Thursday, May 9, 2013

American Wonder

Chukwuka had never been to the USA before, infact he had never breathed oyibo air before. The closest he had come to travelling 'abroad' was his visit to Ghana and Cotonou, which couldnt be really classified as travelling 'overseas'. It was common knowledge that any flight that lasted less than 2 hours could not be graded as an International flight. But if you heard Chukwuka speak, it would never occur to you that he had a green passport. The fact that he even had a passport was like magic to his friends, a passport was the license to enter plane overseas, that was what they all believed. His regular convo was packed full with American lingua, and it was common to hear him refer to his friends as 'dudes'. "Dude, you gorra be tripping", was his way of questioning your opinion. Most of his friends had no clue what 'tripping' meant, but since Chukwuka was viewed as an 'yankee' boy, they grinned foolishly each time he lapsed into his americana accent.

What they didn't know was that Chukwuka had burned the proverbial midnight oil studying and learning every single detail there was to know about the US of A. He could sing the American national anthem backwards and could tell you exactly what MLK wore on the day he gave his "I have a dream" speech. His knowledge of american affairs gave him leverage over his peers and everyone assumed that his yankee nature had been acquired from frequent travels abroad. After all, it was well known that Chukwuka vanished regularly for weeks in a year and each time he came back from one of his mysterious trips, he always had a new story to tell.

"Nah men, I was gone for awhile, I was kicking it with my dudes in the Bronx"

"The Bronx? Is that in America too ?" they would ask.

"Dude, you gorra be tripping!"

He would point to the tshirt he was wearing, which had BROOKLYN etched on it, and explain how the Bronx was just a stone throw from Brooklyn.

"Datz where my nigga Jigga grew up!"

This never failed to excite his listeners. Chukwuka was on first name basis with all the celebrities they heard about on TV. Last December, he told them that he had spent his holiday with "Jigga and Bee". To think that a young boy from the village could be rubbing shoulders with the beautiful Beyonce was simply amazing.

"Nna, did she sing or dance for you?"

"I hear her hair is like mammy-water"

"Shebi they said her husband is a cultist. Did you hear her praying while you were there?"

At this point Chukwuka would raise his hands and stop the questioning with a "Dude, you gorra be tripping!". A hush would descend on the gathering, and everyone would wait for him to reveal secret details of the lives of Jigga and Bee.

"Look, you gorra go easy with these questions men, Jigga and Bee are my niggaz, I can't be gossiping about them behind their backs. You gorra be tripping to think I'm gonna do that. Even Kanye doesn't talk about this stuff..."

The eyes of his listeners would bulge at the mention of a new name.

"Kanye West? E kwu zi na (you don't say!), you saw Kanye West too?"

Then the chorus of voices would clamber over each other

"Hmmm, that Kanye West sef, is he not a cultist too?"

"Who is Kanye? Is he from our village? His name sounds like an Igbo name"

"What do you mean? Is Kanye West not friends with D'Banj?"

"But D'Banj is one of us, is he not osi-na-nwata-buru-ogaranye-1?"

"Stop advertising your ignorance my friend, do you think he is a trader's apprentice like you?"

"You are the fool. Have you been to America before? Common Lagos, you have not visited"

"I don't blame you, ewu (goat)! Just because you mistakenly travelled to Sagamu, you think you have arrived?"

"Guys, you gorra be tripping! What the fuck! Shit men!"

Chukwuka's angry voice would snap everyone back to reality. Amidst the angry looks being cast around, he would announce that he had to rest, and then escape further questions.

It never occured to anyone to ask Chukwuka why he always came back to the village after his trips to America. The fact that someone who was friends with Jigga and Bee could sit around with them and play cards was fascinating. They held tightly to their sole link to America and didn't want to risk his anger by asking questions that seemed pointless. After all, when the famous americans came back from the moon, no one asked them how they got there and who they saw. Some questions were best left unasked, for all they cared. All that mattered to them was that they were friends with someone who was on first name terms with Jigga and Bee. Maybe, someday, Chukwuka would invite one of them on his trips, and they too would have stories to tell their mates. American wonder!