Category Archives: Randoms

Random song of the day: Big Head

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.



Throwback: Birthday playlist. Also Chris Mba is a sexy beast.

Now what kind of Nigerian would I be if I did not introduce my son to the only version of ‘Happy Birthday’ he should ever sing? Or these other fantastic songs that coloured every birthday party in the eighties/early nineties?

What  birthday party songs do you remember from your childhood? Let  me know  your birthday party playlist in the comment box!

And finally…(Thank you Waffarian for this!)

Anyone that tells me that Chris Mba is not a sex god is a liar and God is watching that person. Look at the manly forearm vein. Those superhero shoulder pads, sleeves well rolled. See that Soul Glo’, sef. Thank you Kessing Sheen! Whatever, man. Chris Mba is a legend.

Igbo dads and dangerous phalluses.

Once upon a time I was heading out to study for my final university exams with friends when my father called me back.

“Nwunye,” he shouted after going through the names of the other twelve of my siblings.

“Sah?” I answered, because I am a good child.

“Where do you think you are going at this time of night?”

“I am going to Ogo’s house, sah.” I looked at my watch. It was 5 pm.

“Which Ogo?”

“Ogo my friend, sah. You have met her sah.”

“I have?”

“Yes sah. She has big…brains sah.”

“Ah, the big-brained Ogo. So what are you doing in her house at this time of the night eh?”

“We are studying sah. Me and Ogo and Chiamaka and Ifeoma.”

My father grunted, picking  vegetables from his teeth with a toothpick. When he finished, he popped the teeth back into his mouth. “Okay. But this one you are always  going to study with those girls…” He fidgeted.

“Sah?” I bristled, thinking he was calling their character into question. Did he not remember who they were?

“Just know I don’t want any daughters-in-law. I want sons. Sons-in-law.”

I caught many flies in my mouth on the okada to Ogo’s house that day.

Yes. This really happened.  I remember relaying the story to my study group when I got to Ogo’s house. (And for those who are wondering, yes, I did attend university from home. If you’ve only known me as an adult, you’ve just had an ‘Ah-ha’ moment because shit just made sense.) My friends thought it was funny. Me, I was just dazed that my square to the power of infinity dad knew about lesbianism. I didn’t dwell too much on this though because I would have started to wonder what else he knew and my imagination cannot handle things like that. Every generation likes to think they invented sex after all.

But this is what I do not understand.  This is the same man that flogged the brown off my skin because I went on a date with a guy at seventeen. It wasn’t even a date if I am honest. Okay, it kinda was. But I was in my second year of university and for chrissakes it wasn’t like I lay down on the road and had sex with him. That came much later. I wouldn’t recommend it by the way. Vehicles are a bloody nuisance and Nigerian grit gets into cracks like you cannot imagine. Sometimes when I sneeze, a little bit of sand and coal tar comes out.

A good Igbo girl is not supposed to think of guys other than as things to beat in school which is unsurprisingly easy.  (Yeah, I said it. Heh heh!) Not even when the boys in question are your cousins. You get to a point when your breast buds appear and all male cousins suddenly become off limits.

You spend the next few decades learning that men are the enemy. You spit when they talk to you, your put-downs are legendary and if they touch you, it’s hi-ya! and out pops their eyes. Your parents applaud you, chaste Virginia, you. At what point are you supposed to stop using them for target practice and start seeing them as potential mates?  It was a wonder I even tried that first date on for size. (Such was the level of my inexperience with humans of the male persuasion that the first date became the start of a two-and-a-half-year stint.)

I know I have said all this before, but things keep happening that make my jaw drop. Some Igbo parents can really screw up their female kids.

At what point am I supposed to consider giving you (if I desire it) sons-in-law as opposed to daughters-in-law? After all the scare stories about the beastly nature of men, their dangerous phalluses and their fickle-mindedness in dealing with the consequences of their sexual actions (pregnancy, disease. Pregnancy.), when exactly am I supposed to think “Hmmm. I’d like to jump on that dangerous phallus and snare me a diseased baby or two?”

Cover up, close your legs, don’t whistle, don’t sit on a man’s thighs, don’t laugh with a man, he’ll think you’re cheap, don’t whistle, don’t wear rings on your fingers if you’re not married, don’t go anywhere once the sun sets, don’t be arrogant, don’t correct a man in public, don’t raise your voice, don’t argue and my personal favourite , don’t drive – he’ll think you’re feeling too big, then who’ll you marry?

No wonder some women cry at their weddings. Lucky me, I didn’t. My dad did though. Huge, splashy, snotty tears and much hysterical sobbing. My mother looked as if she wanted to give him Snickers bar.

I guess he was just relieved I ended up with a dude.

This is what working in my house sounds like.

Yesterday one of the mums in the new playgroup I tried out with Tot asked me what I did and I told her.

“Really? How do you work? What does he do when you work?”

“He plays by himself,” I said.

“Oh.” I could see her regard me out of the corner of her eye, trying to consider whether the ‘worthiness’ of being an’ artist’ outweighed her suspected neglect of my offspring. And whether – maybe – she should call someone.

“What language is that you’re speaking to him?” she asked instead.

“Igbo. It’s a Nigerian language.”

“I read a book about Nigeria recently,” she started slowly.

“Yeah?” I responded, knowing what she was going to say.

“Yeah, it is called ‘Half of a Yellow Sun.'”

Of course. “That’s about Igbo people.”

“I thought it might be! My goodness. Do you know, I knew nothing about the Biaf…Biafra? at all before that.”

I knew then she would not call social services. And I thanked God for the book which had enlightened her.

But to answer your question Mother-at-playgroup, this is what it sounds like when I am trying to do some work. I forgot the recorder as soon as I put it on which is why it runs for as long as it does (3 minutes). It was meant to be shorter.

It starts off with me reading back what I have just written after I switch on the recorder, hence the bit of silence from me while Tot babbles on.

PDA and the ‘I Love You’ bomb.

Long ago, in a far away land called New Cross, a tall dark man sought the hand of a comely wench.

“Give me your hand now. Why do you insist on walking behind me all the time? We’re supposed to be walking together!”

“Biko, leave my hand. Are we conjoined twins? Haba!”

The tall man persevered and won the heart – if not the hand. That came later – of the comely wench. And one day, her mother came to stay.

“Ah,” he said as his mother-in-law breezed in avoiding skin contact with her daughter. “Now I see where you get it.”


In case you still haven’t figured it out, the tall man is Hubs and the (not-so) comely wench, yours truly.

The house I grew up in was notoriously anti-PDA. Still is. My parents had separate rooms and everything. In fact, it was not so much anti-PDA as it was anti-A. Our house was the antithesis of commonplace affection. The place in which feelings came, dragging its battered hind legs, to die.

My mother’s manner of showing love was in the way she threatened to mete out punishment for real and imagined wrongs:

“Aga m atu gi akpukpo.” – ‘I am going to flay you.’

“Aga m amakapu gi nti.” – ‘I am going to slap your ears off.’

“Mbuo gi okpo m ga abu gi, obala agbaa gi n’imi.” – ‘If I knock you on the head eh your nose will bleed.’

Yeah, she’s hardcore.  She is soooo going  in an old people’s home as soon as she is too weak to run away. Or chase us.

Suffice to say my mother is not prone to tenderness and we took our cues from her.  Since my father was not quite around, he could do nothing to stop it. He tried though. After prayers one Christmas morning he asked us all to line up and kissed us on both cheeks like he was some kind of Judas (mixed metaphor but it stays).

I never want to experience that again. The sensation was similar to salted worms wiggling about in my belly trying to escape.  I thought I would be sick. All you could hear all over the house was the sound of taps as my sisters and I scrubbed our faces and had second showers to wash the sensation away. One sister went down with malaria-like symptoms in the middle of the Harmattan season.  That day blighted the whole year. In our house, 1994 did not happen.

But my youngest sister Ketchup is too small to remember this, which is why early this morning she sent all of us a Whatapp message which read:

Attention Please!

Please if I speak to you on the phone and after the call I tell you ‘LOVE YOU’ please don’t feel awkward or embarrassed. I’m learning to be a sweetheart.

Cue umbrage from the rest of us:

“Don’t call me.  Inukwa!” This from me.

“See this goat. Better don’t tell me anything. Tell your papa,” said Crayfish.

“#SMH,” said Hashtag.

“Let me block your number sef,” I said.

“Hahahahahahahahah! Tell them, mezuo ya,” said Pastor. “Make sure you say the full thing ‘I LOVE YOU’.”

We all ignored her. She’s getting married soon, is in the throes of ‘sometini’ and doesn’t count.

“#damagedgoodsthings” Hashtag summed up, in case it was not obvious.

It’s not Ketchup’s fault.  She is one of the children my parents had after they decided not to have any more and so she doesn’t understand the taboo she’s just unleashed. Our collective day is ruined.

Of course living with Hubs these many years has kind of taken my edge off. He’s the only child of his mother and thrives on (displays of) affection like a plant under the sun.

Dwelling in a London might have ruined me further and while I no longer automatically distrust people who use endearments like ‘Dear’ as easily as they draw breath, I do find calling me ‘Love*’ quite irritating, especially when I know that you wouldn’t spare your piss if I was on fire. I can hug people without breaking out in a sweat. I can kiss on the cheek, two if I have to. However unless you are literally on your deathbed, please do not hold on to me longer than is absolutely necessary.

But I think the biggest change happened after Tot was born. It did not happen unconsciously, nor did it happen immediately. It is something I have had to and continue to  work on. What do you do when your child asks you for a hug after all? Say no?

Yes. If they are being cheeky and hoping to use hugs as a way to avoid tidying up their toys. Or if you have something hot like a pot in your hands. Otherwise I give him what he needs. What does it cost me anyway? My waistline? My sanity? Those are already kaput. And time may well come when he might not want me to touch him anyway. Better get those in now. I enjoy his baby hugs.

Affection like so many things has degrees. If I feel like I should hug you I will. Other than that, please shake my hand, it is nothing personal.

As for my youngest sister Ketchup and her little sweetheart experiment, we all know no good can come of it, not with us as her sisters.  We’re all too damaged. But if she is willing to get her dose of ‘normal’ affection elsewhere, who are we to stop her? We all did and it’s not too shabby.

Just…you know…as long as nobody tries to touch my face. That is where I draw the line. Put your hands anywhere near my mouth and you know it’s coming away sans phalanges.


* I will only accept this from one person and she knows herself.