WHERE IS MY WICKED STEP-MOTHER? BY BOLATITO AJIBODE
Dolamu’s father (Baba Akanbi) of blessed memory was well-endowed
with wisdom, knowledge, stature, good looks, and excellent communication
skills. He however belonged to the group of people afraid of rejection, hence
never sought support from friends and families who could have positioned
him to a higher level. One would have imagined that such a man would be shy and
live a monogamous life. His natural endowments endeared him to a lot of people
and women were not left out. When he died at age 66, he left behind 15 children
from 3 wives.
Dolamu’s mother, his first wife followed him from Baiyeku to Lagos
Island to start a new life. The newly wedded were blessed with another boy,
having lost their first son in Baiyeku. Just as they were both settling to
build a home, Baba Akanbi during one of his visits to Baiyeku cut a glance of the
daughter of the village chief and asked for her hand in marriage. The petite lady,
(Mama Ayoka) joined Mama Ajoke in Lagos. The two (2) women were obviously too
young to pretend to be friends; hence, they had their brushes. The children
from the two women were however oblivious of the rivalry between their mothers.
Mama Ayoka can be described as the woman that knows the key to her husband’s heart, hence her home was Baba Akanbi’s abode. Dolamu and her brother usually
sneak to Mama Ayoka’s house to enjoy her special cuisine. Her home was Mecca to
all the children who would eat to their satisfaction, especially during festive
periods. Mama Ayoka loved children and spoiled them with good food. Her children
had choices at mealtime and could reject food as they desire. Dolamu’s
stepbrother, Muskedeen had a long list of foods he disliked. His food
preferences would have remained a dream if he came to the world through Mama Ajoke.
At Mama Ajoke’s, Dolamu and her siblings knew their limit at mealtime; they had one meal type and got a children’s portion of meat or fish. Mama Ajoke’s philosophy of children’s portion of food is inconceivable and has not changed till now. She believed that children could get spoiled and grow up being greedy if served sumptuous foods. The only time Dolamu and her siblings had the liberty to ask for more food is the day the soup is prepared. Mama Ajoke would tease them by saying, the soup cannot be scarce the day it is prepared (obe kii won ni’jo ton ba se).
Dolamu was only 10 years old when Baba Akanbi married his 3rd
wife, Mama Gamos. Her mum was magnanimous to have sent her to help Mama Gamos out
with house chores when she had her 1st child, Billy. Expectedly, Mama Gamos trump card in
the new marriage had to be nothing but sumptuous meals for her husband and she
was not found wanting. If Mama Ayoka was generous with food, Mama Gamos
operated at an even higher level.
Whilst Dolamu was expected to return home daily after her chores
at Mama Gamos, she tactically slept over during weekends and had one or two
changing clothes and eventually picked her school uniform. Before her mother
could realise what was happening, she had stayed with Mama Gamos for one year.
It was when she was “promoted on trial” to Primary 6 that her mother forcefully
brought her back home, to her reality! While she was with Mama Gamos, Dolamu
was fascinated with the large sized meat and fish accompanying her meal.
Her special meal was Mama Gamos Egusi Ijebu (a melon soup delicacy) flowing
with Stock fish and smoked fish served every weekend. Dolamu understood the
adage “good food is the key to a man’s heart.” at an early age. With the benefit of
hindsight, she would however rather say, “good food is the foundation of love
and happiness in the family.”
Dolamu was very lucky not to have known her wicked stepmother, because her father never married one. The story of the wicked stepmother therefore remains a fairy tale to her. Thirty-five (35) years after the demise of Baba Akanbi, his children, grand and great grandchildren, home and abroad come together to sponsor a project for the less privileged in his remembrance and celebrate MAAS
This post is dedicated to Mama Ganiyat Moradehun Sanni ;Gamos) who died precisely 15 years ago. May her sweet and gentle soul rest in perfect peace.