by – Onyekwelu Nneka Catherine
“Doctor, I’ve tried everything I possibly can to change his mind. Oluwaseun is hellbent on doing what he feels is right. The fact that the whole thing doesn’t even seem logical, drives me crazy. I’m surprised a literate person like me, would actually settle for spiritual intervention for matters like this. I took seun for deliverance, it had no effect on him”, Angela said frustratingly.
“What were you expecting would happen?” I asked while stifling a laughter. I kept wondering how Angela, my childhood friend, would be so desperate as to result in spiritual intervention for her son.
“Omo, babe I didn’t think about it, I was just hoping for some positive result. When a son cannot even be swayed by his mother’s emotional manipulation or even coercion, his mother becomes open to any other means”
“But spiritual intervention is a bit extreme” I retorted.
“Doctor, it is not. It is definitely not. I’ll do anything to have a normal son. Well, that’s why I’m here. In your last radio talk show, you talked about Dissociative Identity Disorder. After listening to everything you said about it, I came to the conclusion that it is exactly what Seun is suffering from”
“Angie, don’t be like that. You don’t make such a diagnosis. I’m definitely sure that Seun doesn’t have that psychological disorder”
“Doc, will you talk to him for me?”
“Yes. Treat him like one of your patients. I’ll pay”
“Angie you know I’m not all about payment”
“I’m serious babe, forget our history. I want this professional. I want results. I want a diagnosis with immediate treatment”
I took a deep breath and nodded my head skeptically. I felt the need to remind Angie that Seun might just be totally normal but I decided against it. I watched her leave with a bit of optimism worn on her face. Angie had always been one to make irrational conclusions about whatever bothers her. It was my job to convince her that her son’s decision shouldn’t be much of a bother.
After a few days, I had a session with Seun. I tried to make him feel comfortable. It seemed like Angie had forewarned him, and it made him overly defensive.
Calmly, like I do with the rest of my patients, I asked, “Oluwaseun, How are you?”
He kept mute and stared down at the floor like it possessed answers to the million questions in his head.
“The last time I saw you, you were just five and so little and cute”, I continued, trying to ease him into a conversation.
“I’m not crazy Doc, I don’t care what my mum told you”, He sounded frantic.
“Seun I know you’re not”
“So what then am I doing here?”
“You’re here to help me convince your mother that you’re not crazy”
I watched his countenance change. He looked at me with a certain trust and relief.
“I told my mother that I would be adopting the Igbo culture and she went hysterical”, Seun said.
“What do you mean by adopting the igbo culture?”
“I’ve chosen igbo names for myself. I enjoy eating their meals. I can speak the language fluently and I intend settling in one of the igbo states. I told mum that once I turn 18, I’ll have my state of origin changed to Anambra state and my name to the igbo names I’ve chosen”
“Do you intend to denounce your Yoruba culture in a bid to adopt the igbo culture?”
“Yes. I’m transferring from one culture to another. Is that a crime? Does that mean I’m crazy? I just don’t get why mum thinks the spiritual forces have a hand in my decision”
“I understand Seun, your mother can be a little extreme sometimes”
“It’s actually Kene, Kenechukwu. That’s my name now. I’d appreciate it if you called me that”
“What does it mean?”
“It means the same as Oluwaseun – Thank God”
“Alright Kenechukwu, Why are you pushing for this culture transfer?”
“I love Igbo culture”
“Is it because you grew up in Anambra state?”
“Probably. Well I grew to love everything about them and I want to be part, legally”
“So what happens to your ancestry? What do you tell your children, when you have one, is their family history?”, I asked.
I watched Seun furrow his brow, probably his way of gathering his thoughts.
He then spoke meticulously, “I’d tell my children that I am from Anambra state and my parents are from Ogun state”
“Do you think it would sound logical to your children?”
“Well, I believe when I explain it to them, they should understand”
“They should understand that their father adopted a new culture out of preference for it?”
“Yes Doc. I see what you’re doing, and I won’t be swayed”
“If your children believe that culture is adopted based on preference, and they each choose to identify with cultures different from the other, would you give your blessings?”
I watched Seun go cold and quiet. I knew I had sparked a nerve, so I pressed on.
“Would you be okay with the fact that your children don’t take your name – Kenechukwu, which based on most cultural history, is a legacy that should be passed down through generations?”
“I’m done with this. Can I go home now?”
“Yes Kene. We’ll be having our next session tomorrow”
Seun stood up dejectedly, and when he got to the door, he lingered. He turned back to face me. I saw a confused teenager who needed help figuring out life.
“Seun, will you let me help you? We’ll figure out what is best for you”
He nodded and went back to sit.
“One’s culture is one’s way of life. There are different cultures in our country and beyond. Just because we grew into one, doesn’t make the other any less valid or beautiful. Some are lucky to be born into two different cultures, that is, both parents are from different cultural background. Some others, learn the way of life different from their actual origin. This doesn’t deter them from identifying with their origin or the learnt culture.”
“I just feel like I belong with the Igbo culture. Anambra was home to me. I don’t understand why we had to move to Ogun state. I don’t belong here, I belong there. Staying here makes me feel like I’m losing that ethnic identity. I feel like If I adopt the Igbo culture legally, it would give me that sense of belongingness.”, Seun admitted with teary eyes.
I could understand why he seemed lost and confused.
“You can uphold both cultures, you know that right? You can still put in Kenechukwu with your other names. You can live amongst the culture you admire whilst still remembering the one you were born into. I’m sure what your mother is against is the fact that you want to cut ties with your origin. She feels you hate the culture you were born into, which is actually hers. Is that how you feel?”, I asked.
“No.”, he replied
“Do you understand how your mother must be feeling?”
“Yes I do”
“Will you do anything about it?”
“Yes, I’ll talk to her about adopting both cultures. You should probably talk to her too”
“Yes Kene, I definitely will.”
“Thank you Doc. I feel much better. Same time tomorrow?”
“Yes Kene. We’ll see tomorrow”