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Atoke’s Monday Morning Banter: The House the Village Built

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I was going to write about how pretentious I looked a few hours ago – me, sitting in a room full of Asians and Hispanics, dunking tortilla chips into little pots of garlic guacamole. I was going to write about the importance of people watching when you’re pretending to be aware of an All-American tradition – studying what team the majority of the room is supporting and remembering to shout when everyone else is. It doesn’t matter that you don’t know who the Seahawks are, or why everybody is shouting ‘Touch Down!’ It’s all part of the tradition, and it was what I was going to write about – traditions.

Then, I remembered I was probably going to get flack for talking about ‘something unrelatable’. So, let’s talk about something more ethnic, and cultural and innate. Our villages, or home towns as some of you finer folk might like to call them.

Growing up, going to our home town every year was a non-negotiable event. It was the time of the year when family members converged to eat the greenest Ewedu and the brownest Amala ever. It was the time when family members who didn’t know who was who, would ask: ‘Are you Gbemi or Funke?’ When you responded that you are Wonu, they would then say ‘Ah! The architect!’ Suddenly it was okay to be familiar enough to ask you to go and bring some yam and sardine stew for them from the kitchen.

Anyway, I had grown up believing everybody went to their villages, until I went to University and met people who said they had never been to theirs. One of my closest friends said her family never went to the village because her grandmother lived with one of her uncles in Lagos, and they were basically scared of people in their village so they never went. Because both my parents are from the same place, I have a stronger connection to Ogbomosho, so as the older generation died off, it didn’t really reduce the ‘family ties’. It also helped that we had a house to go to, which minimised the discomfort of going. However, as I grew older, and the compulsion to go to the village was taken off, there wasn’t really a pull to go there. As much as I love going to visit my aunty, eating fresh mangoes, there’s very little incentive to get on the bad Lagos-Ibadan expressway. Unless of course, there’s a burial to attend.

Atoke CheeriosBurials are another reason why people go to their villages. When my friend’s father died, they had this huge situation of where to bury their dad. The man had lived in Lagos all his life, built a house in Lagos and died in Lagos. However, custom demanded that he was buried ‘at home’. This was where it became a tricky situation. His children now had to posthumously invest in real estate – in a place they would probably never go again. Customs and traditions are a big deal, but real estate investment… now that is an even bigger deal.

In my parents generation, it was imperative to have ‘roots’ – a house in the village, something small, something to show that you’ve not just been on a sojourn in a foreign land for nothing. In fact, for some people, it didn’t matter that they lived in a rented flat for 22 years in the place that they earned their living; as long as they had a nice 10-bedroom duplex in the village they visited once a year, they were fulfilled. My siblings and I always made fun of my mum and her obsession with taking all the nice things she had to Ogbomosho. According to her, she was shoring up stuff for when she retired. 20 years later and those nice things have become antiquated in their cartons on the shelf of the store in Ogbomosho. The utopia of retiring to the country home still seems like a distant reality.

Today, I don’t know many young people who build houses in their home towns or even visit. I think the expenses of trying to pay expensive school fees, summer in Disney Land and trying to pay mortgage in Solar Garden estate has drastically negated the ideology of putting down roots outside of the metropolis. At best, you’ll find Lagos residents buying land on the outskirts of Lagos, like Mowe or Ikorodu. One of my friends in Abuja is looking to buy land in the FCT – nothing about Bayelsa State or future repatriation. Times have really changed.

This year, I really want to explore the dynamics of culture and tradition. Some aspects of culture do not really add value to our lives… or do they?

Have a great week ahead. Stay safe, be productive and remember to add value in your sphere of influence.

Oh and don’t forget to tell me about your villages – do you go? If you do, what’s the highpoint of visiting? If you don’t go… tell us why? What are your thoughts on putting roots in your village? Do you think it’s an investment or a recurring expenditure – since houses need to be maintained to retain value. Let’s have some fun this morning!

Peace, love & carrot batons.

Toodles!

You probably wanna read a fancy bio? But first things first! Atoke published a book titled, +234 - An Awkward Guide to Being Nigerian. It's available on Amazon. ;)  Also available at Roving Heights bookstore. Okay, let's go on to the bio: With a Masters degree in Creative Writing from Swansea University, Atoke hopes to be known as more than just a retired foodie and a FitFam adherent. She can be reached for speechwriting, copywriting, letter writing, script writing, ghost writing  and book reviews by email – [email protected]. She tweets with the handle @atoke_ | Check out her Instagram page @atoke_ and visit her website atoke.com for more information.

55 Comments

  1. search

    February 2, 2015 at 11:13 am

    I’ve only bn 2 d village twice & I will not lie, both times were for compulsory burials & I’m pretty sure i’ll not b back till there’s anoda burial

  2. gigyhi

    February 2, 2015 at 11:27 am

    Good morning Atoke! Your post was excellent. Thank you so much for writing on this post of cultural transformation. I have never visited my village in Ondo even as I plan to live long term in there in the future. The post increases my insight into the cultural expression and nature of village life as it relates to metropolis life. On one hand it is important to put down roots so that we understand our cultural heritage, however when God leads us anywhere in this world we must go, with the key being remembering the positives from our families’ traditions.

  3. Alfredm

    February 2, 2015 at 11:38 am

    Atoke, your articles are not as interesting as they were before…

  4. Theurbanegirl

    February 2, 2015 at 11:39 am

    Never been as well. Not sure I want to abeg too many bad stories in the village ugh

  5. memoi

    February 2, 2015 at 11:43 am

    Nice write up. I’m from Lagos State, so I’m practically at my home town everyday 🙂

  6. Berry Dakara

    February 2, 2015 at 11:47 am

    Funny thing is I remember going to my mum’s village more often than my dad’s villlage as kids. We went for the odd Christmas or New Year here and there. It’s easier to go to my dad’s village now though, but since I’m in Lagos, I don’t have that opportunity.

    About building a village house… erm, no thanks.

  7. Neo

    February 2, 2015 at 11:50 am

    I grew up making the annual Christmas pilgrimage to my hometown. From my brothers rocking the endless parties on Government Boat and me sulking in between my parents on the free chopper service one magnanimous IOC offered to village chiefs. My hometown had the setting of one big happy family and the kids spent the days shuffling from one house to the other and eating ourselves to stupor. As we grew older we began to rebel, no more by force trips to the village and the trip became a burial affair. Last time i went was to bury my father and though we have a family home i havent actually thought about visiting. Now i wonder why cos i come from a beautiful little island dipped in tha Atlantic Ocean just off the South Coast,

    • TA

      February 2, 2015 at 12:00 pm

      @ Neo, would that be Bonny Island?

    • Neo

      February 2, 2015 at 1:48 pm

      Brass Island

  8. Nike

    February 2, 2015 at 12:20 pm

    I was rooting for SeaHawks because of my spirit animal, Marshawn ‘Beast Mode’ Lynch, I love his resistance in refusing to talk to the press. LOL!

    My Dad is from Lagos and my Mum is from Ijebu, so going to the village for me growing up was synonymous to going to Ijebu. As a little child it was fun to go to Ijebu, we were spoilt by our relatives, especially the grandparents, but as we grew older it was no longer as much fun as we had to do all the household chores.

    I haven’t really been to visit since my teenage years but I look forward to going to Ijebu this week, my grandfather passed on and his funeral is slated for next week.

    For me there is no more ‘going to the village’ and I want to avoid that for my children. I live in Abuja and have bought a piece of land on the outskirts of town to build a house for my mother (my Dad has passed on), the longest distance to go visiting for me will just be from AMAC to Karu. Abeg I can’t shout.

  9. nammy

    February 2, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Hardly ever go to my village, would rily love to go more often but I didn’t grow up with that habit and I can’t even speak the language. The few times av gone wasn’t fun Cldnt wait to get back to town where there is light, water nd network. Rada sad.

  10. Hawtie!

    February 2, 2015 at 12:46 pm

    @Alfredm the time you wasted typing that crap about her articles not being interesting would have been enough for you to start a very interesting one of your own. Mtcheeew. Back to the marra. My two parents are from the east. from the same state infact.so we have always travelled home for xmas. once its 22nd December we have reached Village, when i was a kid it was fun cos I didn’t have to clean or cook, but once I reached my teen years, I started dreading it, You would go to a dusty house occupied only 10 days in a whole year. You would dust, scrub, mop, weed, cook on firewood, serve food to everybody u see, whether you like them or not, You would be forced to smile at aunties and uncles whom you don’t even know. As a girl in my village staying away from your village during Xmas or new year either meant you were hiding something, (a pregnancy out of wedlock, or you were living with a man). Since I started working in another state , I have been managing to dodge the lengthy stay at the village. I travel to my parent’s place of residence on the 25th, come back to my place on the 26th, travel to the village on the 31st, come back on the 2nd. This year I might not even go back at all. I would start thinking up a very good excuse from November so they wont be surprised if i don’t come. The mere thought of roasting myself by the firewood in the name of cooking puts me off sef. As I was doing the cooking and serving last year, I promised myself it would be the last time biko. Its not just worth the stress.

    • Alfredm

      February 2, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      OK

  11. Chi

    February 2, 2015 at 12:47 pm

    Hi Atoke, I like how you can pull stories out of thin air and write an intelligent, fun story…it’s a cool gift. You should write a book soon. Cheers

  12. funmilola

    February 2, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    My dad is from ijebu,my mum is from edo……..I’ve been to my hometown once strictly for burial,my mum’s place for grandpa’s birthday.
    But you know the kind of stories we hear about villages ba,flying witches and all who never want you to do well,so you’ll rather go there when you are fully made.
    The good side of going to your hometown is that it unites the family,especially a large one that’s got numerous aunties n uncles.

  13. nwanyi na aga aga

    February 2, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    As a typical Igbo girl, i visited my village annually, sometimes bi-annually or semi annually when i was a kid. Sometimes we go during August meeting if my mum is the country. it helped that we had a ten room duplex with three large parlors in the village.. never mind that we lived in a three bedroom rented apartment for a very long time in the city.. lol! For all my extended family Christmas was mandatory, we wined and dined, xmas was heaven on earth at the time, everybody came back if you couldnt, you were pitied…. then one day I grew up and got this job in Lagos and in this job there was no xmas break, I wept, i fell ill my spirit was down, a friend tried to show me the beauty of lagos, but how could i see it when my younger bro kept updating his fbk pics with caption ‘At Onyema’s trad’ Family is the best’ then goes on to post pictures of my coolest cousins and kindred.. the next year was sad but i coped,and the year after that, then last year after I had lost all hope of ever obtaining my leave for xmas.. Jesus heard my heart wrenching cry.. I was granted this leave.. *Tears* i danced like a little puppy, I called all and sundry and told them i would be back, I started laughing like a Lagos big girl,Loool! I changed all my money to ‘mint’. And on the 12th of Dec I flew home chai! I grooved east, i traveled to and fro east -lag twice between 12th and 28th, the road trip with my friends was the best, Chai! * tears* i visited everybody, the shout of welcome i received was enough for me, i toured all the towns in Anambra with a childhood friend who had been in Germany for just 2years o, that one was nearly weeping with joy..Loool!, we drove and drove, even my dad didn’t feel like stopping me, he watched me amused at my child like excitement.. when 28th arrived, i wept cos there were so many grooves i was yet to attend, myriads of traditional ceremonies, weddings, house openings..*sighs* but every good thing must come to an end.. ATOKE I dont think my family will ever stop the tradition of traveling to the village, my married siblings still bring back their kids to the house, We always keep the village house on point..Most times when i seek for a new job, I keep asking, hope they go on Xmas break…Hahahahaha. I have started praying this year, God will do it again.. he will give me the opportunity to travel for xmas this year again and stay till 2nd January 2016 .. (Claps hands together in pious supplication) Amen!

    • solumkenechechukwu

      February 2, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      @nwanyi na aga aga…I am jealous. I come from a small family where everybody is just doing their own thing. I actually hate xmas because I feel the emptiness and the impact even more. By God’s grace, hubby-to-be’s family would be like urs. I love ur family…Happy Vals!!!

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      February 2, 2015 at 2:24 pm

      That’s what I’m saying! 🙂 *claps hands with you in pious supplication and shouts a might “AMENNNN” *

    • bbz

      February 2, 2015 at 8:32 pm

      awww you are so cute. look at me almost crying on your behalf and praying that they must to grant you a vacation break at that time of the year again oo, infact every year sef!

      Hahahaa i deff enjoyed reading your write up… Captivating!

  14. Toma

    February 2, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    I love this topic Atoke! While growing up, we went to our ‘hometown’ every Christmas and new year o, and we had so much fun oh my gosh! Plenty food, parties, cousins we only see once year, nice cool weather, no traffic congestion, and just the joy of reckless abandonment of life’s worries for one week…just remembering these give me nostalgia jare. and like you, it was later i realised that not everyone goes home annually. In fact my friends couldn’t understand the fun of ‘village’, i invited a few at some point and they kinda understood why cos they enjoyed it too. I have since left home but my folks still go all the time. I could go on and on but lemme stop here!!

  15. Mz Socially Awkward...

    February 2, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    Dear, dear Toksy, please don’t allow me to start waxing lyrically about the many joys that were rediscovered in the serenity of village life, when I visited recently … *sighs wistfully at the memories*

    If I could title any article focused on our traditional and rural communities, I would call it “A Past We’ve Left Behind”. All neglected to make way instead for new customs of vacationing in Disney Land over the summer and skiing on the Swiss or French slopes during winter, none of which are ruinous adventures in themselves but … permit me to describe to you what little pleasures may lie in wait when one goes back “home”.

    There’s something about the air in the village that would rival any crispness gained from ascending to the aforementioned Alps and sharpens your appetite, causing you to forget your dietary “don’ts” as you consume smooth white mounds of pounded yam with steaming bowls of soup that were cooked with ingredients fresh from the farm.

    There’s something about time which seems to stand still as you wake up to each day with no deadlines, no burdening need to beat traffic on your rush to anywhere, no tick list of the million things you have to do in 24-hours, so that you can instead stretch out on the beaten sofa in your veranda to (finally) finish that novel and dose off at intervals in the lulling breeze.

    There’s something about the people and the simplicity of their lives, many of whom are genuinely happy to see you as they recommend where you can get the best palm wine in the area and directions on how to get from Ikeduru to Uli so that you can avoid the worst roads. I love the way they come visiting with a bucket of oranges or some other produce, happy to catch you up on the goings-on in the community since you’ve been away and proudly informing you that the son who used to attend the State-run University is now a graduate, due to be called up for his Youth Service any moment now. It’s a rare joy, as well, to engage in so many real human conversations during your time there without having to rely on social media applications to conduct at least 50% of it.

    The smell of food cooking on firewood; the women heading past on bicycles with their children sat on the pillion; the glandess on the faces of distant relatives as you drive into their compounds; the parish church where the service is conducted entirely in Igbo… Little wonder why my mother calls me a “village girl who was born in the city”. And you need not imagine that your visit home will be an entirely rustic experience – Airtel continued to provide great data services everyday and we bought one of those boutique channel pack from DSTV to keep us in touch with the outside world throughout. Plus the “Father” in the church may have spoken Igbo throughout the core service but he exhibited a fluent grasp of the English Language after Holy Communion rites ended and the donations campaign for the end-of-year Harvest began…

    I’m not refuting the recent evils of materialism and crime that has seeped into rural life in the last few years (and which explains exactly whey a lot of Easterners stopped traveling homeward for a while) but we shouldn’t overlook the tangible benefits gained from keeping in touch with “home” and that community that forms a lot of our backgrounds.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      February 2, 2015 at 2:17 pm

      P.S: Exploring the dynamics of cuture and tradition sounds like a great idea, especially within our generation and the next. Are the articles going to be published on this blog or some other medium?

      P.P.S: My mother’s the twin to your mum in that obssession of just furnishing the village crib like it’s her (or our) everyday abode. I am making grand plans to go and “thief” all the benin masks and other nice artefacts from there, once I have my own house …

    • slimie

      February 2, 2015 at 7:39 pm

      Reading your comment garnished with Atoke’s post with large spread of memories. I love and I still cherish those beautiful awesome moments. You’re so right about the food and the fresh undiluted fresh air. With the “Lagos girl” things. I feel you.

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      February 2, 2015 at 9:58 pm

      🙂 Truly, the food is always on point.

  16. Tosin

    February 2, 2015 at 3:14 pm

    First of all, you are gifted. How you can just come up with topics, eh?
    Village: we don’t go. But I’m a villager at heart. I don’t know how to explain it, but nowadays I take a road trip and you know how there’d be an old person whiling the hours away sitting perfectly still in front of a cracked mud hut while the cars drive by? That attracts me. It repels some people.

  17. Tru

    February 2, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    Growing up, we travelled to the village every year. those were fantastic times. The journey alone by road was a marvellous adventure. My grandparents were still alive and everywhere was safe, so much safer than Lagos.
    Then the horrible commercial kidnappings and wave of crimes started, and it’s never been the same since. Today, I travel only when I ABSOLUTELY have to (and by absolutely, I mean it’s a trip I can’t wriggle out of 🙂 ). Pity though.

  18. patrice

    February 2, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    Thanks Atoke for the write up, and thanks to all who shared, I love all your stories. I left nigeria as child, and after 20 years i have been coming home trying to familarise myself with home. for the past 10 yrs i have been coming i have been to my home town ondo 3 times. i loved every minutes of it. i have also been to kwara to see my aunt, where she ia teacher at oke onigbin i spent 4 days, it was great i love the quietness, being spoilt silly with tantalising delicacies. I love chatting with my cousins, for a moment i forgot the hussle and bussle of london life.

    i would love to come back and settle in nigeria.

  19. D

    February 2, 2015 at 3:34 pm

    I was so crushed at the results of last nights game. The things that went through my mind and the emotions I experienced that last couple minutes…So sad.!!!

    Anyway, the talk of going home brought back some pleasant memories, it’s interesting how you forget about somethings and only remember the not so good until something happens to trigger them. We did not “go home” for a long while growing up but for a period of about 2-3 years while in Secondary School we went home every Christmas, my dad is very home person so he built a quite a few houses there. My mum is from lagos so nothing to go home too but my dad who is from a large family has always gone home sometimes on a monthly basis. We just never went, then one of my cousin’s got married in the village one Christmas and we went with my dad and had so much fun, my late uncle who was a chief I guess held an annual Christmas party for the family and everyone was there that year because of the wedding, men it was mad fun. Prior to this we had never really known any family member, the few we knew were from my mum’s side. My cousin’s father (His mum is my aunt) lived a neighboring village and although there was nothing like basic infrastructure in this village, it was the highlight of our visit . We actually got to go to the farm, ate so much pounded yam, drank water from a natural refrigerator (Local Calabash left out overnight covered). Pretty much experienced how a true farmer lived. We had crazy fun. But my cousin became abusive to his wife and then went their separate ways and that was the beginning of the end of our home visits (my father did not want my cousin around anymore, he had a new woman every time). Then my late Grand mother although she loved her son (my father) she did not make our stay enjoyable at all. Giving us nasty food, till today I cannot eat agidi because of that woman. She scarred me for life.

  20. FunkyW

    February 2, 2015 at 4:07 pm

    I come from Lagos state and I have papers that say I’m from Ikeja (because it was easier to get the papers from that local govt , my siblings have a different LG) . Ikeja is a city, so I don’t have a village, I’ve never been to my mum’s village in Igbogila (her dad died early and there’s no real home there)
    But trust me, my current house has many attributes of a village house and I love it. We have space for planting so many things, its a private estate on the outskirts of Lagos that has just about 35% of its land already been built on, fresh vegetables, palm wine, little or no generator noise… but the only downside is commuting to work from there.
    I don’t really miss not having a village cause I can already understand the serenity comes with having a peaceful space to call home.

  21. Frances Okoro

    February 2, 2015 at 4:15 pm

    We never visited the village while we were growing up. Aside from “once once journey”.
    It’s the same thing now, popsi may send things to granny but as for visiting, once in a blue moon.
    Why? I’m not sure…

  22. Misc person

    February 2, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    I have decided to use a fake email and name that do not exist because I do not want to be identified. What I have to share is traumatic. We had the best times as kids growing up going to our village in the Niger Delta. We went there about every weekend. We maintained farms in hte village and my parents sourced our yams, plantains, garri and bushmeat from the village. I learned how to process pap from working the farms. I learned how to make garri. I learned how to know well fermented garri that is cyanide free to save my thyroid. I learned about all kinds of bush meat. I learned how to uproot cassava , peel it, grind it and ferment it in bags to make garri. I learned how to watch for snakes in the bush. I learned how to carry a “20 liter” jerrycan on the back of a blackhorse bicycle. Yes, I learned about white horse and blackhorse – for those of you familiar with village terrain. Every CHristmas and Easter was heaven. We went home and watched new dances hosted by the village kids. We dressed up and went to the village square. everyone was happy to see everyone. Until it fell apart. Starting in about 1999, with the entrance of democracy, our village society changed. That first cadre of politicians hired the jobless local kids and armed them with weapons to terrorize opponents. Killing was still abnormal at the time. After elections, the kids were not demilitarized. Welcome to the new era. Our country home became a hot spot for them to raid. They would steal plates, cutlery and even plasticware. There was a time predating 1999 when they went to the house and tried to steal the carpet. Unfortunately it was glued to the floor. In anger, they slashed it into multiple pieces. WE felt violated. I felt there was so much hatred in the act that I did not feel safe going to the village. Back to the era of democracy – they removed light fixtures and everything with a screw on it; anything that was not cemented did not survive. Initially, the violence seemed targeted at only our community. Then people will look at us as if we were making up stories to avoid the village. Then the era of political killing started. THe first few bodies rolled and then our communities now became split into gangs – think popular gangs in Port Harcourt for the names. The gangs fought each other routinely. This continued unabated. Every election season they got stronger and bolder. They turned against their masters in many instances. They grew wings and commandeered authority and presence by force. The young female citizens joined. They now had their own violent trail riddled with prostitution. Now to go to this once serene place, you have to go only because someone you care about died and you ABSOLUTELY need to be there. Been talking to some older ladies recently – the mamas as they transitioned out to the US and to othher parts of the world to live with their kids. They say they vacated their villages about 6months to 1 year ago and they have been with me in the garden city and I did not know. They are no longer at ease. Some think the next visit home would be in their caskets. The bandits now ride about town on bikes like the biker gangs we watch on US films, waving their AK47s in the air, three boys to one bike in a show of power. That is my village. I fear so much I wont mention names. We are in the Niger Delta and we are near the garden city. WE are so marginalized nobody talks about our plight. So you will never read about it in the papers. So I steal this one moment to write about it through my eyes on bella. I hope she publishes it.

    • D

      February 2, 2015 at 7:22 pm

      wow!!! glad you have the opportunity to tell your story and the story of those around you using this medium. I am astounded, it just shows how sometimes we can exist in our own little bubbles.

    • Mz Socially Awkward....

      February 2, 2015 at 9:55 pm

      I want to say Eleme or Ogoni especially because of all the good produce you spoke of from your farms… but I’m not sure because the gangs that were armed during the elections appear to have come more from the lowlands of the Niger-delta, nearer the creeks…

      Village life has definitely been corrupted by greed and misplaced energies of the youth. I’m sorry to hear your experience; it must have been so traumatic to have a place you call your home and built memories in, assaulted by vandals.

    • Ib

      February 5, 2015 at 2:09 am

      We’ve got Peter Odili to thank for that. Only God knows how that man can go to bed at night with all the atrocities he committed in Rivers State.

  23. Jagbajantis

    February 2, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    As a kid, in the 80s, we travelled to the village twice a year – at Easter and then during Christmas. It was a glorious era. It would usually be a road trip of about 6-7 hours. Then roads were decent, and the only airport in that region of Nigeria was Port Harcourt airport which was a bit over an hour from my village. So it didnt make sense to fly. I remember the following fun things:

    1. Stopping over at Benin to see my cousins for about 20 minutes. Then at Umunede where they had plantains the size of a gorilla’s congo, as well as yams so huge that it is a wonder why Nigeria is not the food basket of the world.

    2. I and my siblings breaking into the Niger River song whenever we approached the Niger bridge at Asaba to cross over to Onitsha (I, Niger, Benue, Congo, Orange, Limpopo, Zambezi!)

    3. Buying the akara of life at Onitsha. Have you ever tried an Akara Do-nut, or a Bean Cake Taco? Think akara with eggs, fish and corned beef inside. Combine that with Onitsha bread, and you have a burger to rival anything Burger King or Smash Burger can muster

    4. Arriving our house at the village to the song and dance of my grandparents and some of the villagers. Admist wails of “Jagbajantis you have grown so much. E wurala agadi nwoke (you are now an old man now o).” Then village children looking at us longingly for treats, as we produced boxes of cabin we had bought for them at Benin (Iyayi filling station store)

    5. The sounds of knock-outs (fire-crackers), rifles and cannons on Xmas days morning, and everyone being told by my folks to go downstairs to my grandparent’s apartment and say Merry Xmas to our papa and mama. Cue the intense prayers from grandpa – enough to make a goose start laying golden eggs or bring our rain back.

    6. The whiff of freshly roasted goat in a broth of yam and peppersoup known as “miri oku ji”. That was the Xmas day standard breakfast. Then going to church, before coming back to jollof rice. Then evening Xmas parties with attendees made up of uncles, cousins, relatives, well-wishers or anyone who wanted the awoof of a free meal.

    7. Loads of Xmas events – like iwa-akwa (wearing cloth/coming of age ceremony), mbomuzo (Go-crazy carnival), ibankwus (traditional weddings). It was a 2 week party-fest back then. I was to young to appreciate all of it, but I knew it was something special to have a home-stead.

    Then grandpa died in the mid-90s and the economic hardships of Nigeria in the 90s stopped us going frequently in the 90s. The first Christmas I came to the village after my grandad had passed away was the worst. Then I was in my teens, and the village didnt look like a happy go-lucky urbanite’s playyard anymore. I became more aware of village politics, kinship struggles and the social-economic class system that makes men monsters.

    I still go to the village to this day as much as I can – at least once a year. Not as frequently as my childhood days. I try to teach my kids about their heritage and their culture, and let them know that they are of kings and queens, and we were not savages swinging from vine to vine before the white-man came. There was a system of checks and balances, and we had traditions and our own form of civilization.

    I find that more and more people are moving to the villages, or spending more time between there and the urban areas. The pressures of citylife can be crippling. We now have DSTV, mobile phone coverage, internet access in my village. Who would have thought this in the 80s/90s. I watched an EPL game between Arsenal and Liverpool at a kai kai (local alcholic beverage) joint last time I was there. Who would have thunk it.

    But just for one moment, sometimes I wish I could go back to that period in the 80s. When my grandparents were both al

  24. Gorgeous

    February 2, 2015 at 6:21 pm

    So we that come from Lagos now nko? Una no gree we enjoy our own village o. As una no gree stay your village. mtscheew.

    • Gorgeous

      February 2, 2015 at 6:32 pm

      Anyway let me relive some moments when we lived outside Lagos and used to come to Lagos for holidays. I loved the fact that the fishermen always provided very fresh fish. aka obokun. I can still spill my last drop of blood for obokun. I miss the street parties, i miss partying all night long. I miss the eyo masquerades who will come and flog all the youth and scam the old into parting with their money. I miss going to family friends and cousins houses and not being able to eat, while pretending to have just eaten. What about when visiting the older generation, it was always guaranteed to see two calabashes tied to their door’s even when they claimed to be strict christians or muslims.
      What about the fact that no matter how wealthy, we preferred and loved our grandparents tight living conditions. I miss being able to buy akara, puff puff or ewa agoyin right by the road side. I miss waking up to the smells of agege breag or senega bread in my grandparents house. I miss dunking that bread in very sweet tea on cold mornings. I miss that even though we were in the thick of the city, life was so safe and carefree. I miss the gossips of the older people about whose child got arrested for carrying drugs abroad, who was doing well. Please note, a normal village gist would have been who stole whose corn, but we are talking about Lagos here. My people waka far.
      I miss the oriki’s my grandma will spit on us every morning, it took hours to get through the mornings after all the grandkids were prayed for. I miss my grandfather looking on lazily, the handsome, tall man who was the only one that could put my grandma (very saucy little lady) in line. What about his whips, which he would not spare to whip everyone, us, my grandma and father and uncles included if anyone should get out of line :D. Oooh, the life of a city village called Lagos. LMAO

  25. babe

    February 2, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    i come from a very large close nit family we love going to the village and spending time with each other i am just 19 i don’t think i would ever stop going to the village even when i have kids i am so close to my cousins they are my friends its an indescribable feeling that i wish for everyone to experience its sad when i hear people say they don’t know their relatives or go to the village for me every christmas is a celebration of love and family i wouldn’t trade it for anything and i know they feel the same

  26. Shaded

    February 2, 2015 at 8:40 pm

    Aww I share all the nostalgia. It’s amazing though that while we come from different villages, memories of them are similar.

    However the part of living in a rented and cramped house in the city while having a mansion in the village that at most you spent 2 weeks staying in for one year got to me.

    It just sounds so much like misallocation of capital and well-being. Is it not better to be comfortable where you live and bring up your kids. Of course our parents had their good reasons for doing that but looking at it now seems wrong as many of them did not it can’t go back. And even for those that did, their kids are not going back to live in the mansions.

    Too many abandoned mansions.

    • Ada Owerri

      February 3, 2015 at 1:58 am

      Serious misallocation o. I was discussing that recently with a friend. Then again if you are Igbo you will appreciate it’s roots- Biafran war. When those who built homes in the cities they lived/worked lost it to the indigenes hence the advice to build first in your own Home.

  27. Sisi

    February 2, 2015 at 8:57 pm

    This article and the comments just made my night. Relieving those memories, sigh

  28. hawttalkwithtosan.blogspot.ca

    February 2, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Uh? You mean there are still villages in Nigeria where there are no witches waiting to suck your blood because you have a successful career in the city or because you bought your mother a bag of rice. So these are all made up in the home videos?

  29. Chinco

    February 2, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    Nice write up Atoke

  30. Ada Owerri

    February 3, 2015 at 2:05 am

    Some of the comments here are making me nostalgic. Childhood was certainly happy. Unfortunately the cousins I played with grew up, married and grew apart. I still look forward to going home and seeing my aunties and uncles. And fear of juju be damned, I will eat from whom I will.

    Atoke, I think the young men are not building because their father has already built the family home.

  31. kindred-spirit

    February 3, 2015 at 2:26 am

    Atoke, you know how to call out to the deep.
    I absolutely love all the good memories people have about their villages. I feel nostalgic for something I only ever had in my imagination.
    I was once asked to write an essay about a festival in my village for school and I concocted this beautiful event based on stories I had read from Intensive English. The unrest in the Niger Delta, kidnappings and political hustle makes it an unsafe place to be.
    Right now, we try to create our little piece of village wherever we find ourselves and come together as a family.
    Looks to me like our native language and cultures are in dire need of resurrection. Let’s not forget about the effect of the church on our traditions…*sighs* (PS: I’m a christian).
    As for this Super Bowl business, just give me the halftime show and keep the game. I wonder if I’ll ever be Americanized enough for their football.

  32. Author Unknown

    February 3, 2015 at 4:24 am

    I don’t have any village experience, and I’ve never for one day in my adult life felt like I was missing out on anything. I am as traditionally cultured growing up in the City of Lagos as any Nigerian raised in the countryside. If you were born or raised in Lagos of non-Lagosian parents, chances are Lagos has embraced you as its own. Why people choose to love their ancestral homeland over where they make a living and use up its resources beats me.

  33. May Kay

    February 3, 2015 at 6:10 am

    I always pride myself in my home. Not just home Nigeria but my village. It’s always my joy to travel home and be with family – all under the same roof. No stress of work, deadline, rent, etc. At that moment in time (or period) life is just perfect. I live for this feeling.
    Is it December yet? 🙂
    #smalllondon #abiribagirl

  34. patrice

    February 3, 2015 at 7:43 am

    oh yes village and city life in the 70s and 80s were a lot of fun. things were much simpler, and it goes to show that money is not every thing. I remember going to the village with my grandmother in Ondo town during my summer holiday from boarding school as my parent were abroad in uk. My Grandmother would use my vacation as opportunity to go and sell her materials to the villagers so we would rise up early and do the rounds, then after that we would go to her farm, where i would watch her harvest her yams and fresh corn. I would sit and wash as i was only 5 or 6 years and play with the insects. Later we would return home where she would prepare the most delicious efo elegusi with snail or periwinkles. Some of my summers were spent with my uncle and aunt in Lagos, despite the fact she would wake me up early at 5am to clean the house with the maids while her children were still asleep to clean the garage, There were things I loved about being in Lagos, the numerous parties that were held on street to the early hours of the morning ( those party road block where people did not worry about armed robbery or Nepa taking light, even as kids were allowed to stay up late and danced all night, the ice cream vans, that my uncle will call over that sold hot peanuts or ice cream. We would watch all the black and white plays baba sala or those village plays.
    I remember buy adalu from hacker( beans and corn wrapped in the banana leave).
    Even its many years ago and I have been in the uk for a long time. I still miss those days

  35. ada

    February 3, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    nwanyi na aga aga. You cracked me up with tears on my lids. We often traveled home for Christmas although it wasn’t fun especially the trip down there. For me it was very awful cos I was almost always on my period at that time. Horrible!!! Once I started working, I had an excuse not to travel. However for some reason, I’ve recently picked interest in going to the village to spend at least 5 days during the Christmas holiday.

  36. mystique

    February 3, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    @ may kay, feeling u seriously, love our small london!!

  37. Iamme

    February 3, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    But they are thought-provoking!!!!

  38. Nife

    February 3, 2015 at 6:45 pm

    The highlight of my trip to my village has to be my grandma dancing and singing immediately my father’s volks wagon beetle enters the family compound. She will sing our Oriki and dance barefooted, and we could hear the loud sound of the mortal and pestle at the back yard. Cheii Pounded yam and very bad okro goes down almost immediately we step down from the car. Our cousins who stay in osogbo which is just like 20 minutes to Ibokun would have gotten there b4 us, we roam the nooks and cranies of our beloved town. Ita Oba, then come Christmas day we visit all family members home just to collect 10naira here and there which we share. I miss those days. Everyone is grown now and engaged. Visited hubby’s hometown in Ekiti this Christmas and I was able to re-live those days. Fun fun fun!!!

  39. babygiwa

    February 3, 2015 at 10:00 pm

    Awwwwwww, Atoke dear, deep calleth to deep. I don’t even know where to start from. I’m from Epe in Lagos but i have never been to Epe. I grew up in Lagos island and as much as others see it as the commercial hub of Lagos, i see it as my own place, my own village. So many beautiful memories that i can’t even begin to type out. @alfredm, nah. Atoke is a deep writer, she’s getting better like fine wine. Everyone should have a beautiful week

  40. Asmau

    June 4, 2015 at 2:05 pm

    HI, this is my first time of reading ur article. i am a Yoruba girl, both parents from Ogbomosho. i spent my whole life in the North and even schooled there. i speak hausa fluently more than i speak yoruba. the worst part is we claim we are from the North with an indegene. certificate for one of the Northern states. this baffles me now because i hate the fact that i claim a northern state, i recently vistited Ogbomosho and i loved the place, i felt like i hve finally found home but the thing is most of my family members actually prefer the North to my beloved Ogbomosho. the thing is we have a very big family house their and only one very old uncle living there, then also my maternal grand mother who moved back home when her husband died. i wish we could all move back to Ogbomosho cos i feel we actually have a chance to get to know the place but i seem to be the only one who feels that way. i am about to marry a Northerner, i have changed my state to Oyo state but i dont have anything to show for it and its really sad. i wish things turned out differently, i wish i got the chance to visit as a child to eat Amala and Ewedu soup like you did.

    • Atoke

      June 4, 2015 at 2:26 pm

      *hugs*

      Yes, a lot of Ogbomosho people are actually ‘from’ Niger State – Paiko, Minna, Kagara, Mariga. Others are predominantly in Jos and Gombe.

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