BIG SIS: babe, I am in PZ, how do I locate your house
ME: okay, just give me a few minutes, my brother will come and pick you.
Call ends. I hurry in final preparation for the friend’s wedding we were attending together.
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK
ME: yes come in.
Door opens and hugs and greetings. She greets my old woman and my cousin walks past. Introductions are next.
ME: meet my cousin Aunty Medinat
A.MEDINAT: You are welcome I have heard so much about you
ME: (Calling out) Ruth, ina kin sa mun purse din na
RUTH: (OFF) Zan kawo yanzu
BIG SIS: Come babes, I don’t understand you or your house. You are a Christian and you have a cousin Aunty Medinat who from seeing her, I know she is a muslim. You are Yoruba and you have a sister who is from Kaduna and you have a brother Nnamdi?
I laughed at her analogy because for the first time, I also realised the difference in the names and religion of the people around me.
In the past, we grew up knowing family as father, mother and children and then as we grew up, the definition of family expanded to cousins, uncles, aunties and family friends that were introduced as family
By the time we grew older, we started asking questions about the relationship with other ‘family members’ either based on the difference in language or something that has prodded that line of questioning. But that never change the fact that we have always known them as FAMILY.
Today you hear explanations in the name of introductions: meet my cousin sister, meet my brother-in-law’s wife to be, meet my nephew, meet my maternal cousin, meet my uncle, he is really a close family friend.
What happened to our true African way of life?
Today I am adding more to the list of those I call my family: there are classmates that have remained true who I see as brothers and sisters. I have people I have worked with and for that have remained true and have been there for me through different phases there are my big brothers and sisters. People I have lived with and come across who have supported me in different ways.
Today, when asked who is my brother or sister, I am not ashamed to call Nnamdi, Medinat, Jameela, or any of my colleagues or neighbors my brothers and sisters before anyone I share the same surname with because they are always my first port of call.
FAMILY is what and who you make one!