Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko
Mirror of Our Lives: Voices of Four Igbo Women
Miss Nelly, Nwanyi di mma (the beautiful woman)
Ify graduates from college and returns to Port-Harcourt, the city where she grew up. She sees a woman selling used clothes at Diobu market who somehow reminds her of Miss Nelly, her first grade teacher. She is the only one of her elementary school teachers that she still remembers very well. Ify walks past this lady several times, looking at her and marveling at how much she resembles Miss Nelly. The lady has sleepy eyes and is rotund, but her voice sounds familiar when she speaks.
Miss Nelly lost her parents in a motor accident at her final year in the teacher training college. She compensated by spending her life working and training her younger siblings. She rejected many suitors, and refused to marry because of her brothers. She saw them all through school and settled them in their chosen professions.
She spent her youth taking care of her siblings, and in the end, she had only very limited options open to her for marriage. She marries a retired army officer, a widower, with seven children. The man took Miss Nelly because he needed a mature woman who can take care of him and his children. Her marriage to the retired military man was to escape her family. It was her first attempt to do something for herself. Her lack luster life with the husband will be short lived. The husband dies. Miss Nelly finds herself, once again working hard to bring up, this time, her step children.
Her family took everything from her, her life and her dreams. What they could not take, they claimed. They never gave back anything. Her husband, even though civil to her, treated her as if he did her a favor marrying her, and would sometimes expect her to show him gratitude for marrying her. He would jokingly tell her that if he did not marry her, no one else would have.
Ify always saw Miss Nelly as the wife of a Diplomat, or the wife of a Director of some big corporation, not as the widow of a retired military man who left her nothing but his kids.
Joy’ s Bio
My years at the NBC Lagos started in mid 1972 and ended in 1975. I was a music producer. I was told to invent myself with the program. The only format to the program was that you had to choose a theme, which will have you talk to your listeners, and intermittently play a piece of music to break the monotony of your voice. I decided to focus my theme on the elderly, those too old to be out and about, who rely on the radios to see the outside world. I would talk to them as if I were in their room visiting with them. When I started to get lots of feed-back from the elderly, I knew I was on the right path.
While broadcasting, I was also running my band. I did my first recording with Decca in my first year at NBC, and when that song, UWAM exploded on the air wave that morning, my life changed, and my name became a house-hold name in Nigeria. People who knew me then still remember that moment. It was magic; it was out of this world. To hear my voice in the air for the first time, I could not relate with that person. In fact, that has been my attitude toward my many performances since then. It really helped me to have a life. I still went to work every day, people will recognize me, and I will simply shrug, and keep going. I did not like the limelight at all. Too bad my job put me right there on the spot.
Because of the close relationship between NBC and the Nigerian Television, I also performed regularly on television. My first Television program was produced by Art Alade, and I was to be accompanied by Ayo Bankole. I got to the Television House on time for the program, and Ayo was not there. He was never good at keeping good time, but he will eventually be there. Art started fretting, because it was supposed to be a live program. He wanted to see the songs to see whether he could accompany me, which put me into frenzy. How could he accompany me when he did not practice with me? So, rather than let him mess me up, I decided to mess myself up. As soon as it was time for me to go on, I told him not to mind, and to point the camera on me, and he did, and I did what I do best. I sang accompanying myself on the piano on television, and I even surprised myself. Art could not believe his eyes and ears. At the end of the program, Ayo walks in and learns that the program was over. The next day that program was the talk of town. I ran over to the Television house to get a copy of my program, but alas! They had recorded another program over it. I did not believe them of course, but that was the story I was told.
My show was the first show ever at the National Theater. I performed with my band at the inauguration and commissioning of the National Theater. I performed in three different idioms; my folk songs, art songs, and a sketch. Yes, I also do sketches. I used to write and perform short sketches between song styles. The one I did that day was titled; Waiting for the Bus.
My greatest regret today, is that I do not have recordings of my performances. There were so many that I would have loved to have.
For more information on the above, please check out the following:
Joy Nwosu Lo-Bamijoko: The Saga of a Nigerian Female Ethnomusicologist [Kindle Edition]
Godwin Sadoh (Author)
Watch the ‘Mirror of Our Lives’ Trailer here https://youtu.be/UhSyMaUz0Uk
http://sbprabooks.com/JoyNwosuLoBamijoko/Legend of the Walking…
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