Thursday, October 23, 2014

The Thought of Being a Creator . . .

This is a story that was recently told to my 82 year old mother by relatives who are older than her, as they were convening to bury my grandmother’s first cousin who recently passed.

It is about my maternal great, great, great grandmother who contributed 1/32 of my genes, and 1/64 of my children genes.

Here is the story:

Once upon a time, that time being someplace in the mid-1800s, in the town Ado-Ekiti in Ekiti State, Nigerian.

This was a time of simplicity and innocence, that if for example you were a trader who sold bags of potato at one dollar per bag, and you had 20 bags to sell, you would display your ware in front of your house, like by your mailbox, return to your house to take care of other businesses like sweeping, washing, cooking or what have you. You would leave a dollar by the potatoes so that anyone who wanted to buy from you would know that it’s a dollar a bag, they would pick a bag and leave a dollar behind. At the end of the day, you would go there and collect your $20.00 or less and the remaining bags of potatoes. This practice was all but gone by the time I was a little girl but there was a vestige of it that I remember in the late 1960s, and early 1970s, and that is, you could still leave those bags of potatoes out there but you wouldn’t leave any money. If someone wanted to buy from you, on arriving there would yell for you with, “I will like to buy a bag of potatoes,” and you would rush out from whatever you were doing, wiping your hands on your apron to attend to them. No one would steal those bags of potatoes, even though they were unattended.

Back to the story of this ancestor, she was the daughter of a very wealthy man and married to the heir to the throne of Ado-Ekiti. They were very happy together and loved one another deeply. They had a lot going for them, they were wealthy and in time the heir became the king and she the queen. But there was one cloud over them, they were childless. They waited many years but no child was born to them. The woman whom I will call Queen did what childless women of the time did; she found a wife for her husband so there would be children born into the family. The wife had many children, and still, Queen didn’t have any. She found a second wife for her husband and the second wife had many children while she remained childless.

The king and the queen were very unhappy, he wanted to give her children and she wanted to assert her identity as a mother, so they sought help from many traditional healers. The best in the land advised them to return home and continue to enjoy the love that they had for one another as well their wealth and claim to the land as the rulers, but that they would never have children together. They both bucked at this and insisted that there had to be a way.

The only way, the traditional healer then told them was that the Queen had to give up all her wealth and her right to the throne as queen, leave Ado-Ekiti and start to walk west, there were no automobiles at the time and everyone walked or rode horses/donkeys everywhere. She would arrive at a river and in the river would be a man bathing, that man is her husband and the man that would give her children.

Queen, desperate to become a mother agreed. She and the king returned home and bade each other goodbye; she gave up all of her wealth and embarked on this trekking westward. In due time, she arrived at a river and indeed there was a man bathing there. She hid in the brushes and waited. He finished bathing, got out of the river, into his clothes and set off towards his home. She followed him at a distance. She arrived at a fork in the road, and didn’t know which way he went. She first went one way, it led deep into the forest; she retraced her steps and followed the other fork in the road and arrived at a village.

She walked around the village and saw the man disappear into his family estate. He was the lesser king of two villages that made up Oye-Ekiti and were connected together by some history.

She waited on the outside of the compound that housed the palace of this lesser king and spent the night there. In the morning, when the household awoke, the women of the house saw her there and greeted her as they started on their way to the river to fetch water for the day with their clay pots on their heads. She joined them and fetched water with them. They returned together, they prepared breakfast and offered her food and she ate. This went on for many days and the women of the house, the wives of this lesser king eventually told their husband about this strange woman. The lesser king invited her in and asked her what she needed. She told him that he was to be her husband and the man to give her children.

They got married and she gave birth to only one child, a daughter.

She never returned to her first husband the king of Ado-Ekiti.

The one daughter in turn gave birth to 4 daughters. These were my great-grandmother and her sisters, who were my grandmother’s aunts.

My great grandmother Adesoro died in 1958, four years before I was born.

Her sister Fagbola, known to us as Mama Coca-Cola (she lived close to the Coca-Cola manufacturing company in Ibadan) died in my late teens.

Another sister, we knew peripherally, and her name was Alhaja (she converted to Islam), and the fourth one, my older sister Ronke told me a story about her, and I am sure I must have met her. The story is that she sustained a hip fracture at some point and was bed-ridden because doctors told her they couldn’t help her. On a trip to Oye-Ekiti from Ibadan (with our grandmother Adelubi), Ronke remembered that she was bedridden because of this. But the following year, on another trip to Oye-Ekiti, when they arrived, she was busy pounding yam in a mortar with a pestle.

Adesoro, my great-grandmother gave birth to lots of children, by two brothers. The older brother died after she had had four children for him and then the younger brother inherited her and they had many children together, I think they were about eight or nine children in all, and my grandmother Adelubi was the second oldest.

Adelubi in turn had 6 living children and my mother, Adebimpe is the oldest.

Adebimpe had 6 children and my twin and I are the 3rd and 4th.

This woman who earned the right to be called Queen, she was married to two kings, one big and one lesser, but her queenly dignity lie more in the fact that she fought to give birth to her own children, sacrificing the deep love of her first husband, and great personal wealth, and she is the reason I am here today in this form.

Which makes me wonder, how many things had to be right, the vagaries of love, how many fights, anxieties, jealousies, rivalries, fears of not being attractive enough, rejections endured, hearts broken and etc. that your ancestors had to brave in different formulae and equations before you are able to arrive here on earth, and like Rainer Maria Rilke said in the Letters to a Young Poet: “The thought of being a creator, of procreating, of making” is nothing without its continuous great confirmation and realization in the world, nothing without the thousand fold concordance from things and animals –and enjoyment of it is so indescribably beautiful and rich only because it is full of inherited memories of the begetting and the bearing of millions. In one creative thought a thousand forgotten nights of love revive, filling it with sublimity and exaltation.”

The Queen gave me 1/32 of my genetic makeup, and so this is the story of 1/32 of what made me who I am today, what about the each and unique stories of the other 31?

Feasts of Phantoms a novel by Kehinde Adeola Ayeni -- ISBN 978-0981393926 Available at your local bookstore, a host of online booksellers and directly from Genoa House.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Nigeria, A Wasteland!!!

The truth about Nigerian government is finally revealed to the whole world but more important I hope to Nigerians. Nigerian government has never done anything for her citizens but harasses, abuse, assault, kill them and pillage the treasury.

The defense continues to take the lion share of the budget but domestic terrorism has been given free reign and endorsement by the military and the police, from armed robbers constantly attacking and killing people in their beds and homes, and on the roads, to now out of control killings and abduction of people en masse. In Nigeria, you are allowed to kill in the name of whichever god you chose, and it is acceptable.

Nigerians have always prided themselves on their adaptability, ‘Suffering and Smiling’ is one of our saying, but are these things to adapt to? We need to replace that phrase with some serious expletives like WTF--yeah What the fuck!!!!!

Every Nigerian has always known the above, but we have individually condoned it by using one psychological defense or the other to hide these truths from ourselves, I understand, because these things can be too overwhelming to take in at once.

In the past, I have told stories of our experiences in Nigeria to people in the books I wrote, foreigners had thought it to be fiction, while some Nigerians, knowing it to be the truth had been angry with me for exposing the truth, they had accused me of being shameless in the way that I talked about my country, and that I was washing our dirty linen in public. Well our stinking linen(s) are out there now for the whole world to see!

We are about the most religious people in the world but all the devils of hell are now in the country.

An average citizen is so traumatized and feels so totally helpless that everyone runs to church and mosque (every other building is now a church or a mosque) to pray, and most of us have become religious fanatics. But sadly, religion used in that manner simply hypnotizes a person and makes him or her less able to act effectively in his or her own behalf, it acts as a drug and numbs a person.

I respect the religious belief that someone has chosen for themselves because it is an expression of their soul, but maybe we need to pray less and act more.

There are some things that are simply not acceptable and that one should not adapt to at all.

What we have in Nigeria as government, to bring it home to us, it is like having a mother and a father who are constantly beating up their children, not feeding them, not giving them medical care, raping them and as soon as they have new babies sell the older ones into slavery. We need to stop running away from this truth. We need to raise the bar of our expectations of the people in our government.

It is not just our right as citizens to demand accountability of our government, it is our individual responsibility and obligation, and when we fail to do so, we have failed ourselves and our country and we are as culpable as the people in our government.

What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

Here is no water but only rock
Rock and no water and the sandy road
The road winding above among the mountains
Which are mountains of rock without water
If there were water we should stop and drink
Amongst the rock one cannot stop or think
Sweat is dry and feet are in the sand
If there were only water amongst the rock
Dead mountain mouth of carious teeth that cannot spit
Here one can neither stand nor lie nor sit
There is not even silence in the mountains
But dry sterile thunder without rain
There is not even solitude in the mountains
But red sullen faces sneer and snarl
From doors of mud-cracked houses
                                    If there were water….

The Wasteland. T.S. Eliot 1922

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Plight of Women in Nigeria

Plight of Women in Nigeria and our indifferent government is the theme of this book. Nigerian women are incredibly strong, courageous and hardworking, but this hasn't helped us with our despotic government. Maybe women should secede.

In Yoruba mythology, women were once fed up with the cruel treatment at the hands of their men and king, then Obatala, and they seceded. And so they went to heaven. Life on earth grounded to a halt, the rains stopped, there were no one to farm, and there was starvation in the world. Obatala had to appeal to Olodumare to entreat the women to return so that humanity can continue.

In Greek mythology, when Persephone was abducted by Hades, her mother Demeter cursed the world and there was barrenness and famine. Zeus had to step in and appeal to Hades to return Persephone to her mother.

Seriously, Nigerian men, this is not just women's problems, you need to stand up and by your stance make it clear that you are not a part of the abduction of these girls, because this act taint all Nigerian men in my opinion, where are you guys when the women were marching in Abuja yesterday?

Feasts of Phantoms a novel by Kehinde Adeola Ayeni -- ISBN 978-0981393926 Available at your local bookstore, a host of online booksellers and directly from Genoa House.