In Nigeria, there are multiple, I mean loads and loads of tribes, and all of the tribes do have different beliefs. Most times, contradicting each other.
There is a tribe that till today, still discriminate against twins. The Arochukwu people of Abia State in Nigeria, still disseminate some level of social stigma towards twins.
You may begin to wonder if twin has lost or changed its meaning. A twin is either of two people who were born at the same time as a sibling, could be identical, non-identical (or in rare cases – Siamese twins).
In contemporary society, when you give birth to twins, the child whose body came out first is the older. But for the Yoruba, the system is different.
The Yoruba believes that the child who came out last is the older of the twins. Why? because the older child stayed back and relaxed in the womb while sending the younger child to go and check out the world.
While in primary four or basic four (or you could say fourth grader), I saw this in my text for the very first time in my young life. One of the reasons it stuck asides from the emotional story, was how strong the name sounded. “Jaja”, it sounded like the name of a hero in a war movie.
The story of King Jaja of Opobo (pronounced Opopo), a part of the Niger Deltan Part of Nigeria, who resisted the colonial masters before he was forced into slavery, is one that is embedded to anyone in the southern part of the nation. Especially the part where he became a very wealthy merchant in Britain and sought to return but wasn’t allowed, after forcing his way, he was poisoned by a cup of tea which he took before alighting the ship to meet his people of Opobo.
Well, I had always longed to visit this island called Opobo. Never got the chance till this funeral of this Opobo lady. For starters, there has been construction of bridges to take you to the community by land. But everyone except the king and some political rulers have to park their vehicle at a general car park, so people can see space to move about. The community is a small one that promotes inter personal relationship, especially as people move about on feet.
Another thing I noticed was, the people of Opobo had little or no land, hence their primary source of livelihood was fishing. In housing, with the amount of land space in Opobo, different people have to come together to agree to build a storey building. One family would own a floor, while the family above, would be a different family. Same as the one above that.
The palace of King Jaja
As peaceful as it seem, the Opobo people do have a culture that seems rather odd to me. Members of the community are not buried in the village; unless as a male, you are a chief, or as a female, you have tied wrapper (a celebration that is very symbolic in the life of every Opobo woman). I had attended the funeral of a woman, who unknown to me, had not tied wrapper. After all tributes and memoirs, I saw her corpse being taken in an ambulance away. I wondered if they had thrown her into the sea or taken her back to the mortuary. It was later, I was told that a piece of land outside the village, just opposite the general parking lot, was a general cemetery, where these set of persons (who were not chief or who had not tied wrapper) were buried.
On leaving the community, a swamp located just at the outskirts with hydrophytes growing in it, was said to be a place where those who got drowned, were buried. (laughs) I remember how scared I felt at the moment, it seemed like the leaves where the hands of those people who drowned still seeking for help.
I was really glad I finally visited the great kingdom of Opobo, where the renowned KING JAJA OF OPOBO hailed from.
Paul Chikaike Kalu alias Paul Kay is a prolific writer of prose, poetry, and articles; a content creator, a guest columnist on magazines and blogs, a copywriter with huge experience in ghost writing. A member of Association of Nigerian Authors. Author of THE VISIT, (his first published work on paperback) now on Amazon and on Okadabooks. You can reach out to him on firstname.lastname@example.org
Please pardon me for being a wild thinker (laughs). I’ve heard a lot of things since my twenty years on earth but the most sexiest to me is that of the Tiv hospitality tradition. Wow! its quite funny for real.
Ever since I heard of it, the only thing I could picture is me being the wife of a very nabob Tiv man; then one night, we get a distress call from the community that some group of foreigners had a flat tyre while travelling through our town. As generous and welcoming as ever, the foreigners were accommodated and given the best welcome as usual. One of the foreigners was to stay with us. Mr X was very excited, I imagined because I could picture him chatting with my husband as he consumes the large bowl of pounded yam and soup I served. Then later that night, I will go over to offer him wrapper to serve as a blanket as custom demands but when he opens the door, I will walk in shyly then stare at him until we finally make out.
Another sexual experience with a stranger all in the name of hospitality! I don’t even want to imagine what my husband would ask me the following morning, “did you enjoy the sex? Was he better than me? Did you finally attain orgasm?” or maybe he might not ask but just ponder within himself.
For purpose of clarity, Tiv is an ethnic group in Nigeria. According to Wikipedia, they are a major division of the Benue -Congo and Niger-Congo language family and they constitute approximately 3.5% of Nigeria’s total population and number about 6.5 million individuals throughout Nigeria and Cameroon.
Just as the Igbo tribes are known for their love of money, the Tiv tribe has their own misconception, which is the sharing of their wives with visitors in the name of hospitality. The Tiv people are very hospitable and accommodating, owing to their strong philosophy of solidarity which is “Ya kwagh na wan igban” meaning “Eat and share with your brother”. But this act of kindness towards visitors have been misinterpreted because people seem to believe that the Tiv men can go any length to make their visitor feel welcomed.
Some have it that most Tiv men who might not want to give off their wives, do give off their daughters, mostly their eldest daughters. Though this still happens till today in most Tiv families, it has been eroded in some other families by education and religion.
Honestly, I should be learning how to make posts on the first day of every month. Can’t believe this is the time I’m dropping the first post for the month. (Smiles), don’t start with the lazy lecture. Meanwhile, Happy new month to each and every one of you who take time to read; to those who comment too, its adorable. Yes too, those from countries who don’t have English as their official language, I do appreciate you a lot.
My readers from India, I hope you don’t find me using Gandhi’s picture offensive. Growing up, whenever you mentioned Karma what came to mind was Mahatma Gandhi. You could blame my teachers at elementary school or rather blame the textbook I used or then, you could blame me for my imaginations. I saw Gandhi as a god, with peaceful powers; a very patient god who’s usually not hasty in punishments. Well, I later knew Mahatma Gandhi was no god of Karma as I had thought him to be. If he was a god as I made him to be, he wouldn’t have been assassinated. Its really sad!
Well, just in case you’re wondering what KARMA is. According to my dictionary, KARMA is:
2001, Inside the Hits, page 307:That means everything from lighting to the vibes, the karma of the room.
(internet) A score assigned to a user of a discussion forum, indicating the popularity of their posts with other users.
So, I’d be going with the second definition. I am equally sure that’s what some of us have grown to know Karma as; “a law of nature which causes one to reap what one sows”. That is what I mean when I talk about law of nature.
Recently, a friend of mine updated on one of his social media platform that “Morality isn’t Spirituality”. One could be moral and not religious or spiritual. Well, growingup; the law of karma was somehow imbibed in me. Not just from my parents, but also from books I read, little stories I read through; stories my grandma fed me with too. Now, in all these stories; the end was always bad for the bad person. I grew up with that belief that for every deed there was a reward and same for every good one. In high school; I was a boarder. There were times, when after buying snacks at the grocery store, I got an overpaid balance and didn’t let the salesperson know about it. Days layer you find out, I’d lose some amount of money mysteriously. After happening on different occasions, I concluded it had to be payback for my evil deeds. That imparted in me the value of honesty; it made me return my change wherever I be, even till today.
But over time, as I grew older into adulthood; it seemed like there is no law of karma. The range of people who committed evil and went away with it, seemed to grow. I knew a man who sold a land that belonged to a widow, though he died years later; but the widow never got the money nor did she get the land. But the young man had enjoyed proceeds from the land before dying. I also know of a man who killed his younger brother who was wealthier and claimed his wealth; leaving his widow and children to their fate. Now, if there was really Law of Karma; would these things happen?
Currently in my country, corruption is on the high; most common is the online fraud amongst youths. When you get to hear some of them talk, they seem not to feel or think there’d be any repercussion. I must not lie, at some point; I did contemplate about it.
Is there really Karma or does Karma leave it too late before he comes in?
Is there really any reward for good and bad deeds? The religious folks could also help out here; African traditionalist, Christians, Muslims, Judaists, Buddhist, Atheists, any religion at all.
Does Law of Karma really exist?
Or was it just a fairy god concocted to scare us from evil, just like tooth fairy and Santa Claus?
I actually don’t know if its just me or its happening to everyone. Do we all agree that there is some level of happiness or fulfillment that comes with ignorance? Have you ever known something and actually regretted that you knew it? For starters, I just found out that the baby in the movie BABY’S DAY OUT is now twenty-seven years old. I am not even going to talk about the man from HOME ALONE. Meanwhile, In United States of America; or in the internet TRUMP’S IMPEACHMENT is everywhere.
Well then, down to me. I am an African and a Nigerian precisely. Here, in Nigeria we’ve never had snow. (laughs) Well, if we did; my grandma would run, I think my mom too would run. Unlike the temperate zones where you do have four seasons; here we’ve just got two seasons. The rainy and the dry (harmattan) season. Because of how the yuletide season comes hand in hand with the harmattan season, it has now been taken to mean one and the same. So, just as snow signifies Christmas or brings memories of Santa, I think I’m safe to say the harmattan does same.
Growing up as a kid, I believed in Santa Claus. I felt he was a grandfather who loved kids, who used the whole year from 26th December down till 24th to get us gifts. I believed he was real. At some point, I actually thought he was the father of Jesus; who was so happy at the birth of his son and decided to give us good things. My dad didn’t make it easier too, he made it feel like Santa actually provided more than normal during the yuletide season. He always repainted our house during that time; bought music lights that would play all through the season; our speakers blared Christmas music only. It was the time we got special clothes never to be worn until Christmas morning. You could only whisper about the clothes (laughing so hard). You dare not describe or let your neighbor see your ‘Christmas clothes’ until Christmas morning. A comedian once joked that his parents usually got his ‘Christmas clothes’ earlier in the year by February when the prices must have come down and kept them till the yuletide. I felt Santa was the one who also provided the money.
It was like Santa Claus was the ‘god’ of Christmas. I can’t event know if I related Christmas to Santa or the birth of Jesus more, but I just felt Santa was a god. Well, the televisions didn’t help either; getting to watch Christmas songs and movies with Santa in it. It was a time when everyone seem to have time for their family. Well, I started having sympathy for people; when I discovered that some persons actually had to work, for me to actually have a good time. I remember once at the Port Harcourt zoo, how ecstatic I felt because a certain Santa Claus shook my hand whilst making the ‘ho-ho-ho’ sound. Wow! pictures with Santa were treasured and watched times over and over. Even when I heard some people saying, “Father Christmas”, I corrected them that it wasn’t so, that it was Santa Claus. But I was corrected too that the English meaning is Father Christmas.
Santa Claus or Father Christmas; whatever he bore was still fine with me. Not until, I attended an event at NTA (Nigerian Television Authority) Port Harcourt chapter, that I found out that the Santa Claus here was dark. I’m not racist, (laughs) but I’ve always pictured Santa as a white man. So how is this one black? Again my dad was there to convince me that Santa was too busy so he sent one of his sons. I wondered why his son couldn’t be white. But then I remembered my grandma’s hen had black and white chicks, so I bought the lie too. Don’t be in a rush, wait.
It all dawned on me; when I saw a Santa actually pulling off his mascot cloth. That was it for me (laughs). No one was going to do any further convincing. This also made me fear masquerade less.
So with the yuletide season drawing near again, memories of Santa comes again to me. But then, what if we just keep on passing what was passed onto us. The Myth of Santa Claus! (Smiles)
The few weeks after childbirth are periods that are really golden to the growth and development of a child physically. It is also the most vulnerable period in a child’s life. As a matter of fact, I commend single fathers who lost their wives during childbirth and catered for their children by themselves. I don’t know how you guys did it but its adorable! Children in these stages can’t even complain when they are uncomfortable; they mostly cry and sleep. A baby may be crying due to pains from falling from the hands of an older sibling and a mom wouldn’t know and would think the baby is hungry. This is why parents (especially moms) are required to be highly observant during this stage of a child’s life.
Also, at this stage of a child’s life; a child is usually vulnerable to many things that one would easily shrug off. The tiny discomfort of a headache can kill a baby. Even starvation for few hours would kill a baby. A noise too loud, a mosquito bite can as well cause the death of a baby. This is because the resistance or immune systems are still being developed.
I don’t know if this is a universal belief; but its believed in most parts of the world that the head of humans can be shaped to any shape one desires, few days or weeks after childbirth. Occasionally, one hears jibes of head shapes being disproportionate due to the ‘moulder’ of the head. You may have your doubts, but I have seen grandmothers gently massaging the head of little babies while bathing them in a bid to give them a desired shape (oval, square, rectangular, etc).
Now, at this stage babies are covered even here, in the tropics. Gloves on hands, socks on feet, head warmers on head. Some moms discreetly wants to even cover their faces (aside eyes and nose) if possible. I wouldn’t know; but I’ve seen humans….Scratch that, I do have a friend whose head is way bigger than his body. It looks heavy on him and he acts like he’s partially insane. On my interaction with this African mother, she said its because air entered the skull of the child.
Could this be a medical condition, is it true that air can enter the head of a human?