My friends Judy and Gail had also signed up. Gail did the copy editing for my memoir; she’s in the photo with Dan. Judy and I co-faciliated the conversation about the book Twelve Years a Slave at the Westport Library last Thursday evening. She loaned me her phone to take the picture (I’d forgotten mine).
Dan said that having a single theme or focus is really important. He asked what I blog about. I said, “About Nigeria, my memoir, and anti-racism.”
How do I combine these into a single focus or theme? I feel it’s there, they are connected for me, but I don’t know how to express it. I wish I could think of a tag line as good as Dan’s, “Where Westport meets the world.”
Can you help me? Here’s another chance for you to win a copy of the anthology Love on the Road 2013. Give me a super tag line that combines my memoir, Nigeria, and racial justice!
The Dibia, Part II
Here’s the second part of the story about visiting the native doctor. If you missed the first installment, you can read it here.
When we reached the Dibia’s hut, I bent down to enter through the break in the mud walls. The thatch came down nearly to my eye level and extended beyond the walls to keep out the rain. The little light that entered came from the gap between the roof and the walls.
“Remove your shoes,” Obi whispered.
I could barely make out the person inside in the dim light. Then the Dibia spoke, and I saw him seated cross-legged on the floor. He welcomed us with the customary greetings. “Nno, welcome.”
“Dalu, thank you.”
“How is your family?” he said, continuing in Igbo.
“They are fine. And yours?” I took my place on the floor, sitting in front of him as he indicated, with Obi beside me. As we exchanged small talk, my eyes adjusted. The Dibia had a wrinkled face with penetrating eyes. His hair looked gray, but I couldn’t guess his age.
The woven raffia mat where he sat was worn to a dull beige. A well-worn, black leather bag was on his right and a cracked clay pot with a narrow opening on his left. Several small animal skulls, leaves, and feathers hung from the rafters.
The Dibia reached into the leather bag by his side and brought out two dark pink kola nuts. “Creator of the universe, thank you for this kola. We honor our ancestors. He who brings kola brings life,” he said as he broke one nut into four pieces, took one, and placed the other nut and the remaining pieces on a red and green enamel plate. He handed the plate to Obi, who took a piece and pocketed the other kola to take home, as custom dictates. Then he passed the plate to me. Though I sometimes only palmed the bitter nut, this time I thought prudence required chewing and swallowing.
Obi explained the purpose of our visit. “You know that our Papa, Clement’s father Samuel, will be buried in a few days.” This was no surprise to the Dibia, who already knew, as everyone in the village did, that Papa had died.
“When an important man dies, the earth trembles,” the Dibia said.
“We have come to you to ask you to intercede with the spirits who control the elements. The wake will take place on Oye in two weeks,” Obi said, using the name of the Igbo market day. “The next day, Afor, will be the funeral. The chief will be there, and many other important people who have traveled far to come.” He pointed to the clouds outside. “It is the rainy season, and only you can assure that there will be no rain for these events.”
“Yes, you are correct that I am the one who can talk to the spirits,” the Dibia said. “I have practiced my craft for many years. I can ask the spirits to hold back the rain.”
In the next installment, you’ll see what the Dibia asks of us. What do you think?