My father never spoke our native dialect to us while we were growing up.
In fact, it was a taboo punishable by at least a bad eye, most likely a slap or an ear pulling and a lecture in my father’s bedroom on why we must speak only Quinn’s English.
The kind of English that made my grandmother put more pieces of stockfish in the meals of I and my siblings, thereby instigating strife amongst her grandchildren.
One time, Amarachi my cousin in a bid to impress us and climb up the ladder of favoritism, took a hen from the pen and stuck her finger in it’s butt hole while calling out to my siblings and I saying “I shook my hand in the fawo yansh” while smiling with her rotten teeth. Her teeth was not actually rotten but I like to think it was, because of the rotten English she spoke. It was the kind my father described as “animal language”. “Atulu-Hausa!” my younger brother shouted back as we walked away from her and the hen she had defiled.
My father loved to show off; reminiscing about it now, I think he actually had the price tag of everything he had ever bought in the front of his mind. Some people may argue that he wanted others to be envious of his accomplishments at every slightest chance he got, that’s up for debate but what I would not do is blame a man for wanting the best for his children.
No, I wouldn’t blame a man for wanting so much for his children, so much as wanting to place us in the realms of Demi gods. Neither will I blame a man for stripping his children off their inheritance; their mother tongue and wrapping them with the pieces of colonialism’s rag.
He wanted us to speak English with the kind of eloquence that made members of my Ummuna see and treat us a certain way, as if we were born of the Head of State himself and not Ozobia their brother.
My father would smile till it reached his ears and his shoulders would puff with pride. This was most certainly the kind of things he liked – the feeling that he was somewhat better than his Kingsmen and his Ancestors before him.
My father stepped on poison in the midst of his Ummuna in the December of 2002, it wasn’t a shock. Neither was it a shock when he eventually died-in March of 2003 and his people refused to burry him like one of their own. It was a known fact that though he was with his family, his family had never been with him.
“He brought it upon himself”, I overheard a distant relative of mine tell my uncle the day before my father’s burial and he replied; “Nwoke gidiri anu n’ihu agu aguuna gu ga niye ya anu ma obu oga niye owe ya is anu”.
There, from my room window, I knew who my father’s killers were without the aid of a dibia.
The Riri Gist O’clock
This story is purely fiction and it didn’t happen to anyone I know and I don’t think anybody has been killed because he did not want to associate with being African or being with his tribesmen. Maybe it has happened, or it’s yet to happen in an alternate universe but I guess we’ll never know.
Backtrack some weeks ago when I wrote this piece and posted it on the gram, I think it was on my IG story I got a lot of feedback. A friend of mine called me and asked if it actually happens to me because according to him it sounded very real (allow me brag about my writing skills) then he went further to explain to me that something similar happened to his dad. (well I guess we’ll never fully know the extent to which “village people” could be diabolic)
When I posted this on the gram I carried out a poll afterwards where I asked people if they grew up speaking their native language and if they were interested in learning their native language if they didn’t learn it while while growing up. From the poll, a whole lot of people say 65% of people did not grow up speaking their native language and only about 20% we’re actually making efforts to learn. This is not me trying to throw shade on anybody because I myself grew up without any native language, given that both my parents are from different tribes and I grew up in a totally different State. (Add this to the perks of an intertribal marriage).
It was not until I schooled in the East that I started making a conscious effort to learn Igbo. The whole story is that I schooled in my village apparently my community houses Abia State University and my father made sure his children, all two before me and me not only schooled but lived in our Family house.
Did it yield results? Yes it did! I can identify my extended family members and I can hear Igbo to a great extent unlike before. I know the books and crannies of my land very well and I’m still learning the history.
The point of this post is to fan into flame the fire of tribal consciousness in everyone that reads this blog. I mean, 90’s kids are really “kids” anymore and soon we would all start having kids of our own (except you don’t want children and that is totally fine too) and we’ll have to pass something down to them. Something more tangible than pidgin English, something that gives them a sense of identity- their history and language.
The poems I wrote below are from 2018, please do enjoy and I’ll love for you to tell me in the comment section how you think we can learn our languages and history better.
Till I come your way next Tuesday, I remain your one and only!