Today’s song is brought to you by the small children in our old neighbourhood in Nigeria (holla Onwubuya street!). They used to sing it whenever they saw the big kids, anyone they did not like or anyone they could outrun, coming – which pretty much added up to the same thing. They were just troublemakers. You’d see them in their home dresses and shorts, barefoot, playing ‘swell’ or rolling tyres with sticks, happy as clams and out for blood. They’d abandon their games in a heartbeat once they sighted prey.
They sang it for me once. I held my gleaming forehead high and walked on, pretending not to hear them. I went home, looked in the mirror and well…let’s just say it’s pretty hard to un-see once you’ve seen my forehead. It’s awesome and awe-inspiring. Look away children, look away.
You are probably thinking “But they’re children!” Yeah, of the corn. Village children are on another level with those Igbo language skills. They have a song for EVERYTHING. A village child can insult you here and your ancestors will feel it in the underworld and bite their fingers in regret.
The way I see it, my mother owes us kids therapy money for this ten-head thing she ‘gifted’ us with. And I mean, even to the third generation; all of her grand kids have it. The song is below.
Onye isi ya ka nke m o
Nee ya ka ona abia.
Isi ukwu bianu were oche,
Nee ya ka o na abia.
S/he whose head is bigger than mine
Look! Here s/he comes.
Big Head! Come and take a seat,
Look, here s/he comes.
I tried to get my other sister, Pastor, to do the gospel remix version but she cracked up around the ‘Big Head’ bit. You know what our people say. ‘An old woman becomes uncomfortable when dry bones are mentioned.’ Guess it hit close to home for her too.