My cohort attended federal government colleges and they were the best. Besides, these schools didn’t cost too much. Unilag, U.I., Ife, Jos, were our first-choice universities. Education was good and cheap too. My parents didn’t have to give an arm and a leg like we have to do now to get good education for our children/wards.


Time was when the standard fare on local television was a mix of homemade and British sitcoms. The other day, I was reminiscing on my childhood and so many things came to mind. I remembered the programmes we watched then. From “New Village Head Master”, through “New Masquerade”, “Mirror in the Sun”, “Basi and Company”, “Tales by Moonlight”, to “Love Boat”, “Good Times”, “The Jeffersons”, “Are you being Served”, “Fawlty Towers”, “Carry On”, etc. I remembered how we used to huddle around the TV and then once the light goes off, we would all scream N-E-P-A! When, eventually, the light comes back on, my mother would shout “PRAISE THE LORD!” And we would respond with an even louder “H-A-LL-E-L-U-Y-A”. Thinking about it now, that was simply hilarious.

Nothing quite focusses the mind like the passage of time. Given how difficult economic conditions are today, and the diverse policy responses in place, it’s impossible not to wonder how it was so easy then for our local cultural content to go toe-to-toe with the imported variety without yielding ground. “Icheoku” gave as much cause for mirth as did “Some Mothers Do Have Them”, while collectively exploring ever so subtle themes.

So, what has changed? At the personal level, a lot, evidently. I mean, one day I was a little girl, without a care in the world. I wanted to grow up very quickly and become responsible for myself. Then, suddenly, I became a young lady, with a big ego, persuaded that I knew everything there was to know. I had big dreams. I never doubted that if the need arose, I could walk on water. I wanted to grow up, get married, have kids and live my life. The eventual transition turned out to be more gradual, subtle and nuanced than the stories TV told in my youth.

Is my argument that none of “that” mattered to “this”? What is “this”? Today, I am a middle-aged woman. Who got married. Has children. Lives her life. But, deep down, wants to be that child she once was – without a care in the world. Well, just one care – to limit the frequency of N-E-P-A’s interruption of those TV programmes. But alas, that is not possible – I never got to walk on water!

Of course, I thought that life would be so much easier for me than it was for my parents. I never thought that I would have to endure more traffic than my parents did whilst taking the kids to school. Nor that I would grow up to live in mortal fear whilst plying the expressway on the way to towns outside Lagos.


I know people say age is nothing but a number. And, now, I only wish that were true. Age is much more than a number – at least, it has been for me. I really cannot do some of the things I used to do before. With female hormones unsure what their new roles are, my metabolism isn’t what it used to be. My body isn’t the same. I need eye-glasses to see figures that are 20 paces away – and letters a hand-stretch from me. I cannot just take off as I like or live my life as I like. I’m invited to consider how everything I do affects my children and myriad other dependents. The new injunction is to be a mature responsible adult.

Youth had plenty of mental shelf space for Pacesetters and Mills & Boons. Again, that tense admixture of the local and imported! Books and television shaped my thoughts about life as a woman. Hence my excitement and zeal at becoming an adult. However, to the extent that they also were corridors through which one escaped tedium, how much did they contribute to the fact that I never really gave much thought to the negative or not-so-good side of being an adult? Life was really about love, family, laughter, joy and happiness.

Of course, I thought that life would be so much easier for me than it was for my parents. I never thought that I would have to endure more traffic than my parents did whilst taking the kids to school. Nor that I would grow up to live in mortal fear whilst plying the expressway on the way to towns outside Lagos. In those days we were excited when we had to go out of Lagos by road. I never thought that I would be so fearful of walking on the streets for fear that kidnappers may lurk around the next blind spot in my path.

My cohort attended federal government colleges and they were the best. Besides, these schools didn’t cost too much. Unilag, U.I., Ife, Jos, were our first-choice universities. Education was good and cheap too. My parents didn’t have to give an arm and a leg like we have to do now to get good education for our children/wards. We didn’t care much for our safety when walking down the street to buy “Bazooka Joe” chewing gum, coconut candy or “Okin” biscuits. We hobbled along to the mallam or old lady by the kiosk. Gave 10 kobo, or 50 kobo or one naira and then ran back home, goodies in pocket.

Today, we don’t want to look old. We want the respect, but we certainly don’t want to be referred to as old. After all we are only in our 40s. Sometimes I wonder if my children think of me as some old woman, just like I did of my mother. I don’t think so though. I hope not!


There were few distractions. We were either playing ten-ten, hopscotch, or reading Archie comics. Parents could easily control what we had access to. They were our biggest influencers. Today, social media rules the roost. I am no Luddite. But the difference between today’s swiping across diverse touch-enabled devices and yesterday’s touchy-feely ways lay in the small things. Then, we bought birthday cards and waited till midnight to sing “Happy birthday” to our parents and siblings. Today we put up pictures on our DPs and that’s it. I turned 45 recently and it was only my mother who called. The kids put up my picture on their DPs and sent me beautiful messages though via social media.

I always thought my mother was old. As far as I was concerned 40, 45-years was old age. I think my mother agreed too. I don’t recall my parents or other parents disputing the fact that they were old. They were so into “respect” and “culture” that they just seemed old. We were often told to curtsey or prostrate to greet our elders, their friends, and our aunties and uncles and this definitely made them seem old in our view. You had to use “sir”, “ma”, “please”, “may I”, “thank you”, conscientiously. Our elders demanded these expressions of deference. Our parents dressed old or perhaps we thought they dressed old!

Today, we don’t want to look old. We want the respect, but we certainly don’t want to be referred to as old. After all we are only in our 40s. Sometimes I wonder if my children think of me as some old woman, just like I did of my mother. I don’t think so though. I hope not!

‘Lande Omo Oba is a lawyer and everyday girl.