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My Summer of 99

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I hate the smell of mackerel fish. Not because of its pungent odour but because it reminds me of our days being broke. For a little over half a decade, our fridge was always stacked with a paint bucket of Okra soup with Mackerel and Mackerel stew.

On a luxurious day, it would be “Adesi Aden”; Palm oil rice.  An upscale version of the boarding school contraband staple where the rice would be cooked with a boiling ring then drained and mixed with palm oil, seasoning cubes, curry powder, dried thyme and tinned sardines.

At home though, we would fry the onions, crayfish and dried pepper in bleached palm oil and then stir in the boiled rice, before garnishing with flakes of smoked Mackerel so our yellow and sometimes orange looking “Adesi Aden” didn’t feel naked whilst you got teary eyed from the kerosene stove fumes.

We had meals twice a day. Breakfast and the other meal. You chose when you wanted to eat it. The other meal I mean. It only came in three choices. Rice, Garri and Beans. My options were relegated to two because beans for me induced a chronic acid heartburn which set my chest alight. Somewhere in-between, I always gate crashed a neighbour’s house during their lunch or dinner time. So I was that person you never asked out of politeness “Please join me” because I probably would.

I remember the summer of 99. We got twenty naira for breakfast everyday. Well what we really called it was morning food. You had the option of purchasing a twenty naira fresh loaf of Agege bread which would be accompanied with the flaky Mackerel stew in the fridge or go for a smaller ten Naira loaf so you had a spare ten Naira to acquire an egg. I didn’t eat that summer. I had worn the same day wear and class uniform in form four and five. My skirt had so many holes from nails in our class seats that I tied a cardigan around my waist for over a term. The underarms of my olive green school shirt had frayed so much that all my attempts at cross stitching and tacking became a weekly waste of a threaded needle. The armpits of the shirt had morphed from a dark brown to black, from an amalgam of perspiration and cheap deodorant.

So I didnt have any morning food in the summer of 99. I did what I had been taught in form four Economics class. It was termed opportunity cost. We were taught that scarcity necessitates trade offs and the trade offs result in an “opportunity cost”. The opportunity cost is what must be given up for the next best alternative as a result of the decision. I saved up my twenty naira morning food money from July to September and purchased fabric for a new school shirt, skirt and red chequered day wear from the railway market in Agege. Someone at school was nice enough to lend me their spare Sunday White and my mother rustled up some money to pay the tailor.

Other interesting things happened during that time, like lapping a friend on the commercial bus from Ibadan to Lagos because they were paying for the bus fare. Two hours of pins and needles or muscle cramps was never easy but after doing it a fair few times, I got used to it. I still have the scars from the edges of rusted bus chairs ripping the skin on my legs open. There were other decisions too, pocket money or provisions, borrowing text books and collecting the absolutely necessary ones from the school bookstore so that the left over allowance could be deducted from your second term school fees. My friends and I chuckle about it all now. They have termed it my gangster days but they laugh more at the fact that I spent a lot of time crying in corners and singing to myself. My best friend says “but this babe, you were a bit strange and quite weird in school oo”. I was overly sensitive too.

A colleague at the office once asked me if I ever felt embarrassed taking public transport as I had been living in England for eight years before coming back. Another asked if I felt self conscious being seen by my returnee friends hopping on a bike.

I reckon I wasted a lot of my youth being angry, insecure, self loathing and wallowing in unreasonable self pity, because after July 2000, I faced bigger challenges and scaled through. Sometimes I tell myself I have attained two degrees in the process. The first issued by a formal institution was a BA(Hons) in Journalism and the second an MA in Life attached with minors in resourcefulness , perseverance and sustainability. “Your eyes doesn’t chook for anything” my mother tells me. It’s the one aspect of my character she confesses to like. I think at times I forget I don’t have some things. My older brother pokes fun at me and believes I have “poverty mentality”. It’s not intentional but I just don’t attach much value to whatever it is that can come and go.

I like the scars on my legs, though they are fading now, they all tell an interesting story. I have accompanied them with tattoos on my wrists and I laughed when someone once called me a walking epistle. I’m still not very fund of Mackerel fish but I’ll eat it if I have to. I would much rather get my essential fatty acids from alternative sources. To be honest I just get on with it and I was always told, in the end it is all artistic license.

Photo Credit: : www.tajagroproducts.com

83 Comments

  1. Temiloluwa Adebayo

    December 15, 2010 at 1:28 pm

    You are a real woman. A woman of substance. I am drawn to people like yourself. You have a story. You have depth. You’ve been through the fire and so, you shine.

    But abeg, abandon that poverty mentality jor, lol.

    Lovely post Wana. Amazing tale.

    http://temiville.wordpress.com/

  2. Deebubu

    December 15, 2010 at 1:35 pm

    I had spent the moments before, wallowing in self pity, and then I stumbled on sunlight!
    Thanks for givin me a Good laugh while learning a thing or two!
    Articulate perfection!

  3. LL

    December 15, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    WOW.

  4. OmoNaija

    December 15, 2010 at 2:17 pm

    The little things we take for granted!I am glad you didnt let that situation define you today!Goodluck in all you do girl!

  5. Missy

    December 15, 2010 at 2:18 pm

    I really like this article. The MA in Life attached with minors in resourcefulness , perseverance and sustainability is interesting but key. Sounds like you didnt let the situation break you or make you bitter. 🙂

  6. Bolanle

    December 15, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    Lovely piece… what doesn’t break us only makes us stronger….
    The younger you had to go through that struggle to make way for the person you are today……

  7. Divasum1

    December 15, 2010 at 2:27 pm

    hmmn! crying and singing to yourself in corners….No,you are not weird… reminds me or myself in secondary school

  8. Anoda Phase

    December 15, 2010 at 2:28 pm

    Waoh…what a deeply moving story.

    You know the part that touched me most and even brought tears to my eyes?…”I saved up my twenty naira morning food money from July to September and purchased fabric for a new school shirt, skirt and red chequered day wear from the railway market in Agege.”

  9. Ytee

    December 15, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    Like this article, Wana. We all get an MA in life whether we like it or not. The difference will be where you got yours and what your specialisation was. Thumbs up for this 😀

  10. demolak

    December 15, 2010 at 2:35 pm

    ok. Good attempt. Next time write about being middle class because this sounds like a middle class person trying to describe a poor childhood and failing to do so effectively. Didn’t sound authentic enough.

    • Enes

      December 15, 2010 at 3:38 pm

      Cynical much? I think it did because i wouldn’t have been able to imagine any of this if i tried. There are some things you have to live through before you can even think of writing about them.

    • A

      December 15, 2010 at 9:06 pm

      Even middle-class people go flat broke sometimes. Stop being so cynical.

    • Anya

      December 15, 2010 at 10:18 pm

      demolak your comment is not very sensible. You say “next time write about being middle class” but then you also acknowledge that it “sounds like a middle class person trying to describe…”

      what do you even mean?!

    • demolak

      December 15, 2010 at 11:26 pm

      This is not an I was poor and my friends were rich story. It is an I was middle class and my friends were rich story. She’s trying too hard to make her middle class experience sound poor. This is not poor. Come to my village let me show you real hardship.

    • Teebaby

      December 16, 2010 at 2:07 pm

      @ Demolak, you really must be on something that is unhealthy for your brain.

      How many middle class people couldnt afford uniform.The girl used a sweater to cover the tears in her uniform.Saved up her own money to but a better one.Had only two meals a day.Middle class families have three meals or whatever amount they please.

      Your point is?

    • Ready

      December 16, 2010 at 10:22 am

      Demolak…it’s not a competition. By no standard is her description of her childhood a middle class one, even from the perspective of those in your village whom you speak of…perhaps their situation is worse off, but that does not make her story that of a middle-class one.
      I’m pretty sure she’s not trying to say she was the poorest Nigerian and so your knowing poorer people does not and should not in any way take away from the powerful point she’s making.

    • demolak

      December 16, 2010 at 4:10 pm

      lol. you people are funny. you clearly don’t understand what it means to be poor that is why you are running your mouth anyhow. And I was just leaving a critique. since when did I not become entitled to my own opinion?

    • Teebaby

      December 17, 2010 at 3:36 pm

      @ Demolak, we are entitled to our opinions just like you are to yours.My opinion is that your argument does not hold water. There are various levels of poverty and based on the environment, poverty is subjective.In the village, her family may not have been deemed as poor but in the city, based on the life style around her, they were a struggling family.Plus, her experience really is her experience.You can’t know her reality more than her neither can you attempt to label her reality.Experiences are dynamic and vary from people to people. To come here and say she is trying hard to paint a picture of pain and poverty is not uncalled for and not fair.

    • Catwalq

      December 16, 2010 at 9:12 pm

      Maybe you have never been there but if you have, then you will know that there is reality to this. I am glad for a post like this because it always seems like on this site, so many people are touting elitist lifestyles; and for some their very humble background is not that much a thing of the past.

  11. phunk

    December 15, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    wana…….bless for this touching story-it’s one i can relate to

  12. ego

    December 15, 2010 at 2:39 pm

    you are all the more richer as a result of your experience and the fact that you can be you is very admirable.

  13. DUDU

    December 15, 2010 at 2:46 pm

    Mackerel ke? Titus you mean

    • Ready

      December 16, 2010 at 8:11 am

      Same thing. Mackerel is the general name, Titus is more popular in Nigeria perhaps because the Titus Sardine brand is widely eaten by Nigerians and so they substitute the names. It’s like Noodles and Indomie.

  14. Babydee

    December 15, 2010 at 2:51 pm

    Love this write up. I can so reckon with “summer of 99” cos my unforgettable summer was also “99”. When we resorted to eating ofada rice and stew with no meat or fish in it. Prior to 99, i had never eaten, seen or heard of any other rice besides Aroso & Uncle Bens. Same summer i started my period and had to use newspaper after roughing it till it became very soft. Yup, we couldn’t even afford tissue paper. This was after years of yearly summers abroad. But i thank God for those years. I’m a better woman today because God made us sit up as a family and as individuals.

    • Ready

      December 16, 2010 at 10:30 am

      Damn! And I thought I had it bad growing up…damn. We’re better women for it. Sad thing is I was getting myself worked up with worry over how we’ll make the remainder of my payment for the 2nd half of the 2nd year of my Master’s program in the US. I forgot that my family’s always sacrificed for us to get the best & I’m stronger for it now. That’s why I love BN articles and commenters, somehow, I always get reminded of what’s important.

    • ochella

      December 16, 2010 at 12:11 pm

      God it must have been hell to fall that hard. I am glad that you are a better woman today. May God continue to lift you.

  15. Dmz

    December 15, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    woooooooow………………..this is outstanding! Wow so many people are ‘walking-epistles”. We tend to judge from the external and fail to comprehend what they’ve been through or may be going through. So deeeeeep (luv it)

  16. lioness

    December 15, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    I LOVE this piece! Can totally relate. My parents sent me to an elitist high school, had absolutely nothing left over after school fees were paid so I was the poorest of the lot. Whilst my friends had drivers come pick them up & plan what they would wear for the next party, I’d b fetching water from the well in the backyard (we lived in an uncompleted building owned by my parents), washing one of the two uniforms I owned every night so as to dry during the day. Urs was mackerel, mine was ground pepper fried in oil (stew a la carte! Lol). Now, i eat like a glutton,
    relishing every meal – my measure of indulgence 4 a deprived “childhood”. Thank goodness d calorie police lost my address!

    Personally, I wouldn’t change anything. It provides for a wealth of experience dat strengthens resolve & provides 4 a colorful bio!

    I appreciate u a lot more now Ms Udabong. May u continually soar 2 greater heights & as u nurture that inner glow. Mwuuaah!!!

    • Gbemi

      December 15, 2010 at 9:55 pm

      confession time….
      I used to secretly ‘beef’ you back then for being so fine, having such a great figure and going to such an exclusive school.
      All that ‘beef’ turned to respect after I realized you were just a real, down to earth girl who wasn’t ashamed to let her friends know she was living in an uncompleted house…

      I see you’ve kept your sweet spirit xxx

  17. VivaHernree Rosé

    December 15, 2010 at 3:06 pm

    cool

  18. babylawyer

    December 15, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    You are an awesome person Wana

  19. lyn

    December 15, 2010 at 3:32 pm

    hmmmmmmm
    didnt imagine it was dis bad as she was my classmate,housemate n friend.thank God things have changed sha.all d best

  20. TonioO

    December 15, 2010 at 3:33 pm

    We just read this article at home and its truly touching. On the surface it’s a simple story about general hardship growing up, but you can really feel the emotions underneath. Everything you’ve gone through has made you the amazing person that you are today. Hard to beleive that the bubbly, funny, cutting edge witty warrior is the same person you wrote about above. Lola & I love your spirit. Keep being you Wana. You’re truly special.

  21. Nadia

    December 15, 2010 at 3:49 pm

    Your use of the English language is indeed admirable… I was so drawn into the delicate way you told your tale and ur play of words… very nice write up!

  22. Moigal

    December 15, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    I know!!!!!!!!!!!!

  23. Lanre Macaulay

    December 15, 2010 at 4:34 pm

    Lovely piece, I call it a classic! It sounds like the story of the girl next door.

  24. MelonX

    December 15, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Whoa! Good article. Like I always say the best time for one to have experienced high school and or college in naija was prior to 1985. Everything went to the dumps after the class of 85. But sha, you made it to the UK that must have helped a bit, abi? Some people never did get out and they survived.

  25. Amseriouslyinlove.

    December 15, 2010 at 5:11 pm

    I would say its not anyones fault nor our parents fault, I blame it on Nigerian’s economy, here in the U.K, no matter how poor you are, u will still be able to buy food worth £20 that could last a single person for weeks.

    Food, uniforms, houses, water and the likes should be a basic need. I think things are getting worse I heard, even an average Nigerian can’t afford garri. God bless Wana Wana x

  26. Omogekofo

    December 15, 2010 at 6:55 pm

    i connect with u.
    i remember boiling beans with boiling ring too, adding salt and palm oil after its soft, stirring it around and munching away happily like its the best meal since world war 2.
    and this was not boarding skol, it was the days wen there was no kerosene in the stove, no money to even buy at all, some days NEPA take light mid way. lol. remembering it brings tears to my eyes.. but i thank God, its a different story today.

  27. unique

    December 15, 2010 at 7:02 pm

    We all have a story to tell..thanks for sharing

  28. Mallam Sawyerr

    December 15, 2010 at 7:57 pm

    awww sweetie…I feel u men…I really do…guess d beauty is dat we can look back on those days n really laff cos they’v made us all stronger…

  29. Damola

    December 15, 2010 at 8:14 pm

    I dey feel u my dear.. I look forward to my kids understand this aspect of life. Cos, it’s important to know that, things will always go up and down. That keeps you in tact.

  30. sweetie

    December 15, 2010 at 8:28 pm

    wow, this brings back painful memories….wana u are such a strong woman, God bless you. I remember when we were going through something like this as a family…but i thak God we came out of it, I owe my life to him… but it made me stronger cuz you know what they say, when a man is rich , he brings out his true character but when he is broke, his friends bring out their true character…indeed i learned who my true friends are!

  31. Kilonsparkles

    December 15, 2010 at 8:43 pm

    This was a nice read.

  32. Gretel

    December 15, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    I’m so proud of u and of the fact that u’re from my statemcould really relate Adesi adan.
    I celebrate ur achievements.

  33. pam

    December 15, 2010 at 9:44 pm

    love this. brilliantly written too

  34. Teebaby

    December 15, 2010 at 10:28 pm

    Wow, to think you went through that as a child!Then some people will come here trying to break others down by making stupid comments about Island VS Mainland. People have real issues they deal with.Some people have to struggle to eat everyday!Some people have to enter public transportation, that is the reality of majority of Nigerians

    • mary007

      December 17, 2010 at 3:43 pm

      How does a light hearted comment (relating to fashion and looks) about Island people looking better than mainland relate to Wana’s summer 99? you just have to comment. Why didnt you relate the story to the mess our leaders left us with, not to sound harsh but from most comments you know people have had similar or worse experience , why not share you pain with those you know vying for offices in 2011

  35. Gbemi

    December 15, 2010 at 10:39 pm

    Wana Wana Wana…
    I googled mackerel, so I could have an idea what ‘exotic’ fish you were talking about. When the image came up and I saw it was Titus, it brought back memories….
    Titus, sorry ‘mackerel’, was all we could afford… and we were grateful to even have it cos there were times when all we had for dinner was boiled corn…
    Like you, I was an angry and insecure teenager and the part that hurt the most was the way some of my parent’s friends would look at us with pity… I remember asking God why He let us suffer…

    I can look back now with gratitude to God for taking me through that journey because my MA in life has been more useful than my BSc and I really hope I can raise my children to be grateful.

    All things work together for our good!

  36. Stunning

    December 15, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Inspiring piece! I love people that keep it real. The funny thing is am sure kids in school made fun of you and your background but half of those people do that to make themselves feel better and to escape from their pitiful and miserable existence. Lol….. Yay!! For ruff riders like you.

  37. Naijamum

    December 15, 2010 at 11:09 pm

    *sigh*
    This brings back memories.
    Like you, I still hate the sight and smell of mackerel because it still reminds me of ‘the bad old days’
    However, I’m happy to say that those days have made me a much stronger person. It has also made me determined to (a) make sure I give my kids a comfortabl life and (b) make sure my kids never take anything they have for granted.
    I would have rather NOT have had the childhood I had but I accept it has made me stronger.
    Kudos to you Wana

  38. lezzy

    December 15, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    I like my mackerel till forever. Spanish mackerel is the best when baked/grilled. You don’t wanna boil or fry your mackerel, that’s a no no.I don’t think mackerel is for broke people even in Nigeria.Nigerians eat gari/eba, rice, bean everyday but they are not all broke.

  39. www.fairygodsister.wordpress.com

    December 16, 2010 at 12:19 am

    This is a real piece, and reminds me of times when we barely had enough; scratch that, we didn’t have enough. We’re all stronger for it now, and appreciate whatever it is we now have.
    God bless you Wana, this was a lovely read!
    http://www.fairygodsister.wordpress.com

  40. dee

    December 16, 2010 at 2:25 am

    wow… i respect you. i love hearing stories like this… hard past but you didn’t let it weight you down, you kept going. Well done and keep going.

  41. NNENNE

    December 16, 2010 at 5:12 am

    I have decided to let some of my friends read this article.They really need to know what harsh economic times,mean. Amazing story…

  42. fokasibe

    December 16, 2010 at 7:59 am

    Thank God when things like this shape us to better appreciate life….I cant claim to have a similar story, but I do understand because I have a well grounded mother who would never let you take luxury for granted and would continously remind us of our blessings….
    Thank God for you wana, you came out of the fire tougher and better defined!

    God bless you…

  43. Tina Ike

    December 16, 2010 at 8:42 am

    Real.very inspiring Wana. lovely read, bring back memories and shows us the realities of our past but the strength in our future stories!

  44. JOI

    December 16, 2010 at 9:47 am

    This just brought tears to my eyes. It was rough for me too but then not this rough. Thank God for our parents, they didn’t buy the latest wears just to make sure that we survived – mackerel or even scraps from cowleg (forgotten what that’s called now) to cook up some nice vegetable soup. Gone were those days, but then we thank God for His mercies. I was discussing with a friend last week that I’ve eaten enough mackerel for three generations (that was the only fish I cooked throughout the 4 years of college baring some stumbled on meat/beef – I guess it was the cheapest of the frozen fish back then, but then very delicious). I stopped eating it for years, but I’m back at eating the grilled mackerel (highly nutritious fish abeg). Thanks for sharing, stories like this strengthens us and especially people going through tough times.

  45. viv

    December 16, 2010 at 11:27 am

    good piece and hilariuos. this is a true account of most of us. wana you did a good job with the write up and glad you made it out of that situation.

    • Ruona Mykels

      December 17, 2010 at 7:18 am

      Lovely piece. Whether Titus or Mackerel, in Warri we called it “Sabida”. It came in two types: the oily one & the scally one & could either be smoked or fresh. But truly, your poverty was an Ajebutter poverty. You needed to have seen our Ajekpako poverty those days in Warri. Infact i envy you. On a serious note, you have sent a message of hope & so do i.

  46. RMG

    December 16, 2010 at 12:05 pm

    I admire people like you.This is a true story that describes most of us,even those that like “forming”…..I’m impressed!!!!!!!

  47. ochella

    December 16, 2010 at 12:08 pm

    This story is deep, wether true life or fiction alot of people can definately relate to it. I am glad you came out as a strong woman. So many people go to this,less or even more and just give up. God bless you & please like someone earlier said give up the poverty mentality jor! You ‘ve paid your dues.

  48. honeybee

    December 16, 2010 at 12:35 pm

    I was going to say… I had no idea mackerel was poor people’s food oh. We never ate it growing up in my house because i guess my mum never bought it. But that made me crave it so much and that’s the only fish i ever eat now!! Infact, I might have me some herb seasoned with lemon juice, grilled mackerel tonite! GBAM!!

  49. tosin

    December 16, 2010 at 12:48 pm

    Lovely piece. Took me back memory lane, reminiscing my ‘have not days’. I truly can relate with most of the writer’s experiences. Though my parents did their best (and i love them to death for that), still found myself lacking and I can’t still shake that ‘poverty mentality’ approach to acquiring luzuries (even necessary ones) now.

  50. bcgeorge

    December 16, 2010 at 2:34 pm

    We had meals twice a day. Breakfast and the other meal. You chose when you wanted to eat it. The other meal I mean. lols…..
    some us were lucky then even though we had our rough times too. count your blessings…name them one by one and it will suprise you what the Lord has done. Thank you Jesus.
    God blee you Wana

  51. zara

    December 16, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    this is a very touching piece dat i can totally relate to! I’m not a very good story teller so i might just print out dis article n hand it out 2 my kids wen they start reading(tell dem its my fellow nig sister dat wrote it) so dat they can understand where momma is coming from!

  52. Lady T

    December 16, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    omg…I was just reminscing about my also humble background. Around 98/99..my family had just moved to Jand and the 1st house we stayed in, I look at photos and I somewhat cringe. The living room was soo bare, the TV looked like if you breathed too hard on it, it would topple over and there was only one channel that was clear. It was a 3-bed house but we only one room had a bed which was reserved for my mum and baby sister aged 3months. In the room I shared with bro, we didnt have a bed or wardrobes-huge suitcases were our wardrobes. It was around then that our meals consisted of eating rice and ata din-din with tuna or sardines fried in it. In those days, I though we ate it so frequently bcos we all liked it, now I realise it is bcos we couldnt afford to buy even tesco value chicken. I could go on and on but despite the hardship then, it didnt hurt then bcos of the Love in our home. We didnt have a lot at all…but love made it look like we had everything. Its only now when I wander through our current house that is bigger than we know what to do with that I thank God for those days. It makes you value the important things of life. I would give up all the comfort I have now for the family love I enjoyed then.

  53. Gbenga Awomodu

    December 16, 2010 at 6:53 pm

    Thanks a lot for sharing, Wana. I enjoyed reading and it was a good and timely reminder that we all have history and that all the ‘down times’ we go through at some point are meant to become testimonies thereafter. Like they say, “If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger”

    This beautiful post reminds me of a weird phrase I coined back in the Uni: “E sa na si garri!” [meaning, ‘set garri on fire!’ :)] That was something I said out of boredom and suppressed ‘anger’ when the ‘most sensible’ option was to ‘smoke Garium Sulphate’. That’s a long story for some other time!

    Truth is: we need to share stories like this occasionally, whether your experience is the ‘worst’ or ‘best of the worst’. Cheers!

    http://gbengaawomodu.wordpress.com

  54. neharra

    December 17, 2010 at 1:07 am

    very touching story indeed!!…i almost teared up…Sometimes in life we forget how wonderful God is towards us…

  55. Ikponmwen timothy

    December 17, 2010 at 2:39 am

    Is not real,describing poverty and stil have stew in d freezer,definitely u have a home and a family. Dat is not POVERTY.

  56. Funmie

    December 17, 2010 at 6:59 am

    To think mackerel in Okro soup with eba makes my best food!
    you know as terrible as it might sound… the art of “survival” has a funny way of keeping one’s sanity.
    I remember one time we were on a vacation with my big aunt in Abuja and she was so so broke she couldn’t afford a decent meal for us all. My siblings and i suggested we go pluck some “efinrin” (sorry i dont know d english word) leaves from the garden/bush backdoor. we bought some cowskin which is the cheapest kinda MEAT. I cooked and we all ate it with so much joy and LOVE. I still remember the look (of relief) on her face till today.

    For me, it wasn’t suffer head. it was more of a PHD in “life-ology.” thanx for writing this….

  57. Ready

    December 17, 2010 at 7:33 am

    demolak
    lol. you people are funny. you clearly don’t understand what it means to be poor that is why you are running your mouth anyhow. And I was just leaving a critique. since when did I not become entitled to my own opinion?

    Guy, you are entitled to your opinion, but when you come across as a dogmatic cynic, you should expect numerous replies and expect people to “run their mouths anyhow.”
    Last I checked, poor comes in different forms; yes, there are very poor people in your village as there are in all our villages. Like I wrote before, that is not enough reason to discountenance her story or question how she categorizes her childhood experience.

  58. kaam

    December 18, 2010 at 4:23 am

    Be thankful in all things, a guy was upset about the color of shoes he had until he met the guy with no feet…I’m sure u know the story? You were at the very least in school….keep pushing, the battle is not won yet, you are going somewhere.

  59. Have-nots

    December 18, 2010 at 9:06 pm

    Nice blog
    One thing is certain – poverty or lack is an condition that spreads across nationalities or classes. Sometimes people fail to understand when perceived richer or more well-off folks tell their stories of hardship.One thing is certain – if you were born into a middle class family, living in the city and you came upon hardtimes where your folks couldnt afford the basic necessities of life – food, shelter or clothing, your life becomes a struggle and you have a right to feel like a have-not. Whether your level of “poverty” or “lack’ compares or pales considerably to another family going through hardship in the darkest and most remote rural areas is immaterial.

    Truth be told, in Nigeria, we are all poor in many respects. Whether you start your day from a water-bed in a huge mansion in old Ikoyi or from a mat in a shanty in Ajegunle Extension, you still have to contend with bad roads, corruption, government officials with poor mentalities, artisans trapped with a poverty stricken mindset, and the general state of decay. You are poor, if you drive you Mercedes Mayback on pot-holed ridden roads while peeping out of your window at swarthes of beggars asking for alms, poor hawkers and commuters.

    I was born into a privileged upper middle class family. No, we didnt live in Ikoyi or VI, but we stayed in a very decent neighbourhood in an upscale part of Surulere. My dad could afford to take us on annual trips to London every summer.I drank Ovaltine and not Vitalo or Nescao back then before school time. A driver dropped and picked us up from school in a decent Nissan sedan.

    By the time I was in form 2 in secondary school, my dad lost a fortune trying to contest in politics, and realities set in. Have you had a sandwich without bread? I did – dont ask me how.

    U guys are talking about mackarel. That was caviar for us. Have you eaten the really small fishlings, the type that the fishermen toss back into the river from their nets? That was my staple. We were eating Abakaliki rice (30% grain, 70% stones) waaay before Ofada rice became fashionable. The day Cowbell started doing the powdered milk in affordable satchets was declared a Bank holiday in my house, as we could now add milk to our diet. How many of you have had chicken intestines before (just like shaki, you should try it).

    I am here now, and all that is in the past. Guess what; that is life. You live, you learn. You grow stronger…

    Please read this article- http://woahnigeria.wordpress.com/2010/09/30/no-malice-in-nigeria-wonderland-nigeria-independence-special

    The above link is where Nigeria should be going, so we do not have to raise our kids in poverty and penury, just like the dark days of 92-2002.

    I leave you with these lyrics from Beanie Sigel from the 2002 Jay Z song “Someway, Somehow”

    No breakfest Cap’n Crunch at night/
    Our kids eating lunch at night /
    in their beds all bunched and tight/
    No less then 3 or 4/
    U know how it go, 2 by the foot 2 by the headboard/

    • mariaah

      December 20, 2010 at 8:40 pm

      Darm.. This your comment make brain…Poverty get levels I tell you but its what you learn from it that matters. Of all twenty years of my life, I have seen things like when my dad travelled, mum was broke, no food, thk God I had a kolo (piggy bank) that was our saviour. Lesson: I must have my own money husband or not/save for the rainy day.

      As at now, I may have to drop out (not d 1st time) to go to a cheaper school cos d financial strain on me maa is too much I have siblings and she’s alone (dad’s late)..Lesson: swallow my pride, take every challenge in my stride and come out better.

  60. arit

    December 19, 2010 at 8:09 pm

    Wana, this brought so many memories, life was hard for us too, funny thing? 99 was our family turnaround year. God has been faithful though, that we can all look back at these experiences and see how much better they made us. God bless sweetie

  61. Hilda

    December 20, 2010 at 9:36 am

    Beautiful article! It’s very funny and uplifting when you look back and see how far you’ve come with so much gratititude and appreciation with it. I had a similar childhood if not worse but i thank God today for where i am and where i am going. It makes me feel good about myself without seeking any validation from any one. The good God who brought you this far will take you to greater height. Enjoy it, embrace it and share it.

  62. Dieko

    December 21, 2010 at 3:20 pm

    Wana,fantastic piece,oii love love it,very funny very sad and very inspiring.you just rock.

  63. Nancy

    January 5, 2011 at 6:17 pm

    simply amazing. one really gets better after going through the fire

  64. rolake

    January 10, 2011 at 4:17 pm

    wow……dat was straight from the heart…blunt, truthful and every….

  65. Sclarks

    January 13, 2011 at 9:23 am

    This was definately a good read at three in the morning when i cant sleep. Im not sure he this is a toronto thing but my dad used to always buy this thing called Bulla bread, i think its prob carib but i cant stand it no more… Then i eventually figured that i stopped liking corn flakes cause of the roach i found while enjoying d thin… Omo man #hardtimes

  66. Lesi

    April 17, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    You think you have had a rough deal and then hear about someone else, and THEN you realize you actually have so much to be grateful for. Wana, I am greatly inspired by your story because listening to you speak, one could never guess that this happened to you. Everyone should take a cue. Where you’re coming from does not matter when you decide to end up someplace better by working towards it.

  67. Quads

    November 6, 2011 at 5:38 am

    I read dis article and most of all the comments with tears streaming down my eyes. You feel your story is terrible until you read other people’s. I cant actually say when our’s began but i can remeber we never had anything for breakfast but beans with gari and soup for lunch and dinner evry day of the week. Of never having more than a set of provisions in boarding school (which was very highbrow then) which i will stretch for forever and keeping the empties back in my locker (so that it wont look very empty and putting my gallon of water to give it weight). It got so bad that my folks couldnt afford to get me the new school uniform in SS one, my mom had to cut my pinafore into a skirt and use the same shirt that i had been wearing snice JS 2 and hearing whispers from other girls when you walk by. We didnt even have a color TV or video machine and our black and white TV will occasionally stop playing and we would have to hit on top to jump start it lol. Stories like this make me look around and thank God from the depths of my soul for where i am now and where he’s taking me to. Thank you Wana.

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