My Mum- The HomeSchooler

The lockdown that came with the Corona Virus pandemic turned a lot of parents into Homeschoolers, without any option.

However, long before homeschooling had a name in Nigeria, our mothers did it.

Here’s a part of my Mother’s story, the much I can remember.

The traditional way of learning in Igbo land, long before the advent of slates and later on, paper was orally.

A huge part of the lessons were communicated through stories and chants and songs.

In the eighties and early nineties, when a child could only go to school at the age of three years and above, most children were taught at home by their mothers and caregivers.

Was the education formal? I doubt it.

My Mum poses with her friend and my godmother outside Holy Spirit Parish, Omagba on the day of my baptism.
My Mum, my godmother and I on the day of my baptism

Most of our schooling took place on the verandah, in the evenings, lying down or sitting on mats spread out. My Mum taught us the poems and the chants all in Igbo;

London Bridge (Igbo version)
Ogige mmili London na-ado
Na-ado, na-ado
Ogige mmili London na-ado
Omalicha Lady

Translation:
London bridge is falling down,
Falling down
Falling down
London bridge is falling down
My fair lady.

Three Blind Mice: Igbo Version
Oke ito kpulu isi,
Nee ka fa si agba oso,
Fa gbakwulu nwunye onye olugbo,
O welu nma di nko wee bee odu fa,
I fugo ife di etu a n’enu uwa nke a,
Ka oke ito kpulu isi, Oke ito!

Translation:
Three blind Mice,
See how they run,
They ran to the Farmer’s wife
She cut of their tails with a carving knife
Have you ever seen such a thing like this?
As three blind mice

The Rat in Jack’s House
Nee nu anya, nee nu anya
N’ime uno nke Jacki lu lu
N’ime uno nke Jacki lu lu,
Onwelu ofu, o bele oke
Nke na-atapu akpa woolu
Nke di n’uno, unoooo nke Jacki lu lu

Translation:
Look at the house that Jack built,
inside the house, there’s a small rat,
That eats the woolen sac,
Inside the house that Jack built.

And the Zoology class, taken in a song:

Chant: One anu nwe ukwu ano (Which animal has four legs?)
Response: Nwe ukwu ano (Has four legs)

(Repeat first chant and response)

Chant: Ewu nwe ukwu ano (The Goat has four legs)
Response: Nwe Ukwu ano (Has four legs)

(And each participant would take their turn and remember an animal that has four legs. And then, the song changes to two legs and then to which animal has hair and then to animals that fly)

Chant: One any nwe ukwu abuo? (Which animal has two legs)
Response: Nwe ukwu abuo (Has two legs)

Chant: Okuko nwe ukwu abuo (The fowl has two legs)
Response: Nwe ukwu abuo (Has two legs)

Chant: One anu nwe aji (Which animal has hair/fur)
Response: Nwe aji, nwe aji (Has hair)

Chant: Nkita nwe aji (The dog has hair)
Response: Nwe aji, nwe aji (Has hair)

Chant: One anu na-efe efe (Which animal can fly)
Response: Na-efe efe (Can fly)

Chant: Egbe na-efe efe (The Eagle can fly)
Response: Na efe-efe

And on and on

Let me add that these poems were chanted with the full theatrics and demonstrations, my Mum would dramatize them as much as she could and we would follow suit.

In the course of having children, my Mum went to Teachers Training College, got her certification and did some teaching practice.

I remember when our school proprietress said that my younger brother would need extra tutoring to catch up, my Mum set-up a blackboard on the same verandah and taught my brother until he was up to par as required to move to the next class.

Then there was the storytelling; on the verandah, the sitting room and wherever the occasion demands.

In the later years, you could just ask her a question and she would start with “O ro mgbeee…” “What is it not when?…” with her face slightly tilted up and her hands positioned as she tried to remember and at that point, we’ll literally adjust for the next story.

And just like every Mum taught their daughters, there were the many kitchen lessons and others. The kitchen episodes would make another story altogether.

At the beginning of these series here I had mentioned one of my objectives as healing through storytelling, it has indeed been a great journey of which I’m grateful.

The Storytela
#LadyBeneLivesOn
#InEverLovingMemory

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