Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mama Ogadi

I used to make one kick ass 'ghana weaving' braids with one girl called Ify. Ify's braids were soo good that you could tell if a person had just left Ify's place I mean she had a signature way she "carried her hand" and so the weave just looked marevelous! anyway so because Ify was soo good and she was the only one who made the hair, you had to get there really early as in like 6 am.. to 'book' a number.. she never did pre-booking. So I would always like to be "number 1" so I'd get the best of Ify's morning charm and I'd get to Ify's shop at 5.30 (yes.. i know too early abi.. ehn ... I like my hair being on point when I make it)

So ify's shop is infront of a house that has like 4 flats in it. One of the families that live in the house is Mama Ogadi's family!

When u arrive at 5.30 am to the house, Mama Ogadi ( hereinafter referred to as M'Ogadi as is pronounced) would be already up and about.. she would be pouring water into the gutter in front of the house... then she would go outside the gate and light a fire with which she would boil water for her family to wash up when they wake up! M'Ogadi had 5 girls... five girls with age difference of not more than a year between them. M'Ogadi's mother-in law lived in that house too. She sells fried fish in front of the house. P'Ogadi has 2 brothers and 1 sister living with him!
So i would sit there, waiting for my hair dresser to come I would see people oozing out of this really tiny flat. I wondered.."dear God.. Where did they all sleep"?
Out of that tiny flat came 6 adults and 5 children. P'Ogadi was a 'cabu cabu' driver ( not a taxi oo, and not a cab.. mba no.. a 'cabu cabu' is those really battered cars that park at the garage and wait for each of you to enter.. so 7 of you would pile into a Peugeot station wagon.. yes.. that is a '
'cabu cabu') So P'Ogadi is a 'cabu cabu ' driver.. I know Grandm'Ogadi sells fish.. M'Ogadi says good bye to us here makes around 8 am . I was not quite sure what she did but Ify told me many years later than M'Ogadi was a school teacher. P'Ogadi's sister didnt really do much, she would sit infront of the flat with a mirror , all day pinching the pimples(acne) on her face and brushing her hair.. in my mind I would think, these ones are on stand bye to kick M'Ogadi out of her house if this pregnancy she is carrying is another girl.. ( oh I forgot to mention M'Ogadi was pregnant!!!)
The brothers -in-law.. what do they do?? who knows.. but at least they go out and dont come back until late.. ( yes sometimes I dont get number 1 position and have to go and come back, my hair doesnt get finished till 8pm)

The other day I was thinking of M'Ogadi and I was sad.M'Ogadi had a permanent hard look on her face, her face was weary all the time.M'Ogadi is the Nigerian Woman personified.
There are so many women out there, suffering in this country. Women who have to work really hard, I mean extra hard, physical labour just to feed their family. The Nigerian system of having extended family does not help either. M'Ogadi has to feed her 5 daughters, she has to send them to school and then when she comes back, she has to make dinner for her kids and those agbayas that live in her house.. and her mother-in-law too. She has to endure the derision of being "unable to produce sons" hence the need to "try" again.

I plan to make my hair soon, and I really pray that M'Ogadi has been given a better lease on life. So at least i can see some cheerie faces around me as I await dawn and the beautiful hair Ify's craftmanship is going to weave on my head.

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