There were days we smiled at the setting sun, sunk our feet in wet sand and made mounds upon them. We answered 'chi efo!' to the rooster's 'kokorokoo', waved at flying kites to send 'mbo ocha' into our nail plates. Yes, we understood a connection to nature, pure and undefiled by what we would soon call 'maturity'.
Then we wondered why parents would give no protest when the cock mounted the hen, why we had to go to school, why we had lived too long and yet were still too young. Our minds were empty of strife, soon to learn war, and pride, and we asked questions which we would later consider 'immature'.
We built toys, chased after rolling tyres, celebrated the rain with a bath under the open heavens, cried our voices hoarse at the sound of masquerades. We rolled on the mud, danced in the rain, burnt with the fire, shone with the sun and the stars, flew in the air, floated on the waters, and were one with nature.
Tragedy struck when male voices cracked, and shoulders broadened. With keen interest, we saw the girls adding more flesh to the front and back, and took notice. We slept and awoke to the fact that we were growing.
We learnt of puberty, of social stratification and the separation of classes, we learnt to walk with a proud look, our noses in the air, a smug smile at the lower classes-whom we were taught were the filth and scum of the earth.
We feigned maturity, playing less, we forgot the rooster, the kite, the wet soil, the beautiful rain, the setting sun. We hated more, strived more, tantrums and vituperations marked our lives. Too mean, too serious, and too careful, we had to protect our sensitive selves from one another.
Then we hugged, now we mock. Then we ate, now we hate. Then we rubbed our backs, now we stab them. And like a friend said, then we prayed before eating, now we take selfies.
I can still hear the Master's call...let the little children come unto me.