I spent the last hour walking through a neigbourhood in Ibadan where I last visited about twenty years ago as a young boy. The memories have almost all faded along with the landscape. New homes and new streets have sprung up where trees and old buildings used to be, and I walked like a stranger that I now am, enjoying the pleasure of the welcome anonymity. None of the relatives I knew who lived around there live there anymore, thankfully. I would have expected shouts of “Kola! Is that you? What are you doing here? And who is this lovely woman walking with you?” Growing up has its perks.
I hope to spend the next hour checking out another part of this town that holds an even deeper memory: the neighbourhood where I spent the first thirteen years of life. The building in which I drew some of my very first breaths now exists in a different neighbourhood than the one I left it in. New neighbours, new ownership, and maybe a new paint job. I don’t know right now. I haven’t seen it in more than ten years. There exists a huge memory of my growing up that lay within the walls of the compound, and has gone with me everywhere I go. There also exists, at some level, a stronger desire to make a reunion with that memory permanent. If I ever become rich, I will pursue the desire. For now, this will become another tour of the long memory lane.
I have my camera ready, and the last image of that building in my head as I saw it through the rear-view mirror of the truck that took us out of there in April 1995.