Chris Jibero

Rookie (Ugbawka)

Akara Mama Okwudiri


I saw you soon after my birth
For your pleasant aroma saluted my nose
And cajoled my tender eyes to pop open
Before their season
For you were already a daily delicacy
In my home
Making my older siblings rejoice
At the mere mention of your golden name
As though you were out to abolish hunger forever

Besides Oyster Milk
You became my day-starter
When I was but a toddler
When you were two balls for a penny
And you captured my appetite
And yet as an infant
You became one ball for a penny
Oh, the bronze-looking penny coin
Embossed with the crown-wearing
Head of Queen Elizabeth II!

Akara Mama Okwudiri
You became a regular feature
With bread on my breakfast menu
When I became an adventurous teenager
Especially when Mama’s sumptuous dishes
Arrived a little late
Even though you aped others
In ascending the unsung throne erected by inflation
By changing price in two quick successions
Jumping from five kobo to ten
And soon after to fifty

Akara Mama Okwudiri
I also knew you as a young adult
When you sold for one Naira just for a while
And swiftly pushed up to five
And now a full grown adult
I still reach out to savour you
Whenever I come to your domain
Indifferent to your move to ten Naira

Akara Mama Okwudiri
A stout stuff
Not overwhelmed by the vagaries
And vicissitudes of life
Still maintaining your quality
Looking lovely all the time
Maturing with age like wine
For old is gold
And the meek old lady whose trade you are
A model lesson in little beginning
And always active and fit as a fiddle

Akara Mama Okwudiri
A teacher of savings to every child
Who is in love with you
A snack that makes every child’s waking up
A hopeful delight
And a welcome reward
After doing chores and running errands
A delicious breakfast, lunch and dinner
Whether taken alone
Combined with bread
Paired up with akamu, agidi or gari soaked in water

Akara Mama Okwudiri
Standing taller than others more than four decades now
And still counting
Aromatic and crispy as ever
I salivate, I salivate and I salivate
Whenever I remember you
And often jubilant and, in obeisance, prostrate
Wherever you are seen
Because you do not only satisfy my hunger
But have also taught me industry
Focus, dedication, consistency, tenacity,
Doggedness and perseverance

Akara Mama Okwudiri
I hail you
And much more the hand that makes you
As I wonder the number of balls
Millions or billions of you
That have been fried and eaten so far.

Submitted: Friday, June 14, 2013
Edited: Friday, June 14, 2013

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(c) Chris Jibero.

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