Thursday, 7th December 2023

The person without a name

By Kole Omotoso
13 February 2022   |   2:42 am
Once upon a time, there was a man named Iroko. His mother was the one who was determined to give him the name of a tree in the forest, the most powerful tree in the forest

Once upon a time, there was a man named Iroko. His mother was the one who was determined to give him the name of a tree in the forest, the most powerful tree in the forest, the one who falls and other trees get ready to go with it. Why she was insistent on giving a baby such a huge name nobody knows, but no sooner than the baby was born he asked for a bowl of pounded yam with egunsi soup because he was coming from a long journey. Once he had eaten his full, he drank a cup of cool clean water, ate the tilapia fish in the soup, washed his hands, wiped them clean and asked his people to sit surrounding him.

Remember that this was the first day of his birth. He asked for their pardon and especially that of his mother. She was the first person he was going to offend. It was on the matter of the name that they were going to quarrel. He did not like it. No name was his name. He asked the family to call him his name and everyone shouted: “Noname”. Once the matter of the name was settled the house was at peace.

But something else broke the peace of the house. It was an extensive compound which held so many households together. It was an incredible homestead and the family contained three generations of family. One day, his uncle picked a quarrel with his wife and would not eat the food she had prepared for him. Which was usually his favorite meal. It was black-eyed beans with corn and sweetened with sweet potatoes. Before long their arguments filled the compound. And then neighbours began to ask across the wall what the matter was. If there was something that Noname hated it was nosy neighbours wanting to know what was going across the walls.

Noname called his uncle to his household and spoke to him quietly and he was placated. He called his uncle’s wife and joked with her. By the time she came out, she was bubbling with laughter. The couple apologised to the compound and all was peaceful once more. Nobody knew what words of wisdom he appeased his uncle with. Neither did anyone discover the joke he told his uncle’s wife that cleared her mind. What was clear was that from that day onwards, no words of anger came out of their section of the compound.

Then Noname quarrelled with himself. This is how it happened. He was losing weight. He was not eating enough. He mentioned casually to his Doctor that he was not eating enough. The Doctor said the only medication to improve the appetite is difficult to obtain. How difficult? Very difficult. Okay maybe not difficult but illegal. What is it, Doctor? Weed. You mean marijuana? Yes, it is the only medicine that can increase your appetite. Forget it. I avoided it up till now, why would I pick up the habit now? You asked me and as a doctor, I recommended it to you.

Time lapsed. One night conversation dragged to the subject of weed. Another doctor wanted to know if anybody knew why weed was called a weed? Nobody had any suggestion. Because it takes over the weeds of the yard once you plant it there. You should see my vegetable garden, grown all over with marijuana! At this point Noname mentioned his doctor’s recommendation of weed/marijuana for his lack of appetite. Immediately the doctor’s husband jumped up and asked: “Do you want me to go and bring you some? I mean it.” Almost as joke he without a name said go and bring it. The husband went forth and brought a whole bush of weed enough to increase the appetite of an army.

From one joke to another. The weed worked and Noname’s appetite improved and he ate in mounds of food. But things did not stop there. Instead, the weed became a habit. A habit became a means of livelihood. And weed became something he could not live without. Here then began his quarrel with himself.

His head was as if it was not on his neck. He was thinking right. How do you not think right. Every person who approached him seemed to fight him. He approached every person ready to fight him. Advice for those fighting themselves.

When you wake up in the morning, look at yourself in the mirror and say I love you. Make a list of things you love about yourself. You remember how you remember to love your mum first thing in the morning. How you swore you will always take care of your siblings.

You must remember not to forget yourself whatever you are engaged in. As long as you do not forget yourself you will not forget others close to you.

So, little by little Noname began to win the fight against himself. He did not forget himself. He did not reckon without considering those close to him. Weed was no longer close to him. Without bothering with those he did not love, he took time to love those he bothered about. This was how Noname also got a name.

He went to his mother and begged his mother. He begged them to tell him what name she gave him on the day he was born. They told him he would have to make the sacrifice that those who reject their given name make. He took two cooked eggs and two pods of earth pepper. He took them to the river. Walking backwards, he walked away from no name. His name on the day of his birth was Iroko: strength of the forest be my strength.

Why did the King not invite him to his “owe”(community labour)? It was because he had rejected the name his parents gave him on the day of his birth. The King only recognizes those who accept their parents’ name. It was as a result of this that a child does not speak on the day of his birth. It is also the reason a child does not order his parents around on the day of his birth. And most importantly, a child does not give himself a name and doesn’t give himself Noname.

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