It was a refreshing morning. As always, the morning breeze blew through my open window, the dust, the scent of wet sand embedded on my nostrils, the ray of the morning sun reflected on my mirror as the birds on the old tangerine tree sang. I jumped out of bed in excitement for the wedding scheduled for that day— the reason why I came back home. The thought of being the best dancer enlivened me, which made me remember my last visit to Africa.
I rushed for my white towel and gingerly entered the bathroom. Dudu-osu had always been my favorite African soap, to the extent that I took some of it with me when I was leaving the last time I visited. A bucket of warm water was already in the bathroom waiting to cleanse my body. I cheerfully poured the warm water on my coiled hair down to my feet. As I rubbed my body with the foamy sponge made locally from the loofah plant, the voice of Bamidele my youngest brother echoed in my ear.
‘‘E kaaro Brother, Mummy said I should tell you that breakfast is ready.’’
After I finished taking my bath, I walked out and stood in front of my bedside mirror. I looked at the mirror for minutes, smiled and wore my native colorful attire. To spice things up, I hooked my designer wristwatch on my wrist and sprayed the ‘Pure Heaven’ perfume.
During the ceremony, I sat close to the groom grinning at everyone we locked gaze with; I knew they were surprised at how an African could transform into a white man with African origin.
It was the day I had been waiting for: local bands were played with the melodious tune of happiness. People gathered outside all dressed up, most of who wore buba and agbada while the women wore a colourful geles. The enticing aroma of ponmo, aadun, amala, iyan, ogbono, stew, egusi soup, dried fish, and fried plantain was all over the atmosphere. The elders quenched their thirst with emu and beer, with teeth stained with the color of orogbo and obi abata. Children drank bottles of non-alcoholic wines and soft drinks. The food was appetizing, huge pieces of meat, fish, and cray fish were companions to the soup and rice we ate.
The Alaga Ijoko called out the bride and groom to the dance arena, and instructed the band boys to play something special for the couple. It was an electrifying performance by the couple as they showcased their beautiful attire and danced romantically to the music.
I was shaking my head and miming to the song played for the couple while desperately waiting for the MC to call out the family of the groom, so that I could officially show off my killer steps and moves for the audience.
Immediately the Alaga Ijoko called out to us, I majestically walked to the dance arena alongside mother, father and Bamidele my youngest brother. As I danced to the mind-blowing tune, people laughed at my amateur steps while others called me oyinbo pepe. My parents danced amazingly while the elders sprayed them money.
Maybe staying abroad was the reason I could not dance like them no matter how hard I tried. We danced until the MC invited the family of the bride to join us as we created an electrifying atmosphere.
Uncle Salami was the clown of the day, as he removed his agbada showcasing his pot-belly and danced to the floor staining his sokoto with dust from the red soil.
The next day, father called me to his room. ‘‘My son, now that your younger brother is married, don’t you think you should find a girl to marry as well? You know I don’t mind you marrying a white woman, but I advise you marry a Yoruba girl that knows our tradition. And if you can’t find one we can do that for you,’’ he said.
‘‘Baami, don’t you think is too early to talk about this? Besides, my younger brother just got married few hours ago. Don’t worry, I will get married when the time comes,’’ I replied in a joyful manner.
Three days later, Bamidele brought my bag outside and proceeded to call an okada for me. Mother and father escorted me outside the compound as we waited for Bamidele to return with the ride that will convey me. He returned few minutes later. Mother got emotional and Bamidele joined her to mourn.
‘‘Ah! Ah! Woman, you have started again. Travelling is not dying… this is not the first time your son is coming to visit and eventually go back,’’ Father said and he managed to consoled her.
‘‘Maami, don’t worry. Very soon I will come and take you along to stay with me in Obodo-Oyibo,’’ I added.
‘‘And who will take care of me?’’ Grandmother said and everybody erupted with laughter.
I hopped on the bike that I enjoyed boarding. I just loved the breeze, the African breeze when it blows on my cheeks on a speeding motorcycle. The okada man started his engine and we moved while I exchanged goodbyes with my family.
All words are in Yoruba, unless otherwise indicated.
PE= Pidgin English
Dudu-osu: a black soap, made locally in Africa.
Buba: a blouse
Agbada: clothing; a long, loose-fitting gown worn by men.
Ponmo: preserved animal skin, most especially cow, sheep or goat
Aadun: dish of peppered corn meal.
Amala: cooked yam flour
Iyan: Pounded Yam
Ogbono: local spice
Egusi soup: a soup which contains rich seeds, dried fish, beef, pumpkin leaves.
Orogbo: bitter kola
Obi abata: kolanut
Alaga Ijoko: Master of Ceremonies
Oyinbo pepe: White person (PE)
Baami: My father
Maami: My mother
Okada: Motorcycle (PE)
Okada man: Motorcycle rider (PE)
Obodo-Oyibo: White man’s country
E kaaro: Good morning
Emu: Wine made from palm oil juice