'A' for Apple By Basiru Amuneni

Don't think just read... I promise you will love this poem by my Co-author

I had my primary school education in Lagos in the late 80's and early 90's, when Sir Shina Peters, Adewale Ayuba aka 'Mr. Johnson' and Salawa Abeni  ruled the music air waves. Those were the days of 'fuji' music. A bit of what I also remember about those days, was trudging to school sometimes without shoes, while 'fuji garbage' bellowed out of another road side speaker! My red and white square checkered shirt hanging loosely on my lean frame, creased at several corners on thoroughly washed brown khaki shorts for uniform. 

I was an awkward child... more after the cut
 An observer of life and truly, this pre-occupation has not left me since. Those days, I would always wonder alone and I only really excelled in academics and fine arts. No friends, maybe just one; my shadow. I still do not know how I managed but honestly, I can't remember feeling alone and I never even knew we were 'less privileged'.  

Few weeks after I started school in primary 2, I was 'commissioned' as an 'artist' to work on some sketches for the class. Afterwards, I was also assigned  to draw sketches of items against the alphabets that started their names on coloured card boards in alphabetical order for each class in primary 2.I was in primary 2C in 'Ewu Titun Primary School, Oshodi. That should have been a mouthful. Yes, Ewu Titun 'bla bla bla'...! I went to that kind of school-the "less privileged" school.

'A' for Apple; 'B' for Ball; 'C' for Car, I would sketch on from an apple to a ball and so on. Interestingly, most of us had never physically seen an apple fruit or ate one at that time. The best we probably had was a shameful replica of 'real thing', a fruit that my elder brother used to call apple,scattered within our area of Lagos. I still do not know the real name of that imposter fruit. But for the real apple, we sang its praise for so long in many childhood lines and rhymes. 

It was about Ten years later that I had my first bite of the real thing. And like Adam, it opened my eyes to see that 'A' was for apple to us for far too long! Now I wonder what this very alien premier plume was doing at the top of our alphabetical psyche all those days and we did not know what it looked like in real life! Why did we not just work with 'A' for Africa or 'A' for Ant or maybe 'A' for 'Amebo'? 

Why didn't we just work with what we had all around us then? What was easy to find so as children, we could connect to it fast. Thinking about it, I begin to see a link with our constant pre-occupation for validation from anything foreign or white. Our acceptance that any white idea is definitely superior. So when the white man sold 'A' for Apple to us, nobody questioned it.

It's a burden of which we carry till this moment. That a Nigerian Artist was 'ranting' because BET refused to honour him on their main stage but rather back stage or at a corner  is unnecessary. We should not constantly wait for a white man's validation! When you 'know' your worth within your own, a BET invite or snub would mean nothing. Except we all still suffer from trappings of insecurities and inferiority complex.
Albert Einstein once said and I quote,  "nobody needs despair to gain converts to a most extravagant hypothesis that has art enough to express itself in favourable colours". The Indo-China story is very clear. These are Nations that searched within and found themselves. Now they stride tall beside same white ideals that they leveraged on. We need to start from within. We need to believe in us. Work hard on us, believe in our ideas and the world would come to our doorsteps.
...to be continued.
Basiru Sunday Amuneni