Do you remember when you were six years old, in Primary 1, and could cry a whole city awake whenever it was time to braid your hair? Granted, Mama Bilikis’ hand felt like pepper on your tender scalp, and it did not help that her shop was right beside a pit latrine, or that she tucked your head between her thighs. See ehn, some of us went through the actual literal ghetto just to come to school on Monday with 8 plaits of all-back. Lol. Anyway, did you imagine then that a time would come when you’d sit down for two days at 9-hour stretch just to braid your hair? No tears, not even a single wince. You simply became the Bruce Lee of hair pain, the James Bond of sitting through that torture. But such is life, abi? We literally grow into ourselves. One minute you can’t stand the sight of carrots, and the next it has to be juiced into your system every morning. The interesting thing, as many of know, is that there is no timeline for this kind of self-development. You can learn something different about yourself at 17, as much as you can at 67. Like the famous translated Igbo adage says, whenever you wake up is your morning.
There is one small exception though—dogs! Lol, yes. If you hated dogs as a Nigerian kid and stayed away from them till you became a teenager, chances are, things will remain that way. Case in point? My father. Then my mother. In fact, every adult I encountered in my childhood years. Since I moved to the abroad, I’ve been thinking: why do we have such a dog aversion back home? Like, is it a Naija thing or is it a Naija-dog thing? Naija thing, as per poverty and corruption, maybe we are too rugged for that kind of non-human devotion. Or the Naija dog thing, in the sense of which you’d have to agree that every single dog in Nigeria is mad. Particularly in Lagos. Seriously, I have not met a dog, no matter how well bred in Lagos that was not volatile or temperamental. Even the cute Maltase.
Let’s even start by talking about those brownish hairless dogs that roam the streets, the ones that move from one trash bin to the next. The ones that, once you spot them on the road, you’d better shrink to one corner and wait for them to pass. Exactly. Those ones that can bark for Africa, or, if you make the slightest eye-contact with, will start chasing you down the streets. Sis! I’m talking about the dogs you were running from the day you fell and landed in the gutter. It’s okay, we can admit that that scar on your Achilles is not from a door post. Lol.
Me, I carried my rapid distrust for dogs with me throughout my Lagos days. After all, rabies is not a joke. But in the abroad, the dogs here are well…not as angry or temperamental. I’m not one of those people that think Oyibo is better, that anything that comes from abroad is of superior quality. See, colonialism and western imperialism did a number on us, so that we don’t value our home-grown content and focus instead on all the things we can import. However, my dear sisters, there is one exception, and that is, dogs! It is good to say the truth and shame the devil, and the gospel truth is that the dogs here have original correct home training. Maybe it’s because, one small bite and you can sue the hell out of the owner. Maybe it’s because there’s an actual job for people who want to walk dogs. Like, you will type and send out CVs to take care of people’s dogs. Omo. It is so interesting.
So let me now tell you, my secret. It turns out, despite my upbringing, that I am in fact a dog person. I live with two of them now, and the other day, at a small get-together, someone referred to me as the ‘dog-whisperer.’ I’m not saying I’ll have a pet anytime soon, but if I can discover this part of myself despite specific dog-related childhood trauma, and that deliverance pastor who told my father that dreaming of dogs meant sexual promiscuity, if after everything I am willing to let these ones here lick me thoroughly every morning, then anybody can be anything. So, see, let my dog story inspire you. Who knows, you could wake and realize you are actually a Lion person. Lol.