Sunday 10 September 2017


   The Igbo have an interesting custom of inheritance where the man's daughters inherit the oil palm and coconut plants in his land while not inheriting the land. The land goes to the man's sons but so long as a palm tree is left standing on that land, the man's daughter has first claims over it's produce. Why? The magic question. It is hoped that by such establishment, the daughter along with her children will always have cause to come visit her father's house, ostensibly to harvest palm produce, the real intention is to maintain ties and season the bond between both families: the woman's and her father's. On such visits her children get to meet their uncles and cousins and all that is called Nna Ochie And Nne Ochie, they wine and dine, sing songs and tell tales, and then carry the coconuts and palm fruits home. Each time I think about our culture, I think about cultures. Each time I think about our people, I think about peoples. I switch to the world of endless possibilities (my imagination) and begin to travel back to time, I see my brothers and sisters, the blood of my blood. I see my cousins, my second and third cousins. I keep going till I begin to mix up figures, I begin to mistake 18th cousins for 19th cousins, soon I have gone beyond my little town. At 40th cousins, I am seeing some Yoruba names, and at 90th cousin I begin to see Armenians and Nubians. At 120th cousins Chinese and Japanese names are all over the place, Hu ji, Chan Tan, Yoshida Nagamoto, and Kai Nishikori. We aren't half way to Adam and am convinced that the world is full of cousins. You are my cousin, may be first or second, or 2000th, but you are. And isn't there an amazing mystique as to how this large family has been balkanized by language and culture, and what I love to call we versus them? Why don't you follow me on this voyage to where it happened. The Christian preacher would say we go back to Bethel, but I say we go back to Babel, we go back to Mama Culture's father's house, to the father from whose loins primordial cultures were birthed in one strike of confusion.
   I hear Babel is in ruins, there are no palms to harvest, no coconut water to quench our thirst. But not to worry, we will climb those stones and have a wonderful time, a Tea Party, one big family reunion, the biggest ever actually. We are here now at ground zero, the very spot of that fabled tower. Oh, what was Nimrod thinking? A tower to heaven with no deep pile foundation? Well, from the oldest: Sumerians, Aztecs, Chaldeans, the Hellenics, Etruscans, Ethiopians to the middle aged: the Ostrogoths and Visigoths, the Angles and Saxons, the Franks and Moors then to the youngest: slay queens, sissies and drag queens, everyone speaks in his language. The younger take selfies, the older marvel at what softness has become of men, the younger marvel at the older's backwardness and celebrate their own progress and diversity. Tea is served, and things go south from here, the older spew out the liquid and ask for vine, hops and cedars. The younger laugh heartily,  they update their Facebook profiles 'flexing with cave men'. Soon there is a fight, the Italian waiter served the Vikings pizza, and the Norsemen vegetable salad. Both groups can't take the insult. They chase the Italian into the little China town, and come out with roasted chicken. The Americans and British hear that the land has oil and that it rains diamonds in Babel, they are thinking of liberating Babelians and giving them democracy. Someone quickly reminds them that this is all in a writer's imagination. They give a long hiss and begin to withdraw their troops. The Atheist complains of the noise of the morning prayer calls, he is shouted down by the Turks of Suleiman's army. Defiantly, he prepares a pork barbeque and invites some Celtic warriors over for a treat. Both groups are spoiling for war. Confusion is back at Babel and Nigerians are not even here yet.
   Two angels are peeping from the clouds,they are wondering at multiculturalism. One tells the other that it isn't ever going to work. The other nods in agreement and adds that it is with wisdom that cultures were created and that multiculturalism would kill all cultures and leave the world with only one culture: Babel/Confusion. The other agrees and adds that together is not always better especially when one group thinks the other to be primitive, decadent, depraved or generally inferior. They stop as the noise from Babel increases. The words 'infidel' and 'kill' are heard from the melee. The angels shake their heads as they prepare a storm, the East wind to disperse the crowd. One asks the other if he thinks their work would have been easier if each religion had a planet to themselves. The other laughs and replies that in such a situation some would still bomb rival planets. He adds that at present the struggle on God's green planet should not be about ultra right or ultra left, the former isn't so good, the latter is verging on death, that it should be about finding a balance between tradition and modernity, the primordial and progress and right and left.
The storm comes and disperses the assembly and our Babelian tea party is over.