Saturday 21 October 2023


Photo by Kindel Media on Pexels

By Atinuke Adeosun

It is a rainy Saturday afternoon. The breakfast of akara and pap has been had. The tedious, back breaking and unnecessary slew of Saturday house chores have been done. 

Dija is now on her bed watching one of her favorite series. The new season of  'The Witcher'  came out and she was so excited to binge watch it after she was done with literally washing the walls of her mother's house. 

She loves days like this. The sound of the raindrops hitting the roof of the house, provides a score as she takes in the scenes of her show, huddling under her duvet. She loves that somehow NEPA did not carry light. She had been scared when she looked outside the kitchen window and saw the rain clouds start to gather. But then the rain started to fall and as the hours passed, she was delightfully surprised.

She is in the third episode when her mom walks into the room. 

“Nigerian mothers and barging into somebody's room.”, she mutters under her breath, because the lord helps her if her mother hears.

Sitting up immediately, Dija asked, “Mommy, are you okay? What is wrong?”

Her mother remained silent as she approached the bed. Dija quickly made room, clearing the duvet to provide her mom a space to sit.

With a deep breath, her mother began. “I have to tell you something. I just got off the phone with your dad and it is about your grandfather.” Dija's heart sank.

Sitting on the edge of the bed, her mother's eyes glistened with unshed tears as she held Dija's hands. Her voice trembled as she continued. “Dija, my love…”

Dija's heart raced, awaiting the news that her mother was about to share. “Your grandfather,” her mother finally said, “...has passed away.”

A gasp escaped Dija's lips, her hands trembling within her mother's grip. Tears welled up in her eyes as she felt a lump form in her throat. Her beloved grandfather, the source of love and wisdom in her life, was gone. “Wait, mommy. What happened? He was fine two days ago.”" she managed to ask, her voice quivering.

“It was a heart attack. Before your cousins could get him to the hospital, he passed away. I am so sorry, my love. her mother replied, clasping Dija's hands tighter.

Dija pulled away, a surge of anger rising within her. She had never truly understood why her parents had kept her away from her grandfather when she was just seven years old. Playing with her cousins outside her grandfather's house, she had been abruptly whisked away by her parents, who cited differences in religious beliefs as the reason. It had hurt deeply, but she was too young to question it then.

As she grew older, her curiosity about her grandfather's beliefs intensified. She remembered his house vividly, with colorful masquerade masks adorning the walls. At the age of fifteen, she had secretly started visiting him after school because her school was close to his house. They spent only an hour together most days, but she cherished every moment. It became their little secret, a bond that transcended the religious divisions that had separated their family for so long.

She recalled the stories he used to tell, patiently explaining the traditions and beliefs of the Yoruba religion without ever pressuring her to follow them. Whenever she visited, he would proudly introduce her to his neighbors, saying, “My granddaughter is as beautiful as Osun." He respected her mixed heritage, knowing that her Catholic mother and Muslim father held conflicting views on spirituality.

Now, at eighteen, regret weighed heavily on her. Regret that she hadn't spent more time with her grandfather, regret that her parents had allowed their differences to keep her away from him. She had eventually confessed her visits to them and intended to continue doing so because her grandfather had not influenced her in the way they feared. Instead, his stories and teachings had helped her appreciate her own identity.

Tears streaming down her face, Dija wiped them away and looked into her mother's eyes. “I loved him, Mom.”  she whispered, her voice filled with emotion. “I wish you hadn't separated us because of his beliefs. He never tried to make me follow them. He just loved me and only told me about his beliefs because I wanted to know about them.”

Dija's mother nodded, her own tears flowing freely. She realized the pain that their family's division had caused and how it had deprived her daughter of precious moments with her paternal grandfather. “You are right, my dear.”, her mother said. “We let our differences come first and robbed you of time with your grandfather. He was a wonderful man and a good father to your dad. We should not have cut you off.”

In a heartfelt embrace, Dija and her mother mourned not only the loss of a loved one but also the years they had lost due to misunderstandings and prejudices.

As they prepared to attend her grandfather's funeral, Dija couldn't help but reflect on the importance of bridging the gaps that differences in beliefs and backgrounds could create. This lesson extended beyond their family to the broader African community. This needed to change.


Africa has always been a culturally diverse continent. Long before the advent of Christianity and Islam, traditional religions had thrived and were still practiced by many today. Regardless of one's beliefs, they should never become a reason for division. Embracing their diversity was crucial.

Shades of Us, a storytelling initiative for African people, encourages unity in diversity. By sharing stories that celebrate the richness of African cultures and traditions and emphasizing the importance of understanding and respecting each other's differences, Shades of Us aims to build bridges and foster unity within African communities.

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