‘Ighele’, A Celebration of Memories

I come from an amazing family. I know some of you will probably say ‘don’t we all’ but really, my family is an amazing one. My folks are best friends and they have ultimately passed it on to us. They are more often than not smiling and joking with a witty (or absolutely funny) remark that has us holding our sides with laughter. Often times, I wonder how two very different people who come from differnt backgrounds come together and make a formindable team (they do o! Just let them gang up on you). Often times after a bout of play, I ask my mum how it was growing up in the village and she would smile and regale me with tales and escapades which she was involved in. She was a bouyant child who was loved by everyone and was pampered (overly IMO) by her dad. I always wondered at the kind of child she was, trying to create a mental picture of how she must have looked. Anyways, last night was one of the reminiscing nights. This night was spurred by a Victor Uwaifo track that was playing on my dad’s phone. She smiled and remembered the festive period in the village. Her favourite was the igele festival. Let me summarize this festival in a few words: girls who are of age walk around butt naked!!! Yes, they do. Strut their birthday suits with only a line of beads around their waists. As expected, I was in shock when I heard this. But mumsy, oblivious to my shocked stare went on ‘gisting’ me.
Mum: mehn, Jess, those times were the best. Girls would wear their waist beads and even borrow from those who had many. It was like christmas. We would start walking from one village to another and the other girls in the villages qwould join us till we were many.
Me: (still rocking my shocked stare) were there men watching?!
Mum: Yes now (dashing me an evil look), many girls got married soon afterwards. Especially the tall and /or fair ones (at this point I start hating fair girls. Ahn ahn)
Anyways, she goes on and on and for a moment, I’m lost in the mental picture I’ve created. I see young girls, hear their happy chatter and see the beads on their waists. I see jealous and envious stares. I see the hot sun bouncing off their heavily shinned bodies……the red dust that has made a new home on their bodies. I can see the throng of people who have come to witness the festival. The excitement of the participants and the observers. I can see the hunger on the faces of the male spectators, branding each girl to be followed up on; wistful stares on older women, the pride on the faces of mothers each sharing stories of their time. Though it is vivid in my head, I feel a sadness deep within. I give it voice.
Me: how often does it happen?
Mum: (sad smile and sigh) it stopped a while back. Girls moved to ‘Lagos’ and civilization came.
Afterwards there was silence.
You see there is beauty in our culture and most of us didn’t even get to experience it. We only have stories passed on to us by the older generation, and most of us aren’t even patient enough to listen to these stories. The excitement we have (and have lost as we grow) is that of Christmas. We have little else to look forward to except personal achievements.
So this is to those memories, memories of the older generations, of festivals and ceremonies, memories that are slowly fading into the patchwork of history, memories that we never shared, that we would never know.

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.

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