Categories
Africa folklore Igbo culture

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe

Chinua Achebe was born on November 16, 1930 in Ogidi, Nigeria.”The sun will shine on those who stand before it shines on those who kneel under them.” — Chinua Achebe, THINGS FALL APARTABOUT THINGS FALL APARTTHINGS FALL APART tells two overlapping, intertwining stories, both of which center around Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Igbo village in Nigeria. The first of these stories traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world in which he lives, and in its classical purity of line and economical beauty it provides us with a powerful fable about the immemorial conflict between the individual and society. The second story, which is as modern as the first is ancient, and which elevates the book to a tragic plane, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world through the arrival of aggressive, proselytizing European missionaries. These twin dramas are perfectly harmonized, and they are modulated by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul. THINGS FALL APART is the most illuminating and permanent monument we have to the modern African experience as seen from within.https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/565351/things-fall-apart-by-chinua-achebe/

Categories
Africa Africa, Poetry and Love folklore Pastoral

The Man Who Never Lied

Hi everyone! How was your day? I have a story to share. So bring your seats and mats to the fireplace, listen attentively and may the nightingales sing us a lullaby when we retire to bed.


Once upon a time there lived a wise man by the name of Mamad. He never lied. All the people in the land, even the ones who lived twenty days away, knew about him.

The king heard about Mamad and ordered his subjects to bring him to the palace. He looked at the wise man and asked:

” Mamad, is it true, that you have never lied?”

” It’s true.”

“And you will never lie in your life?”

” I’m sure in that.”

“Okay, tell the truth, but be careful! The lie is cunning and it gets on your tongue easily.”

Several days passed and the king called Mamad once again. There was a big crowd: the king was about to go hunting. The king held his horse by the mane, his left foot was already on the stirrup. He ordered Mamad:

“Go to my summer palace and tell the queen I will be with her for lunch. Tell her to prepare a big feast. You will have lunch with me then.”

Mamad bowed down and went to the queen. Then the king laughed and said:

“We won’t go hunting and now Mamad will lie to the queen. Tomorrow we will laugh on his behalf.”

But the wise Mamad went to the palace and said:

“Maybe you should prepare a big feast for lunch tomorrow, and maybe you shouldn’t. Maybe the king will come by noon, and maybe he won’t.”

“Tell me will he come, or won’t he?” – asked the queen.

“I don’t know weather he put his right foot on the stirrup, or he put his left foot on the ground after I left.”

Everybody waited for the king. He came the next day and said to the queen:

“The wise Mamad, who never lies, lied to you yesterday.”

But the queen told him about the words of Mamad. And the king realized, that the wise man never lies, and says only that, which he saw with his own eyes.

Categories
Africa culture/tradition folklore Igbo culture

Tradition: Storytelling

The African Storytelling Tradition

When I, the storyteller say: Ifochakpii! You the audience will reply: Waa!! (Pronounced as ‘War!’) This is Igbo people’s storytelling tradition. There are different ways of introducing a story to the audience. To the Igbo people it starts with a chant-like ranting that tries to capture the attention of all present. So the storyteller greets his audience in that manner as they reply him in excitement. The storytelling mood is a lively one and such introit may play a role in keeping the mood so.

Storytelling is a unique culture in Africa. Storytellers are revered across the land. We may compare them to the present day actors because they actually act. I can compare storytelling to the modern day stage drama. Storytelling is respected because it passes ancient knowledge and wisdom from one generation to another. It’s a time when everybody, young and old gather to listen and learn about the tradition of a place and life’s virtues through stories told by their ancestors. Though much of these stories have been lost or modified with time, the morals, which is the crux remain intact. Sometimes they act as bedtime stories meant to aid or lull people to sleep. All over the world storytelling precedes reading.

Tortoise: Main Villain & Hero
Growing up in West Africa I came to learn that Tortoise is the dominant character in most stories. He is called Mbo or Mbe in Igbo. Some clans gave him, his wife and children other names. His wife is called Alibo in Ovim. I can’t remember his son’s name but it may not matter for now. The Tortoise play funny and shrewd roles. He is generally perceived as a cheat who goes about causing mischief for others. Sometimes he gets to win, other times he is a loser and a lesson for the little ones. The Tortoise has been featured in many stories, few I can remember myself. He has duped the Boar in one story, deceived the host of birds that lent him a feather each, cursed the spider that saved him from the ghost town and dealt with spirits. In fact he is a star in the African folklore scenario.

Yet why he was chosen for these wonderful roles is what I have not been able to understand. We have bigger, faster, smarter and funnier animals but the Tortoise was picked to play lead roles in most of West Africa’s traditional folklore. Naturally the Tortoise is a slow, lazy and seemingly dumb animal but in tales he is a kingmaker, a genius or the wise one. Looks are truly deceptive in African folklore.

Why should we preserve stories?

Apart from the Tortoise that fell from the birds’ firmament party, no one in reality and fiction had the privilege of falling from the skies. What I mean is that nothing just happens. Every story serves a purpose, be it fact or fiction. And no society is complete without a history, a story. So stories are careful documentations, written or oral. We have histories and traditions to discuss today because people had kept accounts and details of them. I’ll write more on this topic in a separate blog post.

For now, can you tell me which African story is your favourite?

Categories
folklore Nature nature poems Pastoral

Amuse: A Letter to the Squirrels Living in my Roof

New landlords

Okay guys, I traveled to my country home or just say my village. I was welcomed by squirrels racing on the rooftop. I thought it was a cat at first but cats don’t fly on tree branches. I finally saw one skinny squirrel holding his chin. It wouldn’t wait for me to get my camera. Honestly I have heard about snakes on a plane, puss in boots but not squirrels on the roof. So I’m going to write a nutty letter to this squirrel mafia, terrorising my rooftop.


Nutty squirrels,

First of all, I’m not mad at you. I’m not in any way mad. I wouldn’t blame you too. Though I love trees, I blame them for growing too close to my house. The branches shoot over my roof and you now have a new playground for your family. Your tree-barn has become too little, not enough for your nut provision that you introduced your nuts to my rooftop. My roof is your barn now.

I arrived home to find you my roof’s new landlord. You brought your siblings and your kids maybe. And they are all naughty, yes they are nutty. You probably expelled some of the lizards that pack in to homes left for long. So you are up there, feeling invisible – out of my brooms reach. Throwing nuts through cracks down my room and bed. I sometimes wonder how you summoned this courage to live in my roof, exercising vigorously at my disadvantage. You squirrel is something else, beautiful and surprisingly strange. I had never seen squirrels live in rooftops.

During your noontime play, I caught a glimpse of you, holding your chin with those broom-like hands and maybe thinking about your nutty economy. Dear new landlord, I’m grateful that you sleep at night, just like myself. If not, I would burn this roof and watch your nuts disappear with it.

– A distressed squirrel tenant.

Categories
folklore Pastoral Poetry

Another Tale from the Wild Woods

image

There’s a land behind those ancient hills
Hidden in the thick greened forest,
One of mighty foliage, brushes & roots
Dark green shrubs gather by the riverside
Ripe fruits plunge into the quiet waters
And fish schools scatter in excitement
Brown and black crabs meet to get drunk
Squirrels watch them, amused from treetops
The forest is awake, nature’s fine circus
At all times, the quiet cloud is navy blue
And king of forest do fall in love with it
When the cloud blush it rains softly; mildly
And little creatures which live in the land
Look up to the ever smiling forest king
‘Oh, how handsome his face look’, a cricket said
‘He is really in love with the selfish cloud
But we won’t understand why she always refuses
To love the handsome king back!’ some pigeons answered
‘I tell you that she is possessed, who should resist the forest king?’
The wolf alpha added, as he looked up
‘The forest king won’t talk yet, all he did is stare and smile
How savagely awful!’ Some pine trees whined
‘If for nothing but admiration is the reason to love
I choose not to love’, the philosophical Woodpecker concluded.

Start your blogging experience here.

Categories
Africa Africa, Poetry and Love folklore Nigeria opinion Pastoral Poetry

To my childhood…

I like to watch the sun rise, to wait while she cast her beauty on earth,
So I wake early to fly my kite, to gather the stray bugs, worms and locust,
The fields are my playground, a partner to hides and seek,
I watch the sun, her golden smile, and light it brought to my community,
I adore pretty butterflies that dress in fine hues and dresses,
I dig holes for my little flower stalks, hoping they grow in no time,
I wait for the moon to rise at night, peeping through the window
With hope that when it comes, it will wait far into the cold night,
And if she came I would watch her shine through those dark skies
I danced alone in loud evening storms, raise my hands
To grab slippery raindrops as they fall mildly upon me
Even when lightning sang and her cousin thunder clapped,
Each day and night was always a new beginning
Memories of home are joyful and happiness

Categories
Africa Africa, Poetry and Love culture/tradition education folklore Nature nature poems Nigeria Pastoral Poetry

Poetale: The Nomad

When twilight came
I took a walk, for some air
And down the roadside I went.
There a young man stood
Bearded heavily unlike myself
Throwing corn seeds into his mouth
And grinding them with such relish
That his brown teeth showed off
He stood a little close to my fence
And I decided to go chat with him
He smiled when I came close
He doesn’t look like someone from here
Yes, I seen those tribal marks somewhere
He must be from the North,
Sannu!‘ I hailed
Sannuku!‘ he replied
Eying me carefully
‘Do you wanti some agwado?’
‘No thank you.’ I replied
I saw his garment flow up,
Sailing with the mild breeze
Like a kite on rampage
The dress leaned deep into his flesh
And his muscles exposed
Kai, do you speak Hausa?’ he asked
‘No, very poor in that regard,’ I answered
‘Okay oh,’ he turned to call his cattle
Then I realised he was a shepherd
I relaxed a bit, wearing a new smile
My new friend must have something
To tell me about his travels and animals
He saw my smile and grinned
‘Tell me about your best and worst times,
Of shepherding and your herd’
I started without thinking…
‘My best time is when my herd feed
On a valley full of healthy green grass’
He said in nearly perfect English
‘When the sun is high above the firmament
When cows give birth in the dead night
And when I hear my favourite calf moo,’
He closed his eyes to remember more
‘What about your worst moments?’
It seemed I shoved him back from his dream,
For he suddenly opened his red eyes
And shot a blazing stare at my mouth
‘Why are there wars in Africa?
Why men kill each other?
Why are streams dry
And oceans rising?’
He asked with a frown.
‘I was born into such society
That settle disputes with violence
There’s hate, tribalism and distrust
Tribe against tribe, people against people
And hate is substituted for love…’
He pulled a twig off the long grass
‘How can we live in a society without love,
Without faith and trust for one another?
Why fight and not dialogue to achieve peace?
Why bomb a land already stricken with drought?
And cause lack of food and drinking water?’
The air grew colder…
‘I tell you I have seen things. It is time to go home…’
He said painfully, holding his stick back
‘Well as for my worst moments
I see people suffer, Yes I have
For nothing sake, I hate to see children suffer
And people suffer for other people’s crimes and atrocities
It makes little sense to me but that is the world,
We love and live in. Injustice, inequality, intolerance, ignorance…’
I could see through his pain…
‘It is only love that can save us all,’
He said as his flock gathered together
Tssski-ing, he called them, making a clicking sound from his tongue,
Hanging his long stick and hat behind his back,
He waved heartily and marched off, leading his cattle away,
I realise that the world still have some beauty and good in it


Commentary.
Sannu… Hausa salute
Agwado… Corn in Hausa


The Hausa/Fulani is a tribe spread across West Africa and predominantly in present day Northern Nigeria. They are known for their unique culture, tradition, arts and food.

Categories
folklore Pastoral

The Traveling Musicians

Gather around the fire and read this story with me. It’s a long bedtime tale.


An honest farmer had once a donkey that had been a faithful servant to him a great many years, but was now growing old and every day more and more unfit for work. His master therefore was tired of keeping him and began to think of putting an end to him; but the donkey, who saw that some mischief was in the wind, took himself slyly off, and began his journey towards the great city, ‘For there,’ thought he, ‘I may turn musician.’

After he had travelled a little way, he spied a dog lying by the roadside and panting as if he were tired. ‘What makes you pant so, my friend?’ said the donkey. ‘Alas!’ said the dog, ‘my master was going to knock me on the head, because I am old and weak, and can no longer make myself useful to him in hunting; so I ran away; but what can I do to earn my livelihood?’ ‘Hark ye!’ said the donkey, ‘I am going to the great city to turn musician: suppose you go with me, and try what you can do in the same way?’ The dog said he was willing, and they jogged on together.

They had not gone far before they saw a cat sitting in the middle of the road and making a most rueful face. ‘Pray, my good lady,’ said the donkey, ‘what’s the matter with you? You look quite out of spirits!’ ‘Ah, me!’ said the cat, ‘how can one be in good spirits when one’s life is in danger? Because I am beginning to grow old, and had rather lie at my ease by the fire than run about the house after the mice, my mistress laid hold of me, and was going to drown me; and though I have been lucky enough to get away from her, I do not know what I am to live upon.’ ‘Oh,’ said the donkey, ‘by all means go with us to the great city; you are a good night singer, and may make your fortune as a musician.’ The cat was pleased with the thought, and joined the party.

Soon afterwards, as they were passing by a farmyard, they saw a cock
perched upon a gate, and screaming out with all his might and main.
‘Bravo!’ said the donkey; ‘upon my word, you make a famous noise; pray what is all this about?’ ‘Why,’ said the cock, ‘I was just now saying that we should have fine weather for our washing-day, and yet my mistress and
the cook don’t thank me for my pains, but threaten to cut off my head tomorrow, and make broth of me for the guests that are coming on Sunday!’ ‘Heaven forbid!’ said the donkey, ‘come with us Master Chanticleer; it will be better, at any rate, than staying here to have your head cut off! Besides, who knows? If we care to sing in tune, we may get up some kind of a concert; so come along with us.’ ‘With all my heart,’ said the cock: so they all four went on jollily together.

They could not, however, reach the great city the first day; so when night came on, they went into a wood to sleep. The donkey and the dog laid
themselves down under a great tree, and the cat climbed up into the
branches; while the cock, thinking that the higher he sat the safer he
should be, flew up to the very top of the tree, and then, according to
his custom, before he went to sleep, looked out on all sides of him to
see that everything was well. In doing this, he saw afar off something
bright and shining and calling to his companions said, ‘There must be a
house no great way off, for I see a light.’ ‘If that be the case,’ said
the donkey, ‘we had better change our quarters, for our lodging is not the
best in the world!’ ‘Besides,’ added the dog, ‘I should not be the worse for a bone or two, or a bit of meat.’ So they walked off together towards the spot where Chanticleer had seen the light, and as they drew near it became larger and brighter, till they at last came close to a house in which a gang of robbers lived.

The donkey, being the tallest of the company, marched up to the window and peeped in. ‘Well, Donkey,’ said Chanticleer, ‘what do you see?’ ‘What
do I see?’ replied the donkey. ‘Why, I see a table spread with all kinds of good things, and robbers sitting round it making merry.’ ‘That would be a noble lodging for us,’ said the cock. ‘Yes,’ said the donkey, ‘if we could only get in’; so they consulted together how they should contrive to get the robbers out; and at last they hit upon a plan. The donkey placed himself upright on his hind legs, with his forefeet resting against the window; the dog got upon his back; the cat scrambled up to the dog’s shoulders, and the cock flew up and sat upon the cat’s head. When
all was ready a signal was given, and they began their music. The donkey
brayed, the dog barked, the cat mewed, and the cock screamed; and then they all broke through the window at once, and came tumbling into the room, amongst the broken glass, with a most hideous clatter! The robbers, who had been not a little frightened by the opening concert, had now no doubt that some frightful hobgoblin had broken in upon them, and scampered away as fast as they could.

The coast once clear, our travellers soon sat down and dispatched what
the robbers had left, with as much eagerness as if they had not expected
to eat again for a month. As soon as they had satisfied themselves, they
put out the lights, and each once more sought out a resting-place to his own liking. The donkey laid himself down upon a heap of straw in the yard, the dog stretched himself upon a mat behind the door, the cat rolled herself up on the hearth before the warm ashes, and the cock perched upon a beam on the top of the house; and, as they were all rather tired with their journey, they soon fell asleep.

But about midnight, when the robbers saw from afar that the lights were
out and that all seemed quiet, they began to think that they had been in
too great a hurry to run away; and one of them, who was bolder than the rest, went to see what was going on. Finding everything still, he marched into the kitchen, and groped about till he found a match in order to light a candle; and then, espying the glittering fiery eyes of the cat, he mistook them for live coals, and held the match to them to light it. But the cat, not understanding this joke, sprang at his face, and spat, and scratched at him. This frightened him dreadfully, and away he ran to the back door; but there the dog jumped up and bit him in the leg; and as he was crossing over the yard the donkey kicked him; and the cock, who had been awakened by the noise, crowed with all his might. At this the robber ran back as fast as he could to his comrades, and told the captain how a horrid witch had got into the house, and had spat at him and scratched his face with her long bony fingers; how a man with a knife in his hand had hidden himself behind the door, and stabbed him in the leg; how a black monster stood in the yard and struck him with a club, and how the devil had sat upon the top of the house and cried out, ‘Throw the rascal up here!’ After this the robbers never dared to go back to the house; but the musicians were so pleased with their quarters that they took up their abode there; and there they are, I dare say, at
this very day.


Good night 😊

Categories
Africa Africa, Poetry and Love folklore Nature nature poems Pastoral Poetry Series

Tale of Wild Woods: Summer Arrives

When summer finally came, a lot had changed
The last snow melted and the sad land woke
Grasses started growing, covering the outer earth
So those who burrow scrambled out from the dust
Soft airs and tidings surround the mountainside
Sending sweet emissaries around the valley below
Vines, myrrh, mistletoes and pines sprout happily
In the morning, the sunshine will not glitter on ice,
Instead the heat grew and the wood inhabitants felt it
First, the Squirrels thought the world was going crazy
And their cousins, the burrow rats seconded them
‘The frog choir will soon resume’, a brown Cricket observed
‘And if they do I am going to go crazy!’ a Sparrow replied
‘Not if they played on a softer note at least’
A Linnet added to the conversation
‘No way, they have all got bass! Male, female all bass!!’
A sad Bee, which sat on the tip of a tree leaf answered
Now, fresh grass brought the Deers and mountain goats
At the Otherside across the rocky land, the Stream flowed
Leaps of water, joyful that her prisoner had let her free
‘Crap! I mean did anyone notice that the cats are back?’
Some stray mice broke the niches silence
‘They have our land smeared with urine, them Bobcats!’
‘Yes, they think it is their fatherland. Well we better hide’
Now the wolf pack had no cold anymore
So they prowled the earth with more ease
Picking trails of rodents through the thick woods
The Mountain stood, usually a still, motionless figure
One that kept some admirers intrigued
As the ice melted, water trickled down to the land
And the wild wood fauna felt sad for her
For they believed she was weeping at her loss
‘She has been like this since the Ice King left’,
The soft voiced black and white Pigeons sang
‘She is heartbroken! Why will the Ice King be so cruel?
He even took her icy cloak and see, now… now she is naked!’
A duck said closing the eyes of her young with feathers
‘I think she looks pretty amazing, so much joy in pain
No one cares much enough, I think she needs a hug’
A tortoise with a huge shell opined
‘No she needs a gift’, the Wolf pack alpha barked
‘She is the worst person I ever met!’ he added
The other animals had to retreat to their homes
Or if you are too small or slow, just find a hideout
For the wolf pack, the villains of the valley
Had no mercy and they do as their word sound
‘What do we offer her, a fine rose shrub maybe?’
Another wolf suggested as the roses around hid
‘No, well anything. If she continue that way
I bet you the streams will overflow and we will have no land
To hunt, to plunder and to rule!’
‘Well, if being solitary is the best way of getting rid of vermin
Then it is the best shot at self discovery’
The philosophical Woodpecker reasoned from the tree top

Categories
Africa Africa, Poetry and Love culture/tradition education folklore Igbo culture lifestyle Nigeria opinion proverbs

Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart: Proverbs and Meaning

Onye aturu ilu kowaa ya, ego eji luo nne ya efuola ohia.

Before I start this post permit me to greet Igbo people; those who own the proverbs I’m about to explore; Ndi Igbo kwenu! Ekelem unu o. Ndewonu.


•Senator Enyinnaya Abaribe on Igbo traditional Isi-agu attire

INTRODUCTION: PROVERBS

There are many definitions for proverbs but as it is said that all routes lead to Rome, we won’t go far. Instead we’ll look at a definition that highlights the key points we seek. Proverb (Ilu in Igbo language) is a phrase expressing a basic truth which maybe applied to common situations. The Igbo defined it thus: Ilu bu mmanu eji eri okwu, (meaning that proverbs are oil with which we eat words). This explains literally that words are eaten and that proverbs helps to digest it. Proverbs are at the center of every African conversation. The traditional village council convene in proverbs, the trader and blacksmith converse in proverbs, and children even play with it. Parents speak to little ones in proverbs, so a visitor may expose himself if he is unable to follow the community trend. It is common to hear people speak in proverbs in Africa. This proves that proverbs are very important in African societies. Likening it to the saying that the “Leopard can’t shed its spots” – the average African won’t speak much without using proverbs to oil the conversation. African proverbs are rich sources of wit and wisdom. Now let us look at the proverbs we encounter in Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart.

PROVERBS IN THINGS FALL APART AND THEIR EXPLANATION

In the book “Things Fall Apart” the people of Umuofia which represented the larger African society used proverbs extensively. As a book set in pre-colonial times it dwells on the effects of colonialism and imperialism on the African society. In this section I’ll be exploring the proverbs Achebe mentioned in his book. I’ll explain its general meaning in context of modern usage. I will also set all proverbs on bolded letters.

1. Proverbs are the palm oil with which words are eaten.

This means that proverbs makes conversations easier and understandable. It suggests that proverbs are words of wit which gives deeper insight to statements.

2. If a child washes his hands he can eat with kings.

In ancient Igbo culture children are not allowed to eat with elders from the same plate. This is a show of respect and honour. So this means that a child is allowed to dine with his elders or the king only if he achieves or did something exceptionally great.

3. When the moon is shining the cripple becomes hungry for walk.

This may read hilarious, the cripple is basically someone who has lost ability to walk. This proverb is talking about enticing opportunities that may strike up unrealistic hope.

4. A man who pays respect to the great, paves the way for his own greatness.

Is it not said that respect is reciprocal? Only that in this case we are more tilted to giving honour to whom it is due. The Igbo is a very proud people, they are known to disregard unfavorable royal order. It is believed that every man is king in his own house. Respect is earned and not just attributed in Igbo and other African societies.

5. Let the kite perch and let the eagle perch too. If one says no to the other let his wings break.

In Igbo land the general philosophy is live and let live. This proverb summarize this philosophy.

6. An old woman is always uneasy when dry bones are mentioned.

People tend to be uncomfortable when negative issues concerning them are discussed.

7. Eneke the bird says that since men have learned to shoot without missing, he has learned to fly without perching.

This talks about understanding strategies one can use to overcome issues. Life is dynamic, and people must learn to change with it.

8. Looking at the King’s mouth one would think he never sucked at his mother’s breasts.

If you consider how arrogant people talk or behave you may think they are invisible. We can also say that the king actually is representing the crown and thus say that he is too confident that one may think he is fearless. Which may not always be the case.

9. Those whose palm-kernels were cracked by a benevolent spirit should not forget to be humble.

Some people are just privileged in life, while many are not. Some inherit wealth and empires while others had to build from the scratch as the case of Okonkwo in the book. The proverb speaks of being humble when one is more privileged than others.

10. A proud heart can survive a general failure because such a failure does not prick its pride.

This suggest that proud people may never know when they fail because of their attitude.

11. When mother cow is chewing grass its young ones watch its mouth.

This suggests that we teach by our actions or deeds.

12. A baby on its mother’s back does not know the way is long.

It is left for the one who works hard to determine how much hard work he did. You can feed people with your earnings but not everyone knows how much time and effort you had to work.

13. If one finger brought oil it soils the others.

This explains that one persons action may affect everyone.

14. There is nothing to fear from someone who shouts.

In Igbo land it is always assumed that people who make noise are cowards. The English version is the empty drum makes the loudest noise.

15. A child can not pay for his mother’s milk.

This explains itself. One won’t pay for what rightly belongs to him.

16. Whenever you see a toad jumping in broad daylight, know that something is after its life.

People do not visit another for nothing. They might have come to ask for help. Something must be the reason for every action. Another version of this is the toad does not jump during the day if nothing is pursuing it.


The explanation for the Proverbs are my opinion. I’m available for discussion on African literature and Igbo culture/traditions. Drop a comment or query here or on the contact me page.

© Oke Iroegbu

Categories
Africa Africa, Poetry and Love folklore lifestyle Nature nature poems Pastoral Poetry quotes

Lullaby: Tale of the young Shepherdess

I will tell you a rhyme of the shepherdess who loved her sheep,

She lives in the country and could sing her community to sleep

Twinkle went stars nested far up the pregnant black sky,

When black clouds float, the gathering rain storm sigh,

“It will rain, but it might wait a little,” the young shepherdess prayed

She saw the stars disappear from the midst of black clouds

So quickly she led her tired sheep through the barn door

“Up you go, up you go, quickly climb up the dry hay, up you go”

She took the lamb up the higher stairs where a big lamp hung

The little ones nuzzle, when the shepherdess struck up a song

The country was not so far away, everyone could hear her sing,

And how she sang heartily, that the hamlet relaxed with the eerie wind

Suddenly a stronger wind blew and gave the little community a cold push

“Ah, it’s perfectly monstrous weather,” she said when it gave another swoosh

“I must retire before the storm catch me here,” the shepherdess exclaimed

“But tell me what you will like to see in your beautiful dreams,” she asked

And so because they won’t speak or maybe know nothing to say

They only looked on, blinked sheepishly, then maaa-aa away

Categories
Africa folklore lifestyle love poems Nature nature poems Pastoral Poetry Series

Amuse: Tomato Poem

Today I met this round twins, sumptuous red fruit
By the garden they grew, so I’ll make a muse for it.

1.

Hanging down hopelessly as their weight was a clear burden,
Close to a busy ant hole, where ants traversed without care,
Their redness portray the sun’s ire but they seem quite unperturbed
I looked at them again, they bounced about, shy, when the wind pushed
A huge fly buzzed above them, loudly, bothering me that stood far off
They stared back at me, blushing with the loud fly, I shrugged
‘Well, hello. You’ve seen enough already. What do we owe your gaze?’
‘I’m just a passerby, I happened to notice an unusual beauty in my garden’
‘Oh okay, the last time we checked we ain’t in a museum that’s why we asked’
They seem embarrassed on my presence, I also felt same too
Toh, your beauty has dumbfounded me, forgive me fair tomato,
‘I haven’t seen much of anyone, who combined both grace and grass in such beauty’,
With a wave of their leaves, I think they danced or maybe, just accepted my apology

2.

Now if I let myself ponder on their puny life, how lonely they seem,
Fulfilling though that they sat on good clay, and the wind their bossy anchor
Yet, I came to learn from them, of their benevolence to saucy and noisy neighbours,
Their humility and perseverance in stubborn winds and intruders,
Their patience in the warm sun, the embarrassing ways passersby stare at their nakedness
And their compassion as a citadel to bees, ants and man who find them a delicacy
This tomato had made me fall in love, not just with my heart, but with my stomach too

Categories
Africa culture/tradition education folklore Nature Pastoral Poetry

Amuse: African Ostrich

1.
To you my feathery friend I write
In greying fields your fur I sight
Dangling by your sides are wings,
A tall neck, from which you may sing

2.
Caw caw, caw caw are your favourite words
The wind is your friend, the soil your playground,
The shrub is home, to it you rest when weary,
Your legs are strong, your claws even deadly

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3.
Evenings are for your quick runaways
You send stray rodents scampering away
I am not ashamed of your beautiful bald head
But you my fluffy friend, you are an amazing bird

4.
In the morning your scent fill the farmyard
You stand taller than scarecrows in our land

To have you here, beautiful and tall bird
Is a queer muse, but one of absolute good

Categories
Africa culture/tradition folklore Igbo culture Nature Nigeria

Home: Africa

High up above the hills of Africa, the dark winged clouds of night were still folded above the village and surrounding valley. Man and the domestic animals that were his, slept. But the antelope of the forest and the small fleet-footed gazelle, were wide awake.

In a short time, early morning dew descend from ancient hills. Darkness play with light. Dancing figures of thick fog conceal their fight and the good or bad that wait for strangers. Huge trees stand like knights armed with branches and shield-like barks, their huge roots like the fingers of a masquerade waiting to grab their victim. Farther away, creatures of the dark retreat back to their caves and hideouts. Light must not befall them. Hunters retrace their step home.

When the sun rise, she threw her golden blanket over the land. Hills rise with it waking the inhabitants of green forest and man. Down the valley, birds began a chorus, strong enough to wake the heaviest sleeper. Bees, wasps buzz, crickets, hoppers quiz, and reptiles hiss, every life has got a role to play. There is joy and peace. Joy that comes with a beautiful sunny day. Peace that brought harmony between man and nature which he call home.

From afar pretty images of green submerged in bowels of earthly grey decorate the hilly scene. Smell of flowing stream rent the air above. Hawks call to the sunrise welcoming daylight, bush rodents nibble at cassava roots. The forest turn to a circus where Nature play her own tricks. Tree leaves shade the streams, so when fruits fall into the water little fishes scatter in excitement or fear. Waterfalls and huge rocks watch the quiet green below. Shy crabs watch too, amused and drunk with water. It is quiet in the morning but for birds building big nests in the forest. Few people went to the stream and farm. Little girls swept their compounds, older girls weaved baskets, little boys sat with their fathers, older boys visited traps and mischievous pets ran about playing. Up the trees monkeys muse picking fruits from trees. Little babies yell while mothers gather materials for breakfast. Fathers chew their kola or take tobacco snuff, as they prepare to visit farms. Weekend was a holiday and the villagers knew best to keep it so.

When the sun heat become mild, the play stage is set. Children roll out their games; football, cricket, chase, wrestling, high jump, sand games and more. Women visit their friends or market to buy provisions. Some men go to the beer parlor. The morning brew was ready and they must attend to it. Palm wine was healthy and fresh ones taste better than water. Many youth wait for noon to bath at streams and waterfalls.

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Evening was the best time for reflection. Old men and women sat quiet, reflecting on the hills they call home. Sunset brought memories of the days stress. It brought home the market women, the farmer and fishermen. When the sun set, hills throw their warm shadow of comfort upon vales and the village. Birds fly home, greeting the evening as they go, lizards seek refuge on cracks and holes while owls prowl seeking a quick snack. Scent of cooking rent the air and children challenge each other over the hut with the best smell. Sweet vegetable soup adorned with periwinkle, snail, crabs and crawfish sit on dinner tables under the full glare and admiration of children and adults. Cold water from traditional pots or freshly fetched from the spring sit closer to the dishes. Providence knew many ways to appease the hard worker, good food was one of it. The night may have a folktale if the mood was right. Life could be simple and sophisticated still.

After evening came the cold night. Dew return, the path is lost in thick fog. Night was nobody’s friend. Quietly lights go out in the valley. Sleep was next play for children and adult, yet the ancient hills slept before everyone, forever. As the village sleep, creatures of the night walk. But man and day must retire back home, to start the cycle all over again tomorrow.

Categories
Africa culture/tradition education folklore Lessons from Experiences lifestyle Love and Christianity Nature Pastoral Poetry

Love knows no colour

Love knows no pink, no blue, no colour; it knows no creed, no silence, no mumblings, no religion or association. It will learn nothing that brings shame or pain or hurt to others and one’s environment.

Love preys on no one, it knows no greed and no self. Like fresh leaves falling quietly away from the mother tree, love spreads gifts of kindness and compassion wherever it goes.

Love someone genuinely today.

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Africa culture/tradition folklore Nature Pastoral Series

Diaries of a Village Boy: The Leopard Spirit 9

Papa came back looking exhausted and defeated. He hung a tied piece of wrapper across his left shoulder and chewed slowly on bitter cola. He held a yellow palm frond in his left palm as he walked into our compound.

From my room I watched him march straight to his hut without speaking to anyone. He didn’t even answer Mama’s greeting. Something must be the problem and I was determined to find out sooner or later.

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Three nights ago I overheard Mama and Papa speak about the new priest that was sent by the Mission to our hamlet. Papa had intentions to speak to him to see if he could help liberate me from the spirit. They said the white man was stout with an iconic moustache. He was very tall and wore large eye glasses. Some children and indeed the villagers reasoned he had special powers for he talked back with authority and rude confidence at the Chief. Those who had met him thought he spoke through his nose and that he barely breath when he spoke. My friends who went with their fathers to welcome him said he spoke something like shuprishupri and they pitied their fathers who could only nod and gesticulate when he spoke to them. They swore he was a good actor full of humour. Sometimes some of the children will try to mimic his speaking style, ridicule his manners and then laugh away at their stupid selves.

Papa went to welcome him as the eldest in his clan. He should have taken me as his first son as others did but he felt I was not fully recovered. I thought Papa wouldn’t let us close to missionaries so that we won’t get corrupted by their ways. He had deliberately stopped us from attending church services too. But why would he seek help from those he abhorred? I shrugged. I knew one day I’ll meet the white man, and see if I can use his ways to free myself from this bondage.

***

One dibia suggested taking me to a forest for a week-long deliverance but my father refused saying that he won’t let me out of his sight. Mama has protested even before my father took the decision. I was indifferent, if no one wanted me to possess a Leopard spirit then why not do the needful to break the link?

The dibia had even adviced Papa to leave me this way, on grounds my powers may prove useful some day. I remember Papa shout, “Tufiakwa! Chukwu amamkwe!!

To be continued…

Categories
Africa culture/tradition education folklore Love and Christianity Nature Pastoral

A Kind Story 2

I received this story from a friend and thought I should share with you.

Folake, a primary school teacher, was transferred to a different school and immediately appointed as a class teacher of a class five class.

On her first day in her class, she noticed that a boy named Kola was different from the rest of the pupils because he was always lonely, out of place, dirty and never used to do homework. Folake also realized that most pupils in the class had a negative attitude towards him.

Folake decided to investigate and find out the problem. She decided to review the file containing the records for Kola. She was very surprised by what she found out.

Kola’s class one teacher wrote and said “Kola is a good pupil with a ready laugh. He does his homework neatly and has many friends”.

The class two teacher wrote, Kola is a good pupil with a ready laugh. He does his homework neatly but he is troubled because his mother has a terminal illness and life at home must be a struggle”

The class three teacher wrote, “his mother’s death has been hard on him. He tries to do his best but his father doesn’t show much interest”.

The class four teacher wrote, “Kola is withdrawn.He doesn’t do his homework and has very few friends”.

By now teacher Folake had known where the problem was, and she was very ashamed of herself. And from that day onwards she decided to pay much attention on Kola and to assist him as much as possible.

Towards the end of the year, the pupils in the class decided to bring presents to teacher Folake. All the pupils in the class brought expensive presents which were wrapped in coloured paper except Kola. His present was wrapped clumsily in old pieces of newspaper. The rest of the pupils laughed at him when they saw what he brought.

Folake felt great pain as she opened the present that Kola had brought, she found an old bottle of perfume which was a quarter full and an old bracelet which had several beads missing. To stifle the laughter from the pupils, teacher Folake exclaimed “this bracelet is very beautiful” and wore it. She also took the bottle of perfume, tapped it on her wrist and put it on.

In the evening, when the rest of the pupils were going home, Kola deliberately remained behind, and when he was sure that all the pupils had left, he went to see teacher Folake. He entered her office, and summoning enough courage he said to her, “Teacher, today you smelled the way my mum used to”. When Kola left, Folake locked herself in the office and cried for more than an hour.

The following year, Kola wrote a letter to teacher Folake. He told her that she was the best teacher that he ever had in his life.

Six years later, he wrote another letter, he told her that he had finished secondary school and he was the best in his class. He added that “she was still the best teacher he ever had in his life”.

Eight years later, he wrote another letter. He told her that he had completed his bachelor’s degree in medicine was now a doctor. He added that she was still “The best teacher he ever had in his life”.

The following year, he wrote another letter. He told her that he had found a girl and was going to get married. He explained that his father had died one year earlier, and was wondering whether Folake would accept to attend the wedding and sit in the place reserved for the mother of the groom. Of course Folake accepted and during the wedding, she was putting on the same bracelet with several beads missing and she was also putting on the same perfume that Kola remembered his mother was putting on the day she died.

Now l ask a question, have you ever helped someone you don’t like? Can you do good just to help someone get up even when they cannot pay you back when they are not there?

LESSON: Any kindness you do to someone lasts forever! Touch a life in your school, places of worship your immediate environment, community, or anywhere today!

Dedicated to all who have the special opportunity to touch lives.

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Africa culture/tradition education folklore Igbo culture lifestyle Nature Pastoral Series

Diaries of a Village Boy: The Leopard Spirit 8

That morning before the early hunters left their homes for the forest, Papa was already on his way to Ndi-Ikele to welcome the priest, newly arrived from Trinidad and Tobago. It was breezy and cloudy that morning, it seemed it would rain any moment. Trees, especially the palm took to joyful procession when I stepped out to look around. Heavy breeze shook the forest and the skies grew darker. Birds took flight, stray dogs barked. People took in laundry previously spread to dry. The wind blew dust and tree leaves about and I had to retreat back to my room. It was dark inside but I could hear Nene playing with her dog near the kitchen fire while Mama prepared breakfast. Mama knew well enough to get food ready before Papa’s return and while Papa may not bother about himself, he will definitely want to know if his first son has been fed. Men’s queer world, I shrugged.

I took a pen from my school box and started writing on an old wooden seat in my room:

I’m but a soul in a cold tumbler
I catch the wind with my palms, but my life is lived by another

I only wake to live another’s dream…

I was still scribbling and thinking of this strange rhyme when Nene walked into my room without knocking. She quickly scanned my room with her eyes and then delivered her message. I was wanted by Mama. Nene was the inspector in the house and always had something to report to our parents. She was talkative only when she wants something and had a bossy way of getting things done. She was the miniature version of my father.

“My son, your food is ready.” Mama recalled me back from my thought.

“Thank you, Mama.”

“Nene, take his bowl of water to his room.” Mama said to Nene. After a short protest and smirks she finally took the bowl to my room, mumbling and spilling some water on the way.

“Be careful Nene. Don’t spill water on my mats.” I said to her. She took a short look at me and disappeared from the door.

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***

Tinkom tinkom, tibaliba
Dadi nkem o, Dadi nkem o
I we hapu m oo, wee jewe Lagosi
Muna onye ga ebi…

Children sang and played outside our compound. The noise wouldn’t let me reason or rest. Nene and Kiri, our cousin from few compounds away were the leaders. The game was played by softly hitting the palms of your opponents in numerous styles to rhyme with the beat sang by members of the two teams. Both led a team of three followers. The game progressed peacefully for a while, and Nene’s team led in total score. Suddenly she mistakenly put out her left hand instead of the right one and lost a game. Kiri and her teammates shouted and rejoiced over their gain and Nene pained with the mistake bursted out angry.

“It seemed that you’re happy for nothing. I still lead the total score… See your tummy like that of a pregnant frog.” She yelled at Kiri, hands akimbo.

“See this one, she is angry that she lost a game. You’re a loser!” Kiri retorted when she learned her rival was bitter.

“If you don’t close your mouth, I’ll help you deliver that foetus in your tummy.” Nene shouted again. Their team members were enjoying the scenario when Mama walked in from the back.

“Who are those children that won’t let us drink water and rest in this compound. Ssshussh children, run away!” She shouted and clapped her hands. The fighting parties disengaged and ran away from the compound to regroup somewhere else and continue with their game.

To be continued…

Categories
Africa culture/tradition education folklore lifestyle Nature

Boss Vs Leader (Images)

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Africa culture/tradition folklore lifestyle Love and Christianity Nature Pastoral Poetry

Grateful Christian

l feel Your warmth Jehovah
The peace and comfort You gave
Now sunshine through my curtain,
Strings of beautiful colours I see
Oh Jehovah, You’re Awesome
The skies blue cloud stand at ease
You stand out, You’re Handsome!

The love I feel, undescribable
The life I’ve, gracefully blessed
You loved me to love others
My voice, my warrior, my power
My strength, my icon, my Lord
My dream, my Saviour, my master
My Supreme, my Almighty God

For in You I see first beauty
And in all Your creations,
You’re my salvation
My inspiration, I’m Abraham’s seed
And I address You in my African way
For people call me The Lord’s blessed
Ara na azu nwa, Chukwu di ebube

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What if there was no colour in my eyes?
What if I had no feet for shoes?
But You wouldn’t let me suffer,
Your love made me perfect,
None can Your intentions mar
Your ways are mighty and astute

Good lands, valleys and hills
Rivers, skies and people
You cause my eyes to behold;
I’m forever grateful for Your love,
For beautiful flowers and the bee,
For morning dew and suave,
And for new blessed week

Commentary.
Ara na azu nwa: Igbo language for ‘the breast that feeds a child’
Chukwu di ebube: My God is Glorious

Categories
Africa culture/tradition folklore lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry Series

Life’s pretty hue

I speak without much words
For all I say is but a fraction of my thoughts
I find no perfect word(s)
In there, in my mind where all are soft

So when I sit without my human friends
I watch Nature turn to pretty painting,
As I fed stray ants my soft bread
And consider tree roots kingly thrones

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The birds sing a tune I know
Down hill, on the stream I hear children play
They swim and throw water blows
I smile at the shy Ladybird that won’t stay

When I hear this evening wind roar
I must return home, away from this view,
That I long for, cherish and love,
Life is little without Nature’s pretty hue

Categories
Africa culture/tradition education folklore Lessons from Experiences lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry

Since I met you

Many times I told myself that love is but a lie
It comes into a life and leaves without a trace
But since I met you, I feel more ambience;
The way you make me do things I do,
The way you smile and cherish life so

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Categories
Africa culture/tradition education folklore lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry

If I do love you

If I do love you
I would make me a green hut at your gates
Drum and call upon your name
I would of your virtues write long poems
Sing them in the dead of the night
So it sounds among the ancient hills
With Echo, the talkative spirit of the air

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Categories
Africa culture/tradition folklore lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry Series

Poetry from Skies

There was poetry before we learned to write
Awesome rhythm rendered as a strong wind might
lyrics penned down by clouds, as such
And when singing, green vegetation bows
There was poetry before we learned to hear
Drums that tender soft beats, far but near
Brief gaiety across the heavens
Heard passion when it stills the night
There is poetry down this African hill
Perhaps Hyena’s laughing near the mill
A flying stone sings from its hearty swing
While infants draw lines in Arcadian minds.
Oh poet! Listen to the sky!

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Categories
Africa culture/tradition folklore lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry

Wattle by Robin Bliss

Wattle blossom, Wattle yellow
Makes me feel kinda mellow
With your flowers, brilliant bright
Fills my soul with much delight
Saffron, citron and festive gold
Buttercup and colours bold
And so I loiter on my way
In your presence I would stay
Yes your sweet scent laden breeze
Sets my soul and mind at ease

9/5/15

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Africa culture/tradition education folklore Igbo culture Lessons from Experiences lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry Series

African childhood Memories

I long for my childhood days in rural Africa,
To fill my lungs with morning air descending from hills
And to till farmland that stretch into sunset

Golden sunrise always kept everyone speechless
And when birds welcome the day with choruses
Sweet breezes gather to battle the sun warmth
Infants may resume their wailing culture
And somewhere up, away from the hamlet
Hawks and Eagles surf the blue wild skies
Little birds build their nests on Palm Trees
Filling quiet neighbourhood with joyful cries
Down by the riverside a school of silver fish swim
Scattering when a breadfruit plunge into the stream

After the morning chores
The boys move on to the green field
Sheltered and surrounded by big trees
From the pitch we pick team mates
And set up goal posts with bamboo
Now our football was unripe oranges or grapes
And when the game start our little legs race off,
Up and down the field, while monkeys watch from trees
I gladly remember the taste of Egusi biscuits,
The numerous fruits that grow on trees near home
And tasty Oha vegetable soup prepared by granny
Now the ancient hills and green trees are my brothers
I climb the guava and mango trees with bare hands
And race up those hills upon the evening tide
Waterfalls are my hideout when in mischief,
The streams my pool where I still my soul
The night is full of dreams, full of starry nights,
I retire with other kids to eat my warm soup
Listening as fire lick the wood outside, slowly
Dinner brings the day close to an end but not yet
As a generous story may be told
My favourite being a tale of the Giraffe
And how he ate the sickly moon half

I long for my childhood days in rural Africa still
To watch the sunset behind hills I call home

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Categories
folklore lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry Series

To First Heartbreaks

I loved you even when you won’t feel the same way. I wasn’t your kind of man, you said. So I felt this heart break slowly and finally swallowed the bitter pill. I tried to mask my feelings but my mind laugh at my effort. So I took a break to think things through. But each time I stood by the window, I see you on peoples’ faces. Indifferent faces, unhappily living life. It seemed you connived with my mind and everyone to make me miserable. But I love you still, and will want no pain around you.

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Each night, I fold my pillow, hold it close and imagine I slept in your cuddle once more. But you’re happy with someone else. So I drop this pain and look beyond love you made vain.

Categories
Africa culture/tradition folklore lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry Series

Sing with me

Sing with me
Let’s talk lyrics only known to poetry,
Dance with me
Let’s swirl upon night’s quiet rhythm.

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folklore lifestyle Love and Christianity Pastoral

Let go, completely

I had many fights as I grew up. Most times I was the one bullied and had no option but to push back. Then I thought retaliation was the best option. I could match word for word or fist for fist. Thought of forgiveness only came to me when I let it. But each time I remember or see people who I never forgave I feel so heavy and ready to explode with pain.

When I went to seminary college and spent more time with my parents I learned that forgiveness is primary to my internal peace and happiness. Sometimes it’s a tough decision letting go considering how others treat us but if you really love or value yourself, this will be the best thing to do.

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Dad and Granny had several theories of forgiveness but all they seemed to conclude was, ‘let the wrongdoer continue, but never copy their style. Never take revenge and don’t forget that people (you trust) may hurt you anytime.’ (God rest their souls).

I noticed life and the way I view things changed for the better when I let things go, when I let people win, without attaching conditions or thoughts that may hurt me later. So I try to create my happiness even in the midst of disappointments, disagreements and pain. I even throw some happiness around because it creates more happiness for me.

So dear friends, are there people, events, or anything who/that seem unforgivable? Remember this: you forgive them for you, not for them. Spread forgiveness, be happy and have peace.

Categories
Africa culture/tradition education folklore lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry

Seeker

image

I see a golden ray
Giving light from afar
Up the lonely road
Near the cliffs edge
Where leaves fall in circles,
Caring about nothing
As they fall, happily
And the skies not seen
But a streak of sun light
Filing through waving trees
Now and then,
Rodents of tall trees,
Curious about the passerby
Rush through tree branches
Enjoying her damp dark nest
Which envelope the forest,
Playing, hide and seek,
Wondering what passerby’s seek,
Yet the road is quiet
Crafted from a thousand layers
Of fallen leaves piled up
One against another.
Amidst, yellow leaves care not,
If it falls, and lays on a red leaf.
But this is life’s green circle
Life may die to live!

But all through this I seek the way,
Through my land and her forest,
Blessed, yet seeking to see another land

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Categories
Africa culture/tradition folklore lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry

Another Evening Storm with the Rainmaker

… And there’s another rainstorm brewing over this town tonight. Out in the cold street, light bulbs glow here and there, but meshed in grim embrace of darkness itself. I feel the wind lick the skin on my forearm when I hold the curtain to see the rainstorm. There’s a strange but sweet smell, of caked dust mixing with the rain.

My door is thrown ajar, my curtains sail like a mast on a Pirate ship. I lay on the bed, dreams are not so far off.

A Little More Prodding, Dear Rain…‘ You won’t understand, of course. I’ve a special connection with the rain. Now I hear the host of Heaven, rain gathering from afar. Crashing into the glass windows and throwing my neighbours’ household into frenzy. Rooftops are the rain’s crazy drum and she plays on them softly.

Listen, Dear Rain… Go On, Pound The Earth, Beat Your Drums...’ Aha! A call from an Aunt confirms that it rains Cats and Dogs in Ovim, my hometown and as I said earlier on I’m preparing to travel home tomorrow. Can’t you see? The rain is cleaning up the streets and roads, here and home for my return. Haha, I read meanings too deep but this is me, simple things thrill me. But honestly, I do think that I’m a rain maker.

Good night everyone.

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Africa culture/tradition education folklore lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry

Quiet Lakeside

Once upon a quiet lakeside,
Where blue clouds stay,
With very thick fog dwell,
And tall Figs hide in them
Like towers,
Over a host of colours,
Painting down the valley
When the sun rays fall
And the forest below
So all may turn to gold.
Clouds are not left behind
They shine in the sun’s glory
Her dew drop upon trees
Away from the waterfalls,
Washing white fine pebbles

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Even as the water rush
And solemn rocks wait
Upon green forests beside it
There’s a rainbow up the sky
With a host of Egrets surfing,
The white mountains stand
Patches of green here and there
As the wind blow sweet breezes
The bears may growl, cats sniff.
But all are beautiful and charming
Around a lonely and quiet lakeside
Where Nature offer a perfect sight

Categories
Africa culture/tradition folklore Lessons from Experiences lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry Series

Ever Searching

Ever searching for the wor(l)d…

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Africa culture/tradition folklore lifestyle Love and Christianity Nature Pastoral Poetry

Muse: Thoughts

Nothing gives me exceptional hope
But thoughts of coming home to you

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Africa culture/tradition education folklore Nature Pastoral Poetry

Niger River

image

Have you seen the snake river
That flow through the Savannah?
The sun ray may fall on it,
And her whiteness woo the eyes
Hippos and crocs love it,
River pythons dwell on it
A beckoning waterfall up the rocks
Where Mother Nature sing loudly,
Always as she wash her garments
On the clean waters of the falls
Onitsha feeds on the banks,
Lokoja dwells on the banks,
Forests gain life there too
At the lower plains of Mali
Sweet songs of the canoe man
Whistling heartily, on a quiet day
On thee, life-given river of the East
Falling leaves, descending upon
The glittering waters,
Green seaweeds cluster together
Painting a strange colour on the surface
But thee, Niger river may flow on
And on and always, through nations,
Washing shores of different lands,
Feeding her peoples with life,
Making your land strangely loving
And appreciative of what beauty
You are to mother Africa

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Categories
Africa culture/tradition folklore lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry Series

Reflection: African Dream

I reflect and dream of you Africa, and hope to see Peace, Equality and Freedom work for you and for all…

…and to travel through many African countryside, to smell coffee grown in a valley in an Ethiopian village, to dance with the Masai and roar boldly with Serengeti Lions when they call the sunrise. I admire the sunset and smiling familiar faces; to ride Ostriches and race Cheetahs; to sit with children when our routine moonlight tales are told, to hear the Zambian Hyena howl at night. I’ll see young Igbo men wrestle in sheer display of beautiful African culture in my hometown, swim through white waters of Oko’pia, and watch Africa’s potentials harnessed properly by leaders.

…to listen when elders speak as they share their wisdom, and prayers, to love, for love is central to human existence and to this evenings reflection. Love brings peace, grants equality and freedom. Love is blind to my skin colour and lets me dine with all men irrespective of religion, creed, tribe, nation, and economic or political interests.

Finally while I end this reflection and if I do marry, I’ll hold my child high as Simba was held. She will see her people’s wealth of land and life. She will learn her African values, speak her fathers languages, learn to wear her beads, braid her hair and love all human kind; dark or fair, living in vales or hills or in towns or hamlets, or where it shines, snow or rain.

Good night.

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Categories
Africa folklore lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry Series

Dream of Sunset

I dream of sailing with the sunset,
To listen while wild winds whistle,
And watch silver clouds gather over me

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Categories
Africa culture/tradition education folklore Igbo culture lifestyle Nature Pastoral Poetry

Messenger

igbo-gong

Kokookoroko kokorokoro
A greeting called from afar
The children ran out excited
As if the message was for them
But then who knows?
Heads up, listen attentively
Komkom korookom
Another beat rang out
Pushing the mild hit
Into the ears of the heaviest village sleeper
‘Oh how cute, it is one of the King’s messengers’
‘A tall and fine one for that matter’
A group of young women chatter

The morning of a market day
Even before the sun starts his journey
The gong goes before the man,
A metal gong tells the whole clan
The tidings of the hamlet
The days not to visit the rivulet
The day to farm the deep forest
And when a service the King request,
The boxing day, a vengeful day,
Of long brooms stalked away
Up the roof barns where fish smoke,
And the wielder showing teeth tobacco soiled

When the messenger comes
Mama will always say
To bright little ones
‘Listen attentively, listen with your ears
They might have a message for you or you,
From the King or the brave hunters
Come from across the seven hills
And seven rivers of Far Away Land
So you must listen attentively
There must be wisdom in every muttering’

Then each time it all comes to me
Even now I on my face keep beards
I still listen when all is quiet
Then in my mind goes Krookoko-kom-kom!

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Krookokom… As in Onomatopoeia of sound made by gongs.

Categories
Africa culture/tradition education folklore Igbo culture lifestyle Nature Pastoral

Tradition: Breaking the Kola nut

Onye wetara oji wetara ndu (Igbo)

He who brings Kola brings life…

Kola nut is a symbol of hospitality and friendship in Nigeria. While other food can be cooked the Kola nut needs no special preparation before presentation. It’s a bitter fruit of the Kola tree¶ grown all over tropical Africa.

In Igbo land, Kola nut is a cultural staple held in high esteem. It is sometimes referred to King of all foods. It is a sacrificial lobe revered, no child or woman is allowed to tamper or joke with it. Every piece of it is considered sacred and can’t be wasted or destroyed unless it’s spoilt.

Usually, the oldest man among the host audience is asked to bless the Kola nuts. He will take one of the nuts in his right hand and makes a blessing, prayer or toast using a proverb, e.g.

Ihe dï mma onye n’achö, ö ga-afü ya.’

‘What ever good he is looking for, he will see it.’

Generally Kola nut is presented in festivities, in ceremonies and primarily used to welcome visitors. They are offered with prayers of thanksgiving and supplication to Chineke. After prayers are said then Kola nut can be broken and shared in bits to visitors. Sometimes it’s served with garden eggs, bitter cola, alligator pepper, peanut butter and palm wine.

As mentioned before, it is the breaking that is the significant part of the ceremony. The more parts the Kola breaks up to, the more prosperity it gives to its presenter and visitors. Though there is one exception: if the nut yields only to two parts, it signifies no good as it signals that the presenter has a sinister motive behind the Kola. Because of that, Kola nuts with only two parts are avoided for this ceremony and therefore the purple/reddish coloured nuts, cola acuminata are preferred over its greyish counterpart, the cola nitida, as the latter one only breaks up in two. Four parts coincide with the four market days of the Igbo week. Five or more broken parts mean prosperity for the family. In some parts of Igboland, when the Kola breaks into six, a separate celebration is required and sometimes even including the slaughter of a goat.

There are many other rules surrounding the Kola nut ceremony. Kola nut should only be presented with two hands at the same time, and also as the Kola tree is associated with man, only men can climb and pluck the Kola tree.

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¶ Don’t confuse the Bitter Cola with the Kola nut. They are quite different plants.
Chineke: God in Igbo language.
Nkwo, Eke, Afor, Orie: Market days in Igbo land.

Categories
Africa culture/tradition education folklore lifestyle Love and Christianity Nature Pastoral

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