Monday 28 February 2022

Dreamscape: Where learning requires example

As you dream of it

It was eerily like real life, but then what are dreams but multidimensional realities played out in the vast mines of the mind where treasures are found and fortunes are created in ways that the imagination is tested of its limits if there are any?

I found myself attending a function at a girls’ school, probably a Founder’s Day and some girls were lined up in two columns as if to give a sword arch parade to their honoured guest, their worldly famous and most successful alumna.

The field was down below and access to it seemed almost impassable at first sight, just as you have in dreams, the easy becomes immediately impossible and the impossible suddenly possible, like you have waved a magic wand.

I was there unawares

I eventually found myself at a vantage point to view the proceedings as a guest of sorts and too prominent to be overlooked after chatting to some of the girls. I had a feeling of déjà vu like I had been at rehearsals for this event somewhere and nothing happened after I was first called to participate and so nothing was learnt about what to do.

I was apprehensive and the more I asked about what was expected, the less I was informed of protocol or practice, it was like everyone assumed I knew and thought my inquiries were unserious and silly. I did not even know what the guest of honour was going to do, I thought I would observe and maybe learn something.

I did not know

To the strains of music, the guest arrived and passed through the parade to the end singing an apparent folk song that was a traditional game at the school on that day. She had done this many times before and part of it was a call-and-response activity between her as the lead and the guests or girls she selected to ask to attend a function and what food they would prefer.

You were not to take the enquiry literally but provide an excuse for not attending and a back-and-forth of teasing and questioning in order to persuade you ensued until someone made the mistake of mentioning food. Guess what happened, I was the first she called out to and I mentioned food.

Hear the derisive laughter and astonishment that I should have known not to have answered as such and it was when she moved to the next guest and her answer was the typical excuse that I realised my faux pas, but I was never in that situation apart from the other time when no one offered to explain the rules of the game.

The assumptions that ridicule us

It transpired as I made conversation and enquiry that this was a core Yoruba tradition that I could have learnt and enjoyed in childhood. Though, when they learnt I was not born in Yorubaland, they somewhat accepted why I made the error. It left me thinking of the gaps in my learning of Yoruba cultural activities, my knowledge of the language was not enough, there was more to culture than that.

On reflection too, we agreed that phrasing an appropriate enquiry to get the kind of information to prepare me for that situation would have been nigh on impossible. If only the guest of honour had selected someone else first, as matters acculturation are best bequeathed through example. Just because my apparent oddness makes me prominent enough to be selected first does not imply, I would be ready or in the know of what is expected.

Do not assume if you have expectations, at least discreetly try to elicit enough information to be sure the game is not ruined by those called to participate who are totally unaware of the rules.

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