Monday, July 1, 2013


As my friend taught me I say - I am responsible for what I write. You are responsible for what you understand.

4 am Nigerian Time.

I'm sitting at my writing desk bent over. I need to adjust my sitting position due to an understanding of ergonomics and for fear of low back pain. I ignore this trifling thought for adrenaline courses through my widening veins like water cascading down a water fall.

I'm full of words - the soup with which thoughts are eaten.

I'm awake. Inspiration interrupted my sleep. Inspiration is both the desire and the demon of the creative person. Inspiration is the mother of eccentricity and the child of originality. I write at the first splash of dawn. I strain my strained eyes already couched behind reading glasses. My source of light is a NOKIA phone and touchlight device creatively hanging over the edge of my reading table as I now lie on the floor to enjoy its service.

My reflection this morning is on what it means to be truly African in a modern world that seeks to impose everything Western.

I am from a little clan in a rustic village of ibo people astride the magnificent hills of south eastern Nigeria which touch the skies lazily in the land of the rising sun. I am truly African. By moonlight we watch the clouds float idly by, we run around singing folk songs stopping intermittently to take in the thought provoking scenery of giant iroko treetops in the gaping valleys hundreds of metres (or even kilometres below). We are a people accustomed to awe. We live with wonder everyday. A long lost treasure of the White man - Wonder.

The last words I heard my grandpa say before he went to meet his chi in the home of our ancestors was - Wonderful.

We are a wonderful people in the midst of awe inspiring seeming oddities. We are awed, still prancing in the moonlight, by the sight of vehicular traffic a kilometre or two away at the Zenith of my mother hill far up in those clouds. From this vantage point, we only know there are vehicles there creeping slowly, crawling on, careening painfully in slow mo headlights battling relentlessly with fog. Awestruck I wonder. How can I in one glance see the very iroko tree tops and still have several kilometres to climb till I'm home. My teeth are at war now, chattering violently, noisy like fencing men.

I am truly African.

My home is prone to slides. The hills convulse on occasion. The other day mother hill had a seizure and she flung a mighty emboli of debris that took the greater part of 30 minutes to come crashing down from the peaks as people watched more in fear this time than in awe!

I am truly African.

My home is a region of springs for that is all we drink. Your water is treated by your government mine by my hills... By the benevolent spirits of my hills. You were here before O! White man. Legends have it that you were prevailed upon not to escavate both by reason and by the elders for fear of the great waters you heard in the belly of my hills. To celebrate this, there is a carnival every new years day where we as children listen to the slapping, hissing and splashing of great waters in the hills with eyes wide open (or shut), mouth agape, ear fixed on the womb of my Mother hill listening as she gurgles and grumbles. Grumpy old hill! A section of a neighbouring community was indeed submerged in flood after an attempted excavation some 5 years ago. Mother Hill was upset at the effrontery, insolence and impertinence of the west.

Why should a man such as I therefore not listen when elders in these parts speak?

I am African.

I listen to the elders who looked death and decimation in the eye and wouldn't die. I listen to the men and yes to the women who earned the respect of the forces of nature by daring to live where angels fear to tread. I listen to them for the sake of all they have suffered from climbing up and down these hills. I listen to them for their bravery, for that alone, and O! For their chivalry. The youths must be crazy.

It is western nonsense to look an elder in the eye and parrot obscenties. My chi would cleave my tongue to my palate. It is White stupidity to come to the home of my fathers to ravage, ransack and to what? Excavate Mother Hill. If wonder is dead in the West, not here. It is a certain strange type of arrogance to think that I am somehow ill educated or suffer some nutrient deficiency simply because I BELIEVE IN MY PERSONAL GOD - My chi, created by the great CHI - UKWU, the great CHI, that creative CHI - OKIKE. I'm a believer... Just that I believe differently. I believe in all that is high and lofty. I believe in all that is Republican... Truly Republican not in the perverse sense of it. As we are bound to pervert even the Holy. I believe in that restless independence of soul, that certainty and vague eccentricity borne out of creativity and not empty Pride.

I believe in the gregarious nature of the African, the communal inclination of everyone being in everyone's business. Call it being communal, call it being socialist. I believe in Kwame Nkrumah and his theory of the seeming socialist in all Africans.

This is Africa's finest hour.

To be continued.

Iroko Obasi ND

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