There’s a tortoise in the Alafin of Oyo’s palace in Ibadan. Rumor has it that it spirits the Alafin to war once he steps on it. I hear your legs take you where your heart desires, and anything is possible.
Nok village is a long stretch of red earth, a human size terracota head at the beginning of the stretch welcomes you to the village, and the road leads on to the mountains. I took a motorcycle from Koi village to Nok village, and at the entrance of the village, I took the long stretch to the mountains, and the museum. The museum guard was not around, and I had to return to the village entrance to get a tour guide. Some locals stopped us on the way back. One of them, the one that held a pick-axe was angry. ‘Why you enter our village and you no ask for directions?’
So I asked for directions in the Wli forest. It was 6 p.m. and I had to return to Accra that same day. My tour guide told me not to return that same day. ‘The roads are danger! Dem go thief you, thief wetin you wear. It have happen before. They thief the boy’s clothes too so he naked. Just sleep in the village. Best, go to Hohoe, things are cheaper there’. I told him thanks, left the forest, and arrived Hohoe Town at 8 p.m. There was a full moon that night, and I don’t know how to change my plans so I entered a bus for the 5-hour journey from Hohoe to Accra. I arrived Accra at 12 a.m.
I was about to do some laundry and take a bath when they knocked the room door,and entered, 3 men holding AK-47s. I was in just briefs. ‘Sorry sir, we don’t understand your story. How did you say you found this place? We don’t trust people’.
We are watching a Champions League match in the sitting room at the tea plantation. I have a cup of tea in front of me. There are three guns on the tables, held together by paper tapes. These are fighting men, these are not idle guns. We have become friends now, and I have to leave them in 3 days.
I return to Lagos, and one of them calls me.
‘Sorry, that slippers you were wearing, I like it, where do I get it from?’
I zone out, and return.
‘It’s Topman. You have to order it. I will send you the link’
‘Thanks my man. How Lagos?’
Isa gets a kidney infection and leaves. Cardamom dies. My water-palm plant of 2 years dies. My relationship with IB dies but I am used to these things by now.
It’s time to leave Nok village but I don’t leave. I walk around with Lazarus, my tour guide. We buy some henna from the local store. I buy a gigida off an old woman. We sit in front of his house, the first house in the village, and I tell him I want some weed. As he goes to help me get some, he tells me to always call him.
‘Where is the smoking area?’ I ask my host.
So I go upstairs, and that’s where I meet him, the 67-year old traveler. I will help him carry his luggage, and he will gift me a book, and another book, and some advice but first he smokes, drinks coffee, and offers to read me a poem by August Willemsen.‘He’s one of my favourites, he writes like he does not give a care’
So he reads me a poem on the rooftop.
‘She puts her cock in my mouth
On a cold morning, she takes my cock…’
‘I hate the body, and all its functions’ he tells me later.
‘When will you be ready to settle down?’ she asks me on a Sunday afternoon, and I am moved to tears, because I know I have to leave again.
We are walking around the Ogboni confraternity meeting house. ‘Sit, let me take your picture’ she tells me. ‘You are so beautiful, look’.
‘Your phone has a good camera’, I tell her.
It’s a game we play, ping-pong but with compliments.
We round a corner, and we are alone, just the brightly painted walls and bush. ‘You know, the painter is not a trained artist. He was just inspired to paint this’ and she keeps on walking.
That’s what happens in the year you are writing a book. Nothing makes sense but you just write anyway.
The human memory is a funny thing, the things it chooses to remember and the things it chooses to forget. Thank you for the random access memories, Osisiye.
See you all tomorrow.