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Esco: I Got It From My Mama & Papa



In the first years of my youth, I was told by certain insensitive adults that I would grow up to be a short man.  If that was not an oxymoron, I don’t know what is. Their reason for such crass talk? My mum is about 5 foot 5 inches tall, and my dad is shorter. My siblings were not tall either. Taking a family portrait, we all looked like Igbo Smurfs.

But sometimes genes and talents skip a generation – and certain traits and faults do too. On my father’s side of the family, the men tend to add weight easily around their torso.  My grandfather was a rolling stone, and I mean that quite literally. On my mum’s side, individuals are blessed with good frames and bone structure – cheek bones, proportional limbs and square shoulders. They are also very book-smart. However, baldness and receding hairlines are the flip side of their coin.

So in secondary school, when I hit my teenage years, many of the above traits from my mum and dad’s contrived to create a mish-mash of a messy pottage. The result would have made Frankenstein proud.

There I was, in the sullied whites of my secondary school uniform – large bellied with slim limbs, massive nose, a shortish height, a 90s Vanilla Ice high-top hair-cut and the early signs of widows peak. I had the dimples of life, but it was surrounded by teenage acne which became oils wells on contact. I was somewhat intelligent, but not academically brilliant.

And oh, did I mention that I wore glasses – a heritage of my father’s side. Big horn rimmed, coke-bottled spectacles which were always bent out of shape because I dozed off in them. I ended up tying them with a shoe string.

I could have developed a Napoleon complex. Luckily and co-incidentally I found creature comforts in other worldly pursuits like playing video games (especially Streetfighter 2 and ISS) hip-hop, and goofing around with my school click – The Pentagon Pound. In my day, you could not afford to wallow in your physical insecurities as you would be eaten for breakfast by banter throwers. I held up quite well.

Back then, there was no Skype, no hiding behind Blackberry or Whatsapp chats or social media. You had to go out there, and put yourself out there, or remain a crab in the hole forever. Get the wind behind your back, so to speak.

After I finished secondary school, I spent an involuntary gap year (imposed by JAMB and strikes) at home before I went off to University. To kill boredom, I ate everything moving. It drove my ma bonkers.

But then something else happened – I experienced a growth spurt like no other. It was like I looked in the mirror, and transformed from being a “short engine” to about 6 feet tall. My grandfather’s genes came through – he was a Goliath, as village champions come. Oh, and my forehead acne cleared.

So good times, and as Sean Carter rhymed, my situation could be summed as thus:

My gear is in and I’m in the in-crowd
And all the wavy light skinned girls are loving me now
My self-esteem went through the roof – man, I got my swag

As crazy family genes go, it appears that for every gift, there is a concession.

There is the famous Esco Family sheen – we appear to be blessed with a certain glow inherited from our progenitors who discovered the merits of cassava soap (I kid, I kid). My grandmother on my father’s side who was said to be a hot chick in her day centuries ago, aged very well. Even on my dad’s sickbed before he passed on, people who came to see him refused to accept that he had cancer. He looked relatively fresh till his final moments.

And because my pops had cancer, it is something I have to look out for. I will need to have my prostrates checked annually from age 40 onwards – an excruciating and very humbling  procedure.  I also have to keep an eye on my carbs and sugar intake to stave off diabetes – which used to be a family special in my maternal family tree. Heck, I even dropped my cigarette habit half a decade ago, and I have not had a St Moritz in years.

There is also artistic streak in my blood. Otaakara, my daughter, is already pretty handy with Crayola, and has a photographic memory that equals the motion grounds of OAU. I have always had a keen interest in calligraphy, content development and creativity. My mind works 24/7 . I am not able to sleep without dreaming.  Good for wet dreams – horrible for nightmares.

My old man was a super speech-writer and popular choice for chairman of events, as he was capable of captivating and moving an audience with his words. He also had a slick tongue that could mortally injure, if he reprimanded you. My cousin twice removed earns serious corn as a UK based photographer and videographer with a weekend DJ side gig. Another cousin is a super skilled musician, who unfortunately came up in the wrong era. Certain members of the extended family discouraged his pursuit of a music career, as back then everyone crassly wanted their children to study law, medicine, finance or engineering.

These days, I still have this huge girth to contend with. I suffer Nutty Professoritis, as my metabolism is all over the place. One week you could see me in my Buddy Love stance, then the next month I would have added 30 pounds and be plump like the Klumps. Wellness and health management for any gender is a lifelong campaign. Sometimes you lose 5 pounds, and gain 10, and vice versa. Fat can be like those demons described in the Bible; when you cast out one, if you backslide in faith, he returns back manifold. Well, at all, at all, na him bad pass.

I got sick of feeling like a deflated wheel in the streetcar called desire. I also discovered that sleep apnea is the cousin of death. So I started this 24 day cleanse program last month and have dropped over 10 pounds so far, and gained some major muscle. Check out more information here

The nature of genes is learning how to work with the hardware you are blessed with, and calibrate the supposed “bugs” by action and supplication. No seed of man has no choice over his parents, fore-bearers or constitution.

Trivia in closing: If a cockroach accidentally makes contact with a human being, it scurries away somewhere and cleans itself. Let that sink in for a bit.

Caught a glimpse of myself in the Barney’s shop window/
Kind of  see my father’s features creeping  in a little/
Got an office on Broadway, business in Jamaica/
Tell my daughter to  try the hardest so the best schools will take her/

Nas, War (2004)

Photo Credit: Dreamstime | Mimagephotography

Fellow Nigerians, it is with the utmost pride and sincerity that I present these memoranda as a living testament and recollection of history in the making during our generation. Preamble: Esco is a lampoonist, content provider for hire, and convener of the blog Literati: Satires On Nigerian Life, which is a symposium to project the conditions of every Nigerian and inspire young people all over the world. He is currently working on his memoirs “The Great, Wonderful Adventures of Esco”, which will be available in 2016. Esco can be reached for scripting writing, ghost writing and editing work by email at [email protected] Oh, and he occasionally tweets at @Escowoah.


  1. beauty

    December 10, 2015 at 11:45 am

    My father’s features are all over me. He was quite a stunner in his prime!


    December 10, 2015 at 11:48 am

    What about Kpwom-Kpwem? whose genes did she inherit? Your described your sis so endearingly in one motivating post of yours about how “e go better”…
    Daddy when shall i go and visit London bridge?
    Nothing to do with the topic, but Esco , your sister got a fan here. And i love the way u write about your family. If it’s not funny, it’s totally relatable.

  3. peyton

    December 10, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Genes aww mother’s side of the family has diabetes, propensity to be fat ( which is why I am overweight). The women have boobs which is a plus for me seeing my dad’s side was on the other side of the line when boobs were been shared. I inherited my dad’s stubborn nature, his love for books my mum’s kind heart. All in all my parents produced lovely kids. Its the reason I don’t worry if my husband to be isn’t a stunner, my parent’s genes will save our kids

  4. NIRA

    December 10, 2015 at 12:36 pm

    Found myself smiling and giggling as I read through this. Esco, you dey try with words abeg. I feel you my dear. Got good, youngish-looking genes from my dad’s side of the family, wish I’d gotten their full hair too cos I believe I’d have been bald-headed if I were a guy. Though my mum’s ppl can be fine for days!!! Guess I got some of that from them too. Thank Goodness I didn’t get their “nutty professoritis” LOL!!! Genes can be cruel or very kind to you depending on which part of your heritage you favour. If you’re lucky and both families are fine fine ppl, then you got nothing to worry about, except if one ugly recessive gene decides to rear its head while you were forming in the womb! LOL.

  5. mosdef

    December 10, 2015 at 1:05 pm

    🙂 i guess on both sides of my family the ”forever young” gene is on the high, however i fell short on the tallness compared to my pops he was 6ft 4inches (Rest on soldier 25yrs on)

  6. Mz Socially Awkward...

    December 10, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Silent chortle at “Igbo smurfs”… Your trivia at the end about the cockroach, though – I may be a little slow this morning but “perraps” I “dirrint gerrit”?

    You’re in the spirit as I’ve been thinking recently about what aspects of my mother and father I want to grow into as I steadily get older. My mother is very proactive, diligent, very compassionate (she is a real giver) but sometimes I find her rigid perceptions of certain issues quite tiresome. However, I must admit she has the most awesome relationships with her friends (my mother’s female friendships are something to be envied – some of them being over 40 years in the making and when you see the way these women stand, celebrate, share, mourn and laugh together… you’ll gain a new understanding of what it means to invest in relationships) and I love the continued closeness she, her siblings and even her cousins of various degrees share (again, enviable, especially when you compare it with my Dad’s family)… plus I have so much respect for the way she’s continued to plough as much hardwork into her career as she did 20 years ago, without letting age stop her. And she’s always up for a good time, just tell her where the turn-up is. 🙂 Those are all qualities I want to replicate in my life.

    From my dad… I’ll say that when he’s in the mood for it, he’s got a great sense of humour. As a young ‘un, Dad would read our Beano comics with us and knew how to crack “in” jokes with your friends. I often had people say to me, “your dad is so cool!” (especially the young lads who learnt new swear words from him as he’d fight traffic on the days it was his turn to carpool us impressionable children to UDSS… *side-eyes to him*). And he remains active like no man’s business… I think I get my propensity for staying physically fit from him plus his love for healthy eating/living (contrarily and despite my preaching on the subject, mumsie continues to love her chocolates and bottles of coke … whereas my father introduced me very early to the advantages of eating fish over meat and taking in plenty of veg). And he stays keeping his mind very sharp, even in his mid-late 60s. However, I don’t think my dad’s ever really grown up – last born sumtin – and he’s got a propensity to be tooooo laidback. As in, it troubles me when I see that trait cropping up in my own life and while I love his light-hearted attitude to life, I have to force myself to borrow from my mother’s “Mbaise sense” so I can override any tendencies of approaching life’s key issues with popsie’s outlook. And my father’s family relationships worry me – talk about a house divided against itself. Haba! Quarrel here, insult there, this side not talking to that side, certain cousins out of the loop for yearssssss on end. There’s way too much wrongness in the bunch of supposed blood relatives and it sometimes explains how removed he can be from even the issues in his own children’s lives. Plus he can hold on to money and grievances, both equally in a way that troubles the on-looking soul…

    So, balance is key. Keep mumsie’s drive, pragmatic attitude and softheartedness but also embrace popsie’s humour and genius. On the lighter side, I would like to thank my mum for such physical attributes as my well-rounded bum (apologies to any feminazis but since people are now paying to inject their own, make I kukuma dey grateful). As in, the woman just dash all her female pikins the sumtin… I’ll never forgot the day one of my (female) friends saw my mother at close range and was staring in fascination until the woman was out of earshot, to turn around and exclaim, “Your mama bum big oh!”. Didn’t know whether to be offended or to laugh but luckily, I chose the second option. 🙂 Although mama dearest continues to harass us, her daughters, about our “reduced capacity” in the chest region and she steadfastly heaps all the blame for that on my father’s side of the family… *side-eyes to her*

    • Mz Titilitious

      December 10, 2015 at 1:25 pm


    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      December 10, 2015 at 2:50 pm

      Okwa gini, enyi? Kedu ka imere? Echem onu di mma??

    • iyke

      December 10, 2015 at 3:25 pm

      @Mz Socially Awkward …..I knew it …I knew it …..I knew you have a big bum bum …..I knew it!And I actually love big bums and thick thighs.Big time sexual healing !
      I don’t care what you say, it’s my duty to please your booty! ……Yes I said it…
      poured myself a JD and wink at you …..

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      December 10, 2015 at 3:54 pm

      P.S (@ Esco) – lunch might have reignited my brain cells but I think I’ve now figured out your roach-related parable. Decide on what you want to stick and what you should dust off, okwa ya?

      If so, “yay”. If not, blame it on the cowleg stew… ?

    • Sugar

      December 10, 2015 at 4:44 pm

      Why did you write a whole research topic on this? this one pass Thesis o kilodeeeee is Ballanaija paying you?

    • ElessarisElendil

      December 10, 2015 at 6:43 pm

      Calm down, its the occasional oversharing that makes BellaNaija fun. Admit it, you read it…… enjoyed it…… dey form.

    • Mz Socially Awkward...

      December 10, 2015 at 5:58 pm

      *deep sigh* @Sugar, et al… would it be okay to allow us some of us have these introspective moments on BN, every once in a while? Is that okay for us to run the permissions by you? Biko, e jo, abeg…?

      Esco’s, Atoke’s (as she then was) and Isio’s articles are usually for the sort of participative introspection that BN used to be sought out for. With more of the celebrity reporting now in the mix to satisfy the tatafo side of us, when these rare opportunities to just generally gist among friends become presented, it puts some of us in the mood (@Iyke, not that kind of mood…) to have a natter. I can’t believe I’m having to explain the “whys” and “wherefore” of the comment but… ah well. Na so e come be.

      @Iyke, I’m going to blame it on the alcohol so that we can both move past this fairly uncomfortable moment. Replace all such thoughts with Holy Thoughts…. biko, enyi m nwoke…

    • Atoke

      December 11, 2015 at 12:39 am

      LOL the way you dey always dodge this Banana wey Iyke dey steady trowey go ya side gives me cause for concern. Lol *cue Spice Girls soundtrack* Let love lead the way….

    • Whocares

      December 11, 2015 at 11:09 am

      @Atoke, she is doing “hadouken plus some Keanu Reaves matrix moves with those comments. LMAOOOOOOOO

    • The real D

      December 10, 2015 at 6:23 pm

      @ Mz SA, looks like our parents share similar characteristics excluding the healthy living aspect. The holding on to money and grudges and the sense of humor is my dad 100%!!!. Few people that have had the opportunity of hanging with my dad always come away saying “wow you guys are lucky, I can hang out with your dad all day” but for healthy living ahhh my father is a “rolling stone” as Esco put it. He is a self professed carnivore.
      My mum on the other is the healthy one, and the social butterfly, unfortunately though she is the only child of my grandma, and she did not grow up with her 1/2 siblings, nevertheless, I envy the relationship she has with her cousin she was raised with. My mum makes the friends but my dad helps maintain the relationships because she is your typical extrovert, she is also a true and genuine giver, I have cousins that have said they look up to my mum as a role model for giving and we her kids do the same.

    • Duchess Maria

      December 10, 2015 at 6:33 pm

      I swear Ms. Sa’s comments always make me smile. This comment had me smiling up and dan. 🙂

  7. Nahum

    December 10, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    Both my mum and dad have amazing genes; tall, athletic, good looking with lots of hair. Let’s just say if it were not for my genes, I would have felt very sorry for my kids

  8. melinda

    December 10, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    esco baba, ure too much jare, my regards to your otaakara…..

  9. Zayt

    December 10, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Nice article! Would love to meet u ESCO , or even see what u look like..

  10. whocares

    December 10, 2015 at 2:20 pm

    lool. jheeeez MSA went in. LMAOO. Oh right up till I was 13 I favoured my father sooo heavily. It did not help that we both liked to take me to his barber and I sometimes rocked punk or “gorimapa” as the mood suited me *covers face*. thank heaves for growth spurt and my mama’s gene fought her way into it.. although I am ridiculously light skin as they both are so I mostly get the “o ku di e ko fin” comments a lot (an inch more and you will be an albino.. I think it is an exaggeration, but strangely enough most people think I am Ibo. I just claim it all. If you can help me, then yes, we are from the same state). lool. temperament wise its a mix as well. I blow hot and cold courtesy of both parents, so much so that I dont even understand myself sometimes. Sometimes I can be funny and charming and what not and other times I can be the ice queen itself robotic and conservative yet be so unconventional. it is well. I still refuse to forgive my father for making me think the trips to the barber was fun o. Really, that man made it seem like an excursion as we would make a day of it and so I looked forward to trips to the barber’s. lol. I got the full treatment he got. well the miniature one. see me rocking my gorimapa and ridiculous low cuts as if I was Naomi Campbell. And he did not have the decency to tell me I did not look good. I have hidden all pictures of me in that era sha. lool. they will never see the light of day.
    my love for literature however I dont know who to thank for that as neither parents are readers. Good food and beer ahhh we thank my father for that. If there is anything he knows it is food and I have inherited his propensity for sniffing out the best places to find good food or making my own. The amount of times as a kid I had to go and blend “coconut” to his satisfaction. lool. . My love for Guinness, other beers and alcohol in general. as well as my hollow leg. Thank you daddy 😛 Parents are not so bad afterall if you think about it.

  11. Aya Oba

    December 10, 2015 at 3:28 pm

    Very funny article and comments,i always look forward to esco’s articles.Now back to the topic,me I skipped my parents o and went straight to my grand parents, except my grandfather was very stingy which am not and even at 85 he could still solve maths,chemistry e.t.c,me I hate numbers sha,He was very skinny,which I am also and I hate it,family members even shout and call me grandpa when they meet me on the road,i dey vex sha anytime it happens.My grandma on the other hand had a very tiny waist ,she used to fold her wrapper at the waist level,all of us took that small waist,no mata how big ur hips is,tailor will still adjust dat waist,she also had a very gud heart and was very sacrificial,my dad says I took that from his mother.I took my love for flamboyant lifestyle from my mums side,those pple like life and they can scatter ground,tank God I don change,used to be a street fighter before and their ladies can like boys sha,i also took that from them.In total am d opposite of my dad and mum in character as they are very conservative and godly,me am just different but I can give for Africa like my mum and am very emotional like her,my dad rarely shows emotions,am scared when my nephew exhibits some of his fathers traits even as a baby. But we all took our beauty from our dad’s side, we are all very beautiful.Sorry for the long comment

  12. Tru

    December 10, 2015 at 3:44 pm

    Oyyy, “Igbo Smurfs” “Ate Everything that Moves” “OAU Motion Ground” Esco, only you. Very engaging article as always

  13. mrs chidukane

    December 10, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    I’m all my mom in looks. Strangers actually stop me and say how is your mom? It kept me on the straight and narrow when I was younger. I got my dad’s impatience, bad temper( I had to pray for God to help me change and he did) stubbornness, intelligence and love for books and reading. I also got his grey hair, he was almost fully grey at 33 and the grey hairs are increasing every year on my head and I love it. I got my mom’s love for cooking and entertaining and obsession with plates. I’m obsessed with plates. I also got Christian mother arms ( I have to watch my weight like a hawk) ,weak back, black heads (I’m winning the battle) , and beautiful hands and feet from her family.

  14. Tosin

    December 10, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    An astoundingly, mightily, good piece of writing. Thank you for sharing your (inherited) gifts.

  15. onyi dab

    December 10, 2015 at 5:07 pm

    Lol, infact eh, Lwkm at both d writeup n comments. Anyway, I collect from papa n collect from mama. But d one Wey pain me pass na say maale height finish for male children. Even till now, I dey wonder say if say I get dis height Wey my bros dem dey misuse, I for don use am win one of these beauty contests Wey dey here n dere. Popsi n momsi nose mix for my own; d result con b pointed n flat (pointed frm dad n flat from mom). Maale frontal head flat while back round n Popsi own generally round. D result b say my head shape like satellite dish but e balance for fine face sha *winks* fine legs from both. Exercise freak from momsi earlier years cos she dey high jump team for secondary school. I could go on and on but summary b say, I b combination of both genes.

  16. ElessarisElendil

    December 10, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    I was doing excellently, 6ft from the Father, brains from the Mother than I just had to go inherit my nose from my Grand-Father……..ruined everything!!

    Still love the old Man though.

  17. kristin

    December 10, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    My mother gave me her nose. I haven’t forgiven her yet.

  18. mabel

    December 10, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    Pictures needed. All the big bum bum and boobs, fine face, 2face and black n white face, ati bebelo

  19. Honeycrown

    December 10, 2015 at 11:40 pm

    I was so engaged reading this Beautiful article! Lately, I have realized and I’mcoming to terms with the genes I inherited from my father. He was bald and all his sisters have correct receding hairlines. Te mi ti officially bami!

  20. Fifi

    December 11, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    Big booby from my fathers side, eyes and pink lips from my mums side, everytin else is a mystery especially my fat(unhelathy ? Or punishment for laughing at yoruba girls and thier lanfu and brokoto pouch)

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