I Can’t Seem to Place This (Interesting) Yoruba Grandma

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We have all heard stories and we all joke about the interesting excesses of Yoruba mothers. So much that Mama Tobi, an Instagram sensation makes a name portraying scenes that we all are familiar with, growing up.

How about Yoruba grandmothers? Someone’s got to play that and my experience as I type this would be a good start.

Factually, as at the time of beginning this third paragraph, I am sitted right next to this Mama who would later descend into what might be a mood swing, in an 18-seater bus commutting between two familiar locations. Think about those buses that make so much noise that you think they are on a fast-and-furious velocity. Hot floors, vibrating metals and a dangling ‘Nature Attribute’ air-freshner with a Chelsea FC badge strapped to and with it.

So we picked up this Mama en route Akure, who bore no obvious grievances with anyone, as far as we thought we knew.

In less than 5 seconds she begins, very loudly. Reeling off a hybrid of frustration and threat, recounting how the man — who we will never know — thought he could cheat them on a land issue because they were the females and how this and then that and then this… and how if he tries it, he might not live to build on it.

Pause. Think about it very well. We picked her alone. She wasn’t talking to her sister or friend who would have probably been a part of the waist-cloth-fastening-occasion.

And don’t think she started by asking us to listen. She wasn’t telling a story. She just went into a freestyle mode, recounting highlights of a story that normally makes sense for someone you had been at the event with. Useless in itself but we as a people — of our great tribe — are united in detailed post-match commentary to and with people we were at the stadium with. (We) Deal with that.

Everybody is surprised. The driver is taking random look backs, while the two guys at the front can’t control the laughter. The Hausa men at the back are obviously throwing banters (while laughing hard) in their language but since she wouldn’t hear, there was no deterring.

I am right next to her, giving her a total of 5 “glances of honour” over the course of her continuous speech. I couldn’t do more. There is that look on me of “bet Mama, shebi you know we were not there. This is not story-telling o. You are ranting to the heavens o”.

“He thinks he can cheat us. God forbid. What’s is the meaning of that? How will he say that”. Who and what ma, exactly?

(I wrote this article on January 30, 2017).

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