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Oniovo: me ni ebe ai ta
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G.L.i.B-bed: The Island of Doctor Moreau
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08.03.18:#PressForProgress
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I am not my skin colour or facial features

Oniovo: me ni ebe ai ta

“me na.” She’d croak quietly, firmly from her corner of the sitting room as Tg and Pru chased each other, with reckless abandon, around the place in whatever game they were engaged in.  With our maternal grandmother, we thought there were several issues:  The communication gap The conspiracy theory The paranoia The reportage In hindsight, it was just one –  the communication gap. She spoke and understood sparse English Language; our grasp of Urhobo was atrocious. Though her prolonged presence was tilting the scale of our native language acquisition slightly in our favour. This was odd because our parents rapped the linguistic constantly between each other, with our neighbours and friends of theirs of similar traditional leanings. To their credit, they often included us in the “die wo gwuolor? wo ka rio usi? wo ghe si ran ye” dialogue.  They made intentional efforts to improve upon our wispy grip on it. It probably didn’t collide with our willingness to progress on the technicalities, proverbs and pronunciations that was the Urhobo Language at the time. Even with the presence of one, two, three live – in tutors. This singular issue fueled many -a-misunderstanding between us and mama, as we called her. The communication imbalance meant we were constantly talking about her when, in fact, she was farthest from our conversations. The boys, migrating from the back at 6a.m. for morning prayers constituted the conspiracy theory and a plot of some sort. Her paranoia entailed hawk -like surveillance of us in the absence of our parents, and a full, unedited reportage at night of our activities, actions and perceived words upon their return. BOP reporting to CNN, joked Jnr one night. Two or three of us could be discussing about, say, the antics of a family friend who visited recently, and mama would interrupt with: “ Me ni ebe aiwa ta vre me ”. To our utmost shock. It was exhausting, for some of us. Others thought it was worth analyzing, and quelling whatever misgivings she harboured. Yet others saw it as one huge joke, something to guffaw about. At first, our mum”more

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G.L.i.B-bed: The Island of Doctor Moreau

You know what they say, there are three sides to a story – his side, her side and the truth. The diary written by the main protagonist of this book made me question his accounts of events in a particular location, time and again. And the fact that those who could corroborate his claims died, only made it even more suspicious. Nevertheless, this was an intriguing tale as I followed one man’s (and his assistant) quest to revolutionize scientific discoveries while dangerous tinkering with nature.

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I am not my skin colour or facial features

This afternoon at the children’s school playground Me: *** Reading off my ‘phone’s screen and at the same time keeping an eye on screaming, sweating, racing, exuberant little humans. *** A male parent of my acquaintance walks by, and halts by my chair when recognition sets in. Him: Ah madam, I didn’t see you there. Good afternoon. Me: ***Smile in acknowledgement just before I yell my son’s name [the unabridged Yoruba version of it].*** Be careful on those monkey bars! Him: nkwobisigininwanyino ***He says in incomprehensible Igbo Language. *** Me: Excuse me? ***The look on my face would just as well have asked the question. *** Him: kitakeduodinmabia. ***Repeats incoherent Igbo statement before…*** Madam, are you Yoruba? Me: My husband is. Him: ***Triumphant*** Eh hen. *** shoots off yet another Igbo comment my way.*** Twice I haven’t responded in kind. Doesn’t that tell him something? I think. No, he had to add a third for good measure. Three times the charm, I guess. I relish his surprised and somewhat disappointed look when I speak again. Me: I am not Igbo. I don’t look like one now. Do I? My ugwu seller For as long as I’ve bought vegetables from this young lady, she has greeted me in impenetrable Igbo sentences. After telling her once that my family and hers do not share the same compound wall back in the East, I’ve left her to ramble on happily in her dialect. I smile, take my purchase and leave. Biko, not everyone is Igbo. Years ago, as a JJC in Eko taking language classes at Jibowu A stone throw from the language centre were long – distance transporters, calling out to prospective passengers. Every blessed day I walked past those men, every time it was the same thing: Nwanyi mara mma Bia ebe a Kedu ka ime? ebe ị na-aga? ị masịrị m Sometimes I hear them all; other times depending on the number of men present. For three months, they were the soundtrack of my life. I could comprehend Kedu ihe ị na-achọ? in Onitsha market but ebe ị na-aga? in”more

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