No. 4 Kalajayie Street, Igbobi, Lagos was where I found a place to call home after bouncing around from one flat to another flat. One day Paul, a friend I met through Lemi Gariokwu, the artist and graphic designer for many of Fela’s album covers said, “Come and stay at my compound. When I move out, you can have my room”. It was one of the best decisions of my life. Igbobi was where the living, loving and lessons took place.
The families in the compound took good care of me, teaching me about African lifestyles, especially the Yoruba culture. I saw the inner-workings of the African family. The slave trade in America robbed us of this. I saw clearly how the roles of individuals benefited the whole family. Women took pride in caring for their men. The whole compound would take care of the children and when necessary, discipline them.
Disputes were settled by the residents of the compound. This took place without guns or police intervention. When the elders spoke, all took heed and listened with respect. We ate together, drank together while exchanging stories of our different cultures. One day Paul and I sang songs from The Temptations and The Supremes as we walked along Ikorodu Road in Lagos. The world was smaller than we thought.
When I had my first bout of Malaria, one of the neighbors brought in agbo leaves, a traditional medicine, cooked up in a large pot. She made me drink the hot broth and inhale their vapors for three days until I completely recovered. During my illness, almost every hour, someone in our compound, especially my friend Lantu, came by to check on my progress. My neighbors became my family and I felt truly blessed. Their kindness and generosity, their love and affection for me, their brother from the States made me feel safe and at home.