Tuesday, January 20, 2015

AMONG OTHER MYTHS, GARRI IJEBU IS NOT FROM IJEBU : MythBusterSeries (1)

Or is it?
I hear you can smell it in the air

Anyway, lots of people (the grand total of 1 person) have told me this post is boring, and for good measure, I have tried to liven it up as much as I could. I am certain it isn't as boring as it once was, but if you get bored. Well, I don’t know. Don’t get bored? I have started with a story maybe it will help.

My Da is a fairly funny sport. I discovered only recently while taking a stroll with him on the long stretch of dirt-road that leads out from his workshop to the expressway that feeds the rest of Ijebu-Ode; a semi-urban municipality in south-west Nigeria.


It had been a while since I was at the neighbourhood and lots had changed, mostly for the worse. There were new houses where we had lush green turfs naturally deployed as Soccer fields by the irrepressible youth population. Less farms and evergreen trees. The road was wider but riddled with waterlogged potholes the size of small lakes.

As we walked the muddy ground, gingerly avoiding stepping smack into a puddle of brown gooey mud cocktails, he stopped abruptly to look at a newly painted house to our left. His expression inquisitorial. His visage dissolving almost into a shock. The kind of expression you’ll find on an opponent’s face when he realized only too late he has been “family forked” by your ambitious knight.

I turned to look at him.

With his gaze still fixed on the house, he muttered to himself in Yoruba, “I didn’t know Mama Nurse was dead”.  It was my turn to be – and to look – confused. A quizzical glare plastered to my face.
He had turned to look at me and noticing the look I had on. He offered, “You see, this house is painted. It is newly painted. It only means someone has died here”, he paused to examine how my confused look had given way to a thin smile before he continued. “It is the only reason most of us around here repaint our houses”.

That pink house was Lilac last month - their kitty just died


He said with a confident finality, his thin eyes with slight wrinkles making a ring around them telling me to “trot on” as he resumed walking himself

It sounded like something only a mischievous teenager would fabricate, but it wasn't hard to believe him. He wasn't a teenager, mischievous no less. And because, as we continued our walk and I did a quick mental sweep of the times I spent growing up in the interiors of Ijebu, it was all I could do to keep from laughing raucously at the pictures that dotted the timeline reeling in my head. He probably didn't set out to make me laugh, but there I was stifling this laughter roaring in my belly.

It had never occurred to me that 4 of 5 times when a house was painted in Ijebu, someone – usually an old old one – has most probably died. The odd 1 out would be any other celebratory motivation ranging from wedding to conferment of traditional title or national honour. They simply just don’t paint their houses because the experts – like my freelance painting partner, D – believe it should be done every year. Either someone had died or done something proportionately – or almost proportionately – commemorative.

In this short narrative. Two myths have been disproved: 1) A personal level myth, that my Da was not funny; I wouldn't think in a bazillion years that he was capable of making a joke, no matter how serendipitously. 2) And the generalized imperceptible myth (at least until then) that houses in Ijebu just like in other “normal” climes are painted just because it had to be kept “spikkle sparkle”. I had never even actively thought about that until then.

That leads me nicely on to other myths – popular ones this time - about IJEBU which may have been taken to an illogical extreme and need disproving.

But where is the Garri Ijebu argument eh? You ask. Like the Social media content marketer said when she advertised an event 4 months before kick–off; Watch This Space.