-People believe that if a women has sex within the first year of giving birth it will prohibit their baby to walk. It doesn’t mean the baby will never walk rather it will be very slow to learn.
-Men frequently hold hands as a sign of affection or friendship. This includes your walking-down-the-street holding hands variety as well as the ever popular slow-release-from-handshake-turned-hand hold. Guys also have seemingly no problem sitting very close or on each others laps.
-This morning I was warned to not take any calls from an unkown number. Apparently there is bad juju going around and 7 people have died after answering their phone. I am told the caller doesn’t say anything but weakens the blood and the person will die. Sometimes I really hate this juju stuff but at the same time I try to understand why the people believe and how a low education can encourage even the most absurd explanation of things. I really want to get a bunch of magic tricks when I am home and bring them back here and become an acclaimed juju man. I am convinced that the most amateur parlor tricks would warrant the most grandiose explanation.
-The month long holiday that schools have is coming to an end. When kids are not in school they go to farm or sell small goods in the market. As a result most kids prefer to be in school. In fact, most prefer to be in school anyway because they know it just might improve their chances of being something more than a subsistence farmer for their remaining life. And actually, most don’t even think about it to that scale since they don’t know exactly what is in the world beyond but they do know that put simply, farming sucks.
-Speaking of school, I saw a government survey that was distributed to students. The survey asked some education related questions like how much time do students do homework and how much is English spoken at home but overall it focused on quality of life. It seemd to me that it was attempting to identify why students were not attending school (major problem in rural areas). Some of my favorite questions…
What type of toilet do you have in your house?: Water system, VIP toilet, pit latrine, bucket system, bush
What other activities does your child participate in after school?: Selling/hawking, taking care of younger ones, cooking, farming, house cleaning, serving as house help to other family, homework.
What prevents student from going to school sometimes?: ill health, parents ill health, financial problems, household chores, looking after siblings, attending ceremonies, market days, required in farm, bad weather/rain, no transport, physical barriers like hills and streams, bandits/kidnappers, fear of punishment.
What is really sad is seeing most of my friends lie on the survey. It is like the survey just reminds them that yes, we are very rural and lack opportunity. I mean, look at the three questions I posted and who would like answering bush, farming, financial problems? Although the people here do not have much exposure they sure as hell wish they could answer water system, homework and ‘none apply’. So they modify their answers and it makes me sad. No one likes being poor and no one likes a government survey to confirm it.
-On a more positive note I am starting my acting career. Although some of you may not be aware, the Nigerian movie industry is the second largest internationally behind only Bollywood(India). Nigerian movies dominate Africa and were even quite popular in Jamaica. They are generally pretty amateur though the plots tend to be interesting and no doubt entertaining. So in one of the villages I work with (the largest and most developed), they had a production company come and make a movie. I went to the ‘premier’ and it was , um, maybe exactly what I expected. o fast forward a few weeks and they brought their people back for a sequel and wanted to film here in Iko Esai. The director tracked me down and said he wanted me in the film. He was an interesting character; a journeyman football player at the tail end of his career who seemingly enjoyed the power trip of being director. I agreed to be in the movie and without giving too much away, I play the chief of a community with a mysterious link to a dark juju man in the forest. Don’t worry, I will make sure to post it on youtube when it is complete.