VINCENT in my happy tough Life

A bit sombre and mute, I walk through the street today and I saw everything that that freed my mind and gave it the tonic it so needed. My surprise has been, how it sucked to all the ‘Vincent’, that littered on the way as I walked. It’s a fantasy to live in my neighbourhood and walk the paths I do. Not to mention that they say it’s posh. And that’s because it comes from your mind, and breaks above the barrier of money and chance. It’s Pinterest, I love it.

So many things are giving money a run for it’s money, distance and privilege, so little to keep away from me. I am happy and that complements the joy I know. I may not pin it, the way they wrote it, and that because it comes from my mind. On my site I have my boards, in my boards I have my own house under the sun; a life for me and a cashless world full of Leonardo Da Vinci, Paul Cezanne and Vincent Van Gogh. It’s Pinterest, I love it.

Leonard Chintua-Chigbu
Listening and Creative Communication Artiste
BA Fine Art (Painting) University of Benin 1986

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SIXTEEN villages no Sex

At least no marriages were allowed between the peoples and villages of Mbutu Ngwa. Mbutu happened to be one of Ngwa’s sons who had had sixteen sons of his own.

It was therefore logical to contemplate, and reasonable to understand; that those sixteen brothers would envision a larger family and future where their boys would marry girls brought in from far flung villages, which equally ensured incestuous behaviours or offspring from such acts were circumvented among their descendants.

For a productive day and less distraction to the dedicated hours in the farms, men farmed separately from women, the latter being closer home for the children. Sex on the other hand was never a recreational activity. Redundancy or tiredness was inexcusable so was siesta while the sun shone.

Diana’s American dream was well on its way. Now that she could afford it, she also had an additional reason for dreaming a vacation in Switzerland that summer. She has heard so much about the Geneva Lake, the colours and the beauty of the Main Gate to the United Nations with mounted flags. There was the Beautiful Vicotira Hall and so on. While meeting Sylvester was one of the possibilities, she would not let that become the central focus of her holiday plan.

After an extensive profiling and matching of their common and compatibility data, Sylvester was provided with options of mates for a possible long term relationship. He took a chance on Diana, who had earlier indicated interest on his profile. Sylvester was Swiss and lived in Geneva, while Diana was Canadian but worked in the United States. Both were busy and had some flickers of Africa in their backgrounds.

Diana drove from the quiet neighbourhood of Kennesaw to Georgia State University where she would meet Sylvester over launch. His call had been entirely a surprise and was bordering on the spooky.

Though Diana had all guards on, launch with Sylvester that afternoon turned out to be fun to say the least. She found him quiet and intelligent. He apologised for the surprise and explained that the timing of the journey was all work related and somewhat out of his control.

The next day’s evening, Diana drove Sylvester back to her house for a dinner.

“Kennesaw, your town is a beautiful neighbourhood” says Sylvester.

“Yes indeed, the ‘Big Shanty Grade’ has come a long way since 1830 America” says Diana, proud to refer to Kennesaw by its earliest name.

They talked about everything from work to school and youth. At their shared moment of harmless hubris, race issues became approachable and they were both comfortable with the topic and at each other’s perspectives.

For over a century into history, oral traditions and moral conditions, shaped by vested communal interests, later became a relatable foothold, for Christian and Catholic missionary work and the colonial cephalisation, of ‘savage’ cultures, who lived and multiplied, off the coast of the bight of Biafra.

Out of the glimmers of the air around them came those translucent pellets that fragmented their scales. Their brains knew it, their eyes dropped and tears came drooling down. It was a little more than love, but one unknown to them before then. They both held each other kissed and cried; all barriers were melted, and between them, the essence of their common ancestry, whiffed a revered fragrance; entrapping the air around them.

Today, still in their minds, regardless of what corners of the world these strangers meet, ‘Onye Mbutu Amairilaisii’ does not only ignite a warm and safe kindred passion, it also sets off a tone, for a platonic relationship where marriage and sex is taboo.

Say how you feel.

Leonard Chintua-Chigbu
Listening and Creative Communication Artiste
BA Fine Art (Painting) University of Benin 1986

 

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EARLY years in the Village

It was 1897 morning in Mbutu Ngwa. The dawn finally came, after pitch darkness and chilly cold fog, that precede the sharp swords, of the early morning sun.

Through their high hanging foliage, the giant iroko trees poked the earth below, with spades of the early morning rays. Birds and insects filled the air with familiar shrills and hisses which sum to a different sense of silence.

On the pathways, leaves of little shrubs held out their palms, laden with blisters of the cold morning dew. These awakeners slapped the bodies and faces of men, shocking them to full life, after their drowsy rise.

The secrets of manhood, would forbid a man to be caught on his agida; the bamboo bed, after the early rays of dawn have struck.

While men left early, mothers saw that their kitchens crackled with fire, making ready the morning food. They also made sure the places were swept and that their children were provisioned for the day. Women farmed food crops while men farmed cash crops.

Children played in the open, around the entrance and the centre of the family compound. Mothers determine which of their younger daughters would stay back to play and to look after the younger children.

With their tummies filled with the morning food, they would run to the uga-ama; the far end of compound’s entrance. In gleeful wonder and amazement, they would settle to the sticks, and sand dunes swept by the elements the nights before. These play toys were strangely varied and surprisingly different every morning.

As the mornings wore thin, and their tummies flattened, they would instinctively relocate, to the compound in unison. Into the compound, every child had brought their hand made toys of everything from transformed sticks to folded green and brown leaves. The play would now go on, but in measured slower pace.

On the lintel, between the thatch and the mud wall, Nkechi would be the first to sight the first lizard; the redhead one.

“Nnenne ngwere, chi ikete ogbala?” meaning “Grand lizard, is it afternoon now?”

This sudden and discordant screaming, transfixes the lizard to a point. When the least of them had asked and the shouting has stopped, the baffled lizard would nod its head in quick successions before continuing on its journey. At this point, the children would let out, a triumphant cheer and in a quick dash; they would scatter in different directions, towards their respective mother’s huts to pull out their lunches.

At the second shading of the midday sun, the rustling noise of dried leaves and nearing voices of the returning mothers would bring the village back, to its ambient buzz.

Among the nearby cassava plots, protruding arcs of brown human backs, swayed and glistered in the sun. When they stood, their sagging shoulders carried human faces, lined in sweat and earth.

When they made their way to their huts, each child would run back to the playground, after an exalted dash to greet their mothers;

Welcome! nno! iilola? inotago!?

The rest of the activities would range from play cooking, running around, climbing and mounting all accessible heights.

Things hadn’t changed much for children in Mbutu Ngwa in 1965, when Dedenne joined his grandmother, Mama Jenni, from Port Harcourt. He was only three years then and had fitted in fairly well.

Mama Jenni, unlike the other women traded in earthen pots and wares. She would not be home just yet, but Dedenne would preserve his invented toys of the day, to show his grandmother, whom he had noticed, that his giftedness, meant the world to her.

Leonard Chintua-Chigbu
Listening and Creative Communication Artist
BA Fine Art (Painting) University of Benin 1986

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