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Sunday, 8 May 2016

Corper's Diary- Adura community (1)

Corper's Diary- Adura community (1)

('My boy, you can lust after anything in life- money, cars, women, properties, food- but never, ever lust after another man's wife!' (advice from my father at age 16)


Maybe, if I had listened to my father, I would be a free man today. Not hiding like a common fugitive in a foreign country with an uncertain future and a present filled with fear. Fear for my life as there is a price on my head from a vicious, wicked man who wants me dead.

 Now, what have I done that someone would desire my head? Good question. It was lust or rather love (as romance writers would put it) that is to blame for my travails...

   ***
My troubles began about two years ago when I was posted to a small town in the western part of Nigeria for my National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) programme. When I found out the State where I was to spend the next one year of my life, I became very sad. 

 You see, I'm a city boy born and bred. Apart from the holiday periods as a child when my siblings and I had gone to the village to stay with our grandmother, I've lived in Lagos most of my life. So, the thought of staying outside the big city, in the countryside for that matter filled me with dread.

 But since, one cannot influence posting (unless your parents are top people in society and have influence or 'long leg'), you go where the almighty Federal government sends you to.

 "I don't understand why you are grumbling," said my father when he heard where I was to serve. "I served in Sokoto State in 1979; in fact, I was posted to a border town close to Niger Republic, a sandy place with few trees like a desert yet I survived. You young people these days are spoilt and lazy!" he added.

 Since I knew my father, a lecturer in the university, would not lift a finger to get me reposted to my city of choice, Lagos or Port-Harcourt, I had no option but to pack my bag and head to the orientation camp. At the end of orientation, held in the capital of the State, I was sent to Adura  for my place of primary assignment. That was where I met Folashade. And my story begins...

 The country life
Adura turned out to be a semi urban community, undecided whether to be part of the modern world or remain in olden times. You know the type of town with one main street or road passing through the centre with buildings flanking it on both sides? That's Adura for you.

 I was to teach at one of the two secondary schools in the community, situated in the same premises with the Anglican church.

 I had arrived the school with Ebuka, a fellow Corper whom I met and bonded with at the orientation camp. We were both kitted out in the NYSC uniform- a white T shirt on khaki trousers with boots.

 After welcoming us to the school, the Principal, a middle aged man named Babson, later showed us our accommodation at the Corpers lodge. It was a small bungalow with about seven rooms with outdoor bathroom and toilet facilities.
 "Ol' boy! Na real village we dey so!" I said in pidgin English after checking out the basic facilities in the lodge.

"What were you expecting? The Sheraton Hotel?" said Ebuka sarcastically. 
 With the enthusiasm of youth, we settled down in our new environment and with time, began to enjoy our stay. Life in the community was a totally different world from what I was used to. 
 Most of the people were rural folks whose main occupation was farming, hunting, fishing in the river nearby and mat weaving.
 These activities occupied their time during the day till they returned home in the evening. Some of the men would later gather at one of the few drinking joints or bars in the town to unwind and hear the latest gist circulating. 

 The most popular of these was Iya Akin's* Bar. It was nothing fancy- just an open structure roofed with raffia palm under which were arranged some wooden tables and benches. What drew most of her customers to the bar was her palm-wine*. 

 It was always fresh, foamy and delicious; straight from the palm tree not the sour, diluted variety you get in cities like Lagos and Ibadan.

 Besides the drinks which included beer, stout and other beverages, she sold a variety of delicacies like spiced snails, bushmeat, fried chicken and fresh fish pepper soup. The later was my favouritewhich I often washed down with my favourite bottle of beer.
With time, my friends and I became regulars at Iya Akin's bar. It was where we socialised with the townsfolk. Most of them treated us with a lot of respect because of our education and exposure to the outside world. 

 Anyway, it was at that bar that I came in contact with the lady that is the cause of my troubles today.

 Ebuka and I were at bar one evening, having fun when two men came to us. They were dressed in identical ankara outfits, with one of them holding what looked like a staff of office. I noticed that most of the customers greeted the 
men in a deferential manner.

 The taller of the two, who had some tribal marks on his face addressed us.

 "Who among you is the youth corper teaching English at the Secondary school?" he enquired.

 I studied him briefly then said:
 "Who wants to know?"

  "The Baale. Kabiyesi* wants an audience with him," he said promptly.

   Ebuka and I exchanged glances.

  "I'm Francis. The English teacher. Is there any problem?"" I queried, wondering what was going on.

 The man shook his head and smiled a little.
 "Don't be afraid. Kabiyesi doesn't bite. You'll find out when we get there," the man stated reassuringly.

 As Ebuka and I followed the men to the Chief's residence, some distance away at the other end of town, I kept wondering what was in store for us...


  What did the Baale want with Francis? Details tomorrow!

   Have a great weekend everyone!


 Notes 1:  *The National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) is an organisation established by the Nigerian government (in 1973) to involve the country's young graduates (between 18 and 30 years) in the development of the country. Corpers, as participants are referred to are posted to states far from their places of origin to foster unity and better understanding of other ethnic groups, tribes and cultures that make up the country.


 2.  A Baale in Yoruba land is a local chief or head of the community, a step below in rank to an Oba (King)

3. Iya Akin translates to Akin's mother. In most communities in Nigeria, a married woman with children is often addressed by the name of her first child. So you often hear Iya Shola, Mummy Chinedu, Mama Agnes or Papa Kingsley, Daddy Nonso etc (for the men).

4. Kabiyesi is the term used to address a king in Yorubaland; its like saying 'your majesty'.

To Be Continued (10-5-2016)..

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