In my world, very few would forget the first or the last time they embarked on a long-distance journey without having first written or called to preempt their hosts.
Mine was in 2002 when I rode all the way south to visit an uncle, a true gentleman from sole to crown. This uncle of mine, (bless his soul), was one of the “big names” in Umuahia back then so it wasn’t difficult to locate his house. I had first met him barely two years before, when I traveled for my father’s burial. It hadn’t taken many days for me to grow fond of him, and I might not be wrong to believe that he too had liked me. So, being family, it appeared so normal for me to visit him if I wished. Which was why, one fine morning, I just packed up a bag and boarded the bus to the south. Only now do I appreciate fully how out of his way he had gone to ensure I had a wonderful time throughout my one month-long visit.
Even today, many people still don’t understand why educated upper-class families
prefer you notify them and get their consent before appearing by their doorsteps. Not because you are less important to them as they might be to you, but so that they could make certain provisions before you show up, or even beg you to postpone the visit for a week or two until they are ready to receive you.
Many people are disgusted with this elite class who they claim have stripped themselves of their African values in their attempt to europeanize. Why should someone notify family members before visiting them? Many people still wonder. Why then are we family? They ask.
How can I forget the golden 80’s and 90’s when uncles and aunts visited us from various parts of the country? I still know that excitement of returning from school or playground only to find an unanticipated visiting relative lounging in the sitting room. I still know that feeling of being handed gifts I never expected. Particularly, I still remember that sweet afternoon when some dude showed up with a baggage taller than me. He said he was looking for one Mr. Frank who happened to be my father. Judging by his dimples and dentition, I could have guessed he was my father’s brother even without him saying it. Apart from knowing that I was related to some other persons outside the immediate family, it delighted me that my parents hardly used the whip on us throughout the stay of the visitors. All those were before mobile phones suddenly arrived and turned the world upside down. You now get to call and get approvals from prospective hosts before you even embark. Now your nieces and nephews specify over the phone what gifts they expect you to bring for them. Where, then, is the fun of it?
Indeed, there is that inconvenience in making provision for shelter and food for the un-welcomed visitor. Of going to collect food items on credit from nearby shop owners in order to cook something good enough to present before the guest. Needless to say, we children looked forward to having visitors in the house because of the change in food quality and quantity. Also, you might not be wrong to guess that despite all the inconveniences, the host would feel that bitter-sweet delight few days after the guest had left, and even look forward to a re-visit in the not-too-distant future.
But then as somebody I know very well will always say, GOODBYE TO ALL THAT.
Catch Me Here