It was something I and my siblings looked forward to every year. In fact the worst punishment Mumsy could give you this period was to say “You are not traveling this December!”
Everyone wanted to travel so that meant everyone had to be on their best behaviour. No fighting, no lying, no stealing meat from the soup pot,:)
It was a mix of so many things.
And there was the usual banana and groundnuts.
Dad would buy those huge bananas at ORE and we would stuff ourselves up with the sweet fruit and groundnuts as we traveled along.
There was also the fact that we would be seeing so many of our friends, cousins, relations who we hadn’t seen in a whole year. Friendships formed the previous year would be rekindled.
Then there were the bush adventures where we would go hunting for rabbits and birds. OB, a cousin of mine who lived in the Village usually led the expeditions. He was also the hunter. His ammunition was his home-made catapult and stones. The rest of us kids were there to pick stones for OB and carry the day’s spoils home.
Some other days, we would go to the bush not to hunt but to pluck fruits. Sour sops, Oranges, pear, Guava, Mangoes, which ever was in season, we plucked! The boys climbed while the girls stayed down and picked the fruits.
We would arrive home with our baskets of fruits and the adults would praise us:
“Eeeeh…Umuazi a! Unu anwaka o!”( Eeeeh…this kids…una try o!)
These bush adventures were the highlights of our holiday. We all wanted to be with the team. We would bribe OB with biscuits and sweets just to let us tag along on the bush trips. Not even the frightening tales he told us about the old woman who ate kids in the bush or the spirit of the forest that made children disappear deterred us from going. However we made sure to stick together always. I would never be caught in front or at the back. The middle was my place. The sounds of the forest disturbed me and there was also this bird that usually made an eerie sound “Cookuu, Kuru Cookuu” Christ! That sound put the shivers in me! Then, I didn’t know it was a bird, I always thought it was the spirit of the forest,lol! It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized it was a bird.
There was also the night time story telling round the fire.
Whenever we heard the Chant: “CHAKPI!” we would shout “WOO!” as we took our spots by the fire knowing it meant only one thing-Time for storytelling! Grandma’s tales of Mr. tortoise’s adventures was always interesting and she knew how to mimic the characters in her stories.
OB also told us stories at times. His stories were usually naughty like the story of Nwagadigboro who after poooing in the bush went to clean his behind on the Ukwa tree and the Ukwa fruit fell on him and killed him. There was also the story of the lazy slave who refused to cook and after his master cooked, he had to nerve to taste the food. Of cos the master beat him with the spoon!
Another highlight of our trip would be was the Visiting relatives and friends part.
We always tagged along with Mum and Dad anytime they went out because we were sure there was definitely going to be lots of rice and chicken and coke wherever we visited. Was this not the festive season? :) :)
Fine, we had to endure, the patting on the head and exclamations of “Ahhh! See how big you have grown… very soon we will be drinking your palmwine!”
All that didn’t matter when the steaming plates of Jollof rice and bottles of Coke/Fanta were placed in front of you. Kids and food!lol!
I also remember the Moonlight dance. ‘Egwu Onwa’, we called it.
There were quite a number kids in my family- Me and my siblings, my cousins, my Grandfather’s second wife’s kids. We formed a dance group and during the day, we would practice different cultural dances. The home based kids usually did the teaching.
After days of practice, we would finally begin our ‘Egwu Onwa’. At night when the moon came up. We would go from house to house singing and dancing. The boys had the task of beating the empty tins of Bournvita with sticks to provide melody for our songs. After dancing the owners of the house would give us a little token to show appreciation. It wasn’t so much the money but the fun and excitement we got from the experience. I remember the highest amount we ever got from our Egwu Onwa was Eleven Naira (N11). Is anyone laughing? N11 wasn’t small money then in the late eighties o! At least we each got Eighty kobo each,Money for Akara and Okpa, he he he:)
So you see, there were many things that made traveling to the Villa during Xmas as a kid plenty fun. As I grew older and wiser, a lot of these things lost their appeal :(
Eating UMUNEDE rice, Bananas and groundnuts during the road trip weren’t such a big deal anymore. Bush hunting and Fruit picking lost their allure. Visiting relatives became a bore. Egwu Onwa nko? Kai! Big, fine, city girl like me? No way,lol!
Ultimately traveling to the Villa became something I stopped looking forward to especially when I grew up to marriage age and was still single. The constant barrage of questions one faced from aunts and uncles were definitely not very pleasant.
“So when are you calling us?”
“When are we drinking your wine? Our throats are parched…blab la bla”
Give me a break y’all for God’s sakes!!!
It’s Xmas period again. Will I be traveling? Yes.
Am I looking forward to it? Not really.
Do I have to? No but I have to respect my parents wish. “You need to go home more so the young men will see you. You know as the Eze's daughter you have to marry from our place” Yeah right! *Eyes rolling*
So guys, this is likely to be my last post this year. I want to wish everyone of you, My Blog Family, my Blog enemies(lol) and my anon readers(yea I know all of you) a Glorious Xmas and wonderful new year 2009.
Santa princesa is in the house with plenty goodies for everyone who has been good this year. All those who have been celibate, raise your hands, Afrobabe…come on put that hand down!lol!