Open your Mouth

Whaaaaan… Whannnn the baby screams….!

Its Mother is not moved as her Ankara aladire Iro and Buba is slightly rolled up at the sleeve and the wrapper parted and tucked into the crotch area to allow for ease as she gives the baby its African exercise…

One arm up, a stretch here, and a stretch there.

Folding clasping, gripping massaging, throwing up (they say this is to prevent fear in a child). Where it is a girl baby, a special massage is done to bring the hips out, make the waist small and impose dimples on her cheeks.

Some have gone further to mold a misshapen head, where the baby’s head looks like it is developing “Ogo pion”.

A stubborn baby who refuses to eat that soya meal will soon know why he/she should comply.

Hands behind the back and tucked somewhere between mamas thighs, head thrown backwards and down the throat it all goes….

I wonder whether this initiation is a precursor to the life that many of us live.

No sooner has the child learnt to walk, do the skills of fearlessness go out the window. Indeed some are never forgotten. The will live with the African Child till old.

At infancy, we are told not to whistle at night. Not to eat snail. Not to drink coconut water (because omo a ye olodo ni ile iwe). Not to eat eggs, except on Sundays (because omo ma di ole). Not to go into the arts (because were dun wo, ko se bi). Not to marry from here, there and everywhere. Not to give a wife too much money so it doesn’t go to her head. Not to be stingy. Not to look longingly at an elders table. Not to and Not To!

Slowly and slowly the wheel of life opened its bowels and let out Waves of changes.

I don’t hear the cock crow anymore.

I can’t remember the last time I saw a little throw a stone at a redheaded lizard.

Why did the Ibos give the proverb of the Lizard and running stomach?

They did not foresee that there would be a fancy estate for the near nouveau rich, sitting right on top of the little forest where the lizards should have procreated?

Did their Ofo not tell them ahead of time that the proverb would cease to be relevant?

And when the Yorubas said “A le fi fila bo di nitori a beru ori”.

They were talking about history, they failed to look forward.

The talking drums have long been silenced and were replaced by Hunger, Greed and selfishness.

Indeed, these days not only is the cap worn on the buttocks but also on other parts of the body except the head.

The Masquerades that kept the peace as the spiritual police have been given akamu to drink, hands tied back and head thrown back.

They are drunk with it.. or maybe even blinded by it…

Like the proverbial dog that no longer hears the sound of his Master’s whistle, they have sold their birth right for a stick of cigarette and pure water.

The Baales and Obas palaces have become face me I face rooms, shops and viewing Centres.

In Nigeria, when you open mouth, open your eyes. When you sleep, leave one eye open. When you sit, seat with one buttock. When you eat, don’t eat with 10 fingers. When you are spoken to, listen more to what is not said.

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I envision Hilda’s Shoulder to be a relationship park-a place you go to learn, vent and share. I have another understanding of the word relationship -I don’t think it is for people dating only. A marriage is a relationship too, and one which needs great rela- tions in the SHIP called home!
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Dear Hilda, is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice, and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician, mental-health professional, or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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