Life as a village lass
My native name is Adiaha.
My English name is Alice.
My father's name is Sunday.
So my name is Adiaha Alice Sunday.
I was born in Ikot Udobong, a village in Etim Ekpo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State.
I do not remember the year that I was born but I was a young girl when (Col. Emeka) Ojukwu wanted to separate Nigeria.
I went to primary school in Ikot Udobong. I also cannot remember its name. I remember that we trekked about two miles from home to the school.
I remember being part of a concert around the festive period one December, usually when the school was about to be closed for the holidays.
I was one of the dancers in the concert.
I stopped schooling at Elementary Five simply because of my stubbornness. (Giggles).
I was really stubborn. I fought to the extent that I would tear the dresses and books of people I fought with.
I would beat them and, of course, I got beaten back. I would bite them and, in return, they bit me too.
Sometimes, the other girls would go and wait for me at the river in the village . But I would end up breaking their calabashes.
These were the reasons I ran away from school. I feared the revenge that would be visited upon me.
Marriage and maltreatment
I got married, soon after I stopped going to school.
And, I have had several husbands.
The first one, whom I married after dropping out of primary school, was Joseph Akpan. We had met each other in that school.
I was fairly young, perhaps in my teens.
But he was maltreating me too much. He often beat me even over minor differences.
If not that I had some flesh, I would not have survived his beatings.
But I think I endured him for too long as we had three children together.
Second husband, peace and sorrow
It was when I left him that my aunt, my mother's sister, brought me to Bonny Island, Rivers State.
On arrival in Bonny, I met a Yoruba man, Lawan, from Ede in Osun State, who married me.
He was based on the island, and owned a kiosk at Orosikiri where he sold provisions and other small, small items and I joined him in selling.
Unfortunately, he has passed away.
Even the child I had for him passed away too. Sadly.
He paid my bride price.
He never raised his hand against me. Never.
I believe that, were he alive, we would still have been married. He had had two wives before me in Ede, before we got married.
He took me to his people in Ede who really liked me so much. This is why I speak some passable Yoruba.
His people called me Celina. I do not know why they did not give me a Yoruba name.
We were married for ten years or more. I was quite happy being with him and he was too.
It was after his death and funeral that I returned to Bonny.
On returning here, I began to sell fish.
I do not remember the exact year when I started but (Gen Sani) Abacha was the one ruling Nigeria then.
If I were in the service of a company or government, I would have been qualified for retirement. Yes.
This is how the fish business is done. I would receive supply from my regular fishermen, grill the fishes which come in various types - croaker, catfish, solefish, etc - and take them to Port Harcourt to sell. These days, I do not go to Port Harcourt; my daughter does.
Weekly, I could buy and grill between fifty and two hundred pieces. It also depends on the catch by the fishermen.
I have done nothing else since I started the trade. This has been the source of livelihood and I do it gladly.
I do not have a particular preference for any type of fish. I eat them all.
Note that not all of them get caught in all seasons. This, for instance, is not the season for solefish. The season we are now is for catfish, because the fishermen say it is ground fishing. To catch some other fish, they have to go to the high seas and spend like three days. The one called afari is a December fish.
The smoke has, however, affected my vision in a way. When the sun is too much, I hardly see someone's face. Before now, I used to see objects farther away but I no longer do. I have not gone to see an eye clinic.
Back to marriage, I married another man, also from Akwa Ibom State, although we met here on Bonny Island. However, he has passed too. I have a boy and two girls from that union.
Overall, I am happy.
Photo Credit: Pelu Awofeso
Appreciation to the Nigeria LNG Limited for providing total logistics support to, and on, Bonny Island, and to our local guide, Godswill Jumbo of Kristina Reports.
TO KEEP US GOING
This initiative which started as a demonstration project for an intern of The Journalism Clinic has, before our very eyes, taken a life of its own, demanding a lot more resources than envisaged.
Your kind support will keep us going. You can do so securely here.
May I also request you to kindly join our community by subscribing to our newsletter so that we can deliver the toris directly to your inbox, hot and fresh. Please fill the form here. So, as we keep growing the brand, we will be sufficiently ready for long-term support through product placement and sponsorships.
Taiwo Obe, FNGE
Commonwealth Professional Fellow
Founder/Director, The Journalism Clinic
+234 818 693 5900