Penny Wise, Pound Foolish – Education Is Not Everything: Some Traditions Don’t Ever Die
|life is filled with mysteries|
Yes. Indeed Western education has erroneously mislead our people from believing that certain aspects of our tradition could simply be wished away, but nevertheless, it is a complete fabricated fallacy weaved round the intellectual perception of an African man and woman.
All my life, I have been this elitist. I could remember seeing myself an undergraduate at the University of Nigeria Nsukka in my early twenties. I fashioned my lifestyle after those of the Whites who were teaching us in various fields of human disciplines in the early sixties. I was that sophisticated and had a mind of my own.
What I’m about to share with you is unbelievable but the simple truth told in whole. I grew up in Enugu Coal City when my mates were growing up as well and engaged myself in everything they involved themselves in no matter how bad they appeared to be. I was not a prude anyway, but I lost my father while I was writing my final examinations in the secondary school. It was a huge blow but I was spared the pains by not being told until after my examinations. When I came back finally from school, I mourned my dear father in my own way. We were that close. I had never experienced death in my family, which was why my father’s death shook my very foundation.
By the time I gained admission into UNN, I had started loathing death. By the time I started observing my White tutors, I realized that they don’t fear death as much as we do in this part of the world. I became a serious and ardent member of Anglican Church on Campus.
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My mother became the breadwinner of our family of two boys and a girl alongside herself. She delved into my late father’s business of property development and took it to the next level. When people were yet to see the future, my mother started putting up structures around the university community. Not quite long after, people started settling in those residential buildings she had thoughtfully put up. The profit she was making at Nsukka inspired her to leave Enugu to settle in Nsukka and our family ended up one of the academic families UNN was known for in those days. We were even worshipping at the Campus Anglican Church and life became as rosy for me as it was for the children of university lecturers.
Life was moving smoothly for me on campus. I immersed myself into academics after one of my academic advisers revealed to me that with the result I posted in my year one, that I would make a first-class result if I maintained my IQ. To motivate me more, he told me that if I make a first-class result that the school authorities would retain me as a junior lecturer. I was elevated psychologically. My books became my only friends. My only dream became how to end up being addressed as a professor of economics. That was the course and discipline I opted for.
My mother on the other side had become a prominent member of the academic community even without having a real certificate other than her TC2 certificate which she would always boast is better than what they were awarding us in our own days at the university. I always picked up quarrel with her over this because I knew I have good teachers.
Eventually, I made a first-class result and UNN authorities sent me to Sweden to acquire a Masters and Phd as well. Six years later, I decided to come back to Nigeria after acquiring some teaching skills at Stockholm University. It was with jubilation that my family and the university community welcomed me back into the fold of the environment that molded me.
Life picked on more meanings to me as I waxed stronger in my pursuit of excellence in the academics, church and the university in general. Within time, I made a steady rise through the ladder and became a professor at the age of fifty. That was the year my mother was struck down by a strange ailment. I took her to Sweden for intensive care and attention to no avail. When she realized she was loosing the battle to the ailment that had defied every known and available treatment, she instructed me to have her brought back to Nigeria where she preferred to die and be buried in our village. My younger ones and I brought her home. When she came back, she made it clear to us never to bury her at the university cemetery. We accepted, but at the back of my mind, I rebelled for no just cause. Why would she want to be buried in a land under dispute where our father was buried? I wanted her to have eternal rest. When she died, I had her buried at the university cemetery. My younger ones challenged me but my reasoning prevailed.
Ten years later, my children – two of them – became graduates and one traveled to Spain and ended up married to a Bini woman. A taboo even to me. That was my first son. My daughter ended up married to a Yoruba man. My wife and I were distraught. ‘What is happening’ is a question I kept on asking myself.
Five years later, none of them could reproduce even when it has been clinically proven that they are alright and good to go. Then twenty years later, I started seeing my mother in my dreams crying and begging me to take her home. I refused to heed such metaphysical superstition. Not until my wife started waking me up to stop fighting with my mother in my dreams did I realize I needed help.
For the first time in over thirty years, I traveled to my hometown to seek help on how to re-bury my mother. What they told me to involve myself with had to destroy all my belief in God but to save my life and the lives of my wayward children, I had to allow myself to be humbled by tradition. A powerful dibia brought to me by one of my mother’s brother’s had told me that none of my children would reproduce except I heed my mother’s last wish in life. The annoying thing about these whole strange happenings was that I am the only one suffering among my siblings.
After I had paid for certain elements I couldn’t ordinarily raise by myself, I joined in fetish ceremonies before we all took off to the university cemetery. That was the height of the scandal. Luckily for me, the VC is a good friend of mine and has been inundated by me of all my sorrows. Certain incantations were made and the spirit of my mother trapped inside a pot which we took to my village and buried beside our late father’s grave. This was so, as we couldn’t figure out our mother’s grave.
Ever since these traditional rites were performed, I have had my rest and peace of mind back. Just last week, my son called me to tell me that his wife has tested positive in her pregnancy test. My daughter is also pregnant. To make it wonderful, my son who couldn’t secure permanent residents permit secured one as well. Now he could secure a job and stop being taken care of by his oyibo Bini wife.
I have learnt my lessons the hard way.