Saturday, January 20, 2007



December 31st was the most fun I had on any village trip in my entire adulthood. Unfortunately we were once again awakened by the bloody village town crier who was going around at 5am with the gong reminding people about yet another church service. We also had to start the day by fetching water from the back yard well. Our GP tank had run dry. After all the early morning drama, we got all dressed up for church. Once again, although we tried, we could not avoid this one for two reasons. First my dad’s maternal uncle was doing a thanksgiving for his ‘Ezi-nna’ title and my dad’s brother’s wife was doing ‘itopu mkpe’ (ending her mourning period). So you see my friends, no amount of coy, sun, heat or dust could serve as an excuse for us not to be there. And to add to our grief, anything that involves my family is always the last on the list, I just don’t know why. We stood outside the entire time gisting and doing fashion parade like every one else. Gerda and Adanna were stuck with my parents, who have their own seat in church (if I had sat with them the other day, I may have gotten away with not covering my hair). It was hot as heck in there too. Immediately we were done with the obligatory thanksgivings, we went home to change and shifted to my dad’s uncle’s house in Umuduruehie, where there was enough food. This was a wonderful sight considering there was absolutely no food at home as my mother could not be in two places at a time. You know, this Christmas was somehow in our house oh. In the past we’d have food and drinks in excess and ‘out-the-wazoo’. You could go to the store and just grab whatever you want. Is it Star lager, Guinness small stout, odeku (Big Stout), Coke, Fanta, Gulder, malt, even palm wine. The best one you could find in the fridge this time around was UNILAG WATER. WTF!!!! We would kill chicken, goats and if we were lucky to have a good year, a cow would be shared amongst the different houses in our family. And my mother being the ‘Mother-T’ (a play on the words tea and Theresa, because she’s always serving ‘tea’ and serving food to everybody who comes, especially in the morning before she even eats) of the village, if any of the villagers were lucky enough to show up (we call it ukwu-oma or having the good leg) they’ll also get a portion of meat accompanied with rice and may be a tin or two of tomatoes so they can add that their holiday meal. But this year, hmh, the one tiny dwarf-goat that we found in the back yard awaiting slaughter ran away for 2 days and my dad didn’t even shout or over react. He was like, ‘Eh…well God must have rescued the goat, so go and buy mushrooms.’ Wow!!! But we found the goat later and made pepper-soup out of it. Back at my dad’s uncle’s party, we ate enough to last us the night and then we took Gerda and Adanna to ‘Okorosha’, the masquerade dance in the next village. This was the best ever.

In the past, going to Okorosha had never been fun for me. Since we ‘marauded’ in groups according to gender, my cousins, sisters and I always stood very far away and always near someone’s house so that we can run in if a masquerade jumped out. We always made sure we were not wearing trousers, and if we did in anticipation that we would have to run, we would tie wrapper over our pants or wear shorts under our skirt. Last time I visited, I was chased by the one called ‘Egwudo’, a rather wicked, scary and monstrous looking masquerade. I lost my brand-new nine west sunglasses that I bought for full price (Ok that’s no big deal since Dee broke her Roberto Cavalli goggles on Thursday). But this year it was very different. We drove to the Umu-okpara square unsure of what to expect. Me, Nene, Onyi, Gerda and Adanna got out and then the circus began. As sad as it is, Oyibo is good oh. I mean, can I walk around with a white person for the rest of my life? As we got out of the car, one unsightly masquerade spotted us and came over. At this point I would usually run away, especially since I was wearing trousers, but since I was with a white person, I had liver to form big girl and be confident, or were they going to flog me and the white woman. NEVER!! I told Gerda to ask before taking any pictures and did the translating for her. I found myself negotiating photo-ops with masquerades. That masquerade was lucky to get N200, but we got smart and went and got some N20 and N50 notes. We made our way towards the circle only to be greeted by one of the masters-of-ceremony who spoke to Gerda instead of us. He attempted to speak in what he thought was an American accent, ‘would like to have a seat?’ My eyes met with my sisters and the expression was ‘Are you serious?’ The man ushered us into the circle and seated us right in the front. Keep in mind there was no man with us, so this was a very big deal. The masquerades came up to us and danced in front of us and teased. They were not so scary any more. The masquerade that was supposed to be the flirty one kept on playing with us and wanting to collect our money without taking a picture with us. At some point one other MC came and started yelling at them to stop playing with us and taking pictures because we were women. But I had an agenda in mind. I was going to PUNK the masquerade that chased me. I am sure it was not the same dancer in costume, but whatever, I just wanted my picture. We could not get his attention or rather his guide was trying to pull a fast one on us by collecting our money first and asking for an exorbitant amount. I flashed a N500 but he refused to come, then I pulled out them N1000 bill and he seemed interested. I told him the only way he would get the money is if he posed with me for a picture. He obliged and that’s how Addy conquered Egwudo. After that I said a prayer and covered myself with the blood of Jesus because only God knows how many rituals they have to do before they come out on display. But thinking about it, all it took for me to get some bloody respect in my father’s land was to have a white-woman with me. It was fun but I could not help but analyze the conundrum of the situation. I guess until I start cruising town in some brand-new-tear-rubber SUV, build some duplex and starting dashing out mad cash, I’ll have to find a white-person-hand-bag. May be I’ll pick one up on one of my trips back to the States.

Later that night was the much anticipated ‘Ichu-Afo’, driving away the old year on New Year’s Eve. This is technically the part where fire works come in, but in our case it is noise to chase evil spirits. Ground Canons (egbe-ntu), double barrels, knock-out/banger, fire crackers even kids with sticks banging on empty tin-cans interrupt the musical orchestration that the crickets never fail to deliver every night. My sisters refused to go to the mission with me because they were tired, so I went with my cousins Adaobi and Chris. We bought N500 ($5) worth of banger; about 15 boxes with 10 sticks in each. We had to equip ourselves because New Year’s Eve at the mission is a war zone. We staked out one very dark corner and as people passed we’d throw the banger at them, watch them jump around and rave in Igbo, ‘Who is the ‘eeddiot’ that threw that banger? Thunder fire your head.’ Of course, we were dying of laughter and trying not to be loud. The madness however did not start till like 12.30. The new pastor at St. Andrew’s effed up on purpose I think, because usually church lets out at like 12.10. Anyways when everybody came out, it was crazy. Come and see hide-and-seek skills coming out. It was mischief at its best. I didn’t realize when my supply ran out. We headed towards home but my other cousins, some of whom were drunk decided to set a bon fire. They started singing Man-O-war songs like Obi Kerere Nke and some Tony-One-Week songs.

New Year’s Day, we had to go to church gain of course and show face in our ‘and-co’. New Year’s Day in our church is usually the biggest revenue collecting day so we were bound to be there a while. As I said earlier, since I was a kid this church has been collecting funds for a new building or one thing or the other but the window panels, the fans, ceiling and even the paint are more or less the original. They called my father to come and speak small grammar and open the floor for donation. My sister looked at me and was like ‘if this man should give out our flight ticket money in this place it would not be funny in that house.’ He spoke some grammar, being the ‘prof’ and then after a little bit he was like ‘kpana-kpana-kpana ** naira…and I would match the highest donation.’ WHAT? There were a bit too many zeros for my comfort and it ain’t like we are loaded in the sense to be giving out that chunk of money at a time. My sister was like, ‘you better go and tell your father to stop misbehaving.’ Other people came and gave their own. Then ‘Aunty Queen’, who for unexplainable reasons gets the gold medal for most liked, and I say that in sarcasm, opened the floor up for women with a few motivational women-empowerment words, ‘kpana-kpana-kpana ** naira’. Chris’s father came and dropped his own and the church went wild with standing ovation. OK, seems like business was good for some people in 2006. Then what did we hear next, a woman’s voice, ‘Praise the Lord…kpana-kpana-kpana ** naira to build the house of the Lord’. It was my mother.
‘Aw hell no...We are so freaking flying to Lagos, on first class if we can.’ I said as I looked at my equally flabbergasted sisters. I went to the window near where my dad was sitting.
‘Bros, I hope that is not our ticket money you are dashing out?’ tapping him on his shoulder.
‘C’mon gerrout my friend.’ He was obviously irritated by my question.
‘Is it me you are telling to gerrout? OK, it will do you like magic when you wake up tomorrow and don’t find me and your wallet.’ I had my own back up plan just incase plan A would no work.
We grumbled the entire drive back home and talked as if they were not there just to annoy them. I guess he didn’t think we were serious until we woke up at like 4am and started taking our bath and packing up our stuff. We went to him and he was like,
‘So what time does ABC first bus leave?’ He said when I went for collection and to greet him in the morning. I had to gather myself because it was too early for that sort of bad joke.
‘Err excuse me, I am going to the airport o and I need money for my ticket.’ My sisters quickly corrected me.
‘We…we need money for ticket.’ I had never seen reflexes in action like that.
My brother Chiwuike had laughed at us the night before when we’d told him how we were going.
‘Yeah right, you want to collect flight money from your father. Which father is that? You must have the wrong father in mind because it is not the same one that gave birth to us,’ he didn’t realize that we were very serious and had sworn that ‘levels go change in 2007’.
‘So how do you people say you are going?’ Chiwuike asked as we came out with our bags and headed for the car.
‘By air now’ I replied.
His eyes went wide and his face cracked in disbelief, ‘Ehn….Me nko? You did not collect for me? I see how you people are behaving in this house. Me that I have been here since begging and banging my head on the wall to collect and you, you just come from no where and you are collecting money to fly. Why? Because you are nnunu...pigeon....ehn? It's not your fault, Ada-Ugo (Eagle's daughter) or is it Egbe...hawk...answer now...which one…Nonsense!!!!’ By now he's rolling his eyes, demonstrating and ends with a very long, loud and deafening hiss. 'Psheeeewwww!!’
‘You didn’t say you were interested in flying.’ I had to laugh at his ‘half-joke-half-seriousness’. It was too late to include him or even go back to collect funds on his behalf.

We got to the airport and found that Aero Contractor had cancelled all its flights and Virgin was fully booked. Chanchangi was the only option but the 9.30 am and 1.30 pm were fully booked, according to the ticket agent. The 3pm flight was available but they would not start selling that until the other flights had taken off. The Harmattan haze, which is truly air-pollution and smog, was causing major flight delays that day. While we were waiting Dr. Alban, Sound Sultan and Nkiru Anumudu, all wide eyed and Gucci’ed out, rolled in. After a long wait, I decided to go and speak some grammar and phonetics at the airline office to get on a waiting list for the 3pm flight. But when in my conversation I purposely dropped one or two media giant names the agent miraculously found us seats on the flight that had been scheduled for 9.30am. Much to my surprise he turned down the token (not bribe) that I had given him for his ‘kindness’ because truly I just wanted to get on the waiting list for the 3pm flight.
The plane did not leave till 3.30pm and believe me when I say that was the scariest flight I have ever been on. I was nearly pissing in my pants. The roof of the plane was rattling the entire time. The image that kept coming in my head was the promo of ‘Snakes on a Plane.’ The engine sounded like the rickety motorcycles/ okada that ply the highways. It was not funny at all, however I was glad to be back in Lasgidi in a journey that took less than an hour. I could not take one more day in the East nor could I envision myself enduring the trip by road.
I came back and crashed till the next morning only waking in between when someone brought some suya. I woke up the next day, strong enough and well refreshed. That week I met Wild Child of Rhythm FM (He is truly wild) and my other favorite naija musician for 2006, African China. As I escorted folks to the airport, it dawned on me that I would not be going back to America for a while. Hmh… don’t know how I feel about that yet but I do know that if I was leaving there would not have been a dry eye at the airport. I am sure I would have cried all the way to California. Truly there is no place like home, even if it is not as comfortable as one wishes it to be. Right now I am trying to make some new friends to add to the old ones and of course settle into my new environment. I am already driving on the crazy Lagos roads and without a license if I may add. And is it just me or is MNET AFRICA MAGIC channel just not addictive. It is the Nollywood movie channel and once my remote lands on it I just can’t seem to get away.


Saturday, January 13, 2007


Kicked Out of the 24/7 Church

(Here’s a personal WELCOME note to the MTN Lagos staff who were recently recruited by ‘someone’. Sure he just told one person, but this spot can be contagious)

The next morning, which was Friday, an uncle was having a Thanksgiving church service to praise God for his recent political appointment. The venue, of course was our very infamous village church at the mission, St. Andrew’s Church. Now let me tell you about good old’ St. Andrews. It is the center and the pulse of Uburu-Ekwe. Everything happens in and around that church, even when it has no business being there. There was a time when the village tried unsuccessfully to ban women from wearing pants and mini skirts. Then they successfully ran the sacred Mmau masquerades underground. This and a lot more done from the pulpit of the church while they came up with one project or fund raiser to get your money. If you get anything new such as a house, baby, wife, husband, and you don’t take it to St. Andrew’s, hmh...hmh… you have not completed the ritual. If you can’t go there, at least invite the pastor to come to your house. Then if you are having a party for any of the above, you need not waste money to print out invitations or flyers, just say ‘Onakpotu na b’anyi, yirinu efe mara mma bianekiri ife n’akwu’ (there’s something happening at my house, wear you best clothes and come and see for yourselves). Let’s not even talk about the radical wing of the church, the Ekwe Born Again Association aka ‘Ndi-Born-Again’.

Anyways my sisters and I tried to get out of going to church, but this uncle is a rather important uncle and my father said to us, ‘If you like go to heaven and come back, just make sure you are in that church.’ We didn’t make any special outfit so I just wore one of my dresses. I don’t know if I was just being stubborn or that I refused to be bothered with what ‘villagers’ would say so I did not think twice about what I was wearing. After all my father saw and did not say to go and change. The criticism started when one of the ‘mamas’ who came to greet ‘ada-america’ came and pulled my dress up in the front. I was like ‘mama hapu that thing, it is the style.’ My sister’s told me to just take a pashmina just in case. I took one with me but draped it around my neck. At first there were no seats for us in the inside so we stood outside trying to be inconspicuous. But how is that possible when my sisters decided to do the Jackie O meets Queen Nora look with huge gogglish shades and their scarves tied like a hijab. I was like whatever. Things were going ok, we came in, one or two people tugged at my pashmina, trying to get it from my neck to my hair. Being me, I rolled my eyes and raised my finger, ‘Excuse me, how is it affecting you?’ The call to give offering came and I sashayed to the offering basin and back to my seat. Little did I know that the ‘mean’ custodian of the church had his evil eye on me and followed me. He came up from behind and pulled my pashmina over my hair.

ADDY: Dude get away from me man…Lemme alone.
CUSTODIAN: Cover ya hair... ah ah... how can
ADDY: How is that affecting you?
CUSTODIAN: I SAY COVER YA HAIR… it is ‘awa’ law.
ADDY: Where is that law and who made it? Please allow me to listen to the pastor.
CUSTODIAN: (by now raising his voice and being rather obnoxious) If you don’t cover ya hair I will embarazz you hear now. Either that or you leave.
ADDY: The church I go, it is abomination to cover our hair so I am not covering mine. Do your worst…geroutta my face please.
CUSTODIAN: This is ya first warning, don’t let me come back and see you here.
WOMAN: Cover your hair o, you know this is village and these are illiterates, they won’t understand you.
ADDY: Madam, se me see wahala o, if I say I don’t want to cover my hair, is that now a reason to be rude like that and shouting any how. He would rather interrupt the service just to prove power than to let me listen to the word of God.
CUSTODIAN: (Walks past) Hmh…hmh…second warning
MY SISTER: (Irritated by the man) you know what we really don’t have to be here. Let’s just leave and avoid any nonsense because as I see this man he is ready to stop this service.
RANDOM MAN: Nne we know your hair is fine but you can just take handkerchief and cover it, the is village, they are not exposed and the man is ready to embrazz you here.

Seeing that this was a battle I could not win, we got up and stormed into our car and I drove off. Not before some foolish boys yelled out in Igbo, ‘See what they are wearing, since when did people start coming to church naked?” Wow…naked is not quite the adjective I would use to describe our outfit.

We then went to my dad’s maternal home, Umuduruehie, which was just down the road from church. It is one of the few places we can eat freely and not worry about and juju-like stuff. I went to see my favorite old man, De Chukere. He is my dad’s uncle and the oldest man in the village now. He is really really old, so old that he has lost even his sense of feeling. In the past, he could hold your hand or hear your voice and know who you are. Seeing him like this broke my heart because he is dear to us and I can’t imagine going to Umuduruehie and not seeing De Chukere. Not normal, but we are all preparing ourselves because any moment the news could come. What I can say is that the man lived a wonderful life and we all pray to be as old as he is. Anyways, I took his hand and took a picture with him because I may not get that opportunity again.

Later that evening we had the annual Ekwe Day at the primary school field. BORING. That stuff used to be fun back in the day. I guess I have gotten too old to enjoy its.
Somewhere in between, our tire lost air and we had to go and find a vulcanizer. We drove through the bumpy road for 20 minutes to the only vulcanizer in the village. The negro charged us $500 (almost $5) to put air in our tire. It was either that or try with a bicycle pump. After that, our tire wheel started smoking; we’d probably burn the clutch from driving on only gear 1 and 2. Meanwhile we were operating on 1-0-1 (Breakfast-No lunch because our mother was not home to cook- very late dinner)

The next morning we decided to go o my mom’s village in Owerri. We took our Christmas guests along. My late cousin’s German wife Gerda (Nwaanyi Onye ocha aka Oyibo), and their seven year old daughter Adanna. This holiday was my first time meeting them. Naturally we have to take them where ever we go, like hand bags and accessories, and you can imagine the attention it was bringing, especially since they had an African outfit for every church service. Anyways, we got to Owerri and considering the fact that I truly feel that the next time I come to the east would be for someone’s wine-carrying, we decided this would be an express visitation. First stop Umuorie-Naze to see Aunty KZ. We did her the honors first because she is always upset that whenever we come we never make it to her house, or that we come to se her last and rush out. Unfortunately she was not at home. Next stop Umuakali-Naze, my mom’s home to see her brother ‘Uncle Daddy’. Why everyone calls him that, I just don’t know. He served us some African Salad (oil-bean salad) with pumo and shaki which Gerda examined extra well and asked questions like an invigilator before she and Adanna ate it. She cleaned the bowl and said in her broken English, “zis vehry gud gud but iz vehry pepper an’ zee meat hard.” We found some dusty and worn out books from the 50’s and 60’s in a glassless cabinet. One book stood out, ‘Do’s and Don’ts: Mistakes ’. This is a book from the colonial era. We shall learn more from that in subsequent blog entries. After a while we found some cute chicks (as in baby chickens not fine girls) roaming around in the back yard. I tried to catch one to play with but it kept evading me, Adanna joined in, and then went to call her mother who was carrying her camera around and taking pictures. I went and got some garri from the kitchen and that’s when they all came to me. But the mother hen started clucking really loudly and tried to fly out of the pen so we retreated.

From Naze we went to Isi-uzo Egbu to see Mama Felicia, my mother’s eldest sister. She was surprised to see us, but then all the neighbors came to see the ‘Ndi-ocha’ that we came with. It was so embarrassing the way they were just coming in and just starring. We didn’t stay long not just because of the growing crowd but also because we were hungry and Mama had not finished cooking. We were hoping to get to Ofe-Uzo Egbu to Aunty Celina’s to meet dinner. Bad move, especially after my mom refused to call to tell them we were coming. You can guess what happened. But on a good note, we met the birth of a new cousin, who my Uncle, her grandpa, has decided to call… you guessed it…ADAURE. I wasn’t too pleased to hear that but I decided not to express that displeasure. Apparently he had been thinking of what name to give the baby when I walked in and pleasantly surprised him. Aunty Celina had no food in the house so we had to rely on good ol’ Indomie noodles. On our way home, we got stuck in some wicked traffic for two hours. No AC because there was fuel scarcity, and you know how that goes. We didn’t get home till 10 pm.


Sunday, January 07, 2007


The Sojourn into the Land of Red Sand and Pitch Darkness

A Happy New Year to all you wonderful people. A belated Barka de Sallah to those of you who celebrated that and ate all of the ram in Lagos without inviting me. So we made it to 2007? No accident, no robbery, no kain nonsense. Ah!! God is good and very very ‘wonderfulous’. To those of you who dedicated time to stop by and read my last entry despite the lack of maintenance, thanks for sticking with your girl. Don’t worry, no condition is permanent and a patient dog always eats the fattest bone. (Reader: Is it me that you are now calling a dog? Adaure: Is your name Bingo?). The month of December was a transitional phase and soon I shall get up to speed so that you can get your dose of what Addy has to say. But let’s get right to it though, the ‘Koko’ of the matter so that some of you can get back to doing your home work and the work that you are being paid for. I got back from the village on Tuesday but let’s rewind….

5am Dec 28th the Journey Begins
Honestly man, thinking about it, I truly was not looking forward to going to the village. It wasn’t just because I was going to miss out on trips or electricity but for the mere fact that Harmattan was going to do a number on me. I had already lost my voice the night before and believe that as I write this, my voice is still beckoning somewhere for me to come and collect it. Since we some how convinced my father that we will find our way to the village just so that we could avoid having to have gone with him on the 24th, we had to go through some suffa-head moves. We agreed that we would take ABC bus to Owerri and the driver or our cousin would pick us up there. For me this was a normal routine as I have played this card a number of times before in order to get in a few more nights of partying with peace of mind. But apparently for one of my sister’s (Onyi) this was history for her as the last time she had been on one of these luxurious buses was ‘the first time I had been on one’, which was in 1991. I remember very well because that was the summer vacation just before I started secondary school. We had stayed at my dad’s house in Orlu and our car engine knocked at on the way to Lagos. Unfortunately for us we were suppose to start school the following Monday, which was in a few days so there was no option to turn back. That was the day I knew that ‘suffering’ had levels. To piss was wahala, not to talk of asking for banana and groundnut, which was part of the highlight of these road trips. My sister wore a hat and sunglasses and was like, ‘If they sent you from America to come and destroy my rep in this Lagos, tell them you did not find me.’ Nnenne on the other hand only broke her non-luxurious bus riding stretch last December when she had to escort my cousin’s Kenyan wife to the village so the nightmare of the situation was still fresh in her mind. We fit all our stuff into one suitcase, each outfit for the duration of our stay carefully assigned. We were like once New Year’s Day is over we are ‘peacing out’ so no need to carry excess luggage. Plus my dad said ‘travel light’. What we did was an understatement. We got to the bus station at Jibowu and then I thought to myself, ‘Babe you know you really don’t have to go through this?’ Little did I know what I was in for. First of all the pot holes along that Lagos-Ibadan Express Road can swallow a Coca-Cola truck and still have room for Pepsi. This is a problem across the country and was certainly expected, in fact you will be reading more about bad-roads and pot-holes in subsequent entries. But what I was not expecting was a suitcase almost falling on my head. Then the traffic that we hit at Ore in Ondo State was just a bastard. We were in it for two hours and our journey was still far. The cause of the go-slow again was bad roads because in that area the East bound lane of the highway was unmotorable and so that traffic had to use the West bound lane. And to say that Nigerians drivers can be very stupid is a statement that is unworthy of a gold medal. That is why there is so much road rage because some things that they do can make you want to get down from your car and become a traffic warden. You get the picture. And then you have those other set of stupid Nigerians that call themselves Mobile Police, government officials and dignitaries who go around with sirens trying to fly over the mess that is their responsibility. And to tell you how extra stupid they can be, one convoy was trying to get by but there was no where to go, so an idiotic uniformed man with a gun decided to shoot out the tire of the vehicle in the way. Now my question is after doing that, did he now expect the driver to carry the car on the head and move it out of the way? And knowing how things are hard in this country, I am sure that must have been a brand new tire the owner bought just to be able to have a safe drive to their hometown. I am quite certain that the ‘Oga dignitary’ saw what his officer did, but of course he or she would not care because to them we the Nigerian masses are ants that are meant to be crushed and so it goes unpunished. In a ‘civil’ society such a thing cannot fly. SHAME ON ALL THESE OFFICIALS WHO ABUSE POWER IN SUCH MANNER AND BLINDLY ALLOW THEIR STAFF TO INDULGE IN SUCH CRUELTY. I slept quite a bit on the bus but what was amazing to me was the fact that we got to Benin at 2.30pm, 6 and half hours after we started. In the past, if we leave Lagos at 9am, we would get to Benin by 12pm. May be it was the speed of the bus and the traffic factor but that one was a wonder. Upon getting to Benin, not only did I find myself talking to God not to allow my digestive system to misbehave, I also found myself playing detective. First about my conversation with God. You know how I had been avoiding peppery food. Well the night before, while I was on ‘my almost-a-date-but-not-quite’, I forgot that I was traveling and decided to indulge myself in a delicacy of Egusi and Pounded Yam. Now I have not ‘swallowed’ since I got back so you can imagine and plus you could tell the cook was Yoruba because the soup had so much palm-oil. Truly ‘Ofe-Mmanu-Mmanu (You know I had to take that cheap shot :). On the bus I felt my stomach go ‘prrrrrr’ and I remember my blunder and I was like ‘Chai Chineke, Abasi Mbong biko, please not here, not now.’ I think that prayer helped me get to Benin. Then I went to attempt to use the facility that was supposed to be the restroom at the ‘rest-stop’. In fact, at this point, I think it was the content of my stomach that was praying to God for me not to ‘discharge’ them into such a purgatory of a facility. I was like you know what, I think I can manage and hold this one till we get to Owerri. I didn’t drink any more water and ate nothing else and truth be told, it was God who put my digestive system in order because it would have been ghastly. As in instead of me to use that restroom, I would not have minded to use banana or coco-yam leaf to do what we call ‘shot-put’. You know…you bend down and ‘oomph’, then you wrap it like moin-moin and then give it another good ‘oomph’ and throw it very far away and then ‘splat’ on a palm-wine tapper's head and run. I speak from experience, but we thank God for his goodness. Then a lady sitting next to us lost her baby. Poor woman went to use the restroom and gave another lady her baby to hold. That is how the 6 month old baby ended up on the bus going to Lagos. The mother now got onto the bus just as it was bout to leave only for my sister to ask, ‘Madam, where is your baby?’ The woman was like ‘is she not here, I gave her to one girl on this bus.’ We then told her that no woman came on this bus with a baby. By now everybody on the bus heard what was going on and the following exchange ensued.
MAN 1: You say what? You don’t know where your baby is? You are a foolish woman.
MOTHER: (crying) Driver please, my baby is not here, help me.
DRIVER: You are not serious. Oya nu….get down. We can drop you here.
MAN 2: Oga driver no mind am jare, make we leave am for here sef, She is very stupid.
MAN 3: Very, very, in fact if I was your husband I will send you packing.
MAN 4: Send her packing ke? She will never set foot in that house again. She thinks baby is telephone.
RANDOM WOMEN: Oga driver abeg make you stop make she go look for the pikin
ADAURE: Please Mr. Driver can you stop the bus let’s go back and find the baby. We cannot leave without this baby; the baby could be in danger.
MOTHER: Somebody help me, my baby o, my baby is not here oh. (Weeping)
MAN 1: Oga driver just turn back jare, she is a very foolish woman. How can? And the person sef that took the baby is even more foolish.
MAN 2: Who did she even give the baby to?
MOTHER: I wanted to piss and I gave her to a girl holding ABC ticket to carry for me. She said she was on this bus.
MAN 3: What kind of piss is that for you to give your baby to someone you don’t know?
ADAURE: (irritated) this is not the time to blame anyone. Let’s just go and help find the baby. It would be a disheartening shame upon each and everyone on this bus if we leave this woman without making an effort to help her find her baby.
RANDOM WOMEN: Oga driver it is true o. Please ehn we don’t mind to get to Owerri at night. It is Christmas too oh.

The driver backs up and I and a few men get of the bus. Most of them were bickering and laying blame instead of asking around. It wasn’t till people saw a crowd gathering and a weeping woman did they come around to ask, ‘Na wetin happen?’ Meanwhile I had been on the other two buses asking if anybody had a baby that did not belong to them. As I was doing this I was trying very hard no to laugh when people, who knew that the babies they were holding in their arms was there own and not the one in question were like ‘Auntie is it dis one… are you sure... look well oh.’ I am thinking to myself do they think this is a joke? After a few minutes I went and started asking the driver to call the other buses. But unfortunately, because they don’t want anyone telling armed robbers the location of the bus, it is against the policy to have the phone on, so the driver was unable to reach the other buses. The other men began yelling at the driver and the attendant to do something and make calls just so that we are sure whether the baby was on the bus before we think other wise. This is Benin we are talking about and it is a city known for some serious ‘witch-crafting’ and ‘baby-nappers’ so everyone had already begun to think the worst. Meanwhile on the bus, the women had already started praying and casting out demonic spirits trying to hinder the smoothness of the journey. I went into the shops and started asking people if they had seen a woman and a baby that fit the description. We all felt helpless because it wasn’t like you could call the police to put out an ‘AMBER ALERT.’ When I thought about it I laughed in my head…now that is super funny…amber alert indeed. Some how, I guess the lady who had the baby had realized that the mother was not on her bus. Then after about an hour we saw another ABC bus pull in to the stop coming towards the crowd instead of the port. Come and here prayers “Fada paform your miracle…Daddy you are holy…Jesus you are wonderful…hollibaba shantarahrah paparahrah kakarahrah HOLY….JEEEEEEZZZUUUUUSSSS’. People flocked to the bus and the attendant emerged from the coach carrying a baby. ‘Na who get this pikin?’

“PRAISE THE LORD!!!!” was the cheer that accompanied the applause and jubilation as the mother received her baby. Some people had already started crying. One of the men who had called for the woman’s head used his handkerchief to wipe the sweat of the woman’s face. “Oya madam iz enough stop crying.” They raise the baby up like hey did Kunta Kinte in Roots. ‘Madam hold ya pikin well’ another man yelled as some women danced and tried to carry and hug the baby. People stretched the faces to kiss the baby’s chicks. ‘Fine baby!! Miracle baby!!’ Never was the baby’s name ever used. We all got back on the bus and continued our journey. We gave the woman our water and biscuit. The baby meanwhile was clueless as to what the fuss was about. She was quiet the entire time according to the other bus attendant. In my head I was thinking, but this pikin sef, you mean to tell me that you had absolutely no clue what just happened and could not even shout out that she was on the wrong bus or something. We went through the Benin-Asaba Expressway Bypass which was a smooth ride because SOMEBODY did his job and built a good road to decongest the traffic situation in Benin City. Props to that Governor. We got the River Niger Bridge and for the very first time in my life there was no traffic on the Asaba side of the bridge, which had always been the case when ever I was traveling to the East. I don’t need to tell you that there was traffic on the Onitsha side. Hiss. Onitsha is just a total nuisance of a place. A total Dump. You think Lagos is bad? Go to Onitsha and see what I call a dump. To cut the long story short we did not get to Owerri until 11pm that night. 14 bloody hours on the road with no food, water or going to the bathroom. If you see the speed that we used to enter our car, I doubt that Ben Johnson can beat that record. But the suffering was not over just yet. We still had the ‘Jogodo’ dance to do. The road from Owerri to Umuaka junction though pitch black was smooth with few pot holes. At one point we almost ran off the road because someone was driving without backlights. The speed sent us into the bushes. But for SUV I could have been telling a different story. Surprisingly the government had tarred the road going into Umuaka. Not sure whether that is left or right but if you are coming from Owerri it is right at the junction. But it was either the contractors forgot to branch left and tar the road from Nwaoriemkpu going into Ebenator and Uburu-Ekwe or somebody just pocketed the money since it just another village. May be we need to get Bill Clinton to visit because the story I heard was that the last time he came to Nigeria, he requested to see a village and guess what, the government decided to tar the road, but there ass was opened when Ol’ Bill looked left and saw a dirt road and called them on their bullshit. Oh well, I am sure the money has been allocated and someone is using it to build a massive house somewhere. Anyways when we made that left at Nwaoriemkpu, come and see some serious galloping and dancing. We did this for 30 minutes till we got to the Mission. The road from there to our house although a dirt road was graded and not that bad. As I walked into the compound, looking haggard, drained of energy, no voice and hungry, I went to my father and said, ‘Mr. Man, I hope you have no intentions of donating any money to the church this year because I need it to buy a plane ticket back to Lagos.’ His response, “You see that bush there, go and dig up the cassava and yam tubers, tomorrow is Bazaar at the Mission.”