Stella Dimoko Doctor Freaks Journal - Memory Lane Story With A Moral


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Saturday, July 10, 2021

Doctor Freaks Journal - Memory Lane Story With A Moral

 Nice Story....

 I was born in Western Region in the early 70s and my family later relocated to Ondo State where I was raised but my "locale" was later "ceded" to the "newly created" Ekiti State on October 1 1996 by the dark-googled officer-Sani Abacha, the most benevolent ancestor, both in life and in "life after life". He remains unrivalled till date!

Mother trained first as a seamstress and later as a teacher, but it would interest my esteemed reader to learn that there was no business under the sun that this "serial trader" did not try her hand at, ranging from fabric to palm oil to eggs to vegetable oil to gold to food stuffs to cooked food to provisions to plastic to drinks to lace to ankara, etc. Of relevance to this post is her fabric business.


Mum, together with a friend bid for and won a contract for the supply of school uniforms in about two schools at the material time. Initially, the duo sourced their supplies from Ibadan but some friends brought up a superior argument, it was cheaper in Onitsha and they decided to give it a try. I doubt if any of my parents had gone beyond Sapele/Warri prior to the time under reference, but they were willing to make that trip. It was a trip to the land of the unknown, I must admit, because of the stereotypical myths that surrounded and fuelled our early years.

 Against all odds, my parents elected to make that trip. The next challenge was, even though my Brother "X" was a very good driver at the time, but they needed an older and experienced person who was familiar with the route and no other name came to mind other than that of my dear Egbon (Oga Peter) (I'm sure he is reading this piece and smiling now).

 They approached him and be obliged them. He never said no! He was widely travelled and he had actually traversed the entire length and breadth of the nation at the time. A departure date was fixed and the D-day came. Six of us made that eventful. The trip planners decided to break the same, by passing the first night in Benin City at Uncle Sola's place before proceeding to Onitsha "on the morrow".

The trip to Benin-City, the second time I was visiting though, was smashing. For the very first time in my life, I sighted women riding bicycles to and fro their farms! I found this rather strange at the time and after O(A)gbanikaka, we got to NIFOR (of course NIFOR was a familiar terrain for me and dad because of his vocation) and later Oluku before we found our way to Uncle Sola's house in Benin. I honestly cannot remember the exact location now as this actually took place over 38 years ago now. I can still remember the fresh fish we had that night (his late wife was from Opobo.

 He was one of the few men who inspired me to marry a non-Yoruba woman) and the good moments shared with my cousins who at the time did not speak Yoruba! I found this strange too. (As if my own children speak and or understand Yoruba language today. I'm working on it though. Dont ask me how.) We all went to bed early because of the trip ahead of us the following day.

Longer day; shorter night we must have had of it, as day decided to break earlier than contemplated; so we had to set out a bit late. Somewhere around Sapele Road, Benin-City, we were apprehended by some strict Traffic (Police) Wardens (Yellow Fever) for violating the traffic light. Everyone in the vehicle pleaded but these guys delayed us for close to five (5) hours, I'm not kidding! No one ever demanded bribe and no one offered any. That was the good old days when corruption was an aberration and not the norm! I think they got tired of delaying us after so many hours and eventually released us after the long delay.

We resumed the trip to Onitsha at about 11.00am. The trip was fun. New sights. New sounds. The soil was different, it was reddish! I observed that the ridges along the roadside were much bigger than the ones we had in the West. As a child, I was very inquisitive and more of a "chatter box" (have I really changed?) who wanted to "know everything!" I later found out why those ridges were significantly bigger!

We arrived in Asaba before 2.00pm and for the very first time in my life, I crossed River Niger! The Bridge was quite different from the little culverts we that adorned the surfaces of the streams in my village and even Carter Bridge in Lagos. It was well guarded and the "steel network" was off the hook. We sought directions and got directed to the Onitsha Main market. It was massive! We found space at a filling station, if my memory serves me well now, it was a Mobil filling station.

 Immediately we settled in, lunch was shared and my mum and her friend went into the market to get their supplies. My dad, Oga Peter, my Brother "X" and "yours sincerely" were in the car for some time until my "wakajugbe" dad decided to take a "short walk". What was meant to be a small walk turned into an endless walk. Mum and her friend returned at about 6.00pm with a view to setting out for Benin almost immediately (the nation was safe at the time), only for them to learn that dad had gone missing for over 3 hours. There was pandemonium around our vicinity. There were no mobile telephones at the time, remember? Even if they decided to go to a radio station, he had no access to one. It did not even cross the mind of any of the adults to so do. We wailed, cried and prayed. On a lighter note, my father had this cousin who used to visit at the time. In his younger days, he was a trader who used to travel around and I think he visited Aba ONLY once, so that was how he used to come around and give us all sort of gists (both true and false) about his encounters in and around the country.

 He gisted us that on one of his visits to Aba, his friend persuaded him to pass the night at his and that at night this same friend and some strangers came to his room, only for him to wake up and find these uninvited visitors tasting his skin, following which they all nodded in unison that his skin would be sweet inside their cooking pot. How he managed to understand their language still remains a mystery because he neither spoke English nor Igbo. Uncle stated that he narrowly escaped death. Blatant lie! So the first thing that came to my mind was how my dad would possibly end up in the pot of some cannibals. Please note that these are part of the stereotypes that we were raised with and it took some of us some positive conscious efforts to shake ourselves off ALL of them. Most of us still live with those idiotic stereotypes! Big shame.

Mum's friend brought so much comic relief to the table. She kept us entertained all through our ordeal, although we did not find any of her "jokes" funny at the time. She spoke Hausa, so she started an Hausa class session in the vehicle. I learnt "sauro" mosquito, "kuda" housefly, etc. Mum was busy praying and wailing uncontrollably. Her husband had gone missing, what would she tell her in-laws and the entire world?

Eventually, dad surfaced at about 12.00midnight. He was looking drained and tired, like one prodigal child and laughing sheepishly. On a serious note, for the very first time in my entire life, I was tempted to do what dad would have done me if it were to be the other way round. He would have beaten the living daylights out of me, but I was just a child, his child, so I was helpless. He apologised to putting us through that mess and tried to mutter his experience. We did not care. Thank God he was back now. He decided to take a short walk and later became fascinated by the sights and sounds of Onitsha, the business hub of Eastern Nigeria, "the Land of the Rising Sun".

 He was wowed! So he decided to comb the entire market first, and later the entre city, by foot! Somehow, he went off track and he found himself at the Niger Bridge. Quite a distance. He could not remember the name of the filling station where the car was parked but a good Samaritan, an Igbo man volunteered to take him round and that was when they started visiting all the filling stations until they eventually got to the Mobil filing station where his distraught people were waiting.

We were reunited once again (at least he didn't end up in the cooking pot of some cannibals) and guess what, we all slept inside the car that night. All the female mosquitos in Main Market Onitsha got the greatest part of the proteins and lipids in our blood streams!

The moral of the story,

▪︎At that early stage, I had the privilege of disproving some stereotypes.
▪︎Unknown to me and my parents, my would-be parents-in-law's house was less than 20 minutes away from that spot!

▪︎Secretly, I vowed in my heart to train and to join any profession/career (hence my early choices of Medicine and the Army, Law did not even make the list) that had the capacity to deal with Traffic Wardens, for having the effrontery to delay us for over five hours in Benin. Guess what, today, the Police are my friends.

▪︎It also inspired me to attend the greatest University in Africa -University of Benin, twice! I fell in love with the city as far back as 1982!

▪︎That trip inspired and propelled most of the landmark decisions I made in my life, to wit, marriage and career.

Little wonders, they say travelling is the best form of education.

Its Kunle!


  1. Hahaha I visited Port Harcourt when I was a child and fell in love with the city. When i started working,I worked my transfer to Port Harcourt 10yrs ago.

  2. Can the police ever be ones friend? Hmmmmmm....
    Great writeup πŸ‘πŸΏ

    1. Godforbid police can never be our friend.

      If police is your friend wait until something takes you to any police station. Am not even talking about when you committed a crime

    2. Wonderful read, I am currently serving in Ekiti, I have met so many wonderful people esp during the nysc orientation camp, so far with my short stay in Ekiti. Many stereotypes I held before, I have dropped, humans are the same everywhere, some good, some bad

  3. Travelling is the best form of education, I used to love road travels but not anymore because of the insecurity in the country. There was a time we heard that the "ugep" people of cross river state used to eat people especially visitors and that they will dig a hole and cover it in a shabby way so unsuspecting visitors will fall prey.
    I never got to know if it's true sha.
    I think the igbos are sometimes misunderstood.

  4. Please tell me why the ridges are bigger ejor.

  5. What a nice - brilliant write-up, by the way why would a grown man miss his way? Lol funny indeed.

  6. Kudos Kinle, i always look forward to this colum.

  7. πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚ πŸ˜‚
    Your wakajugbe father behaved like a child who was fascinated with his new environment.

    I love this story . Just like we used to read it in our English textbook back in the day..

  8. Wow! I love your writing style. Vivid descriptions, great narrative and fires up one's imagination.πŸ‘Œ

    Your writeup reminds me of the African Writers Series.

    I also remember one literature book, "Joseph The Village Boy ", - a very interesting story about the life, travails and eventual triumph of a village boy who attended a secondary school away from his rural life. 😁

  9. My fellow UNIBEN Alumni!!!!

    Stella, you have some great UNIBEN people here o!

  10. Mr Kunle, one of my travels with my sister also made me make up my mind to attend Uniben now, I'm married to an Edo Man.

    Have you thought of putting all your experiences in a book? It will make a good read.
    Well done, Sir. Great UnibenπŸ™ŒπŸΏ

  11. This is such a lovely write up, I always enjoy reading your column, the descriptive way you write is top notch. Keep it coming

  12. I love reading your write ups, Very educative and interesting. Sadly, I wish we could return to this era where the country was peaceful and less corrupt.


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