My Warri chronicles. 4. Let’s go to the market.

Warri markets were like everything else in Warri; they had character. There were several serving the bustling metropolis. And every neighborhood had its own markets.

For Okumagba layout, there was Polokor market and Igbudu. There was also Karien street market for emergency purchases.

Serving Okumagaba estate was Okere market, which was actually the major market for the Okere-Ugborikoko community. It was an “Itsekiri” market. You could get all sorts of produce from the hinterlands of Itsekiri in Okere market.

The market was located on a major road, Esisi road, which swept from Ugborikoko to GRA and as was usual with Nigerian markets, would very often spill into the road, and motorists had to be careful not to drive over the wares displayed daringly by the roadside. Ajamimogha road cut through the centre of the market and extended all the way to the Olu’s Palace area. Okere was mostly for food stuff and groceries.

But there were two markets that fascinated me to no end.

One was Igbudu market. It was rumored that anything you could not buy from Igbudu market did not exist. Igbudu was huge, and one could easily get lost in its labyrinthine interiors. Igbudu had boutiques selling everything imaginable, as well as meat shops displaying freshly slaughtered cattle and everything in between. As I write this I can almost see the fresh looking tomatoes we used to buy from Igbudu market.

The other market I found fascinating was the one known simply as Main market. Main market was the market for more upscale goods, like gold jewelry, coral beads and exotic wrappers and laces. It was to Main market you went if you were planning a wedding and needed to buy uniforms (Aso-ebi). Main market was where you saw market women so gorgeously attired you needed courage to ask, “how much?” We did not go to main market often enough for my liking but I loved those trips.

Main market was on the major road in Warri, the Warri/Sapele road, which we shall talk about another day. It flowed into another market behind; this other market extended all the way to the seaside and this was where you got the freshest, biggest and tastiest shrimps, seafood crabs and exotic seafood. It was known as Ogbe-Ijoh market…to be continued.

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My Warri Chronicles 3. The Warri Mother

 

Someone asked why I did not talk about Delta Steel Company (DSC), in my last post.
Well, erm, in the Warri that I speak of, DSC had no place. DSC was a late entrant in the economy of Warri. It came riding on the success built by Shell and NNPC and the other oil exploration and servicing firms. DSC was a ‘80s company, and our story began in the seventies. Besides, it is doubtful if DSC had a direct impact on Okumagba Layout and environs, they were just too far away. Anyway, we will visit DSC soon.

Today, I want to make a slight detour and talk about the Warri mother.

Chai!
The closest I have seen to the typical Warri mother is the character in AY’s movie that played the role of Ramsey Noah’s mother in “30 days in Atlanta.” The Warri mother is special. Strong, fearless, bold, sometimes very loud. Mostly cynical, and never ever lazy.

Oh, there were exceptions of course. There were some gossipy women who would never mind their business! Like our neighbor who was always shouting at me through the living room windows because I would lock the doors whenever our baby was crying.

Mtschew!

The typical Warri woman feared nothing, not even armed robbers.
I recall my Aunt, Mama C and the incident with the armed robbers in 1978. Mama C was an accomplished woman in every sense of the word, and she was strict like the typical Warri mother.

She brooked no nonsense. And C was as stubborn as the typical Warri boy. He must have been about 10 years or so when this incident took place. On the night in question, robbers invaded the estate and were robbing from house to house. Then they came to Mama C’s house, but she would have none of it. They demanded money, and she said she did not have. Of course, they did not believe her. Everyone knew her as a wealthy woman but she was not moved by the repeated demands, and she was definitely not impressed by their weapons.

When it became apparent that the robbers would not leave empty handed, Mama C came up with an ingenious solution.

“I don tell una say I no get money, una no gree. Oya make una carry this pikin go take am do money, as e stubborn so im head suppose bring plenty money.”

And she was dead serious. The robbers burst into laughter. And they left. Without C.

That was an extreme case but very typical of the negotiating powers of the Warri woman. Nothing could defeat the spirit of the Warri mother; not armed robbers, and not stubborn little boys.
Oh, Warri!

#warrichronicles #warrinodeycarrylast #mywarri #nostalgia #Elsiewrite#BornToWriteWell

My Warri Chronicles 2.

The economy of Warri back then rested squarely on the oil exploration companies, and on the companies that served/ serviced them. Shell was the de facto government in Warri. NNPC followed a close second. They owned beautiful housing estates that had swimming pools, well-manicured lawns, clubhouses and an otherworldly ambiance. If you had friends and family living in “Shell Estate” then you were a big man for sure.

You never went quietly to visit your relatives in those places. If you were a shy and quiet kid like me, you would whisper it in a few choice ears that you would not be around after church on Sunday because the family will be visiting that your uncle that resides in NNPC quarters. That was all. Your status went up several notches. And you were hated the more.

And then more kids would want to befriend you so they can come over to watch TV. And so on and so forth.

But there were other companies that gave you status, set you apart somewhat. I already mentioned the oil- servicing companies; they paid well and had “class.” I remember McDermott, although, for many years, I could not accept the idea of McDermott as a company; I think the street on which the company was situated was named after it, and McDermott road became more popular than McDermott company. But they were an okay company to work for.

There was NPA- Nigerian Ports Authority- they were high up there with the oil coys. My best friend, Toma, was an NPA kid so I could flex some on her account.

Lower down the ladder were companies like Kingsway stores (Kingsway Rendezvous was the first fast food company of its kind in Warri, I believe it gave birth to present day Mr. Biggs. They had the best meat pie in the entire universe!)

And then there was AG Leventis, which was where we belonged. And we were alright too, in our own way. There were many other companies that made Warri the vibrant city it was back then; long before the militancy and the nyamanyama that followed.

Soon we shall make Warri great again. Who will blow the TRUMPet?

image courtesy: http://www.nairaland.com

Warri rig

#warrichronicles #mywarri #Elsiewrite #IAmAWriterByChoice

My Warri Chronicles 1.

 

I grew up in Warri-Okumagba layout. It was neither a slum, nor a GRA. Everyone had their level, and respected it.

But there were interactions and jealousies across the divide.

Let me explain.

If you were living in a flat or bungalow that had its own toilets, kitchen etc, you were an object of envy from the neighbourhood kids.

To avoid being ‘waylayed’ and beaten up, you had to allow the neighbours watch TV in your living room. Your close friends would come in and sit on the carpet or on the arms of the chairs, (the chair itself was off limits), and the others who were neither friends nor foes would watch from the window.

Sometimes you had upwards of twenty kids between the living room floor and the window side.

And when they got very noisy you just had to say, ‘shhh!’ The message was well received.

You were hated/envied for speaking ‘simple and correct English.’ In Warri, pidgin is king. If you didn’t speak it you were suspect. Speaking your language was an offence though, pidgin was the thing. That was Okumagba layout.

That was my ‘hood for a time. Soon, I shall make a literary journey back there, but not yet.

Some holidays, we travelled to Trofani (Rivers state then, Bayelsa now). I hear there’s a bridge that links somewhere to Trofani now. Back then, we made the trip by boat. It was terrifying, and fun too.

This time I returned to Trofani. Without going there.

That’s the beauty of the written word. You can go anywhere you like and be anyone you want.

#NewBook #Elsiewrite #BornToWriteWell #IamWriting #IAmAWriterByChoicemap of Warri

Happy Birthday Girl

Today I pause to celebrate every act of kindness, every piece of goodness that exists inside of me.

I confess that I have been greatly helped by God, using men and women too.My life is in a good place and I look to the future and all I see is a woman greatly at peace with herself.

God has been good to me.

#ItsMyBirthday #GratefulHeart #ABlessedLifeMayoress

My Gratitude Chronicles (2)

Broken bones and forgiveness

When I was about twelve or thirteen years old, someone did a bad DV episode on me and broke my back, (at least, that’s what the local orthopaedic guy said when my Mom took me to him very late the night after the incident

I had been staying with this family that was not entirely mine, (story for another day), and the man of the house was a troubled soul who was quite violent. On the night in question, an argument between husband and wife resulted in a severe case of wife battery, and somehow I was the innocent bystander who got caught in the fray. And I was beaten very badly. I was slapped, punched, kicked, tossed in the air and finally stepped upon. And my back cracked. The following day I was shipped off to my parents; broken, bruised and battered, but alive.

And I forgave them.

Forgiveness has always been easy for me. Maybe because I’m a coward at heart and revenge takes too much energy? I do not know,, and please don’t hurt me just so you can find out, lol!

But I am a happier person when I forgive. Bitterness and anger give me headaches and body cramps. I think that being bitter is sometimes worse than having broken bones. I am grateful to God that I have none.

For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.” Matt.6:14

elsie44

My Gratitude Chronicles (1)

When I was about 5 years old, I had a dream. It was a terrible nightmare and the dream is as clear now as the night I first had it more than forty years ago. In the dream, there were some people dressed in black from top to bottom; and they were standing beside a very big grave. There were a lot of kids all lined up around the gaping hole-in-the-ground.One of the people was giving instructions to the others to bring the children, and as they brought them, they would toss them into the grave. I was so frightened!

When it came to my turn, I somehow wriggled out of their grasp and ran.

Then I woke up. I was drenched in sweat and was so frightened. I was sleeping beside my mother that night, and she woke up when I ‘ran’ out of the dream. She guessed I must have had a bad dream, and she repeatedly asked me what the matter was, but I was so scared I could not tell her about the dream. After a while, she told me to lie down and go back to sleep. But I was too scared to sleep that night.

Why?

I ‘knew’ instinctively who the leader of the people in black was, and I was scared that if I told my Mother the person would come after me in real life and kill me. So I kept quiet. It was a secret I could not share. I kept thinking about the dream and wondering what it meant for many years, but I still could not share for a long time.

Finally, in my thirties, I told my Mom. She was shocked that I kept such a dream secret for so long. Then she prayed for me, that no harm would befall me. But by then I knew I would be fine because God was with me.

It’s been almost fifty years, and I’m still here; still standing, jumping, leaping and praising God.

Ye, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…” Psalm 23:4

I owe my life to God alone.

author

#Elsiewrite. http://www.elsiewrite.com