Saturday, July 07, 2007

Bidemi - A Poem

A toddler's beauty
ebony black glowing
the whitest smile
the fullest of lashes
biggest brown eyes ever paired
brimming with intelligence,
curdling with fire
tiny and belly-potted
full of love and affection
content with nature's simplicity
mangoes in their tree
mud huts and their thatched hats
Apata - a place called home
at one with God and his sky.

By: Me.. May '05

I wrote this poem a little over 2 years ago. It was inspired by this little girl, Abidemi, that I met on Erimo Ori Oke ( a prayer mountain) that I climed with my mother, just a few miles outside of Osogbo. I was so reluctant to go on that trip..I remember thinking to myself "this woman (my mother) has lost it". But that trip turned out to be one of the most purifying experiences in my life (and there haven't been many). There was this small village community up there..maybe a total of 50 people at best. Bidemi was a little chubby 3 year old daughter of one of the mountain keepers. And I fell in love with this little angel. She just clung to me and we had the most amazing little conversation in Yoruba. I loved her so much I wanted to take her back home with me and adopt her and just give her everything. I jokingly asked her if she would come back to Lagos with me and she said to me 'only if her dad could come along'. Can you imagine!! I found that to be so honest and mature for a 3 year old. I was amazed by how these people, who had so little, still had immense contentment. Including Bidemi, who juse seemed so content and on top of the world, literally, with her life. Even at age 3 she emanated that. She wanted to be my friend, but was in no hurry to leave her life or family behind. I got back to Lagos and continued to think about this girl, who gave me so much to think about. Life and contentment. What were those things exactly? This community have no light, no running water, just the clean air and a view to die for. Yet they all seemed to just get on with it all, surviving and living, joyously.
Thanks to the phenomena of 'gsm' which worked all the way up that high-a*s mountain, I was able to keep in touch with her by calling her mother's phone.
So since I wasn't able to take her home with me and make her mine (as crazy as that may sound) I decided that I could still adopt her from afar. I've continued to stay in touch and she has now started nursery school down the mountain in a small nearby village. I send her clothes and dolls and that kinda stuff and books to read (I even found some children's books in Yoruba for her) pretty regularly, check up on her schooling and things like that.
I just thought about her today and decided to publish this piece that I wrote. I wish though, that I'd had the presence of mind to have taken my digicam up there. I don't even have a photo of her. I was too busy kicking and screaming my way up the mountain. *sigh*.


Ky said...

Sweet! Too many times we judge based on our own values. How can she be happy with no light, no water, etc. Many times, those in "abject poverty" live lives so much more fulfilling than our own "comfortable" existence.

So, do we use that as an excuse not to try to "improve" their lot by providing running water, light, etc? They are happy as they are, abi? Kuku leave them, make we build bridge for Lagos.

Or do we recognize that although they are "content", they deserve more and therefore strive to provide them with more? Do we run the risk of endangering their contentment?

Consider the hypothetical case of the goat herders in Chad. For centuries their existence has revolved around finding suitable grazing for their herds. At night they gather around a fire and share stories of the best grazing, rearing methods, medicinal remedies, and other things "goat". One day, a man rides up with a battery powered satellite TV. The herder's are amazed to discover electricity, running water, scantily clad MTV/BET folks, and the like. Their contentment with all things goat now turn to resentment regarding all the creature comforts they are missing. The transfer of dreams has created a nightmare for them. The things they want they cannot (immediately) have, and this riles them even though a few minutes ago they didn't know what they were missing.

I raise this example to illustrate the difficulties one faces when trying to "improve" the lot of hte masses. Sometime the masses have a good lesson to teach us ... make the most of what you have.

If you made it this far, thanks for indulging me.


Ola said...

moving piece. You haven't blogged in a while-stay engaged!

Saymama said...

I know! I have a lot of back up pieces to publish, so check back in a couple of days.

For the love of me said...

I followed ur link from ola's blog(notes of a naijablogger) your comment on the Betty Irabor goof completely echoed my thoughts. I have been trying to revisit the issue as a case stude for the power of blogs but I fear that I may not find sufficient info.
This post was very touching. Your sending her clothes and monitoring her educational progress is superb, you never know, tomorow she may be the one to bring electricity and water to her community.