We went kernel (banga) hunting during break in primary school. See eerr, this life is very funny. Schooling in the village is one of the experiences that one will never forget. I thought banga cracking was only for village children, but my exchanges with other city friends proved otherwise. It seems the syndrome is everywhere.
Na my stone that di man, no touch am. Na for here I di put my banga, make person no pass for dey. I pick 1, I pick 2. Ayoooo, that your canda for banga don stink my ear. Di banga no di comot for inside, ei di over broke broke”.
Those were some of the phrases you will hear from us, the mbanga crackers under palm trees during break. While others were going home to eat ‘Ekule‘ (sleeping fufu and black soup), some of us scavenged under the palm tree in a bid to escape the cane. Neither ways was better.
Woe betides you who doesn’t go for it; you will hear from that please Madam/Sir who has promised hell if you do not bring back 10 kernels after break.
We were, in short, I was afraid of the cane though some people used to suck it. I used to wonder how they did it because me eee, I would cry till my mom heared in the farm. Hahahahhahahahah.
Once the bell for break was rung (that bell wey all man di hear am for all side for village), Madam/Sir would say “…Bring 10,10…” and the class would answer, “Kennet…” (not kernel oo).
On our way out of class, head boy too will announce his own. Meaning we were supposed to bring 20 kernels, 10 for each person. That was where the hunt always started.
We would run and enter the nearby bushes, visiting one palm tree to the next with sticks in our hands, picking even the ones with holes and rapping all them in our gowns or cocoyam leaves. These always resulted to fights as the number of fruits and stones could not satisfy every hunter. Some brought their stones from home while others hid theirs in the bush. Others had family stones too ya.
We would crack and put in our pockets, unwashed. Both the dirty and the clean, the kernel and palm nuts too. Reason why our pockets were always burst, black, not even brown after wearing the uniform for a week.
We then sat under the scourging sun, everyone on the floor, each person with two stones and discussions on.
Weeehhhh papa God, if snake bite one of wuna for this bush them go talk say wetti? Na bell for school them don ring am so, wuna go back for class. Wuna carry wuna badluck go.
Farmers would complain when they saw us in their farms. They were very angry with us for smatching their crops and ridges during our rough banga fights.
Now the rush to class begins. The head boy stands at the entrance to the bush waiting for his banga crackers. Please Madam/Sir is waiting with a long cane in front of the class. The subsequent image shows the school campus and the entrance to the banga bush though it’s all grown now.
If you don’t comply eehhh, “na whipping you want see?” Even if you bring half the number they will still whip you not minding how you sweated and fought to get that small one.
Maybe a stone hit your hand, your pen got missing in the course of running, uniform got torn; you have to answer from your mom or you forgot your rappen of books under the tree.
Head boy will be shouting at you in the dialect on seeing you.
That kind school sef wey pupils di story na for country talk. Madam di bring egusi for class make wuna peel am, Head Master di send wuna for go carry some mami ei firewood or sand for inside bush, please sir di say make any man bring two logs of firewood. Chaiiii
Take note eehh, we (had) have types of banga;
The brown one that comes from decayed palm nuts. This one comes out whole when cracked and is very sweet. This is what we usually went for.
There is another one that is like the one above but it has started germinating. It has a whitish or yellowish flower inside. Weeehhh, this is the killer, very sweet.
Then the unripe palm nuts, usually having dark green and white coating but comes out white when cracked. We used to call it ‘white man banga‘. You can as well crack it from the cone, no need to remove before cracking. Usually sweet and soft too. The grish-grish taste makes it special.
The one from washed/milled palm nuts is always found at oil mills. I don’t like this one. It is not sweet. Maybe because it has been cooked.
Lastly, the ripe palm nuts. This was the worst one. I could not even manage because it couldn’t come out whole when cracked. It was always itching my mouth too. I ate it out of ‘langa’.
Do you know any other type? Tell us in the comments section.
Banga made us go late for every activity. We went to school late after break, went home late after school. Even when we went to the farm or stream to fetch water, banga made us come back hours later. Mami and Papa got tired of shouting and beating us.
The tin na say eerr, cracking banga na for man wey ei get patience. You need for find two compatible stones, one wey the banga go be ontop and the one wey you go use am knack am. As you di crack, you di chop then di hum. Ei di sweet pass when the banga no di broke broke.
Some people sha, how could you forget your rappen of books and shoes under the tree Buma? What were you thinking?
My mom and dad used to warn us not to go into the bush with “those” children. “Them go show wuna witch someday under lass banga”.
Las las eerr, village life sweet pass. You don ever use banga buy pencil or chalk? Even my city friends did this.
Did you crack banga too, what did you forget under the tree? Let’s know your experience.