When Mom moved us to Ikot-Ekpene, her brother, Uncle Inwang decided to visit her since he hadn’t seen her since she came back. He fell in love with us and Ikot- Ekpene and decided to move there. He got a job and a place almost immediately. He played a major part in making it easy for us to adjust to our new lives. He was the closest uncle we had.
Since Mom was technically a single Mom, Uncle Inwang was the Father we didn’t have at the time. He was excellent with kids and also a disciplinarian. We merely needed to hear his voice and we were running to him from everywhere, shouting at the top of our lungs. He had to brace himself because we just jumped on him.
There was no kind of play that he didn’t play with us. He rolled on the floor, swung us around and played house with us. He even let us cook pretend food where he was the baby and we had to feed him. He was a very patient and kind to us. Sometimes when he said he was leaving, one of us would climb on his back while the two others held each leg shouting, “Don’t go Uncle! Don’t go!” He genuinely had a love for us.
He didn’t joke with his food which was always a huge mountain of eba or fufu. When he molded them into balls we were always amazed at how he could swallow such huge sizes, “Uncle that is too big, you can’t swallow that!” but he did. He teased us endlessly about chewing fufu. We didn’t know that there was any food you shouldn’t chew. I still chew till today.
He made life so pleasurable for us.
Uncle watched us when mom went to work. When NEPA took the power, which was almost every night, he used to allow us to stay up late, playing on the porch and then we’d all fall asleep out there because it was too hot in the house.
He never did get any rest with us because we played continuously, you had to make us stop.
One of the many things we used to do to him was plait his beard with thread. You had to be a patient, loving man to allow three little, but noisy girls, pull and tug on your beard. Mom had a sewing machine with all colors of thread. We would take different colors of thread and use to plait his beard. “Uncle stop moving! Keep your head like this. Nseobong move to your side! Mfon don’t push me!” before long we were fighting. He had to tell us where to stand to prevent any fight. When we were done, he would have red, green, yellow, blue just about every color on his beard. Most nights Mom came home at almost midnight and had to get us into bed. Since he left our house so late, he didn’t get a chance to undo what we had done.
The next morning, as we passed his house on our way to school, he’d be outside with a mirror, tugging on his beard, trying to loosen the thread only to hear us from the car as we all struggled to put our heads out the window waving and laughing, “Uncle! Uncle!” then he would begin swearing, “Mma Abasi, ndito anem eye wu mi” meaning, “I swear to God these children will kill me.” The interesting thing is that he would come by the house after we got home from school and allow us to do the same thing to him.
We used to hear stories about his love for alcohol and getting drunk which he never denied, but since he never drank around us, we didn’t ever see him drunk. We also never saw him go to church and that was strange to us because we had to go every Sunday. One day in our innocence we asked,
“Uncle, why don’t you go to church?”
“Who told you I don’t go to church?”
“You don’t. We’ve never seen you go.”
“I go to church”
“What’s the name of your church?”
“Since you asked, my church is called, do me I do you, God no go vex”.
“Uncle! That’s not a church”
“It is. You asked and I told you now you’re saying it isn’t a church.”
So naturally we asked mom and she confirmed that it wasn’t a church.
One day, a few years later, Uncle said that he was born again. I could tell that he was because there was a kind of peace about him. Nothing changed about him, but the drinking and swearing. He said he went to a church called Christ for the World Mission. The change for him was instant because Uncle was naturally a trouble maker and very stubborn, but he became very peaceful.
Everyone should have an Uncle Inwang. He’s the father every child deserves and the uncle anyone would be privileged to have.
Much Love and Laughter.