August 27, 2010


Every Christmas, we go to the village. We go because Iya spends all year crying over the phone about how we never come to visit. Baba says families should be together during festivities. So we all go even though I always find him puttering around with Uncle Sesan's Staff and stones after a few days. It is clear that he misses his golf.

I miss all the coconut girls that will be coming home for the holidays.By the time, we make it back to the city, they are all gone, back to wherever they came from and leaving no trace behind they were even here. All I am left with are tales from my friends whose kind parents understand adolescent needs and let them spend Christmas in the city

One Christmas, Baba loads us into the car and we drive down to the village. Iya is grinning like the village drunk when we arrive. She calls out to me 'Akogun'.

'Iya, please don't call me that,' I say.

I am fourteen and missing out on coconut girls so I am not in the mood for fond names. I see the hurt in her eyes. I do not care. I still go ahead to hug her. I have no choice in that matter. Baba's eyes are worse than daggers placed in fire. I sulk throughout the rest of the day daydreaming about the girls with their 'oyinbo' accents and foreign scents.

A few days pass but I continue to sulk. Iya has had enough and makes me go to the river with her. I plead with Baba with my eyes  to speak up for me but he pretends not to notice. On our way, Iya asks me if i have a  girlfriend. I am stunned. I look back at her. She dares to ask me this. The reason why i am here in this remote village while my friends gallivant with coconut beauties in Surulere presumes to question my non-existent love life.. I look away and tell her i am too young. She laughs at me. 

It is like the ice between us is broken by that question. We start to talk and end up conversing our way to the river. Actually, Iya does most of the talking while I am enthralled by the tales she tells. Tales that sound impossible to my mind but must be true because so intensely does she tell them.

When we get to the river, she finds a place for us to sit. We eat the food she had brought along. We laugh. Most of all I get to know my grandaunt better. Or maybe, I am just reminded. Baba talks about how as a child I never left Iya's side if I could help it. I had forgotten what it was that drew me to her.

I ask her as we eat why she always calls me Akogun. She tells me of the warriors of old. It was a title reserved for great men. She hopes i will be great someday. I tell her i am no warrior. Iya tells me its the heart that makes the warrior not the skill. The sun is setting when Iya tells me her old bones need rest. She asks me to take a photograph of her with my new camera.I tell her to pose for me. 

She is sitting on a rock by the river  in her favorite clothes, sedate jewelry and that's when I noticed she dressed up for me. She walked all the way to the river so we could be alone even though she still limps from her last fall. She woke up early to make a picnic lunch so iIwouldn't be hungry.She took off her head tie that covers the almost bald gray head so I could sit comfortably. Through my new camera lens, I see old love.

'Akogun', she calls out to me. 'Hurry up. my buttock bones hurt'.

I laugh and I take her picture.

I will go ahead and become a great man. I will find me a 'coconut' beauty to marry. I will have my own children. I will show them the dog-eared photograph i have of Iya. I will try and show them the love in her bald head. The youth in her dancing eyes. The curve of her lips that is poised to call out my praise name. Her wrinkled skin that shines with hope for my future. They will sulk and hiss at me when I tell them its time to visit Iya. But like my father before me, I will ignore them knowing that someday they will see also what I see in my grandaunt. I trust Iya to show them.


  1. And someday years after Iya must have passed on; Akogun will be looking at the piles of papers on his desk, each begging for his attention. And he will wonder whether Iya was not mistaken when she named him Akogun.
    Another nice one to think about.

  2. lovely post.Very well written.

  3. she said...its a matter of the heart, never of skill :)

    @Alistair, thank you.

  4. Don't Care what Iya says.... you have mad writing skills and your creative pieces are of the hook....

    can I be taught


  5. one day... akogun will find him a coconut beauty.. so beaut'y'ful with a skin of the flawless brown variety and eyes, as white as blinding light... a cocunut beauty that will mos' def make him forget IYA... lol..

  6. @the muse...nooooo way...coconut beauties are a dime a dozen...Iyas' are rare...