August 18th, 2007
Since I turned 18, I decided that I will be taking an annual pilgrimage to my village Itieidung in Nigeria to socialize with the land and integrate myself with my kinsmen.
I was on holidays with my daddy to Nigeria. My father Mr. Jones is from the south eastern part of Nigeria. His Nigerian name is Ikpeadiamkpo. My father as the story goes left Nigeria in the late eighties to the US to seek greener pastures. When he got to United States, a lot of folks could not pronounce his name, so he adopted a new name Mr. Jones. His main reason for adopting the name was because he wanted his name to sound Americanized.
My dad had a supposedly good friend then, by the name of Mr. Wymne. My Wymne had told my father that anytime he wanted to visit the States, he could come stay with him. On this note, my father decided to make NY his port of entry into America, where he hoped to reside and start a new life.
When my father arrived La Guardia, New York, his first shock was that Mr. Wymne was not at the airport to receive him as was the arrangement. He could deal with that, because anything could have happened to stop him from coming to receive him. He, then decided to call Mr. Wymne. He never got though to Mr. Wymne. He then made it through the wintry night to Staten Island, the address of Mr. Wymne. On arrival at his friend’s residence, nobody was on site. He rang the door bell over and over again and by this time, he was literally freezing. It dawned on him that once again, life has thrown a twist on him.
Mr. Wymne’s neighbour’s took pity on my dad. Mrs. Winterhill was watching from the window, this stranger who would not go away and looked weather beaten. My dad never understood the meaning of winter. If he did, he would not have done such a disservice to himself by dressing that way, to NY in the middle of winter. My dad was freezing to death. When my dad rang the door bell of the Winterhill’s, Mrs. Winterhill did not hesitate to open the door.
The first words that escaped out of my dad’s lips were “Can I please sit next to the fire? I am dying of cold.”
The lady positioned my father next to the radiator and made him a hot cup of tea with a toast. My dad knew what heaven would be like after he was taken in by Mrs. Winterhill.
The little toddler kept rattling “who is he mammy? He looks very sad”.
Clara replied, “he is a traveler who has just arrived from across the Atlantic”.
“What is Atlantic mammy?” the toddler carried on.
“A big sea of water that is so big that you can find whales in them”.
My dad explained to Clara what had just befallen him and showed his passport to prove that he was just arriving from Nigeria. Not having anywhere to go, to, he had to find his way to Mr. Wynne’s house. Mrs. Winterhill kept saying “he must be stuck or something as she was sure, she had seen him that morning. Night came over for his routine stop and Wymne Mensah did not return as he usually does and his girlfriend did not come by either. The Winterhill’s were forced by the milk of human kindness to give shelter to an African traveller.
For two days Wymne did not return and the next place where Ikpeadiankpo knew somebody was Ohio. He then thanked the Winterhill’s for their hospitality and left for Ohio to meet a distant relative of his who was kind enough to put him up for a couple of weeks. For documentation’s sake, he was advised to go to Texas and get a driver’s license, so that he would have a form of Identity. This he did and as life would twist him around, he ended up in Alaska because that was where he would get work and survive. His earlier plan was to work for sometime in Alaska, save up some money and then come back to Texas. Life in its twists and turns seemed to present a different agenda to him. He ended up spending all his life at Alaska. He indigenized as an American at Alaska and lived all of his life at Alaska.
Coming home to visit his homeland with his son, Mark Inemuyo, it was their custom to always take a walk in the evenings in their village. This would afford them the opportunity to interact with the village folks and grasp the realities of the moment. It was also a beautiful time for them because, they loved all the attention they got. Sometimes, they would get on their bikes and ride around the village or take their dogs for a walk. They had guard dogs – bulldogs and Alsatians.
Narrating the history of the village to them was Ikpeadiamkpo’s brother. They were seated in a local pub quaffing liquor and folks would stop by to say hello to them in a bid to be able to nick some free booze. From a distance they heard sounds of trumpeting people and noises approaching. They stepped from the pub which was located on a little hill to the bottom to catch a sense of what was happening. The crowd kept chanting and singing – ‘away with him, away with him, away with him, away with him.’ Mark who could never be caught without his camcorder, was already at work. Sitting in a wheelbarrow and being pushed by a guy that looked like a village wrestler, was a sad sight of a full grown man in nature’s clothes. He was smiling. What was tickling his fancy. Was life that beautiful that in that state he was smiling? The crowd kept chanting and few passersby joined in the train while some dropped off to salute my father and grab a free beer.
My uncle explained to me that the man was caught sleeping with another man’s wife and this was how they dealt with the situation. This would serve as a deterrent for others. I asked was it a rape case, I was told no and I asked what happened to the woman, and just then I heard some more chanting coming down from the other side of the road. Some women were chanting and singing some songs. In the front of the train, was a lady in her nature costume. She had on her head a little bag that contained some few items of hers. She was being escorted to the border of the village. She was being banished from the village. She and her lover were banished from the village. The local priest would have to perform some rituals to cleanse the land, so that the spirit of that act would not linger and infest other people.
I asked my uncle “Does this system stop the acts?”
“No” He responded.
I asked why were they still humiliating the folks if this method did not work. He said to me, “At least, it minimizes the number because nobody would like to have his children and family members go through such humiliation and embarrassment.”
Worst of all, to be banished from your homeland means that you do not have access to any of the benefits of the homeland anymore. Any community that grants you succor, you will be at their mercy until such a time when a king can grant you some pardon to reintegrate you into the community.
I told my uncle, that was what was needed for our political elites who have stolen the people’s wealth. They needed to be banished from their homesteads with only their nature’s clothes. They should be made to return all the loot they stole from the people. They should then be banished and the local priest invited to perform the cleansing ritual to cleanse the land to serve as a deterrent to potential looters.