January 14, 2018

My twin girls turned 2 in June, yaaay! For someone who didn’t think he could handle fatherhood, I’d like to think I’m doing a pretty good job, *wink*…moving on.
I was having a nice summer morning with my girls. They’re on holidays, mummy is on leave and daddy’s office is at home. Sounds like a dream summer for the toddlers, right? So we were bonding after an early breakfast when I remembered a nursery rhyme we used to sing when we were little, and like a proper African dad I decided to pass on the tradition, of course the song is in Yoruba language.
Aeroplane od'abọ o,
Bami kì'ya mi ẹlẹkọ,
Ẹkọ meji o yo mi,
Oyo mi o, oyo mi
Mo r’eemo l’Agege
Aja w’ẹwu o ro’sọ
O gbe bagi sapa kan
Gbamu gbamu, jigi jigi

I’m sorry, it’s best I don’t translate it lest I make a mess of the whole thing.
Now, if you grew up in the 80s and 90s as a Yoruba boy like me (I grew up in Agege) you will know that whenever you see an airplane in the sky it was time for this song, and we loved it. Airplanes fly everyday over our skyline every now and then and it’s only natural that I teach my kids the song I sang for airplanes while growing up. I was devastated when my girls didn’t show interest in the song as I gave a rendition (probably because it was in Yoruba) so I decided to suffer them to learn it, much to the chagrin of their mum, but who cares.
For children who could sing half of Barney songs by the time they turned one, now struggling to follow up with simple “aeroplane od’abo o” at some point, Folakunmi even sang it as “aeroplane bye bye” chai! I stood my ground and tried my best to teach them, not minding Iya Ibeji’s disapproving glances, wetin concern me?
So we sang more Yoruba rhymes that morning, by the time we were done they were already getting used to them. Boy, was I happy! Next step is to get them to understand the best times to sing it. So instead of them shrieking “daddy, see eyonplane!” whenever they see an airplane, I want them to burst out singing… aeroplane od’abo o, bam’ k’iya mi eleko…
Then I’ll tick off an item on my bucket list.

Special shout out to the heroes and heroines of our culture who have helped us maintain a semblance of cultural sustainability. The truth is that much has been lost to Westernization, Anglicization and the quest of academia. Our children don’t care much about what is indigenous because they’ve been led to believe that oyinbo things are always superior to ours. For example, I see no difference between these two rhymes: English: Squishy, squishy, squashy, give your hands a washing… Yoruba: Imototo lole segun arun gbogbo, imototo ile, imototo ara… Thanks to our private schools, our kids will rather learn squishy squashy, than sing imototo ile, except we teach them at home.
But these heroes; musicians, poets, playwrights, novelists etc stuck to their guns and reeled out content after content that helped us stay in touch with who we are and where we’re coming from. For me it was the music of the likes of King Sunny Ade, Orlando Owoh, Bright Chimezie, and the books of the likes of Chinua Achebe, Wole Soyinka and Flora Nwakpa. Efuru still remains one of the best books I’ve read in my life and I’ve read quite a few. Sadly, this cultural awareness movement faded out with the 90s, what we have now is what Davido and Wizkid (who are barely millenials themselves) can cook up in their studios and send to our airwaves.
They call the 80s generation, my generation, the last sane generation and I couldn’t agree more. Much has been trolled and meme(ed) about it on social media so I don’t need to rehash it here, but if you compare what we enjoyed then to what millenials suffer today, you’ll understand why we’re called the last sane generation.

Article: Seun Solaja © 2017

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