During my National Youth Service Orientation in Keffi, Nasarawa State, I made friends with people from different tribes, within and outside my dear platoon 3 then.
Amongst these many acquaintances, two stood out; Oladimeji and Bash.
Ola was the first friend that found me in camp; he had exchanged his high quality khaki with my inferior and oversized own, then took me to Mami market to resize it to my very lovely size 4😉. Ola didn’t let me suffer, so he immediately became my main paddy. He was Yoruba and you know how they get with their language 🤗.
Bash on the other hand, was Hausa. He was always beside or behind me on the platoon queue ; this was never prearranged. He knew I always started humming after the biggle; the humming which would lead everyone to trouble. He thought my troubles were funny, so he considered it a feather to his cap when I asked him to be my Hausa tutor on camp (and he was good at that.He made sure to reserve a seat in the hall incase I was late🤷♀️. Not to mention, he joined my SAED group. 🤪
So away from the soldiers’ commands, NYSC lectures or my very spacious hostel, I was either learning Hausa or trying to decipher what Ola was saying in Yoruba. 😕
So one day, on queue for lunch , my phone rings; I pick it up and Bash asks;
“naje kishin”… kishin o not kitchen.
That’s right! I caught myself unconsciously spicing up Hausa with Yoruba accent. Then I said to myself; “what a mess!”.
You can’t blame me. I didn’t blame myself either cos all the other Akwa Ibom ladies packed themselves in the other hostels. My hostel was closer to the guys’ hostels, yards away from the cluster of female hostels. And the only other Akwa Ibom girl in my hostel scarcely responded to me Ibibio or even ‘flow’ with me at all.
‘Never walk alone’ that’s what they say; so I ‘drew my not so big’ circle.
So reminiscing on my service year, the memory of that one phone call birthed a dream in me. That one day, Ibibio Language will be known and loved by its owners such that whoever closely relates with its speakers will contact it like a virus; the virus which will edify rather than mortify its recipient; just like I consciously ‘Bashd’ Hausa and unconsciously ‘Olad’ Yoruba accent on camp.
Meanwhile, online Ibibio classes is on. Chat me up,let’s learn together.