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Isio Knows Better: Beans, Farming & Dignity of Labour

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Isio Wanogho - March 2014 - BellaNaijaI sincerely lay no claims to being more knowledgeable than anyone, but I do confess that I know better than I did yesterday, last year and a decade ago. Isio Knows better is an attempt to capture the shocking and highly entertaining conversation within myself. The conversations between my mind (the sharp witty one), my soul (the lover and the spiritual one) and my body (the playful one concerned with the more mundane things of life). She is the eternal referee between the caustic mind and the sensitive soul. This is Isio. So, here’s to making private conversations public.

Enjoy! ***

My father was a great man. His dream for us, his children, was to become a greater version of him, and to someday, raise children who were better versions of ourselves as well.

Of course, this was not was going through my mind twenty years ago, as I stood before him, trying not to quake in my dunlop slippers while he remained silent, flipping leisurely through his newspaper. I knew he knew that I was there. I shuffled uncomfortably. I had begun to perspire.

“Stand upright! Don’t show any fear jo!”, I told myself.

I adjusted my stance, squared my shoulders and held my head high. My change in body language didn’t go unnoticed, as he raised an eye-brow at me, gave me ‘the look’ and then went back to reading his paper.

Like a boss.

I don die finish. Somewhere in the background, I could hear my siblings elbow each other, straining to get the best view as they peeped (without getting caught) into what was happening between my dad and I. The truth is that they had dared me to tell my dad what I had just told him. And I, being the unchallenged challenger; the fearless, the last born and daddy’s pet, decided to do so to my immediate regret.

What was my sin, you might wonder? Well… I dared to tell my dad that we would rather eat bread and eggs (with all the accompanying things that make a great continental breakfast) instead of the brown beans that had been unceremoniously made for us that morning. The way my dad looked at me when I finished saying the nonsense eh? He said nothing and continued reading his paper.

Why did I not just leave when it was apparent he was ignoring me? Well, two things…he wasn’t ignoring me, this was the dreaded calm before the storm; and secondly and most importantly, dem no born me well to waka commot until he had discharged me verbally.

So I stood there; quaking, shaking and sweating. I had lost my appetite for the bread and everything continental.

After what seemed like an eternity, he asked me without looking up, ‘‘So you don’t like the beans?’’

‘‘Yes sir,’’ I quickly chimed in.

‘‘Have you ever worked for a kobo in your life?’’ he continued.

‘‘No sir,’’ My voice was noticeably lower. (I could hear my siblings giggling)

‘‘Hmmmmmn,’’ he drawled, “you have your answer.’’

‘‘Okay sir, thank you sir, migwo…’’ I stumbled over my words as I quickly greeted him in the Urhobo traditional way. I fled from his presence with my answer and a valuable lesson learnt.

If you want to eat continental when your mates are eating beans, wait till you have many kobos of your own. Until then, be grateful for your beans.

My father was a great man. Wise too. He didn’t speak much, but when he spoke, you listened. The things he taught me, I didn’t realize were lessons until now. He didn’t believe in bringing up males and females differently. He raised us all to be strong human beings, to be smart, and to be self-sufficient. Be fair to all. Be tolerant of others irrespective of race, tribe, religion or class. He had zero tolerance for religious discrimination.

My father was a hard man. Growing up, he had only three rules— don’t curse in his house, don’t cry unnecessarily when you want something (just ask), and most importantly DO NOT FAIL in school. Average was a FAIL. A little bit ABOVE average was a FAIL. You would be flogged. Below average nko? You just know you are doomed. It’s better for you to just get lost. (In Waffi English, e beta for you make you just misplace). I know this because I tried this. Yes, I got flogged. He gave me the honor of picking out my very own ‘koboko’. My bum was sore for days. And my grades henceforth catapulted to A+++.

My father was the son of a king, yet such a simple man. So simple that he uprooted my siblings and I from our cozy Lagos home and took us to our village in Ughelli to teach us something new. It was the three month long-holiday period. He had us wake up at the crack of dawn. We went with his workers to his horribly large farm. On this land were rows of yam mounds. It was harvest season. On that day, he placed in each of our hands a hoe and a cutlass, as he told us to begin to harvest the yam with his workers. He zoomed off in his car. I looked at the rear-end of the car as it zoomed off, then at my sisters in disbelief, and then looked down at the hoe and cutlass I was holding.

Shuo, make una see trouble o. Stupendous something.

Six hours later, during a fifteen-minute ‘lunch-break’ we were seated in a thatched roof ‘tent’ on the bare earth trying to swallow the stony fufu and the lukewarm banga soup he had packed as our lunch. I looked at it with distaste and derision even though I was hungry, broken and exhausted. This was not food for a princess. My grandfather after all had been king, and my uncle was the ruling king. I didn’t understand this village oh. I belligerently remembered Disney’s representation of princesses and kingdoms, and I felt sorry for myself.

 Ahan, this kingdom of ours was so unpalatable, kai.

Watery banga and stony fufu. I swiveled through the soup with my fingers trying to find fish. I managed to find one crayfish. I think I started to cry at this point. I wailed bitter hot tears. Open mouth and all. I longed for Lagos. On the fifth day I had learnt to swallow the fufu and drink the banga like a pro. I had also learnt that by sun set, you better hurry to hitch a ride on one of the villager’s bicycles. Or you would trek home. If you were waiting for Daddy to come pick you up in his beautiful car, well, you go wait tayah. Also important, while on the farm, you had better be nice and respectful to the workers and villagers, or else, you go trek home be dat.

Ps. Dear future kids, I don’t care how many billions your father and I have, you will uproot yam with hoes and cutlasses, oh yes, you will. In fact, you will plant cocoyam sef. Cry all you want.

 And just like that, we learnt about yams, farming, dignity in labour, and had all sense of entitlement to Daddy’s money stripped from our brains. I also learnt that there are various stages of sweating. First, you heat up, then you start to sweat, and then you sweat profusely. The most advanced stage is when it is so hot within and around you, that the sweat evaporates inside you before it even comes out of you. This is called ‘dry sweat.’ Yes, it was that bad.

My father was a great man. Imperfect and flawed he was, but great.

He passed away a month ago. And I miss him every day.

RIP Daddy.

______________________________________________________________________________________________ Isio Wanogho is a top-model, TV Personality and entrepreneur. She is conversant in five languages and has 12 years of experience in the Nigerian entertainment industry. Isio, popularly known by her brand name Isio De-laVega, captivates audiences with her signature wide smile and relatable, quirky personality which endears her to many. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @isiodelavega

Isio De-laVega Wanogho is a Nigerian supermodel, a multi-award winning media personality and an interior architect who is a creative-expressionist at her core. She uses words, wit and her paintings to tell stories that entertain, yet convey a deeper meaning. Follow her on Instagram @isiodelavega and visit her website: http://www.idds.pro to see her professional body of work.

61 Comments

  1. natty

    March 25, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    Sorry for your loss, your father indeed was a great man

  2. naana

    March 25, 2014 at 1:37 pm

    my condolence and thanks for sharing your experience with me.

  3. EYEBALLS

    March 25, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    Isioooooo!!!! you wan crack me up die. your write-ups are always a breath of fresh breeze and I was not disappointed today. Abeg where did you get the inspiration for such description of dry sweat and whoever had dry sweat!!!? lol. Hilarious but really witty. I am totally hooked on your write-up and must tell you myself whenever I see you. Your dad was a great man, may his soul rest in perfect peace.

  4. Que.....what is wrong wit my avatar and ID???*confused*

    March 25, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Isiooooo…..ever so relatable! Lmao @ the description of dry sweat! I read and couldnt stop laughing cos i certainly know that picture of using your mouth to put urself in trouble and waiting for it…. naija parents are just frm a different planet. RIP to your Dad too, if you are anything to go by, he sure lived an interesting life… Bless him and bless u too… xoxo!

  5. mama

    March 25, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    wow, may your dad RIP. this reminds me of my childhood days too… i remember when my sibling sang “plenty children na plenty wahala”to my dad. But all in all, we are all doing well now. all thanks to my parents and the way we were brought up.

  6. @edDREAMZ

    March 25, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    This is one big experience….. May the dead R.I.P…..
    .
    .
    .
    ***CURRENTLY IN JUPITER***

  7. iyke

    March 25, 2014 at 1:49 pm

    Awwww…So sorry about your loss Isio. He is at peace now and sleeping with the Angels.
    Honestly,having a parent who is a good person is truly the best blessing any child could have.It’s tragic that so many young people judge their parents instead of just being grateful and respecting them.The thing is that, until you’ve been a parent you have no idea how hard it is and how hard won even small successes are.
    I remember vividly my growing up in the village. Times were tough, real tough, and I have at times resented my dad for not being better at handling it all. My mom took very little and made it work. She kept us, all 4 of us kids, alive and together. We didn’t have much, and we all remember being hungry and frustrated, but she didn’t abandon us. And we are all grateful now. My mom rocks! Shame that we are so busy growing up NOW, that we often forget they are also growing old.
    If you haven’t spoken to your dad/mom today, please pick up the phone and tell him/her that ‘YOU ARE GRATEFUL. Put a smile on her/his face this moment. That’s the least we could do right now.
    Peace Y’all.

    • TA

      March 25, 2014 at 7:50 pm

      Thank you. 🙂

    • meme

      March 26, 2014 at 1:14 am

      sighhh.. now I have to call my dad.

  8. Warri Babe

    March 25, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Awwwww, may his soul rest in peace. This had me up in stitches, and exact things my dad did too….kai, God bless Paapi!!!

  9. Alim

    March 25, 2014 at 1:54 pm

    What way would have been better to make kids learn of the dignity in labor???
    Indeed the stupendously large farm taught enough lessons. I also have a disciplined father. He makes me account for every amount I spend (calling it his hard earned money). I found it nerve racking at first but now am grateful to my dad. Have learnt to be frugal even when there is surplus.

  10. Fashionista

    March 25, 2014 at 2:07 pm

    What a touching piece. May your Dads soul rest peacefully, Amen.

  11. adetola adeyinka

    March 25, 2014 at 2:14 pm

    God bless you Isio. You brought back memories of growing up in Warri. May your father’s soul Rest In Peace. Amen.

  12. jcsgrl

    March 25, 2014 at 2:23 pm

    Wow you lost your dad and you were still able to compose such beautiful articles? May God give you strength to bear the loss as I can’t even fathom the pain of losing such a loved one. You are a brilliant, witty writer.

  13. me

    March 25, 2014 at 2:25 pm

    May his soul RIP.

  14. Vanessa

    March 25, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    My Isio, what can I say!

  15. Myne Whitman

    March 25, 2014 at 2:38 pm

    You write very well. I had some farm experience too, and you just reminded me. Dry sweat indeed 🙂

    May your dad RIP. Be comforted.

  16. ush

    March 25, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    i truly respect ur dad, u wld hav thot as a kings son he shld lavish his kids monetary, pampering and all sorts, but no! he didnt but instead he thot them d hard way…you can say d hard way is not d only way out in training your kids, but i must tell u it is, most Nigerian parents (d elite) all we do is make our kids very comfortable in all aspect of lyf not lettin them knw dat lyf isnt truly a bed of roses…there r hard tyms nd good tyms nd if we show them just d former kids may end up lacking in areas we parents shlld hv told them way before…Am really happy for U nd ur siblings cos it really shows i mean ( u can speak 6 languages??? wow! u hv to be a genius,lol) , u are an interior Architect, wat else can u ask for>>>May ur dads soul rest in peace!!!

  17. Esco

    March 25, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Wonderful piece Isio. You are blessed to have had a father who had instilled such values in you and imparted good things in your life. I too have lost my father – and I can totally relate.

    Having a father (and a good one, at that) in Nigeria is more important than perhaps any other country on God’s green earth. In Yankee or Jand, if a father died, at least the State could take care of your kids. However in Nigeria, if your papa kicks the bucket, you are OYO (On. Your. Own) or R.F (royally f—ked). In fact a kid without a dad’s financial and paternal devotion in Nigeria is exposed to the elements.

    In fact in Naija, you need a father figure at all stages of your life cycle. Let me expatiate: You need a biological father (at conception), school father (in Secondary school), god-father (to contest political office or advance in your career especially if it is the civil service, reverend father (for times of wahala, marriage or when you die). In some neighborhoods, you also require an area father’s protection.

    Some women take it further. They need a sugar-daddy or a Father Christmas to satisfy their lust for material things. In fact in some cultures, the literal word for husband is “father”.
    In fact, in Igbo, the word “nna” is used as a term of endearment by wifes and also means father.

    I miss my dad too. I was my father’s son. Yes I was a bit spoilt but I never got rotten. My dad was also a disciplinarian when he needed to be. I remember when during my early teens, when I was going through my rebel phase, I pierced my ear and sported an ear-ring. When my dad saw it, he did a double take, as he reprimanded me “So you have started dressing like Charly Boy Oputa?” I was really trying to look like Will Smith in the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, but that was besides the point.

    May your Dad’s soul rest in peace and his legacies live forever through his seeds

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      March 25, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      Esco, my own teenage rebellion manifested in the act of piercing my nose. My dad was away on a few days’ trip to the villa at the time so a false sense of maturity/security must have taken hold of my brain in his absence. I vividly remember the day he got back and I walked up to greet him; he took one look at me and honestly, I no sabi where that slap came flying from but if you had seen as the slap take comot that ring from my nose, ehn… looking back sef, I dey bow for my 16yr old self and that phase of my craze.

      @Isio, I’m really sorry for your loss. The pain is still raw and the memories will keep continously repeating themselves in your brain. May God provide solace to you and yours as you grieve. Found out today that my friend (also a BN reader) just lost her dad and my heart’s been weighed down all day. The loss of a loving parent is so very painful. 🙁

  18. licious

    March 25, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    lovely write up that brought back almost lost memories….sorry for your lost dear.

  19. B-WEST

    March 25, 2014 at 3:04 pm

    oh my gosH ! my darl has delivered again, punch after punch and darn witty! *wet kisses and bear hgs* atta gurrl! luv u big big!

  20. Babytohcute

    March 25, 2014 at 3:20 pm

    May your dada rest in peace. Dignity of labour. Be grateful and respectful. Schools don’t teach that, experience do. Thanks Isio.

  21. tayo

    March 25, 2014 at 3:22 pm

    May ur dad continue to rest well Isio thank God he taught u well.

  22. Jo!

    March 25, 2014 at 3:35 pm

    Awwwwwwww. I cried

  23. Doyin

    March 25, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    Isis, Ndo on the loss of your father. May his soul rest in peace. Your interesting write-up made me remember my late father Alhaji Usman Ayinde Agbeniyi. I am wondering whether fathers do today can ever train their children of these days the way we were trained. Omo I was brought up like a boy despite being a girl. Immediately I come back home from boarding house my father would have left an itinerary of errands for me like clearing the heavily blocked gutter behind our house, cutting the bush (like say I be mala), paying all the bills, electricity, water, vehicle license etc. Who are you to go and spend holidays with relatives. I never spent or visited uncles and aunties until when I left secondary school. It was hardship then but I thank God for my father today because there is no housework that I cannot do on my own (when some of my mates would sit down and rely on the omo odo). May God Bless the souls of our late fathers.

    • Jo!

      March 26, 2014 at 9:31 am

      “Ndo” is Ibo, “Do/Doh” is well… the Bendel one

    • Jo!

      March 26, 2014 at 9:32 am

      Sorry, I’m anal like that

  24. Tobi Martins

    March 25, 2014 at 3:42 pm

    ‘If you want to eat continental when your mates are eating beans, wait till you have many kobos of your own. Until then, be grateful for your beans’……..this made too much sense. RIP to your dad dear.

  25. Noms

    March 25, 2014 at 3:51 pm

    Oniovo, laff wan keehh meee. May popsie’s soul rest in peace.

  26. tatafo!

    March 25, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss my dear. You are lucky to have such a wonderful father to have looked up to. May his soul rest in perfect peace.

  27. linda

    March 25, 2014 at 4:34 pm

    i have always been waiting for tuesdays to come so i can read and learn from isio’s column on BN, Ure the best ever. accept my condolences may he RIP. Amen!!!!!

  28. Frances Okoro

    March 25, 2014 at 4:40 pm

    so sorry for your loss Isio, may he rip.
    and he was a great man indeed, only a truly great father would imbibe virtues in his children the way he did.

    imperfectlyperfect92.wordpress.com

  29. ENIOLA

    March 25, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    May your dad’s soul RIP Isio. He was indeed a great man.

  30. www.graciemama.com

    March 25, 2014 at 5:07 pm

    Isio dear, May God comfort you this period. You must have had a really great dad. Be grateful for that. I love your writing style, come and give me some tips o. Nice one

  31. shay shay

    March 25, 2014 at 5:17 pm

    God rest his soul. Amen.

  32. Baby Giwa

    March 25, 2014 at 5:18 pm

    Awwwww! May his beautiful soul rest in perfect peace and paradise, amen

  33. Onome

    March 25, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    Lovely write-up Isio! May ur dad’s soul continue to rest…

  34. slice

    March 25, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Fear no gree my dad try dis one. Every father must know him pickin. Put me on a farm u beta be on standby to call dodcotr or revive me if yawa gas

  35. D'Mamma

    March 25, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Isio dear, sorry for your loss. May his soul RIP. Nice write-up by the way

  36. camo

    March 25, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    May your Father’s Soul rest in peace Isio. Your write up reminded me of my mother. She was both the man and the woman, she did all the disciplining and cuddling. She died just before we were able to appreciate all she had done. The struggle took a toll on her health. May God console you losing a good parent is a sore wound that takes time to heal. But you will heal. Take heart dear.

  37. Dr. N

    March 25, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Meeen! If I gist u how we escaped d farming tings, lol. It took a lot of tact plus mom’s connivance. Thumbs up, girl. http://www.drnsmusings.wordpress.com

  38. TA

    March 25, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    @ Isio your papa and my papa be kindred spirits o! My dad used to do the exact same thing,only in a different state. We knew he loved us but at that time it was confusing when he acted like that or when he would ask his driver to leave the house and come straight to the office if we were not ready for school by 7:30am. To this day, I never go late anywhere! 🙂
    Isio, so sorry about your loss. May God comfort you and your family. Plenty cyber hugs.

  39. lu-lu

    March 25, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    this piece took me back to my childhood… may your dad RIP..

  40. gia

    March 26, 2014 at 1:14 am

    This is so sweet!!!!

  41. Autoprincess

    March 26, 2014 at 8:50 am

    May your dad rest in peace, Isio. Brilliant write-up as usual.

  42. Annie

    March 26, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    aww, so sowie, he was a great man indeed, thought u almost everything u need to survive especially in this our over hot naija. sorry but this heat fit kill person, u sometimes sleep and wake up feeling like ur inside has been cooked. smh. God pls forgive ud and bless naija with cooler weather and peace amongst all and sundry. Amen

  43. funmilola Adebari

    March 26, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    A great, father indeed!……. leaving his big foot in the sand of time. I never met, but am sure He must have been so funny.

  44. funmilola Adebari

    March 26, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    A great, father indeed!……. leaving his big foot print in the sand of time. I never met him, but am sure He must have been so funny.

  45. veegal

    March 26, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Isio, may ur dad’s soul R.I.P *HUGS* Its the exact experience I had too and it made us all realize that life was not and is still not a bed of rose. The special memories u have would never faze away cos they make a lot of sense to u as an adult now. My dad is late too n all I can remember are the things we did together. Urs is even good he used a posh ride to take you to the farm. Ours was that he would the wagon and pack us all like a bunch of kids going for a sight- see at a nearby stream or to see a masquerade ….lol but it was good cos he had a way of making us have fun @ the end of the farming cos d workers would roast yam and make local barbeque chicken wif palm oil. so his memories lives on cos he’s late too. Remain Blessed dear

  46. Ivie

    March 26, 2014 at 2:22 pm

    Aww Isio, may God strengthen and comfort you and family . Love the write up . It reminds me of the effectiveness of positive parenting!

  47. krem

    March 27, 2014 at 9:35 am

    lmao i cracked up all through, i always look forward to reading ur write ups. sorry 4 ur loss, may ur father continue to rest in peace

  48. wanday

    March 27, 2014 at 9:43 am

    Aww. Beautiful piece. Sorry about your loss

  49. Non professional opinion

    March 27, 2014 at 10:13 am

    Beautiful and authentic. Your papa must be very proud. May his soul rest in peace.

  50. MISSINDEPENDENT

    March 28, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    Isio am always refresh my desktop most times to see if you have dropped dem bomb write-up, you sure know how to do it well with great sense of humour.

    may his soul rest in peace.

    • MISSINDEPENDENT

      March 28, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      always refreshing”

      write-ups

  51. Just me

    April 2, 2014 at 11:41 am

    This piece just brought back memories. A similar situation as mine,He died 19 years ago and this piece (especially the farm part) just brought back good memories

  52. Bevshine events

    April 4, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    Lovely write up……sorry for your loss… May he RIP

  53. Giniks

    April 22, 2014 at 10:43 pm

    Isio, I recently took interest in ur blog and I tell you, your father and my father are one and same…my dad made us farm on his lands when we were on holiday despite d fact that he had all d money to spare..His motto was and still is’ my children cannot be spoilt’. We used to pray our classmates n friends dnt see us by any whiff of ill luck..lol. I learnt to appreciate the smallest things in life while still living the best life…my children will Def have the best of both worlds as well so they do not lose sight of these priceless virtues that r scarce among children of means and ironically, even in some that grew up in humble backgrounds…ironically, I was born and bred in Warri..lol.

    R.I.P Isio’s daddy.

  54. April

    June 21, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    Isio, you are a very good writer. Please, accept my sympathy for your loss. May your dad’s loving soul RIP.

  55. Oma

    December 29, 2014 at 3:43 pm

    Nne ehn, that dry sweat thing di egwu. Very very horrible something. Omo, boarding school was hell.

    Love your articles.

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