It was in my grandfather’s house that I understand the “you word”. The “you word” as he made us to understand was a rule of thumb that we can’t do without. He taught us to embrace phrases like “You are unique” “You are beautiful” “You can do it” and forget about phrases like “You are mad” “You are sick”, etc when we are discussing in and outside the family.
It was a general greeting and a gospel he wanted us to defend throughout the community. As a high chief, he was burden with the task of passing on to us wisdom worth millions of years that was embedded in his brain before he passed on. Our task was just to sit, listen, ask questions and eat.
But as children our main concern was always on the food, we were always so eager to get to the food part that we refuse asking important question. And when the food arrive we will abandon our royalty and scrambled for it like sheep with no Shepherd leaving our grandfather to sit alone while we struggle, eat and get tired.
One thing that baffles me was always my grandfather’s reaction, he never get angry for once, he will always leave us with the impression that he was not mad at our actions, but was only concerned with our wellbeing.
“You are my grandchildren, because of you, I’m not angry”
It was always “You, you, and you” What happened to me? I struggled to ask him once.
“You see, as leaders, we give more priority to what you have to say, what’s you are passing through, than the me or I phenomenon, because we believe once you are happy, me is happy and we is happy too” his response didn’t go well with me then but as I try to understand the “You brand” one phrase keep running through my mind, I believe you will understand it well when you are through with this write up.
We used to have the moonlight story series where we will sit and the Elders will share ancient tales with the younger generation, it was a general practice in our community few years ago. The chanting of story story (or Ekon nke) will welcome the story teller to take the centre stage. It was during this moonlight story series that our grandfather told us the difference between you and everyone else.
He was very specific after sharing a story about a conflict that occur in our neighbouring community 50 years back, we argue and try to compare their story with ours, it was a very tensed argument, then suddenly he asked us to keep quiet.
“Enough! Enough!! Enough!!! ” he waited a little while “You are not everyone else, you are different. You are not everyone else, you are strong. You are not everyone else, you are loving. You are not everyone else, you are unique. Don’t tell me that you can’t enjoy peace, don’t tell me that love is not possible, don’t tell me that you have suddenly forgotten who you are. We only share stories for you to learn a lesson not to be afraid or intimidated” he pause a little and demanded for a cup of Palm wine.
In his voice, I learned to crawl this path as man, I learned to understand that we are all different, I learned to appreciate and accept others as family, I learned to see beyond the act and embrace the true nature of our humanity.
Because you is a brand, you is a voice. Because you is a message hope, you is our story of love and you can make a difference.