Column Opinion

Iya Damola and Nigeria’s Yahoo+ Generation  

By Prince Charles Dickson

The sentence ‘a nut for a jar of tuna’ is the same when read backwards.

Ademola Babalola wrote on his FB page last week about his mum…

In 1982, I was a Meteorological Observer at the Headquarters office of Ogun-Osun River Basin Development Authority in Abeokuta. I was proudly a Level 4 Federal Government employee, earning N157 net wage monthly. We received our salaries twice in a month: mine paid N80 and N77 respectively.

That year, all of us in my cadre had the opportunity of receiving Motorcycle loan of N400. No complications, just apply and get the loan. Our ogas on Level 7 upward were getting car loans.

Personally, I helped about three of my colleagues to drive their brand-new Honda motorcycles home from Moore Enterprises at Asero, Abeokuta. The price of the motorcycle was N380, and the balance of N20 was often used to obtain the number and to ‘wash’ the ‘machine’.

My own loan and motorcycle? Isshh…Iya Demola forbade me from getting the loan. I had dashed to Akure to inform her and sought her approval to apply for the loan and buy my own motorcycle.

She listened to me as I stated my story. After the narration, she asked me “are you through?” And I answered, yes.

She looked at me for a long time and shook her head. “Alainironu ni e, se motorcycle lo ku loro e bayii. O fe ra machine ko ba le pa’ra e, abi?” She uttered those words in Akure dialect. Let me try to translate: You are not a serious person, the next thing on your agenda is to buy a motorcycle. You want to kill yourself, right?”

She had given her verdict. The second day, I returned to Abeokuta and continued saving from my huge N157/month salary and intensified my efforts to get into a higher institution.

If Iya Demola didn’t approve it, no way.

Twelve years later in 1994, I didn’t inform her before I bought my first car as a Senior Correspondent with Champion newspapers at Ilasamaja, Lagos. Two weeks after I bought the car, the story and many appellations of which I had discussed here, I traveled down to Akure.

“‘Ye mi, mo mo ti ra moto,” I told her in our dialect. My mother I have bought a car.

Her: You bought a car or what did you say?

Me: I said I bought car

Her: Where did you get the money from?

Me: I am working and I engage in a monthly contribution scheme.

Her: How much are you earning, how much contribution are you doing, who are the people in the scheme with you, when did you receive your own payment, how much was it, how much was the car, are you sure you are not too young to own a car, why are you so much in a hurry…questions, questions, questions.

And she listened patiently to my answers/explanations to all of them.

At the end, she sent me to my eldest sister (her first born). “Go and explain to her, if she says it’s ok, hmmmm”

Hmmm…Iya Demolaaa sha!

God bless Iya Damola and Iya Prince…above was the time when values and sense was common before we threw it to the wind. It was the time when we did not celebrate success and people without scrutiny. It was the era where Iya Prince and Damola’s eyes were the first remote control of life. That remote control had all other gestures such as coughs, laughter and more that told us what to do and how not to act.

It wasn’t about poverty, it was about values, hard work and a good name. In that lifetime Pastors and Imams were littered all over in the persons of your uncle, aunt, teachers, parents of your peers who would not hesitate to use the rod and their mouths to direct you.

We lost our humanity, we started raising kids that were told ‘you are nobody if you don’t have money’, our parents became experts on children’s comparative studies—sentences like ‘see your mates’ and ‘are you not working in the same Lagos with Ayo’ became commonplace.

We gradually threw respect, and honour either to the dustbin or to the highest bidder, the firstborn wasn’t necessarily the firstborn anymore but the first to hammer and to blow; we gradually but intently moved to the ‘pepper dem gang’ and ‘small-girl-big-god’ generation.

Youngies with no visible means of livelihood living the life at the cost of our mothers, daughters and sisters’ heads. We have graduated from stealing panties to decapitating the entire head.

All these yahoo-yahoo, yahoo+ and Gmail minus generation is no surprise, we sowed the seed, the Iya Damolas in our midst gave way for the psychedelic career driven, housemaid raise mummies littered everywhere.

A generation where we could post a private affair such as urinating as ‘urine things’. The rules changed, a lad of 20 buys a car and there’s community thanksgiving, no one is asking questions like Iya Damola, if you ask, you are termed jealous.

Motivational speakers, and coaches that started a whole restaurant with a single beans seed and musicians with their celebrity lifestyle counterparts took centre stage. Our lives became a ‘dorime and doings’, the ‘cubana-way’ took the better part of our collective reasoning. We stopped asking for accountability from leaders, from parents, from peers. Everything suddenly had a price…a very dire price!

We now glorify mediocrity, no the truth but won’t speak it, sex and money for grades, money for admission, money for bail, money for judgment, money for votes, money to buy blessings from ‘god’ and we finally are at the top rituals-for-money, and don’t ask me if they work.

A state of discombobulation because we elevated tribe, politics, ethnicity, wealth above our mutual humanity, we pretend like we were not the same people that elevates murder to unknown gunmen and ridiculed it as gunmen unknown, locked up people that had different opinions or bullied them in available spaces. We increased our appetite for high density conflict expectations.

Our pulpits, politicians and politics, our social media spaces and movies speak of money and affluence without hard work. Our stereotypes, our nuances, reeks of hypocrisy, we arrest people with dreadlocks, or those carrying laptops or having iPhones without recourse to common sense…and alas our leaders threat us with public opprobrium, wishing for a difference when we are largely a product of our lost values, for how long, and indeed where are the Iya Damolas, will there be a renewal, an uprising, a revolution, a change—Only time will tell.

Contact the writer: pcdbooks@gmail.com

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