Wednesday, October 31, 2007


In the late 80s, there was this peculiar style of armed robbery dominating the city I lived in. Well dressed ladies would come to your house, asking for the woman of the house and in all innocence, a hospitable child might throw open the doors inviting them in. The leader brings out a gun and waves it, robbing the house blind of jewelries and money. Well dressed men too would come saying your daddy supposedly asked them to get an important document from the house. Kids repeatedly fell for these tricks, the robberies were usually carried out during school vacations. The robbers knew kids would likely be home alone and normally, naija kids are nice and curious. Sometimes they used the NEPA and NITEL tricks. Posing as NEPA technicians trying to check out the meters or NITEL technicians trying to check out the connection. A lot of household were victims of these people, courtesy of their young kids throwing doors open in hospitable spirits.

So Pa really warned us about opening doors to strangers. We could go outside the yard to play but no talking to strangers. He used to call from his office daily checking on us, reminding us that he hadnt sent nobody to clean the house, cut the grass or pick up documents. During the summer vacation my cousins were with us and the homestead was filled to the brim. We were all outside the yard, actually we were all playing on the streets when we heard the roar of a motor vehicle. We all froze, where the heck did that noise come from? Suddenly, the roaring machine came around the corner with screaming breaks. There in full glare was a brown pick-up truck with NEPA boldly printed on its side.What was most scary was the men on the truck bed, they were holding on to a very long ladder

We scattered in different directions. Not that we havent seen NEPA guys before but it had been sometime that they had come to our street and they were so scary in the brown khaki overalls and giant belts and they were like ten in number.We all made it into the yard and I locked the gates in a frenzy. My heart was in my mouth, surely they were not the real NEPA guys, they were sure to be the people Pa warned us about. My eldest cousin helped me to barricade the front doors. By the time we were doing this, I could hear the men alight from the truck. Right in front of the homestead!!!! I directed my cousins to different hiding places ordering them to be quiet. In a minute you could hear a pin drop.

Suddenly there was a loud rattling at the gates, they were there!!! Though we had a NEPA file we kept for this purpose but in no way was I coming out, when they could be armed robbers, no way!!
'' Come out, we know you are in there", one of them shouted, then I knew I had to do something to protect the homestead, my cousins and the family heirlooms. I crept towards my father's room and grabbed the double barrel.No way was I gonna let those thieves harm us and cart our stuffs away and I wasnt gonna get gagged and strussed up like a chicken. I signaled to my eldest cousin and we moved the barricade behind the front door and crept outside. I looked around the pillar and right there was a man climbing the ladder leaning against the electric pole.

I knew we were done for, he was gonna jump into our yard from the ladder. I moved a little away from the pillar and aimed the double barell at him. He didnt look down because he was busy climbing. I whistled as low as I could and he looked down. He froze and let out a blood chilling scream, grabbing the pole in horror. The guys that were standing by the gates laughed out loud thinking he was mildly electrocuted. He screamed No!!! He hurriedly climbed down, with me still having him in the nuzzle of the double barrel and muttered curses.
'' She wan kill me'' he cried out to his fellow thieves.
'' who wan kill you? abeg go and disconnect the thing. if they no go allow us inside to read the meter and check the bill then we must disconnect''
The other men laughed and moved on to the next house. That was when it dawned on me that they were real NEPA technicians. I was in big trouble but I comforted myself with the thought that he alone saw me, he couldnt prove it and I would deny it. Meen....I thought they were armed robbers.

I thought they were all gone then I stepped away from the pillar only for the man who climbed the ladder to jump out from around the gates and scream,
''Na u, na u wan kill me...aaaaawwwwwwwwwww wetin I do you? Na u , na u dem send to me o. Chineke mei, Na God go punish you o. I go report you o.'
I dashed back into the house locking the front doors again. I was trembling. I returned the double barrel to its place and everything went quiet once more. After sometime, I heard the other men asking him why he wasnt on the pole, disconnecting. I guess one of them must have climbed up there because our electricity suddenly went out and I could hear them tossing the cables into the yard. Well, Well, Well!!! I had gone and done it this time. Why wasnt I bold enough to bring out the NEPA file even if I wasnt gonna allow them in to read the meter. See me see trouble o.

When Mum got home, she demanded to know why we got disconnected and I just had to open up and tell her what I did to the poor guy.She just shook her head at me. When Pa got home, she told him. I was petrified. Pa asked me to go on a walk with him and gave me a lecture about the dangers of aiming guns at people even if they are not loaded.It might turn out to be a police case but he would handle it. He made me promise never to do that again unless I was really sure we were being attacked. Everybody was suprised to see me in one shape when we got back from the walk. I guess Pa spoiled me a little sha.

Our electricity supply got restored that night after Pa paid a visit to the NEPA office. I saw him grab two big bottles of wine when he was going over there and he asked me to saty out of sight if they came back that night to reconnect. He didnt want the guy seeing me and getting all upset again. Whoa, the things I did!!

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Driving Lessons

I just knew I had to do it too. I woke up to the roars of a motor vehicle one morning. I had just graduated from high school and was waking up later than usual. I narrowed my sleep groggy eyes towards the wall clock, it was 9am. So who in the world was stepping on the gas and scattering pebbles at this hour, right in front of my house??? Then came the familiar and popular honk........DII DOO DII DOO DEY. I flew high and out of bed. It had to be a friend of mine. I rushed outside the gates and came to an abrupt stop, it was G-Funk. She was driving her mum's car, their young mechanic was riding shotgun. I screamed. I mean....when and how did she learn to drive????? She gave me a thumbs up and pointed at her passenger then realisation dawned. The young mechanic had taught her secretly. I gushed and glowed green with envy. I had been begging my mum since the day I wrote my last paper to let me go to a driving school but the answer had always been NO. I just knew I had to talk to Pa.

That evening I did all the chores in the house, cleaned my parents' room and whatever I could lay my hands on. I made sure Pa saw me slaving away. When the coast became clear, I whined and cajoled Pa till he gave in. Yippee. He called my mum and told her I was ready for some driving lessons but he had no time on his hands to ferry me back and forth from a driving school. Mum thought for a moment, then decided to use one of the official drivers at her job. She mentioned one Mr Adeleke, an experienced driver with the road under his belt. I was so excited I couldnt sleep. I couldnt wait to get my hands on a wheel, though Pa used to let me hold the steering wheel anytime we went out together but that was nothing compared to really driving. I was in the skies, rolling and tossing till morning.

In the morning, mum announced that my younger brother was gonna take driving lessons too. I was generally pissed. I mean, I didnt want no kid tagging along. I wanted to drive before my brother even learnt where the gear stick was, I didnt wanna learn with him. Meeeeeeen....
Neways I had no say in the matter. Mum took us to meet Mr Adeleke. He was an elderly man in his late fifties, very close to retirement. He was short and wiry but seemed very nice and friendly.Mum handed us and her car keys over to him. He led us back to the parking lot and we all piled into the car. He turned to us and asked us to call him Baba Saheed not Mr Adeleke, he complained Mr Adeleke was too formal.

Baba Saheed drove for like forty-five minutes before driving into the gates of a high school. The place was deserted because the students were on vacation. He turned the vehicle onto the large football field, then he scooted to the far side of the seat and asked me to take the wheel. This was pretty easy because I had been doing precisely that with Pa before I was ten years old. I did pretty well before he stopped and asked me to manouver the gear stick. I guess I was overconfident and smiled ruefully. He started calling out the gear numbers
At 3, I stopped I just couldnt get it. He asked my brother to do it and he did it so pretty well, I casted a suspicious glance his way. somebody must have been teaching him!! Then Baba Saheed turned to me again.
'' o ya fi oko si gear'' ( shift the gear into 1)
'' fi si gear keji'' ( shift it into 2)
'' fi si gear keta'' ( shift in into 3 )..........then the trouble started again
'' ha ha iwo omo yii, ki lo le ninu ko fi oko si gear keta'' ....... (this girl, what is so difficult into shifting the gear to 3) then he proceeded to demostrate.
'' gear 1, hoiiiiiii ''
''gear 2, hoiiiiii ''
'' gear keta, hoi hoi , o ya tun se...................................( do it again now).

The first day of driving lessons was a mess. My brother gloated at me. I had failed woefully. I improved a little with the gear thing the second day. By the fourth day, Baba Saheed had me on the main street. I was shaking with fear but he couldnt careless. He had told my mother he was gonna get us ready in two weeks. Two weeks ke???? Is somebody trying to turn me into a Miracle Micheal Schumacher overnight?? I was gripping the steering wheel like a life line with all eyes on the road when I suddenly sighted a group of friends walking alongside the road. For the life of me, I had not seen those girls in ages, Mum had turned me into a serious aboki. We were bloody due for a housemaid. I forgot about the driving lessons, I forgot about Baba Saheed, I forgot about my brother and mummy's car and I completely forgot I was driving on a main street. I threw my hands up and yelled in delight to my friends, they turned and saw me then yelled back in excitement.I was waving like crazy until a skull-breaking knock landed on my head, the car swerved crazily and Baba Saheed grabbed the steeering wheel, yelling at me to get my foot off the accelerator and march the breaks.

'' parkee oko parkee oko jare'' he yelled at me. ( park the car, park the car )
'' a ni ki o ju gear, o le ju'' ( you havent been able to down shift to three)
'' sugbon o le ju owo si awon ore re '' ( but yet you can wave at your friends )

I was shaking so badly, holding the head and I told Baba Saheed I couldnt continue but he wouldnt let me get down from the car,

'' iwo ti o wa oko de ibi naa ni o wa oko ku ro o, o si le sa lo o'' (You drove the car here, and you are still gonna drive, you cant run away!!!)

Good thing, he didnt tell my parents. Believe me Baba Saheed got us ready in two weeks, my mum couldnt believe it. Bad thing, she absolutely refused to let me near her car, she found out about the gear 3 problem and blaimed me for ruining her gear box. Neways I knew what I had to do, I made an extra copy of her key and got me a ride anytime I wanted one. I dared not go near Pa's car, it was too big neways, my feet wouldnt reach the pedals, pillows or no pillows. Mum would get really furious with me but she was the one who allowed an experienced and professional driver teach me how to drive in two weeks.

I now became the pro, I could drive to Kutuwengi though I didnt have a driver's license until ten years later. One day I tested Pa's car and with the help of a pillow, I was able to reach the pedals and drive it around town. I had a fantastic time honking DII DOO DII DOO DEY down G-funk's street. One day we tried to persuade Temmy to let us use her dad's mercedez to go hang out. She absolutely refused. Chicken!!!!

Friday, October 5, 2007

The Rooster King II

The Rooster King strutted past and we knew what we had to do. G-funk went into the house and came out with a handful of corn.

'' cuckoo cuckoo cuckoo'', she called out to the goloba. The bloody thing ignored us and tossed its giant comb. That thing was nasty looking, all pink and soft.The coaxing wasnt gonna work, we had to come up with another strategy. I went to the kitchen and threw open the door leading out to the big yard, the front door was wide opened too. We looked around to make sure that Mama Tinuke wasnt home then we made a grab for the cock.

The darn thing actually stood its ground and flew at Temmy. She screamed and made a dash for the house. G-funk and I went after it with battle cries. We ran after the cock for several minutes, all to no avail then we decided on another strategy. G-funk trailed the corn from the yard through the back door and into the kitchen then we waited in the living room casting hopeful glances at the back door.

Not long after we did the corn thing, we heard the obvious sounds of the rooster pecking at the corn. We grinned, it was just up to the goloba to peck its way into the kitchen. The bloody thing appeared at the back door but stalled, not sure if it was that lucky to get a wagonlike cornfeed or the gesture was filled with malice. It must have settled for its first thought because it stepped gingerly across the threshold and pecked away into the kitchen.

I tiptoed toward the back door and slammed it shut. Rooster King flew up, startled and let out an ear splitting crow filled with panic. Temmy shut the front door and the mad chase began. Goloba screamed so loud we thought it was gonna bring the neighbors down on us. Finally, we got it trapped in the bathroom, there were feathers all over the tiled floor. G-funk ran for a knife, and handed it over to me while she and Temmy wrestled down the big cock.

Now, this is where it became confusing, I was not ready to slaughter no chicken. I trembled hard, really scared. I shook my head to clear the confusing thoughts and gave G-funk back the knife. She dropped it like a hot coal and looked away from Goloba. Temmy grabbed the knife and started to cut open the cock's throat, all the while she was screaming and praying feverishly. We prayed along with her, totally scared out of our wits.

Neways, we dressed Goloba and pop it inside the oven. It was roasting good with a nice aroma when G-funk' s mum suddenly arrived. We scratched our heads and danced on our feet. We were so jittery, she knew something was amiss. Then she demanded to know where we got the roasting chicken from.
'' hmmnn , hemmmmm, hemmmmm, Yinka's mom gave us the chicken. Hemmmmm, she has a poultry she is getting rid off.''
''hmmn, actually she just gave us a chicken''
'' well, we bought it from her''
'' maybe Yinka gave us the chicken, who knows?''

The lies were just tumbling over each other. She sighed and left us alone. She refused to eat out of the chicken when it was done. She just knew we were up to no good. Goloba tasted nice and we enjoyed it until Mama Tinuke's shrill voice came out loud and clear. She had started looking for her rooster!!!

I ran all the way home, though I was too slow because my belly was filled with the aromatic flesh of the Rooster King. I slept good the first night but immediately I woke up the next morning, I perceived a strong smell of chicken blood. I knew I was in trouble. I went around with my nostrils in the air for three days non-stop. I was a mess. Not suprisingly, my friends were having some nice guilt trips too. We were all miserable. We thought of confessing to Mama Tinuke but we were not sure we wouldnt end up in jail.

Finally, we knelt down and prayed hard to GOD, asking for forgiveness. We felt a little bit ok afterwards but it was so sad seeing Mama Tinuke lament about her rooster. May Mama Tinuke never see this blog o,amen. She would be so disappointed but that cock had been so annoying. I couldnt eat chicken for months, my mom thought it was the saw dust phobia once again but no, it was the Goloba Phobia.