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My Most Unforgettable Character

By LinnieJane Burks


Amos has a face which lights up easily with a smile that doesn't stop at his mouth, but reaches right out to you. With the smile will come all of the proper Yoruba salutations if he is speaking with a fellow Yoruba. If you are "European," he will have a pleasant greeting in English. If Hausa, he will fill the air with happy chatter in Batonu.


Amos Aderibigbe Akano is a Christian, a cook, a steward, a farmer, a father and husband, a friend, a mimic, a historian, a clown and a philosopher. For eleven years we had the pleasure of his friendship for he worked in our home.


"How old are you, Amos?", we asked. The answer would be a fascinating story: "I am not sure when I was born, but they knew which Okere was King of Shaki, when I would carry elephant and other bush meat where my father and other hunters would kill big game. And a boy must be 12 or 14 to do so!"


"Amos, come quickly and see this pretty little blue bird," I whispered to him one day. "Uh-Huh," he whispered back knowingly, "this small bird cannot fight the snakes or bad boys who want to spoil her nest. So, she always builds her nest near the wasp. Then the wasp will fight for her."


"Amos, do you make the carrot cake for visitors," I asked. "Yes, Iya, but the carrot is not enough, so I just look round and I see the sweet potato, so I use it. It looks the same color and the visitor will like the cake. I think this is better than not making the cake?"


"Amos, who is your friend," I asked, when he came in with a stranger. "This is Bio, a Batonu, whom I found in the motor park in this Ibadan. He has no work, so I brought him home. I saw him there and I knew his facial marks, so I salute him in Batonu. He was happy to hear Batonu." And both faces were smiling.


"Amos, come look at this big star so close to the moon," we called from the yard one night. "Ahh-h," he replied pensively as he smiled and looked up at the heavenly sight. "The dog is close to the hunter now, but soon he will go back home and the hunter will go on. If you watch tomorrow night, you will see that the dog will not follow as far as he has come tonight.--"


"Amos, why do you want the Bible now," I asked as we were preparing food. "Please," he smiled, "It will not take long. Fili is to take her turn reading the family worship tonight and she does not remember the verses. She wants to practice!"


"Amos! What is all of the fuss about," I asked as I came to the kitchen door. Four children had turned to go back toward their house. Amos smiled and answered, "They are playing, but they get mad and want to fight. I have told them if it is a big thing they can fight, but they must come and ask me if it is a big thing. I let them all tell me the trouble; I think about it and tell them it is not quite big enough for a fight. So, now they are happy. It is better this way."


We have moved away and Amos is no longer in our home. But his smiling face still lights up a part of our memory and we still catch ourselves starting a question: "Amos?"

Written by Linnie Jane Joslin Burks, for writing class, taught by Dr. Georgia Bowman, Baptist Seminary, Ogbomosho, Nigeria.


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