New year greetings from me to you my reader… I’ve decided to start off on a light note this year… Enjoy.
Right from the time of Gringori in The Masquerade, comedians have used every means to create humor out of that amusing tribe. Calabar. That ancient town and first administrative capital of Nigeria, is also for me the soup centre of Nigeria.
To write about such rich ethnic group in Nigeria is as much interesting as its people whose language, phonation and intonation, remains a mystery to me and many like me, mostly of course, non-calabar. This writer knows all to well that Calabar is not a language itself but a location, but for the purpose of this piece, he has occasionally chosen to use Efik, Ejagham and Bekwara- all phonologically synonymous- as Calabar. Whether (s)he be doctor or food-vendor, the people of Canaan-land rock their language proudly. Why not?
This service year brought me closer to the interesting and amusing world of Calabar. It started with a valedictory party for out-going Corps members, and my man stepped out to bid them farewell just like everyone else did. He was the last person to do so, but then he would leave everyone in the hall reeling in laughter not at the content of his speech, rather the strong accent with which he colored our innocent English. I heard English as well as Calabar “mutually inclusively”, his last words sounding like “nGod wirum be wid youm”. I laughed so much I wished I recorded the speech to laugh later.
Few weeks Iater it was a lady, sitting quietly at a distance from me, beautiful, everything was perfect…I mean everything. Drawn by whatever was drawing me I walked up to her and greeted first… “Herro” was her response. Maybe I didn’t hear her well. Did she say that?… She did! Oh my! She was Calabar. I tried very hard to maintain a normal countenance during our conversation, which ended as soon as it started (not because of the accent but for non-verbal reasons commonly known best not written here). Lubbish.
I heard it more distinctly in a fellowship meeting one Sunday afternoon. Because I was concentrating (really I was), I would not laugh. Words like Yerusalem (Jerusalem), Thesalca (Thessalonian), zeaulm (zeal), wok (work), fade (faith) Edem (Eden), Amem (Amen), Chisos (Jesus).
Someone once joked that the earliest Calabar man came late when God was ‘sharing’ languages, and because all languages had been taken, He simply took small stones and dropped them in a large bowl of water, one at a time, each one making a sound as it hits the water; poum, doum, ntum…etc
God gave those sounds as their language. Another theory has it that they share ancestry with the Chinese. Still, more scientific ones say there was probably a heritable mutation long time ago in the gene that codes for the neuronal proteins in their speech centre (whatever that means). Whatever the genesis, “it’s easy to speak Calabar”, someone may say. I agree too. Just clip your nostrils in between your thumb and index finger. Anything and everything you say thereafter is Efik. Simple. That’s all!
Now, looking at all the lady-corpers in my LG, one may tend to agree that Calabar or rather the Efik-speaking tribe is the beauty centre of the nation. That’s readily arguable but then there was just one lady that stood out among all, and we the committee of men agreed unanimously, as evidenced by an unprecedented traffic (even a train was rumored to be in that traffic) gravitating towards her. She was from there. The other beautiful (whispers: pretty) ones are also mostly from south-south.
Calabar, a land of beauty both in landscape and ‘babescape’. Hmmn, little wonder Charlie that former warlord chose Calabar for asylum. If anything, I’d like to visit that land…to touch the clouds at Obudu and enjoy the natural scene at Marina resorts. I’d visit Duketown Church to see the tomb of that beloved woman who put an end to the practice of those animalistic barbarians who killed their twins. A business visit to Tinapa for a conference may just do it one of these days. And if there be any added virtue (winks) to bring back from this adventure…Blessed be God!
And Two More Things…
I have a female colleague who hails from Akwa-ibom, but born and bred in Calabar. Yet she claims that she is not from Calabar. Well for the purpose of this article, she is from Calabar. And there is nothing she can do about that tongue out. She doesn’t speak with accent but I always love to hear her speak. A happy friend.
Then, my flatmate decided to go wild eventually after all my godly persuasion. He couldn’t hold himself to the end that was near. Nature took its course. And just like a third flatmate who just passed out, he also pitched his tent with Calabar. Well it wasn’t all disappointment for me anyway because I partook in the exotic soups they had to offer… That’s by the way. On one evening, my Igbo guy turned up his witty side on his ‘chikala’ in mockery by saying and I quote; We get mbred (bread), we get nkanu (akamu) Even d ntu (stew) n don tay for two weeks… But if yun (you) int (eat) am, yun no go yion (know)… I laughed till my breath momentarily ceased.
With my own hands @bamsky007.