and taken every turn with us. Some have been there through the tough and good times. I could go on and on about our friends and never stop, I thank God most sincerely for you- I will do that post on friendships that I promised!

Back to the outfit. Grey lace did not fit. So I settled on a nice evening suit, it fit, hooray!

MIL had told me the event started at 8, I told her I’d be there at 7 and to my delight I knocked on her door at 6:45! She was nowhere near being ready. Along with her sister-friend we finished the cooking. In the meantime 2 more people arrived. Finally at 7:50pm we set off for the 30 minute drive to the function that was to begin in 10 minutes. After my detour to Peckham where I picked up some fried fish from a Nigerian restaurant owned and run by Pakistanis- no lie, we arrived only to wait for a further 2 hours. The event was the indoctrination of two new members into an exclusive, expensive Nigerian social club. This was the type where wealth is celebrated, where your monetary contribution is counted out and announced for all and sundry to hear. I was fascinated! The delegates where all Igbo, a  people whose customs and traditions I have always loved learning about. I love the way Igbo is mixed with English- Nne, oodi very good girl. Lots of Nnes and Daalus going on there. The women were very well dressed. They sashayed about greeting each other excitedly in Igbo as they went past. One woman bumped into her friend and said; Darling, oodi sweet sixteen! The friend responded by waving her left hand in the air before breaking into a mono dance routine. Everyone clapped and cheered. The children that were referred to as spoiled kids were busy playing hide and seek, weaving and diving around and getting in everyone’s way. Their fun was not interrupted by the multiple hisses and echoes of “but where are their parents, ehn?”

The family that caught my eye was a perfect looking Nigerian family. I managed to steal a few shots of them with my blackberry, he he!

The Perfect family

Father, mother dressed in kingfisher blue lace. Three children, 2 sons and a daughter wearing matching royal blue lace. They looked so perfect. The children were in their late teens to early twenties. I couldn’t take my eyes off their mother. She was very pretty, skin caramel coloured  and well-built. Her husband was about the same height as her and looked older. MIL told me that you could only join this club if you were invited. One of her guests told me it’s a well-known group, very expensive and only powerful people were members. This led me to believe that Mr Perfect was a powerful, wealthy man. So when I looked at his wife, I came to realise she was the “strong, Igbo woman” Lucid Lilith has often referred to in her musings.

Strong Igbo woman. Who is she? Did she work outside her home? I know what her type would be had she been in Nigeria. She would belong to and head several women’s groups or clubs. She wore sunglasses to most occasions, as long as she wore her george. She probably didn’t call her husband by his name, some pet name like “dear” is more apt. When her husband got home from work, tired after a hard day’s work she’ll ask if he wanted dinner at table or “dinner” in the bedroom. Her children are well brought up- and pampered. It is said that Igbo men take care of their wives. That they would rather wear rags and have their wives looking good, than allowing her to have a so-so life. I can say from my own experience-as hubby is half Igbo, this is true!

The men went in and out of the main hall, as they made bathroom trips. They always stopped to say “nno” to us and that we’ll start soon. They wore red or white beads, some wore red hats, I was to later learn that the red hat symbolized it’s wearer was an Igwe, a chief. The Igwes have a special greeting. They don’t shake hands like you and I. They do a few gentle backhand claps before the handshake. I mentioned that everyone was dressed to kill right? Well this was different. I have seen dressed to kill at Nigerian weddings. These however were not party clothes. There was something subtly monarchical here. The men and women seemed very important. They carried that air about with them too. I really can’t explain it beyond this. What I wondered though was what these people did for a living. What were they returning to on Monday morning? No doubt many were self-employed, but where there any office clerks, street cleaners or cab drivers amongst them?

Another hour later and the ceremonies began. The way we were rushed into the main hall, you’d think we were the ones who were late; “Oya, oya, madam hurry up please, this way, that way! Where are your guests? Ngwa ngwa”.

First we had a long boring speech about the club and it’s bylaws. The speech was in English, but the jokes were in Igbo. Guess who sat there with a plastic smile on her face? At least I was able to respond to shouts of “Igbo kwenu!” The only other non- Igbo was Aunty Irene, whom I was excited to meet earlier, mother in law’s friend. I was excited as I thought I had an ally. We’ll both feel left out together in this clan meeting. Alas, aunt Irene turned on me the minute someone said something in Igbo which I didn’t understand. Bet (but) why haven’t you learned the language? You should speak it by now! she insisted very accusingly- her with her big eyes and hideous shoe and bag!

Next the first new member was invited to come forward- it was Mr Perfect who will henceforth be known as Dr Nwanze. Dr Nwanze had the same smile and expression he was wearing when we first arrived 2 hours prior. I wondered how anyone could do that, perhaps he had just one thing on his mind? Dr Nwanze came with drinks- Hennessey, Gulder, Stout, etc The bottles were counted and announced. Loud cheers followed each announcement. Then he handed in the large white envelope. A stack of £20s was quickly revealed and counted, it amounted to £1000. Then another couple of envelopes were also counted. More loud claps and cheers. The people at the high table, the officials had this insanely greedy look about them. They were pretty much rubbing their hands in glee, no doubt excited about the people they’d just suckered.  One of them looked like Zik- in fact if Zik wasn’t dead, I’d be forgiven for thinking he was Zik.

Sitted next to me was a very nice gentleman, we quickly became friends and he explained a lot of the traditions to me. Like when I was offered Guiness and turned it down, he suggested I take it so I don’t offend them.  My friend remarked that the chief officer’s glasses resembled his primary school headmaster’s glasses. I couldn’t agree more.

Dr Nwanze and his beautiful wife remained standing through all the disquisitions. They showed them the club’s secret handshake so they’d recognise each other in public, exulted the qualities of “this auspicious club”, and so on and so forth. At this time my concern was the food we cooked. It was dangerously close to midnight on a Sunday and there were coolers of rice, ugba and fish all untouched.

Finally at about midnight the food was served. Friend, there is something eerie about eating Jollof rice in the middle of the night- particularly on the brink of the first working day of the week. A pot-bellied man kept yelling for the Ugba to be brought to him. He stressed that it wouldn’t be funny if he didn’t get any to eat. After all food was served, one of the servers an older lady clapped loudly demanding to be heard. Another speech? I wondered. The “speech” begun;

I have food in my house! She was gesticulating wildly.

I have food in my house. Even if I invite you all to my kitchen this very minute, I’ll have a surplus of food after you’d all have eating your fill. Everyone nodded in agreement while wondering where this was going. She was clearly very upset.

So why my second and I, who laboured to serve all of you should be left starving; at this point she revealed a large pot of fried fish heads, showing it round for everyone to see- why we should be treated in this manner, I don’t know. See! Is this what we should be eating? Ehn? Not one person thought of saving us some food! And on she went.

This was followed by mumbling from the crowd as the guests all asked one another who could have done this wicked thing, and how bad people can be sometimes.

My MIL proceeded to offer her a plate of uneaten ugba, which she vehemently refused. “I’m not hungry o!  Like I said I have food in my house. I just don’t know how people can be so greedy”.

I went to introduce myself to the perfect family. The lady was lovely, her husband looked at me with that strange smile. I gave her my business card, told her I admired her lovely family and she must be so proud, blah, blah.

There was a large trolley of unopened alcohol. The designated guard was good, he never left his station. Finally we left at about 2am on Monday morning. This morning, which is how I came to typing up a blog post at 3am on a Monday when I should be fast asleep.

I’ll be back to one of the many functions, more blog material for me.

Thank you for reading!

Here’s a Picture of another branch of the same club, see what I mean?

07 Sep

Quickpress on Hubby’s Facebook Activities

I interrupt my epistle on the Nigerian Event I attended over the weekend to give you an update on Hubby’s Facebook activities and it’s effects.
Hubby’s buddy, Alex expressed his heartfelt joy at hubby’s reunion with his friends from boarding school. Alex (who is so sweet and ever so soppy) noted that his buddy seemed to have a new lease of life. I don’t know whether or not to be offended at such a remark. What? Is there something I’m not doing right? We’ll have to revisit the issue. I’ll wait until tomorrow as today is my wedding anniversary- 14 glorious, fun filled joyful years and counting, with my bestest friend in the world yay!

Back to Facebook- which I wonder if it is a proper or improper noun, I mean with 500 million users it is worthy of being proper init? So Child 1- the creative one has been moved up to the highest math group and is officially at the top of his class, double yay!. He calls his dad to tell him, we speak for a while about our children’s progress and the topic turns to…you guessed it, facebook. He was informing me about a friend he just reconnected with, S, who used to be a bed-wetter but because of his height no one dared mock him.
Hubby also mentioned another friend- B. He is skeptical about B because B was a deceitful boy at school, very conniving and hubby wonders if he has changed, he is very wary of B and not as excited to reunite with him.

So far all the buddies he has reconnected with all agree J.J is still full of himself especially since he refuses to settle down and get married, apparently J.J is looking for the perfect babe. They have all rested their case with him.

Dear friend Iluobe told me this morning that she hates to burst hubby’s bubble but the fad would soon fade. The daily conversations will trickle to a miserly occasional wall post or shared note. Both hubby and his friends will return to life as they knew it. That won’t be so bad for hubby cause he’s married to me right? Exactly!

Thank you for reading! You don’t want to miss my next post on The Nigerians, Igbo kwenu!! Hey!

04 Sep

The Men in My Life

Writing about my scare tactics on child 3’s tongue issue reminded me about an incident following a great book I read years ago. I think we’ll have to become more creative with my children’s  pseudo names. Going by their birth positions is boring! (to borrow the wordsmythe’s son’s descriptive word).

Child #1 will henceforth be referred to as The Creative One. He is artistic, loves to write and is a brilliant actor. He is also very empathetic, emotional and sincere. He’s a deep thinker and incredibly mature for his age. Did I mention that he is empathetic? It appears he has the ability to read thoughts, especially sad ones and he’ll be there for you, always.

Child #2 is The Sports Fanatic. That says it all, he is good in sports and he knows it. He is also fashion conscious. Sporty was the one who at the tender age of 2 would throw a tantrum if his jeans did not have pockets on the sides. He has recently decided that hats is his “Thing”. Like Usher and Toby mac he wants to be known as a man (boy) with excellent tastes in hats. Maybe we should call him Hat Boy. When he was four we noticed a growing obsession with spiders. All four boys are nature lovers and have always collected bugs, but this was different. He’d pick the spiders and let them crawl all over him. His brother finally explained that he was hoping for a bite so he could become spiderman.

Child #3 is The Musically Talented one. He plays the piano and has an ear for music. I can comfortably and unreservedly compare his voice to Michael Jackson’s- unbelievably sweet. I think of Lionel Richie when I hear him play. If you like, disagree, I refuse to get into a wordpress banter with you. This same child is talkative to the power of 10. Maybe we should call him The Talker. Then again maybe not, we want to confess positive words over his life. On second (or third) thoughts, we can call him The Talker since he will address nations. Then again, Musical…oh I don’t know, you decide!

Child #4. Hmm, this one’s a tough one. We don’t know what he’ll be yet. He talks, kicks, jumps, shouts, flies- that’s it, Batman! He’s the one that chose to call a sweet baby girl at the grocery store 2 days ago “disgusting baby”. Over and over again, very loudly for all to hear. There was nowhere to hide, run or duck.

Hubby, we might keep as Hubby for now. For the simple reason that he recently signed up on facebook and I’m seeing a different side to him. This person who until a few days ago thumped his nose up to fb users as though we were the scum of the good earth and he was the one going places in life is now an avid facebooker. He didn’t even tell me he was signing up. I simply got a friend request. Imagine that? Of course convinced someone was using his name fraudulently I called him and gingerly told him I got a friend request from him. I was trying to break the news gently to him that his name had been linked with a dirty word. And that he shouldn’t worry, there are “measures” we could take to identify and destroy the culprit. Now he calls me every 5 minutes regardless of where I may be in the house to ask how to do this and how to do that.  Hubby has become something else, I’m not sure I know this guy. Names like  A- squared, Micky Chicks, Micky Roy, Sir Kay, Mentalo, Hills, Prince and Dignity are now the buzz words in my home. Bellowing laughter, phonecalls to Nigeria, USA and beyond, phrases like we must meet up, LOTS of pidgin English and eighties slangs are now the order of the day along with countless stories about wicked seniors and teachers and other boarding house tactics. Can you see why we don’t have a name for him yet? I estimate metamorphosis will be complete sometime before Christmas, I hope I am not being naive.  It feels so good to see him hook up with his old buddies and laugh so much. Watch this space.

Thank you for reading, do come back!

PS: I never got round to telling you about the incident following the book I read, now you really must come back!

02 Sep

Today so far…

It’s looking like a good day so far.

Toddler J is just out of nappies and pooped on the bedroom floor. I didn’t step on it when I walked in.

The same child grabbed a bottle of bath oil and emptied it into a saucepan. The saucepan was empty to I was able to decant it back into the bottle.

He is picking up new words and phrases, the latest is “shush mama!”

It’s a good day, I’m glad and rejoicing in it! Have a blessed day too!

01 Sep

Tongue Tied

Even I have to admit, a July 19th post is wayyy too long ago! A plea by IJ this morning and I knew I couldn’t carry on this AWOL thingy. I know we’ve all been busy but unlike you I only get  24 hrs per day, each hour is remarkably shortened by 4 children and hubby.

Child # 3 has a habit of leaving his mouth slightly agape. Having gone from prodding to gentle threats and then down right blackmail, I finally ended up showing him a video on YouTube to back up my promise to take him for surgery to reduce the size of his tongue. When I did the search I seriously did not expect to find anything in pictures let alone a video. But alas, there is such a thing as tongue cutting. So I screened it first and showed him about 5 seconds of it. My only disappointment was that the “patient” wasn’t screaming in pain.

You see I want my children to do well in life. So I explained to child # 3 that  in life you are judged by your appearance before you even get a chance to show the great person on the inside. Child #1 quickly reminded me that haven’t I told them never to judge a book by its cover? To which I responded, “yes, but people do judge you by your appearance. For instance no matter how nice your brother looks in his suit when he goes for a job interview, the tongue sticking out thing just won’t fly”.

But didn’t you say that we’ll one day have our own companies? That we’ll be our own boss? Like you?

You see this child 1 has always done this to me. When he was four #2 was naughty and I got him to face the wall. Child #1 asked; “Mum can God see my brother?”  Naively I responded, “of course He can”.

“But you said God can’t look at sin, which is why he turned his face away from Jesus while He was on the cross”.

Or the day he wanted to know why God the father didn’t do the dying on the cross himself, why did He have to send his son to do it?

Tongue tied.

Thank you for reading and being patient while I negotiate on longer days and longer nights for Toks!