As far back as I can remember, I’ve always been a shy guy. Well, not anymore sha. But back in the days, it was such a persisting problem. I’d see older people, I got shy. I’d see witches, I got shy. I’d see very pretty ladies, I got shy. I’d see pet animals, I got shy. Shy, Shy, Shy, Shy, Shy, Shy….my goodness, what the phuck! I was even scared of my own shadow back then. And any time shit happened, I wished the ground beneath my feet would just burst open and swallow me up. It was that bad!
I was born on a special day, in a hospital situated within a ghost town. Now don’t ask me how I managed to survive; in all honesty, it was a miracle. I never had an English name; instead, my parents gave me three indigenous names and one nickname. They said it was a sign of respect for Amadioha and Orunmila. As a kid, every time the attendance register was being read in class, I always felt ashamed to respond to my names while the other kids proudly showed off their bread-and-buttered names. One could hear the Oyinbo teacher call out names of the pupils in the class:
Amanda Covenant Chinenye PRESENT…
Tunde Henry Michael PRESENT…
Helen Pauline Bolaji PRESENT…
Ikenna Ba’Ruu Keshinro Danlami SILENT…
And she would repeat my indigenous names (bereft of any English one) three more times before I would shamefully raise my hands up and murmur PRESENT, with my head bowed down. And everyone would laugh afterwards. Tragic!
The disrespectful girls always had a field day tormenting me and my fellow kpako friends, that couldn’t speak English properly. I didn’t blame them sha; they had the luxury of watching such TV programs as Sesame Street and other educational programs, while me and my homeboiz always played War, Rubber Band and ‘Threw cashew nuts’ till dusk.
Already, the Oyinbo teacher had set some rules pertaining to how the pupils would communicate in class – the punishment for speaking Igbo or any other indigenous language was to pay One Naira and spend overtime during prep while the other pupils went home. I remember on one occasion when a chubby girl wanted to pass by my locker on her way to hers and mistakenly hit my hand. I waited patiently for her to apologize only to get the shocker of my life;
“Idiot, you didn’t know I was passing and kept your hand on my way”, she said rudely, with an accent that indicated she had spent her formative years in England.
Kai, Jesu…E mi ni? Omo Naija like me, Ajebutter dey speak Engli for my head? E don be today!
I wanted to say something to her but I couldn’t. The Oyinbo teacher was at her desk, watching the two of us with keen interest. I remembered the rule – I could only make sentences in English and since I couldn’t, I just stared at the rude girl and said, “OK, OK, See You, Me, Beat You, Well Well. Watch, Just Watch”. The other disrespectful kids laughed at me. Only my Canary friends sympathized with me and told me to chill and wait till school was over so we would deal with the rude girl. Lord knows the beating we gave her and two of her friends and the disrespect ended. But we were caught eventually sha! Tragic!
My life is like a movie in Technicolor. Even though I had lecturers as parents, I chose the ways of a rebel; a Nigerian Samurai actually. And just as a movie has many scenes: the good, the bad and the pretty ugly scenes, so does my life. And many of these scenes were similar to what other millennials witnessed while growing up in Nigeria.
So without further ado, I give to y’all, seven (7) of those awkward and crazy moments I had while growing up in this lovely nation called Naija. Read and stay blessed:
The money, the yam and the ritual: Mum always told me: if you pick money on the ground (especially 20 Naira), be rest assured that you will turn into a tuber of yam. And I will not be there to pray for you to turn back to a human being. Did you hear me, you stubborn son of your father. Well, it would have been easier to heed her advice if they gave me enough pocket money. But they didn’t. So on this day, I was abso-freaking-lutely hungry. And on my way back to the house, I sighted a green something on the ground. I walked closer to the green something and beheld a clean minty 2o Naira note; the type mum said would turn me into a tuber of yam. But better hungry just dey wire me, and there was a woman selling kpof-kpof nearby. Now imagine the smell of freshly fried kpof-kpof entering the nostrils of a hungry boy. The temptation don too much jare.
So what did I do basically? I just got a long stick and touched the money. The idea was that if the stick started turning to yam, I will quickly drop it before it reaches my hand, plead the blood of Jesus and run home. So I tried it and nothing like that happened. Omo, come see flexing na! I bought me some kpof-kpof, a pack of popcorn, akiringwa, groundnuts and kulikuli. Additionally, I touched my prick and nut-sac to be sure that one or both testicles haven’t vanished. And to the glory of the Almighty, everything was intact. Hallelujah!
That horrible first kiss: Playing Mummy and Daddy with the other kids was pretty cool. I mean, I always looked forward to it. We always struggled to have the pretty females on the opposite end. I always practiced the kissing with my pillow after watching some ‘kissing scenes’ in movies. So on this particular day, I landed at the playground and quickly sighted the girl I had been eyeing since. Boy, she was so fine and we always struggled to act opposite her. Today na today, aswear!
So basically, we started acting. And then it was time to kiss. Instead of the normal touching of my lips on hers, I decided to take it up a notch and grabbed her tongue in my mouth. I wanted the real kiss, and not fake one. She was struggling to free her tongue from my big ponmo lips. I wanted to taste everything. Tragic…that was so bad and irresponsible of me! Eventually, she was free from the shackles of my ponmo lips and was crying loudly. Now don’t ask me what happened eventually after she reported me to her parents, who eventually told my parents. I couldn’t walk straight for two weeks after the koboko became best friends with my gluteus. Damn!
Wishing I had poor eyesight so that I go sabi book well well: Well, Well, Well. The perception we had back in the days was that any bespectacled individual was always intelligent. Not that I wasn’t intelligent o! But I really wanted people to just know/assume that I was intelligent when they saw me, instead of testing me with questions first.
So every night, I was always on my knees, praying to the angels and Mother Mary, to strike me with an eye problem so that I can eventually wear eyeglasses. Kai, children and mumu mentality! When I actually look back and laugh at that crazy moment, I thank the Almighty for not answering my prayers. Imagine the mixture of eyeglasses and my wor wor face. It will be akin to painting the face of Aristide Bance with makeup.
The millennium bomb: The year was known as Y2K, and I was 6years less than a score. At Sunday School, our tutors told us to get prepared because our Lord was coming back that year. It was the end of the world as told by some prophesies, they told us. The good book said our Lord will come like a thief in the night, but I didn’t want him to take me unawares. So on the last day of the year 2000, we waited patiently for our Lord’s coming. The children wailed. Mothers held their offspring tightly, taking care to carry them along as our Saviour and his angels descended. Fathers held tightly to their snuff boxes, worthy keepsake to show the angels when they reach heaven.
By 11pm, nothing happened. 11:15pm knack, yet no show. Na wa o! By 11:30pm, fear had already engulfed me totally. I was literally shaking and I guess I peed on myself. By 11:45pm, my eyes were staring at the dark skies, hoping to see a horse descending. Still, no show! Then it was 12 midnight. BANG, BANG, BANG!!! I was hoping the skies would open up completely with plenty white horses and riders wearing white robes, coming down to earth. Yet, nothing happened. Maybe heaven and earth have different time zones, I thought to myself. That was how I waited endlessly until I fell asleep on the couch and woke up in the morning. Boy, Year 2000 aka Millennium Bomb Year was really the bomb.
The first-time weed and the craze: That was how all my homeboiz would be claiming they now drag the reefer and chop kpef. Every time we gathered for games, or to shoot dice, they would proceed to bring out wraps of kpoli and smoke freely. They will taunt me and make me feel bad. Chai, peer pressure is really a nuisance! One time, they were taking drag after drag of kpoli, and I was watching keenly. Tapuru, my mannest man told me to take a drag. But I resisted and instead started praying Psalm 91 in my mind. The other guys told me to take some. I added another Psalm to the one I was already praying for stronger protection. But it seemed the Psalms of protection weren’t working because my impious thoughts took over. I hurriedly took the rizla from Tapuru, took a long drag and blew the smoke out. Men hailed me. They called me strong man, and I smiled. I felt like Johnny Bravo. I took another drag, then a third, a fourth, and a fifth one. Afterwards, it was time to go home. I was still normal until I reached the entrance to our house. Then I started seeing the ghosts of dead rappers that were shot – Tupac was one of them. But when I knew that yawa don gas was when I saw the ghost of my grand-daddy giving me a thumbs-up. Chei, e don be!
I walked into the house and hailed Popsie like a guy-man: “Bros, hafa na? Wetin dey sup?”, while bringing my hand to chop knuckle. Malle looked at me with her mouth wide open. Lawd ha’ mercy! Now that was heavy phuck-up. And my phuck-up was treated appropriately.
The embarrassing standup show: It was sometime in 2007 when Cosmo FM organized a talent hunt show. The first prize was 200K and a standing fan. Now imagine what 200k would do for a student back then. So I made up my mind that I would contest under the comedy category. My stage name would be ‘The Big Mouse’. I practiced for weeks and came up with new jokes, how I would walk on the stage, my body movements and different facial expressions. Who dem be?
On the D-day, I arrived at the venue dressed in an orange shirt, faded blue pair of jeans, a brown pair of timberland boots and a black fedora to match. I walked with a swagger and whistled to the tune of Eminem’s Lose Yourself. But I made a mistake before I went on stage: I took a drag of reefer that one of my homeboiz came with. And then I walked up to the stage. I started noticing the effects of the kpoli I took earlier on. My head got so heavy and my respiratory rate increased a bit. I also noticed my palms were moist. I quickly realized that particular stuff wasn’t the normal one wey we dey take. I felt I heard the crowd applauding and as I turned around, I realized no one was actually clapping or cheering. First phase of phuck up…the weed was actually working. When I reached the stage, I forgot to request for the microphone. I had started performing before the compère called my attention to collect the mic. Second phase of phuck up…the weed was actually working. Ladies and gentlemen, I was abso-freaking-lutely stoned and phucked. When I beheld the audience, all I saw was a sea of cockroaches. Everyone looked so small. Voices in my head became more audible. Ideas were clashing and jamming randomly. I accused a lady sitting in the front row of witchcraft. I call an elderly man a woman snatcher. I was just talking plenty shit instead of actually telling jokes. The mother of all phuckups was when I mistakenly (or rather, stupidly) yabbed a soldier seated on the second row. I talked about him dying on his next peacekeeping mission in Sudan. Omo, that was the end of story!
Two other soldiers walked up with him to the stage. I realized they were soldiers because they wore camouflage caps and pants. One put his hands on my belt buckle while a second one kicked my two legs and I quickly slumped on the ground. I was screaming on top of my voice, calling my friends to help me but I saw them from the corner of my eyes escape from the venue. Omo, see beating! Even the protest from the organizers of the show fell on deaf ears. The beating didn’t end there o. I was bundled out of the venue to the parking lot where I was severely dealt with. They were waiting for a taxi to convey me to the guard room at 82 Division when I discovered an avenue to escape. The one holding me was busy looking for a bigger stick to hit my big head, when I quickly stood up and took off. It was on that day I realized I could give Usain Bolt a run for his money. They pursued me and I kept running till I saw an okada man who conveyed me back home. Chai, Ibile!
The parents, the movie and the kpekus: That was how yours truly was busy watching porn back in the days when owning a laptop (or even a desktop) was a luxury. So I was doing the watching and enjoyment on the VCD player in the living room. All of a sudden, I heard the sound of the car in the driveway. I peered through the window. Lo and behold, my parents that were meant to be at a wedding were already back. Chineke m! That was how I hurriedly (plus mistakenly) put the CD inside an empty pack. I didn’t know the pack was that of a Nollywood movie we had rented from a video club. Later in the evening, the family gathered around the TV to watch the Nollywood flick. And then the CD was slotted in. Instead of the normal noisy advert that Nollywood is known for, we beheld a big booty lady chopping mouth with a grown man. I quickly did the math and realized it was me that phucked up.
So I quickly stood up and removed the CD before the main koko will start. I will never forget the look on the faces of my folks; the look of being betrayed by a boy they thought they trained in the fear and knowledge of the Lord. Tragic!
Word to Mutha: My dear good folks, those were some of the crazy moments I had while growing up in this glorious country – Naija. There were other crazy shits: mango plus coke = death, hitting leg on a rock = a relative is about to die, and the first time I slept in a police cell. How can I forget such small screen pleasures as Tales By Moonlight, the courtroom comedy set in colonial times, Ichoku, the ever amusing Jagua or that classic pearl of Nigerian television The Village Headmaster. There was this particularly scary program on at that time. If you grew up in the East, you’ll know Willy-Willy. Gosh, I unreservedly hated it. In short, everyone hated it. Just the haunting tune of the theme music was enough to make me run into the room and hide under blanket. I’d be in tears begging that they turn the TV off. I bet some of you can relate to these moments, and a whole lot more. So at your spare time, you can share in the comments section so we can hear from you. Gratitude!