From Primary To Tertiary, Here Is My Diary (Part 21)

From Primary To Tertiary, Here Is My Diary (Part 21)

23rd March 2024 NewsOrient
Books, Arts, Culture, News
By Dapo Thomas

The three subjects in which I scored above average had inspired me to start getting serious with my studies. Another inspiration came from my Yoruba teacher, Mr Isiaka Olaoye whose subject was among the three that I passed.

He monitored my activities with the noble intention to check my excesses and rascality.

Another inspiration was our first born, “Broda mi Sehinde”. This was about the second time I was seeing him. I saw him two years ago when he came for a short holiday in Iya Ibadan’s house.

These were the three sources of my new motivation. It was time to get serious because very soon, we would be writing our first school leaving certificate examinations.

Though as I said earlier, I was not doing this in other to further my education as I already mapped out my future career plans. I was doing this because of a new development. I visited Yaba again immediately I was promoted to Primary 6. This time I was on a general job hunting meaning I had started charting a career path for myself with my first school leaving certificate which I was yet to pass. I wanted to do some spade work before I finished primary 6.

Though I had my Oga in mind when I was leaving home, this time around, I was open to other offers and options. In particular, I wanted to work with a reputable Transport Company.

My interest was in Benson Transport Service and Oshinowo Transport Service. I had seen their “Bus Yard” in Yaba several times. Their official uniform was khaki. I used to admire them anytime I saw them with their ticket machine strapped to their front side. Sometimes, they could wear white on top of their khaki.Their ladies were very beautiful. You won’t even know they were not college graduates.

These two transport companies were rivals to the Lagos State Transport Corporation (LSTC) where my father worked. Though it was not my intention to work with my father’s rivals, my preoccupation was how to secure a “good” job after my primary school without my father’s support.

I couldn’t really recollect how much I had in my pocket on that day but I made sure I was focused on my mission by not looking forward to seeing any Rondorondo. Even when I saw some people gathering, I didn’t bother to know what was happening.

That was unlike me. I liked knowing everything whether it concerned me or not. Since Yaba came into existence, people have always been gathering. I don’t even know which one deserves to be called Ebute Ero between Yaba and the real Ebute Ero on the Island. Till today in Yaba, people keep flocking and thronging, some with mission, some with illusion. Some with vision, some with mere notion.

On this particular day, there was no room for distraction. One cannot be planning his life and at the same time be plotting its flop. You’ve got to face what you are here to do.

For instance, I had come to inquire from the management of Benson and Oshinowo Transport Services what I needed to do if I wanted to be a bus conductor. As at that time, that was my life ambition. Their uniforms and the fitness on their ladies were enough to stoke such “fascinating” ambition. Besides, I became disinterested in education because of the approach of Alfa Ligali to it. He gave me the impression that for me to succeed in academics, the use of “Ogun isoye” was sine qua non. If we followed the “Ligalian” theory, by now, my head would be full of ridges signposting my inability to harness natural talents for my development without resorting to herbal concoction and scalpel ritualism.

The people I met at the Desk asked me if I had standard 3 result. Knowing that they had no clue that I was a serial beneficiary of “on trial promotions”, I told them arrogantly that I was in primary 6. They asked me to submit my application and leave, that they would get in touch with me. The man hissed at me when I told him that I had not written the primary six examinations.

They advised me to come back anytime the result was ready. From there, I went to look for my Danfo Oga. We discussed and sealed our deal. With joy overflow in my heart, I sang a new song to the LORD by praising and worshipping HIS name and giving glory and shouting Hallelujah to the LORD.

From there, I went back to Lawanson, my new home. It was around 6pm that I got home. My mother was worried but I told her nothing about my job hunting. I just told her a very flexible lie that didn’t require much effort to detect.

But she still bought it as sold. Since I got to that house, I discovered that anytime the children were playing outside, their parents would also sit in the frontage of the house with spoons and some bottles containing unknown contents beside them. I used to wonder what they were doing with these items. As soon as I entered our room day while still talking to my mother, I started hearing: “O ya e fi ṣibi sí lenu. E ma je ko pa eyin dé o. O ya e da ogun ile tutu yen sí lenu.”( Insert the spoon in her mouth to ensure that she didn’t close her mouth. Okay, pour the herbal mixture in her mouth.)

This latest episode was one of the eerie occurrences in that house. There were some children with history of epilepsy, convulsion, spasm and contraction in that house. Their parents knew about this which was why they were always ready with the familiar antidotes. What was scary was that these ailments were contagious and my mother just had a baby in that same house. Much as we tried to avoid any contagion, particularly with respect to the baby, the baby still contacted it somehow. It would be a miracle to stay in a multitudinous edifice like number 20 without any evidence of a generic infection.

We were contacting skin diseases and other ailments incessantly as if we were doing wealth distribution. By the time we left number 20, I had developed a special expertise in spoon management and “Ogun ile tutu administration.” Ramoni Street and its multifarious native and spiritual ailments almost turned me to a herbal initiate with my serial visitations to “iso eléwé omo” (Herbs sellers stalls) to procure leaves and herbs of variegated amalgam as well as the heads of dead animals.

In Surulere, I was never a fan of “agbo” (herbal medicine) but in Lawanson not only did I become its fan, I became a specialist in both the prescriptive and concoctive administration of herbal ingredients.

Immediately I got back to Surulere, I went through a self-imposed exorcism to rid and cleanse myself of all remnants of forest spirits whose territory I had trespassed in the course of protecting myself and my family from any form of fraternity and familiarity with forest demons. But before then, I had helped in preparing “agbo iba” for iya Ibadan when she had malaria. Mrs Nola (aka Iya Nuru) was the only popular Herbs seller in our area. She had a herbs stall in Tejuoso market where she sold “ewe ọmọ”.

I was one of her regular customers particularly at a time when Iya Ibadan ‘s sickness was assuming a frequency that was becoming alarming. This particular malaria was very stubborn as it kept tormenting an 88 year -old woman. Yes, Iya Ibadan turned 88 in 1972. I can’t remember my great-grandmother celebrating her birthday. Anytime you mentioned anything relating to birthday celebration, her remarks were always: “ka sa ma se rere” (Let us always be kind to one another). However, her children, against her wish, had started planning big for her 90th birthday in 1974 not knowing that she had her own plan for them as well.

On January 12, 1972, there were massive celebrations for the installation of Alhaji Ganiyu Ajibola Alli-Balogun as the Balogun of Lagos Central Mosque. The new Balogun of Lagos was the grandfather of Latua and “Broda mi Sehinde”. On the day of the installation, Broda mi Sehinde, who had come to celebrate the Yuletide with us in Surulere, told me to follow him to Lagos Island to witness the event.

Right from the Carter Bridge, we were astounded by the mammoth crowd that had come to witness the event. It was a very colourful event that attracted very important dignitaries home and abroad. For the first time in my life, I saw horses being decorated with expensive damask materialls and other ornaments.

The new Balogun mounted the horse and rode on it throughout the duration of the ceremony. It was a historic day for the Alli-Baloguns who had since reverted to the name of their progenitor -Adejiyan. The Balogun title had been elusive to the family for several years which was why the famous musician, Lefty Salami sang the song: “Won ti gbọye na pada fún Talabi Onilegbale ni Ajibola…..Oun ni Balogun akoko….Allí Olókó Balogun Eko.”

Habibu Oluwa, another popular musician followed in his stead with another beautiful song for the new Balogun Eko. After the ceremony, myself and my brother couldn’t find any vehicle to bring us back to the Mainland. It was as if all the “Kiakia buses”, LSTC buses, Bolekaja and danfo in the whole of Lagos had been hired or mobilized to bring people to the event.

We had to trek from Tom Jones, to Idumota, then the Carter Bridge. From there we moved again to Ijora Olopa thinking that we would be able to get a bus but all to no avail.

We eventually trekked back home after spending hours looking for public buses in vain.

“Broda mi Sehinde” stayed with us for three more days before going back to Ajegunle. He was a form three student with unusual perspicacity. He was a very quiet guy with uncommon tolerance. He was full of life and had a surplus reserve of cerebral endowments.

He was good in English and had no deficit in his mother tongue. He was an attractive guy with sensual swagger. He was loaded with infinite intelligence. In a matter of days, he taught me a lot about life and its inscrutabilities; man and his vanities; GOD and HIS sovereignty. He was my new inspiration.

He talked sense into my skull and I was never the same again. In 1972, he was just 16 but he was an enigma that nobody understood. He was a genius on a visit.

It was resumption time. He had to go back to Ajegunle where he was living with his grandpa. He was in the boarding house at Ajeromi-Awori Grammar School, Badagry. On Sunday, January 16, 1972, when it was time to go back to school, their grandpa’s driver who was to take them to school was drunk.

The old man stopped him from taking his grandchildren to school in that state of drunkenness and replaced him with his neighbour’s driver.

Mr Fatoyinbo, the neighbour, trusted his driver of 25 years to take the children to Badagry safe and sound. But tragically, the driver hit a tree on the way while trying to avoid a head on collision with an oncoming vehicle. Hurray, all the children and the driver escaped death but “Broda mi Sehinde” died of shock on the spot. Indeed, he was a genius on a short visit.


Dr Dapo Thomas’ From Primary To Tertiary, Here Is My Diary, Is Serialized Here Weekly, Every Saturday.

~ NewsOrient