My Uncle Dan in the brown and white striped shirt, and the Srilankan aquiantance standing with arms folded, first person on the left with brown trouser and white shirt.
Volunteering to tell the grade two class of my son's school an African folklore led to some very intreasting discoveries.
After showing the excitable 7 and 8 year old kids an old calender picture of Nigerian landmarks, i told them the only Nigerian folklore i know by heart, which is the "how the tortise broke his back story". At first i was filled with dread, i had never done such a thing before, but i was excited to tell them about Africa, and wanted to contribute something to the class project for the month "Africa". Being the first and only African they had ever seen made me a bit of a novelty, so dressed in a colorful Nigerian "skirt and blouse", and my "headtie", i went to the class half scolding myself for my "busybodyness". It turned out well, i relaxed after a while and the succeded in keeping the childrens attention as they laughed and giggled at my demostrations of certain parts of the story, its always such a delight to see children smile.
I was invited a second time to show them an African craft or a recipe i knew, so i chose the only craft i know,bead making, i took my bead collection with me and showed them how to make a flower pot decoration....but not before i had an incredlible experience, which is what i am actually intreasted in sharing.
As i walked into the school compound, there was an elderly man wearing an imbroided blue shirt that looked so farmiliar, and i wondered where i had seen that before. Then climbing upstairs to the particular class i was going to he followed behind with a thick black and white cloth that seemed undoubtedly farmiliar but i shrugged and walked on, untill the class teacher introduced me to a lady who also came to give a craft talk, she said
" Mrs Jayawardana, meet Mrs Jayawardana,"
and we laughed at the coincident of having the same last names, then she asked which part of Nigeria i was from, an i answered
"are you from Benue", i said "yes", surprised at her knowledge of Nigerian States.
She clarified stating, "we lived in Gboko for ten years....."
and i was like, "My mother is from Gboko, i go there every now and then...."
We were both thrilled, she went on "my father worked in Benue Cement in the late eighties and nineties, more excited i said
"Waoh my uncle Dan worked in Benue Cement around that time too, maybe your Dad might know him..."
strolling in with the Tiv tradition ceremonial attire and an antique Staff was the man dressed in the blue shirt..I just went
'oh my God! Oh my God! ..thats the traditional attire of the ethnic group i belong to"
i exclaimed, surprised by the coincidence.
So the lady introduced me to her father, and told him am a Tiv lady married to a Srilankan, he was excited to meet me, he began his nostalig rendition as only old people know how to,
"i left Nigeria over twenty years ago....."
I asked him if he knew any Ichull, cos they are a big family in Gboko, so he said no, it doesnt ring a bell. So he went on showing me pictures of fulani normads and many others he had. Reaching a picture of him and his collegues he showed me and said
"these were my collegues in Benue cement then",
i collected it and looked closely at the aged picture and standing very close to the old man before me, is the younger verson of the same man, and my Uncle Dan in his beard still jet black.
"Oh my God, this is my uncle, this is my uncle" i said, so shocked .
"its a small world, the others around sighed, smiling politely at my dazed expression. We exchanged adresses and it turns out they live very close to me, (which in Srilanka is a major determinant for socialization).