Reminiscence Of a Modern African child
I am not seventy, not even quite thirty years of age but I had a very eventful childhood: the kind that is filled with a lot of amusing reminiscence.
As an African child who grew up in Ibadan, the largest city in sub-Saharan Africa. I passed through different phases of development; mentally, physically, spiritually and metaphysically. My environment was a key factor in my developmental stages. Well, I mentioned metaphysically, yes itâ€™s true and contrary to what many non-Africans and contemporary Africans believe, bizarre and unfathomable things still happen in our part of the world
When I was four years old, my family stayed in a flat in Ibadan, our landlady had two of her niece’s children staying with her. One of them was a girl named Wunmi aged five then. Her bother’s name was Koyejo, aged three. Omowunmi had the sickle cell anemia disease and was constantly sick. We were very close and as typical with kids, always played together. We attended the same school, ate and drank together.
One morning, as then was the norm; I went to call her so we could go to school together, but I found out she was seriously sick. I left and promised to see her after school. When I returned in the afternoon, my parents told me she had been taken to the hospital. By the evening, I had asked to go and see her about a hundred times. The mood in our house was a very sober one, everyone was quiet. I wandered into my room and stood at the window. I just saw Wunmi outside the room, at the window. I asked her so many questions at the same time- which hospital did she go to, when did she come back and all. She was just smiling and told me she just came back from the hospital. We had talked for about 5 minutes when my mum came into the room and asked me whom I was talking to. I turned my head to tell her it was Wunmi, I looked back and in a flash I did not see her again. My mum dragged me into the living room where I was quizzed about the bedroom chat with Wunmi. That night, though there was no rain but the wind was so strong.
The next morning, my parents tried in their best way to explain to my innocent four-year-old self that Wunmi died in the afternoon of the previous day. It wasn’t an easy task accepting that someone who still talked with me hours after she was supposed to have been dead. I fell sick that day and regularly saw her at intervals. My parents had to run from pillar to post before I stopped sighting her. And I regained my health afterwards, her plan being to take me along as playmate according to the post-diagnosis. Though I was young then, but I can never forget that experience and no matter my level of western influence, I believe in the existence of the unseen mysteries of our world and the fact that Satan uses different ways to scare us. It is thus very instructive years later to realise that the person I saw was not Wunmi but the devil’s trick to commit more crimes. It is such a privilege to be a believer now and understand the power of the spiritual.
My childhood was not only about mystical events; it was also filled with a lot of interesting scenarios. I fondly remember one day when our uncle came from Lagos to visit us in Ibadan. When he was leaving, he gave my sister and I, a one Naira note to share. Later that day, my sister demanded her own share of the money. I obliged her by simply tearing the note into two, giving her one. My dad almost laughed his head off when he found out what we did.
Or is it the day I came back from school and needed desperately to use the toilet. I met our door shut and while thinking of the net step to take, I let it all out. That day, I wanted the ground to open and swallow me because my mum came home that day with two of her pupils who were my age. It was so embarrassing when they saw me in that terrible state.
There were high moments too, moments of ecstasy and fulfilment. There was a quiz competition organised amongst classes four, five and six in my primary school. I represented primary four and the expectation was for primary six to win. But I proved soothsayers and bookmakers wrong by winning the first prize. It was such a sweet victory for my classmates and me.
Love? In our part of the world, most parents donâ€™t believe that their under-ten kids do fall in love. When I was seven, a girl in my class got me thinking. I am the first born of my family, so I had no prior briefings about girls from an elder sibling. Since parents were not aware that it would be good for their wards to learn a few things, I had to rely on information I get from outside. So this girl in my class named Tope who contrastingly was the last-born of her own family came to help me out. She asked me to be her boyfriend and went ahead to explain all the technicalities of having a relationship. That marked the eating of the fruit of knowledge for me. Though I never accepted to be her boyfriend but that incidence made me understand what boy-girl relationship means.
If I look back to my childhood years; the kind of adventures that happened, some were very interesting and some were dangerous. I believe there is a guardian angel whose job is to prevent harms from being done to children. When I look back to those days, I sometimes want to re-live them and at times I shrink at the thought of those experiences. But I must say that it’s quite very wonderful growing up in Africa.
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