March 22, 2019



My first romantic crush was my primary school teacher. In the 60’s! Kai, I loved her, I loved her, I loved her. I happily fetched firewood for her, did whatever she asked me to do. Happily. I lived for every afternoon when she would let me carry her iPad and accompany her to her house. Chei! I remember when she gave me a glass of Tree Top orange juice. How many of you remember that? It was as much as I remember, an orange drink concentrate. My mother could make an entire swimming pool of orange drink from one bottle of Tree Top, yes. One day, after school, my love, er, my teacher made me a glass of Tree Top that actually tasted like orange juice. After that day, I did not want to go home to my mother.  Blood is not thicker than water.

My other loves were not quite as real as my primary school teacher; they existed in the many books I read. I loved books but I read them closely for romance. I remember James Ngugi (that was what we called him then until he woke up one day and started calling himself a very long name). I remember his great novel, Weep Not Child. I was taken by the female protagonist Mwihaki and I rooted for Njoroge, her love interest. I fell in love with Mwihaki and as a young boy, I would walk mope around the place whispering the name, Mwihaki. The relationship did not end well in the book, but most good love affairs are like that, there is always drama.

After Mwihaki dumped me, I fell hard in love with Margaret in Chukwuemeka Ike’s The Potter’s Wheel. Margaret and Obu were young; about 12-years old each by my calculation, but you could not separate those two love birds. I cheered when Obu received a love offering of freshly fried ukwa and he reciprocated with six plump roasted termites. Termites? Yes, termites! Here is where my week’s sermon begins. I think the worst thing that has happened to the African is the loss of language and the requirement to stuff all our words, feelings and meanings into alien vehicles. Things get lost in translation.

The French call snails escargot. Escargot sounds really romantic until you see it on your plate. Oyinbo call fish eggs caviar; if we were the ones eating such nonsense they would call us savages who eat fish eggs. In my village we do not eat termites, we eat irikhun. It is not my fault that the white man calls it the nearest approximation (in his mind) to the real thing – termites. And so if I was to critique Ike, I would ask: Why do you call these delicacies termites? Is that what they are called in your language? Why are we like this? Call it by its real name and let the reader do the research. It is called Google.

The other day, I came across one of the most brilliant stories of the 21st century, actually it is an app called the bride price, a tongue-in-cheek satire of a great Nigerian wedding tradition. Many people saw it for what it is, rollicking fun that is a brilliant commentary on our increasingly materialistic society. It went viral on social media but there were a few people who were offended by it. A number of them I respect, but the vast majority were just clueless dolts uncritically equating this satire with human trafficking, bride slaves and related absurdities.

I don’t know about you but we don’t sell women and children where I am from. In fact, the term “bride price” does not exist. You would have to ask the first stupid oyinbo person who came up with the idea of calling it a “bride price.” So, I ask our writers, it is not enough to write uncritically, you must examine the politics of words, the implications of narratives and ensure that you are not unwittingly stamping pejoratives on the forehead of Africa. Africa has suffered enough. Give her a break. And oh, by the way, nor be my turn form five go wear knicker; I have two daughters, if you are a destitute feminist fool with two heads oya come near my house and say you don’t do bride price, you go hear am! I have two sons, if you are a destitute feminist fool with two heads oya come near my house and say you don’t do dowry, you go hear am! Nonsense! And yes, I took the bride price test; I am worth 1.5 million US dollars. I am not surprised. Why, I am a genius! I am worth every penny? Oya who wan marry? Money na hand, back na ground!


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  1. Agatha

    Why is this Pa like this sef??
    Who wan marry u after MOL don panel beat u, turn u to better person? Who wan die? Make the person come take hug! *grabs koboko*

  2. Viola

    Me! Me! I wan marry. Lol. Seriously though, I found that app a lot of fun. Surprised some people were actually offended (?) by it. Verdict? They need to go get laid!

  3. Benson

    ‘Many years ago when she was the village beauty Okonkwo had won her heart by throwing the Cat in the greatest contest within living memory. She did not marry him then because he was too poor to pay her bride-price. But a few years later she ran away from her husband and came to live with Okonkwo.’

  4. Oseyemi

    Nice piece love the fluidity of writer and the advocacy of maintaining the originality of some Nigerian words . I try as much as possible to maintain some Nigerianess in my writing. Keep it up. Honestly, I see nothing wrong in bride price. Must we sacrifice every of our tradition on the altar of modernisation. I beg!

  5. Princess Chalya Miri-Gazhi

    “I don’t know about you but we don’t sell women and children where I am from. In fact, the term “bride price” does not exist. You would have to ask the first stupid oyinbo person who came up with the idea of calling it a “bride price.”

    Pa Ikhide, you ended this interesting piece of hilarious writing with an attitude that requires the reader to ask for a sequel, a part two. It leaves the reader wanting more explanations. I thought you would elaborate more on why the term ‘bride-price’ is unafrican and therefore does not suitably define the meaning of the traditions and customs that is required for a man to take a wife. I seriously hope you do a second piece, more in depth piece, from your point of view as an African man, you know to supports your stance in favor of this custom. Reading you, as always, is always a delightful experience. I enjoyed every bit of this article.

  6. Oranu

    I was taken by this story. In the thrills of unbridled excitement, I raced through the first paragraph. I leaned in further,especially the part that blood is not thicker than water! It was so delicious I slowed down to reread the paragraph, slowly digesting as to prolong the enjoyment until I was jolted into reality by the I-pad. I pads in 1960s? Come on. Ok, it is fiction. Wake up. I was tempted to moved on. But it is Ikhide. Another deeply enriching essay!


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