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.
I have not five minutes ago been made aware of the comedic talent of this person, who goes by the name of Chigul Omeruah on YouTube. I watched her ‘Gus-ip’ round-up of the Gulder Ultimate Search competition, a Nigerian show sponsored by Gulder beer that is a cross between ‘Survivor’ and ‘I’m A Celebrity’ from what I have heard. I laughed. Then I went on YouTube and stuck gold. Maybe I find her so funny because of her ability to improvise, her gift for observation – we all know someone, an ‘aunty’ who sounds or acts like she does. Maybe it’s just because she sounds like she’s a crazy Igbo girl which is right up my street.
Or maybe it’s that catch-phrase: Ngwa byeeee! I mean we all say it, especially at the end of phone conversations but somehow she’s just made it hers.
You watch the video below and decide. I’m off to watch some more myself, in a rather uncharacteristic fashion. Ngwa byeeeeee.
(I am so getting that printed on a t-shirt.)
Update: I thought this one deserved to be seen so I tagged it on.
So I have been practising my storytelling in Igbo for a long while now – mostly it’s Tot who is the beneficiary of my stories as you all know. However I thought I should share my latest efforts with you guys ; not only do you get to read one, but listen to it as well. I’ve uploaded a sound cloud file below. It took about 6 takes and it’s still not perfect; I had to pause to read what I had written.
(I can speak Igbo well and write it too but reading it takes a bit of effort. Reading it aloud can be tough.)
I have also included the English language version which has taken A LOT LESS TIME to write (about 10 minutes). The Igbo version took me 25 minutes for just 700+ words. I have a long way to go in the speed of my written Igbo, obviously!
OGOLI NUO DI N’ABO, OMARA NKE KA NMA.
Anwu chara Adaku n’isi mere ka osuso wee dabaa ya n’ime anya. Oji azu aka ya fichaa ya n’ihi na obere akwa ojiri ehicha okpofu ruru inyi. Adaku tara ikikere eze wee chee uche ojoo n’ebe enyi ya nwoke bu Ikem no.
“Moto onweghi, credit nwa, onaghi enye mmadu. Anwu anoro ebea n’acho ichagbu m. Kedu ka osiri buru so so mu na ndi ibe m n’ile bu onye na ata odiri afufu a?” Ka o na ekwu otua, were aka ya n’ehicha anya, owere lote na otere ihe n’anya. O nenere azu aka ya were fu na umu ihe n’ile ojiri cho nma n’ututu ahu etesasigo ya n’azu aka.
“Oo! Kedu kwanu odiri ahuhu di ihe a?” O wee maa nnukwu osu. O kwusiri n’akuku uzo, meghe akpa ya, choo ugegbe aka ya, ka o wee hu ma iru ya ajoro njo. Ihe ohuru mere ka o maa osu, were mkpisi aka ya detu ire ya, wee jiri aso mmiri dozibe ihe okara mebiri emebi.
Ka okwu ebe ahu, otu ugbo ala n’egbuke egbuke jiri oso gafee, gbasa ya apiti. Adaku nere anya n’efe ya odere ede n’ututu ahu wee tie mkpu akwa. Odi ya ka o ya gbuo onwe ya.
Adaku wenyiri anya ya hu na ugbo ala gbara ya doti nachighataru azu.
“Baby gini? Maka gini ka ijii gbaa m mmiri doti?”
“Nne, ndo amaghi m uma. Odi m osiso. Ahuro m gi.”
Adaku wee si ya “Kedu ka iga esi hu mu? Ebe ina agba ka onwere ihe n’achu gi? Oburu na ikuturu m, okwa otua ka nke m kara isi wee ga?”
“Chukwu aju, nne oma m,” nwoke no n’ime moto were yipu ugegbe anya ojiri dochie anya. “Nne iwe gi adina oku. Omalicha nwata nwanyi di ka gi ekwesiro idi na ewe iwe otu a, inugo?”
Adaku mara osu ozo. “Zuzupuo m n’iru biko! Onye bu nne gi nwanu? Kitaa aga m eje letu na lecture m. Onye kwanu nwee ike inachigha azu kitaa?”
“Ngwa bata na moto, ka m buga gi n’ulo akwukwo gi. Ngwa bata bata, inugo? Mgbe emesiri anyi ejee na butiki gote akwa ozo. Nke obula ichoro, aga m egotere gi ya. Ka m nye gi number mu.”
Mgbe okwuru okwu otua, Adaku gee nti obere.
“Enweghi m credit nji akpo gi. Biko ejego m late.”
“Bia ka m buje gi. Bata na moto. Anwu a ekwesiro icha udi mmadu gi.”
Adaku runetara isi, nee anya n’ime moto ahu. “Kedu aha gi?”
“Aha m bu Chuma. Mana ndi enyi m n’akpo m Chu ma obu Chu-Boy.”
“Aha m bu Adaku. Anaghi m aba na moto onye m n’amaghi. Mana idi ka ezigbo mmadu.”
Chu-Boy riputara na moto, gazite n’ebe Adaku no. Adaku lere ya anya, hu na otoro ogologo nke ukwu, gbaa akpu obi. Ohuru n’ahu ya di ocha ka okpa waawa. Ngwere bido gbaghariba ya n’ime afo n’ihi na Chu-Boy di ya uto n’obi.
“Nne, imaka o. Odikwa m ka m buru gi laa be m kitaa kitaa, ka nje gosi mama m nwunye m.”
Adaku siri ya. “Koghelibe ebe ahu.” Mana isi bia buo ya n’ihe Chu-Boy kwuru.
Chu-Boy meghere Adaku uzo owere ba n’ime moto. Ahu ya n’ile bia dabaa n’ime oche moto ka o no n’afo nne ya, ma obu n’ime nri ji. Adaku bia kudaa, negheria anya n’ime ugbo ala ahu. Ihe n’ile di n’ime ya n’egbuke, di ohuru. Tupu Chu-Boy wee bata n’ime moto, Adaku atugharigo ya n’uche ya na o ga arapu enyi ya nwoke nke ozo sorozie Chu-Boy.
“Biko tinye seat belt nne, n’uzo ajoka. Aga m akpochi uzo n’obu otu nsiri anya moto, maka ndi ori imeghe uzo na go-slow.”
Adaku mere otu osiri kwu. Chu-Boy gbanyere ikuku n’ime moto ahu, owe kuo Adaku, aru ya wee juo oyi. Adaku chiri ochi, gosi eze ya n’ile n’ihi na obi n’eme ya polina polina.
“So, Adaku. Kedu ihe I na agu na mahadum?”
Mana gbe Adaku meghere onu iza ya, ochoputa na ohiara aru tupu orote ihe o na agu.
“Em…ana m agu Sociology.”
Chu-Boy nesiri ya anya ike. “Ya bu na irozobeghi ihe ina agu?” Owee gbanyesie ikuku oyi n’eku na moto ya ike. O juru Adaku ozo, “Kedu aha gi?”
“Aha…aha…aha m…bu…bu…” Ura bucharu Adaku.
Chu-Boy chiri obere ochi, gbanite egwu n’akpo na moto wee gbasie ike, gafee iru mahadum, ebe ndi enyi nwanyi Adaku n’eche ya ka obia ulo akwukwo.
ENGLISH (very literal translation).
‘WHEN A WOMAN MARRIES TWO HUSBANDS, SHE DECIDES WHICH ONE IS BETTER’
The sun shone down on Adaku with such heat that a bead of sweat dropped into her eye. She rubbed the sweat away with the back of her hand as her handkerchief was already dirty. She gnashed her teeth and thought bad thoughts about her boyfriend, Ikem.
“He doesn’t have a car. He doesn’t give me phone credit. Why am I the only one out of all my friends to keep suffering like this?” As she thought these thoughts and rubbed at her eyes, she remembered too late that she had make-up on her eyes. She looked at the back of her hand and discovered it was smudged.
“Oh! What the hell kind of suffering is this?” And she hissed.
Adaku stopped by the side of the road and pulled out her mirror from her bag to examine the damage. What she saw caused her to hiss again. She dabbed a bit of spittle on her finger to wipe away and correct the lines she had draw around her eyes.
As she stood there, a flashy car sped past, splashing mud on her. She looked at her dress, the dress she had so painstakingly ironed that morning was speckled with mud. She wanted to die.
“Hey baby,” said a voice.
Adaku looked up. The car had reversed, stopping in front of her.
“What do you mean, ‘Baby’? Why did you splash mud on me?”
“Sorry, girl. I didn’t mean to. I was in a hurry and didn’t see you.”
“How would you have seen me, speeding like something was chasing you? If you had hit me down, is this now how I would have died this morning?”
“God forbid, beautiful creature!” The man took of his sunglasses and looked her up and down. “A lovely thing like you should not be prone to such anger. ”
Adaku hissed again. “Get away from me. Beautiful creature my arse! Now I’m going to be late for my lectures. Who has the time to go home and change?”
“Come in, I’ll take you to school okay? I can get your dress replaced later. We could go to a boutique…I’ll buy you whatever you want. Here’s my number.”
Adaku simmered down a bit at the thought of shopping. “Whatever, man. I don’t have the credit to call you. Excuse me, I’m very late.” And she pretended to walk away.
“Com’on, I’ll take you. The sun is too hot for a beautiful girl such as you.”
Adaku leaned on the passenger-side window. “What’s your name?” she asked.
“My name is Chuma. But my friends call me Chu or Chu-Boy. ”
“My name is Adaku and I wouldn’t normally take rides with strangers. But you seem normal enough.”
Chu-Boy climbed out of the car and came around to open the door for Adaku. She saw that he was very tall and broad-chested, his skin was fair like okpa waawa. Adaku felt as if lizards were scrambling about inside her belly. Chu-Boy’s looks pleased her greatly.
“Girl, you are fine,” said Chu-Boy smiling. “I feel like taking you to my house right now and introducing you to my mother as my wife.”
“Quit talking rubbish,” said Adaku, but she was secretly pleased at what he said.
Chu-Boy opened the door for her and she sank into the car seat. It cradled her as surely as if she was in her mother’s womb. It was like sinking into fufu. Adaku sighed and looked around. Everything in the car was brand new and smelled of wealth. Before Chu-Boy had even come round to the driver’s side, Adaku had decided she was going to leave Ikem and make a play for Chu-Boy instead.
“Fasten your seatbelt. I’m gonna lock the door okay? It’s how I drive. You know, I’d hate to stop and get robbed in a traffic jam.”
Adaku did as he asked. Chu-Boy switched on the air-conditioner and it cooled Adaku’s spirits. She gave a little laugh because she was suddenly very giddy with possibility.
“So, Adaku, what it it you’re studying?” asked Chu-Boy pulling away. But when Adaku tried to reply, she found out that she had difficulty remembering her course.
“Erm…erm…I’m studying Sociology….yes”
There was silence. Chu-Boy looked her in the face, hard. “I see you still remember what it is you’re studying eh?” He popped a tablet in his mouth and turned up the air conditioner.
“What did you say your name was?” He asked her again.
“My name…my name…my name is….” Adaku fell asleep.
Chu-Boy looked at her. He laughed and sped up, past the gates of the university campus where Adaku’s friends were waiting for her.
I have decided to write the man in the video below and ask if he will give me online tutorials in playing the úbò. I have always loved its sound and thanks to my mother, I now own one. It’s the calabash-looking instrument.
But first I am going to treat the gourd and the wood with oil over a few weeks to make sure it does not crack further, to help it last long and give it a good sound.
The ogene I will clean and oil as well. And after that, me and the Tot will spend an afternoon finding/whittling the perfect stick to play it with. Such fun!