Personal Essays

1. mom's stories

The porch in the photo reminds me of the conversation my mom and I had about her dealing with the Nigerian Civil War. It reminds me of it because of the Obama poster in the window. My mom grew up in the US as a teenager and had first hand experience of the Civil Rights movement.

Mom told stories of the things that people in the war had to do to preserve some memory of loved ones. One story in particular was of an Eastern Nigerian woman who was married and living in the North. When the civil war broke out she and her husband fled towards Eastern Nigeria. In the course of fleeing, her husband was shot and died. This woman having no way to take her husband’s body home severed his head from his body so that she would have a part of him to bury. Oh the ravages of war … I have never forgotten that story told to me as a little girl.

Mom told about the era of the Civil Rights movement and the things that she was exposed to, how different it was than growing up in Nigeria, the culture shock, and the fun stories she made up. One of mom’s friends who had no experience with Africa or Nigeria and was only familiar with Tarzan movies asked mom, “What is it like living in trees?” Mom promptly answered, “It is fine, the only thing you have to watch out for is making sure that the tree has a big trunk so that you can install a decent elevator.” At that point, my Godmother’s voice rings out chastising mom and asking her to tell the truth. My mom was an imp as a kid… I still chuckle when I remember that story.