Don’t you just like it when tradition finds its way into your heart? So tender, so easy you can’t just shoo it off like that. I might not be able to explain this one, but here’s the thing; tradition/ culture can be so comforting in unexpected ways. I like the occasional Yorubaness of traders and it could mean everything in the world at that moment.
Take those weary days of going home, feeling burdened. Looking forward to nothing but sleeping it off. Then a stop to buy a mouth organ (roasted corn) to blow on as you trek the rest of the journey from the bus stop becomes a pleasant intervention set off by a simple greeting halfheartedly said in Yoruba “Ekuro le /good evening”.
Even though not much was said, her response, “Eku ataaro” in a very familiar Yoruba voice just settles warmly over you. You want to take a minute and look back to see if she was talking to someone else who might have been her relative. But you know it’s you and a little relief comes in. She is an elderly woman and you can’t help but see your grandma in her.
You have a feeling that your ancestors are watching. They see you, feel your pain and want to let you know that you are not alone. Maybe you try to negotiate the price and she goes ‘omo mi, oya mu ni 50 naira’. Sounds like a jackpot, hey, she’s possessed by your very own forebears, might even let you take it for free.
You pay and make to leave, and she reaches down into a deep part of her being and sends you off with a prayer richly enunciated in Yoruba. You can’t hold back the ‘Amin, amin, Ma’. Even if you try to, your lips will find their way – opening and closing spontaneously. As you walk home, you feel lighter.
Not just because hunger was part of the problem and you’re solving it, but because of the sense of protection and kindness from the woman, who might have been the messenger of your ancestors.
You feel lighter because now you know they are watching and anytime from now, they might just hand you that breakthrough you deserve. You are feeling this connection, it’s not a mere Yoruba woman greeting you. Yes, it has to be more than that.
I’ve had plenty of these random encounters with Yoruba traders and it’s always soothing. It could be explained away as the kindness of a stranger… But I like the tradition and culture route better. I enjoy the sense of forebears being my guardian angels.
After all, we share blood*chuckles*.