I was talking to a friend yesterday, and he said something that I have heard from practically all of my friends and family members; be careful with your trenchant criticisms of this evil system, and of the principalities and powers that you daily rail against. Are you the only person? How is it your business? I have heard it all.
But the discourse with this friend triggered a chain of thoughts, how and when did I become the man that I am? An equal opportunity offender of sensibilities, that boasts friends and enemies across tribal, racial, ideological, and religious divides? I finally figured it out this morning. I was born to rebel. Born a rebel.
So, my mother’s youngest uterine sibling lived with us in my youth. We’ll call him Lambo for the sake of this narrative. With my stepdad far ahead of his time and refusing to follow my mother to come and suffer in Nigeria, Lambo was the de facto head of the house, and even Iya Wale would defer to his wise counsel. He was the keeper of the almighty koboko, the instrument employed to reset warped brains since the trans Saharan slave traders brought it through the Sahel.
Lambo was lord and master of the roost, and I, the oldest of Iya Wale’s brood, the frequent recipient of his legendary generosity with the venerated koboko. Not that I blamed him then or even now, I earned the fellowship meetings I had with the koboko, but Lambo did enjoy administering the sentences, and appeared to be lacking in anything close to empathy.
When Iya Wale was out of town as happened a lot, since she was a trader in need of frequent travels to earn a living for herself and her children, egbon Lambo was almost always the one in charge. I would generally stay out of his way, ensconced in my room head buried in one book or the other, I was safe from his short tempered outbursts and happy resort to the whip, but mealtime would bring the battles he could never win against me. I always won.
Lambo loved his “ebe” and we sometimes call it “asaro”. That’s yam porridge or pottage to you “butters”. The staple ingredient is the yam, and it is cooked to its softest, and made into an uneven thick purée depending on the preference of the cook, and perhaps the culinary culture of the cook. I believe that the recipe varies only slightly across the country. Lambo was happy to eat his asaro three times a day, everyday of the week, throughout the month, and he would believe himself raptured.
We hated it. I could eat it, and Fiditi Grammar School served it in the hostel, and I was happy to eat it in school, but being made to eat it so frequently at home wasn’t my idea of fun. My sister, Adetoun hated the porridge with a passion, and he wouldn’t dare force Adewale, the apple of Iya Wale’s eyes to eat anything he didn’t want to eat, even Lambo knew his own boundaries. It was up to me to save myself and Adetoun.
I am allergic to yam porridge I declared! You will eat it, or I will tan your skin, so help me God, he retorted. And thus began the Asaro Wars.
Lambo would prepare the porridge, and with koboko in tow, he’d dish our meals, for every hesitation to scoop the asaro into my mouth, the koboko would resound, and with reluctant alacrity, my spoon would travel to the mouth, and with koboko gleefully employed, I would be made to finish the heaped content of my plate. But I was merely learning how to concede the battle to win the war.
I developed the capacity to vomit the content of my stomach by sheer force of mental will, and I would allow myself to be persuaded to eat the porridge with his koboko clearly identified as the enforcer of his will, a deliberate delegitimization of his oppressive powers, and I would get up watching him smug and happy that he had won. I would then let rip.
After I had done it a couple of times, ensuring to catch him with the splatter at least once, he began to cook his damn porridge only for himself, and we were allowed to eat whatever it was that we wanted to eat. I won. We won. I have ate porridge with relish without his koboko, but I had to rebel against his tyranny somehow, and for the pubescent me, it was about the asaro.
Fathers have legitimate authority over their children, and that, only whilst the child is deemed a minor, either culturally, or legally. Nobody may exercise conscionable dominion over another human being. Every exercise of dominion over another human being, is proof of evil, and is symptomatic of the reign of evil, however legitimated the oppression might be, and regardless of the pretext for the exercise of such dominion.
The law limits every power it gives, and every time the government seeks more powers than it has already been granted by the law which must undergird the government for it to be legitimate, the conscious must identify the emergence of tyranny, and then sound the alarum, that the dead might awaken.
It is in my nature to rebel against every human attempt at exercising dominion over my life. It has pleased God to design me like that.
First published 12 December, 2019.