I was very apprehensive when I received a summon from my paternal uncle, Mr. David Ogboo Nwosu, to come see him at my earliest convenience.
I called him on phone to get a hint or to see if it was what we could kill on the phone but he declined “my doing it my way” as he insisted that it was not a phone matter; that I needed to physically come for an eye ball to eye ball discussion.
“What have I done to warrant this kind of summon from Nnanyi Ogboo?” as we fondly called him, I asked myself.
At 84, Pa David Nwosu was the eldest man or the Okenye in my father’s extended family. He bore the moral burden of ensuring that the young men in Nwosu’s family did not go astray or repeat the mistakes he and his generation made in their course of life.
Ascending the staircase of my uncle’s one-storey building situated at the middle of Bode Thomas street in Surulere, Lagos was to me, as if I was climbing the Ugwuekwensu Hill in Ukpor, Anambra state because my legs were ladened with heavy anxiety as to what the topic of discussion would be.
The insistence of Nnanyi Ogboo that I must come along with my wife for the discussion made my thoughts go wild.
“Did my wife report me to him over the unused condom she found in my car a week before?
“But I thought I was able to prove my innocence as one of my friends came to my house to claim that the condom was his and apologized to me for the embarrassment; an apology which I graciously accepted”, I was still wondering.
As my wife and I were ushered into my uncle’s living room, I comforted myself with an Nnewi adage “nke na emenu ya mee ” meaning “let the worst happen!”
“My son Anayo, I traveled to Nnewi last week and your mother hinted me that you had bought a land in Lagos and were about to start building a house on it anytime soon”, my uncle started to my great relief after breaking of kolanut and exchange of pleasantries.
“I am happy for your progress in life. I also insisted that your wife followed you to my house for this meeting because I learned that she has been very supportive of you.
“My son, no sensible person allows the same protruding wood from a tree to hurt him in the eye a second time. You must not repeat the mistake of your late father.
“Your father settled in Kano in 1948 upon his return from the Second World War and built many houses both in Kano and Zaria.
“”He was a successful Igbo man of note known to northern establishment.
“Your father of the blessed memory lived in the north till the civil war began.
“Though he escaped by the whiskers with his head, all his buildings, warehouses and other assets were either burnt or looted during the pogrom that preceded the civil war.
“To be fair to your dad, nobody envisaged the war but it happened. And when all of us had to rush home, there was not adequate accommodation for the young families of children of Nwosu.
“Your father was forced to put up a small three-room bungalow and still he could only occupy a room and had to give up the rest to our cousins who also returned from various parts of Nigeria in 1966.
“Even though we had to surrender in 1970, we were convinced that our children shall one day rise up again to demand for independence given what I see now.
“Therefore, my son, go home to Nnewi and ask your elder brother to show you where you can build a house in your father’s portion of land after which you can now build elsewhere. If your brother refuses to give you a land to build, let me know. I can spare a portion sizable enough for you to put up a house.
“It is to that house in your village that you shall run to when the time comes. But whether that time shall come is a matter of time.
“It was during the civil war that young men from Nnewi realized the difference between “Aku Ofia” and “Aku lulu uno” i.e. the difference between “investment especially a landed property abroad and that at home.”
“Look around every village in Anambra state and you will that discover young men whose parents or elders are still alive would first build their mansions or houses at home before they build elsewhere.
“My son, ‘abusi gbaa otune omulu ako ‘ meaning that ‘wisdom or alertness is the lesson to that buttocks that had experienced a painful sting by an insidious insect’.
“Mama Uju!” My uncle shouted his wife’s name. “You can now bring out food if you are done in the kitchen because ‘mu bu okuko agbago obala ka ike m ha’ meaning ‘I cannot try harder than I have done to make my point.’ “
Only a young man who did not suckle his mother’s breasts well enough at infancy would take for granted, the admonitions of my uncle, Mr. David Ogboo Nwosu who the high and mighty approached for advice.
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