The Epoch of Wooden Machine Guns

By Emmanuel Egobiambu


Our pistols were carved from wood; at other times, dry branches of trees that had obeyed the laws of gravity.

With our petite frames, we launched onto the lush green fields wielding our “machine guns” to hunt the ever-elusive grass-hoppers that littered the fields.

For once, the great “Rambo” and “Van Dam” felt inferior to our gallantry while we roared “Kpeeeee!!!I don kill you!” in uncompleted buildings splashed across the neighbourhood.

Life was simple yet fun for we had the blood-coloured earth to erect mansions that even the Burj Khalifa bowed to.

We needed no knowledge of architecture for our dainty legs had the accurate details of the height, width and orishirshi of modern architectural designs.

As far as we were concerned, there was no night. If there was one, it only squeezed out fresh juice of creativity in us –for what will be a full-moon night without sitting in circles, listening to grandparents telling tales of the legendary tortoise?

Ours was a generation who did not mind washing sleep off our eyes to sit happily on the bare floor to see late night movies after the 10 pm news.

Even though our televisions set only showed in duo colours, we waited, like catfish for blood, to see the “Village Headmaster” on the screen.

What would be Christmas without posing in rubber eyeglasses and going from house-to-house, nodding like agama lizards to voices chanting “make una come eat rice” before we share the money?

We were splashed across the neighbourhood –playing hide and seek.

The village square became our Maracana stadium where we used unripe orange –plucked after fearlessly climbing the tree riddled with sharp-as-nail thorn –to play football “monkey posts.”

We ran as swift as Usain Bolt in a 100m dash through the entire “village”, not afraid of the objects that layeth waste on the ground.

If we’re unlucky to be trapped by any of them, the sand came to the rescue –we poured it on the wounds or pluck “awolowo”, “gbugbum” leaves and squeezed the juice onto it –and continued like an unwavering soldier.

I feel nostalgic even as I recall how we flew, like kites in the air, between two strands of palm frond, scaling unimaginable heights –landing gallantly like the Eagle.

What a time it was growing up, building castles on the red earth, making melodious tunes with empty “Pronto” and milk cans!

Now, the times have changed! Kids now play in houses with walls as high as Kilimanjaro.

The computer age has come. Neighbours now wave at each other from afar!

Adulthood and its friend, modernity have murdered our innocence for how can we now stripe unclad, run through the tear-soaked earth to allow heaven’s tears soothe our aching frames?