Seven Colours from My Life


Amber is the colour of HB pencils. One morning, in the year I was five, I returned from our neighbour’s house where we grind beans for akara and moi moi and sketched the grinding machine I saw there. My dad’s sister raved about the drawing and adjudged it an excellent reproduction. She rewarded me with two HB pencils and one eraser. These were not the last accolades I received for my art.


Baby blue is the colour of my mom’s cooler. On a Visiting Day in junior secondary school, I took some of the jollof rice my mom brought for me to the hostel. My five friends flocked around and in-between jollification and smacking of lips, intoxicating praise for the jollof streamed into my ears. Three of these friends lived in Lagos. Zaria was too far-off from Lagos so their parents never honoured Visiting Day. The next term, my mom journeyed from Kaduna by bus with her big cooler of jollof rice for me and my crew. The image of my mom walking with the cooler on her head, and a Bagco Super sack of provisions clutched in her hand, stays with me.


Brown is the small scar on my mom’s palm. Books, television, and the sound of music made me a wandering kid who always yearned to recreate something wonderful. Many evenings bloomed and withered as I combed garbage dumps for milk cans and precise colours of slippers, from which I fashioned wheels, Ludo seeds, and hockey balls. I ended my quests, each time, looking scruffy, and spankings by my mom’s palms remained the consistent punctuation to homecomings. In my mid-twenties, my mom revealed the real reason behind her anger. It wasn’t her supreme aversion to uncleanliness. Each time I strolled home looking like a pig, I reminded her of her days as a little village girl.


Copper is the skin tone of my girlfriend. We were whatsapping one day and then:
*Ping* Why do you like me?
You pinch me. Sometimes. And it hurts until I laugh.
 I typed the last of nine answers to her question.
She replied with thirty reasons why she likes me. I have emailed them to myself for safekeeping.


Yellow is the colour of egusi. The day we overcame our reservations and ate at Mama Favour’s spot, we sat in the open air, on an unstable bench, battling impolite flies and smoke from smoldering firewood. Her pounded yam and egusi was delicious. Incredibly cheap too. So cheap that we did the math three times to make sure we weren’t short-changing her. Two years on and Mama Favour has two roofed bukkas now. My best friend and I, and the other friends we have shared the gospel with, are still her customers.


Porcelain white was the colour of Aunty Ramatu’s teeth. To the delight of my parents and we kids, her visits to our house were seldom without a jerrycan of kunu and sticks of sugarcane stuffed in a Bagco Super sack. In September, I visited Aunty Ramatu at the hospital. Her only surviving child laughed at a joke I cracked, revealing white teeth. I marveled, turned to her mother and discovered, as she too laughed, weakly, that her teeth were also white. Aunty Ramatu was discharged from the hospital two days later. In October, after contending with a terminal illness for more than fifteen years, she ascended from our realm. Your kindness and laughter will always be remembered, dear aunt. Rest in perfect peace.


Red is TED. “Did you read Chimamanda’s 9K words essay?” read Mimi’s IM on WhatsApp. I hadn’t. She whatsapped the link. I read and found it articulate, inspiring, and instructional even if I didn’t agree with a number of Chimamanda’s admonitions. The waves of my doubts crashing against the shore of my convictions steered me towards Google. There, I discovered Chimamanda’s TED talk We Should All be Feminists. These days, I wonder if the women in my life will not live richer, fuller lives if we all became feminists. Maybe I am slowly becoming a feminist. Maybe not. Only when I marry, beget and rear a daughter will I really be certain.

© Samuel Okopi 2016

Samuel Okopi loves to sing, design, and fantasize about the future. He believes there is no end to learning and so, for him, every tommorrow is pregnant with new opportunities to inch closer to perfection.


Photo credit: nbostanova/

© Timi Yeseibo, 2016

Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Timi Yeseibo and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

69 thoughts on “Seven Colours from My Life

  1. This is a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your colours. I think there are only three colours in my life. Black, White ad the one between (which I have not really given a name). I love white because it’s the colour of paper. I love black because it’s the colour of the ink of my black pen. And I love the sight of black on white whenever I write. And I love the colour in the middle because that’s the true colour of life. Life is neither black nor white. It’s just life!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I admire your courage in sharing the colors that you associate with different women in your life knowing fully well that all the women in your post are likely women of color and also that color is a dicey treasure with women generally. One group of scholars think women code people as musical tones while men code people as colors in their memories. Having said that, your post made me remember how some reputable researchers have tried to convince we mere mortals that color coding is extremely important to our memory performance. They even went ahead to describe the subconscious emotions that we associate with the people or issues that we have color-coded our memories. Using their analogy I want to describe the emotions that you have subconsciously associated with the women in your post. Don’t worry about the analogy it is a sub-scientific exercise:

    Liked by 2 people

    1. 1.Yellow is the closest to amber. It represents mental activity or something to be remembered. It means you will always remember your dad’s sister even if you ever lose your memory threshold (God forbid, if you ever have Alzheimer’s, for instance).

      2. Blue is the color code for things that we consider intricated. You think your mom is a complicated woman (face palm) or maybe you think she overthinks everything (smh).
      You also associated brown with your mom.

      3.Brown is the memory code for things that prevent boredom. This means, in your perception, your mom is exciting or that you pthink that there is never a dull moment with her (thumbs up) !
      4. The closest to copper is tan. It means you have enshrouded the memory of your girlfriend as something inviting or something to unravel (wink wink).

      5. You are always happy, cheerful or energized whenever you think of Mama Favor. These are the memory codes of yellow. Maybe like me, food makes you happy.

      6. You have coded Aunty Ramatu as being a pure person. White is the closest to unspecified porcelain. This may be because of your views of souls that have transcended to the great beyond.

      7. You either think Chimamanda is someone very dangerous or someone very important. I am guessing it is the latter. You have coded her as red, which means you mentally want to draw attention to her.
      There you go! The subconscious is poorly illuminated so let’s see how many of these you consider right.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. This is very interesting, Gbolabo! Before I dive into a proper response, let me first thank you for reading and taking the time to share such profound interpretations of the text. Much appreciated.

        I find psychology a very interesting endeavour in understanding and appreciating the complex web of relationships humans form with themselves and their surroundings. In that regard, I have always been fascinated with the place of colour in aiding psychological enquiry. Not minding the fact that what colour means to a person varies from individual to individual and from culture to culture, I do believe that colour has some scientific hold on how we react to things around us, as well as how we commit experience to memory.

        Hmmm…let’s now see how you fared in your numbered interpretations 😀😋

        1. I know for certain that the memory of my aunt’s encouraging gift and praise will never leave me. Now that you mention the significance of yellow to this memory point, I smile because that scenario exists in my memory as a sea of yellows: the rocking chair the late son of my aunt sat on that day was bright yellow; the walls were cream, and I remember the table I drew on as a yellow (even though I no for certain it couldn’t have been yellow but likely the colour of oak). So yes, I think you are right on this one.

        2. No comment! 😂😂😂

        3. My mom is one of the most engaging storytellers I know. 🤗

        4. This is so true! 😲😲

        5. Well, I don’t think of Mama Favour often but I do know I think of her when my tummy begins to rumble 😀. I used to love food a lot. But it’s surprising what constant activity can do to your taste buds. Food suddenly loses appeal when there is so much to do.

        6. The link to transcendence may be true. When she passed on I kept telling myself that I will always remember her for her kindness and laughter. A pure soul? Oh yes, oh yes!

        7. I think it’s both danger and importance though skewed largely to the latter.

        Phew! I think I should trust science even more. Your interpretations turned out pretty accurate if you ask me.😊

        Once again, thanks Gbolabo Adetunji. I found this very enlightening!

        Liked by 2 people

      1. Haha. You can’t, Timi? Colour and aroma are two strong memory points for me. The memory of a place or time can be triggered by a familiar aroma or colour. I guess we all have different channels by which we access the beauties and pain from our past. 😎

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you @ThoughtsInLife for reading and enjoying this. I really do appreciate. A scenario or scene from the past might be fuzzy for me but many times, specific details like colour lend themselves as sure gateways to these times and places.

      Thanks again! 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Oh yes, they were odes to women, Nedoux! Many women have left lasting impressions on my life and I saw this as an opportunity to capture these impressions in writing. The last story really is a summary of my consolidsting opinions about women and how their rights in a modern society are to be protected.

      I am glad you enjoyed reading this. Thanks so much! 😀

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks a lot for you kind words, Lani. I am glad you enjoyed reading this 🤗. AS someone who has always loved art, I found the idea of coding my experiences with colour, irresistible.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks Bunmi Oke. I really do appreciate your kind words. Interesting yeah? 😀 You know what? I think I agree with you. Lol.

      Thanks again. For reading and enjoying this.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks a lot D’Dream 😀. You know there are things parents tell you that put a lot of things into perspective. Finally you realise the world really doesn’t just revolve around you and that evry action you take has implications, some of which deeply affect other people’s lives. I think this is the reason empathy is so important.

      Thanks again for reading. Glad you enjoyed it!

      Liked by 3 people

  3. Enjoyed this very much. Loved walking with you through meaningful memories. You did very well painting the scenes and the relationships. And yes, it is so wonderful that we never stop learning. This week I learned several new interesting things and gained some insight about my self and my journey. The problem with being old is that I forget things more quickly than I learn them. Journaling helps. I can remember the insights. They were significant. The interesting things have moved on. But I enjoyed learning them, so it wasn’t a loss really. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. another reflection: I remember during World War II, my mother and I moved to Mississippi to live with my grandmother when my father went into the army. One of my fondest memories was hearing the sugar cane wagon coming down the street and getting a nickle from my grandmother and running out to get some. I haven’t had any in years, but the memory is vibrant and poignant . Many small treats like bubble gum were rationed, so sugar cane took their place. It’s funny how what now seems such a small thing is still one of my clearest memories that seems to some how symbolize all the small good things that we find to cling to when our world has been shattered.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Your memory of that WW2 incident is a sweet one. I can imagine you running out, your hair dancing with the wind, your heart racing with expectation, your eyes coloured with the brightness of childhood innocence. I can imagine your smile or laughter conveying the sweetest form of gratitude to your grandmother for the gift of a nickle. And as a supreme lover of sugarcane myself, I can imagine the crunch of the stick in your mouth and how some juices must have stubbornly stained your clothe, to your grandmother’s chagrin or amusement.

        What would life be without memories. An insipid feast I imagine.

        Thanks for taking the time to respond this way after reading. Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks for your very kind words, Eileen. I feel honoured that you enjoyed this piece and I stand in awe of all the memories you have collected over the years. I imagine them as little passages scribbled everywhere in a large book, much like autumn leaves spread around a lake in brilliant communities of yellows and oranges and gold. Maybe, someday, grandkids will walk by the lake and woods of your journals and be transported to another time and era of living.

      The act of learning does something special for me: it humbles me. Every new thing learned is a call to humility; to an understanding that we all are a very small part of the puzzle that is life.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Marie!

      Whatsapping? Think Whatsapp 😀. The use of Whatsapp has become so popular that it is no longer convenient for many pepole to say stuff like “I just sent you a message on Whatsapp” when “I just whatsapped you” would do. In my writing, I like to reflect these kinds of resistance that occur in the evolution of language. Think about, for instance, how footpaths come to be even when clearly delineated routes are created for people to thread.

      Thanks again, Marie, for your kind words. 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you so much! I am glad each colour resonated with you. Each of these colours actually represents, in part, the impact of some women have made on my life; Mom, aunts, friends and inspirational figures. This piece is really a tribute to all these special and wonderful women, especially my mom.

      Thanks for reading! 🤗

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Enjoyed the overall tone of your essays, but your vocabulary and mine don’t mesh well. I don’t know what any of these words mean:

    akara and moi moi
    jollof rice
    Ludo seeds
    a jerrycan of kunu

    Wonderful that you had a chance to see yourself through your girlfriend’s eyes: “She replied with thirty reasons why she likes me. I have emailed them to myself for safekeeping.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. @nrhatch
      Ankara is beans pudding fried
      While moimoi is beans pudding steamed in a leaf
      Egusi is a local name for melon seed
      Bukkas is an example of a local neighbourhood canteen
      Kunu is a specially made drink from cow milk
      Hope you are clarified now?

      Liked by 1 person

    2. @no hatch, @D’Dream beat me to it! 😀 And he does a good job of explaining what these words mean. I am sorry they got in the way of you engaging better with the piece.

      I should also explain Jollof and Ludo. Jollof rice is a popular rice meal in Nigeria, Ghana and other parts of West Africa. In fact, when Mark Zukerberg visited Nigeria recently, one thing his Nigerians handlers made sure he did was eat our jollof. To get a sense of how much we take pride in our jollof rice, hear Mark’s words:

      “Yesterday, I had jollof rice and shrimp. It was delicious, fantastic. I was told not to compare Nigeria’s jollof rice to that from other neighbouring countries.”

      He knows what will happen if he gives the crown to another country. 😀

      Ludo seeds are the tokens used in the board game known as Ludo. it’s actually popular in many countries around the world.

      Your last comment makes me think you are a romantic like me 😉. Thanks for reading!

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahaha, Marie, I am really laughing here. Who knows? It just might be that your mom spanked you for reasons not remotely tied to wilful disobedience. But one thing is sure here: we both have spanking moms! LOL 😀😀

      Liked by 2 people

        1. Hahahaha. Funny how life serves us interesting lessons right? I can imagine you were like me back then; wondering why mom could never just understand a little child’s desire to live life to the fullest 😀. And now your son must be thinking along that line!

          Take it easy sha. Do unto him as you wanted your mom to do unto you 😉😉.

          Liked by 2 people

          1. I try Samuel, I try and I know because I compare to how I got it… For example spanking is my last resort and we talk about it and we agree on how many spanks… That time helps reduce my fume and I think he gets to ‘stuff’ more than if I just spanked all over like I got it at his age doing even less than he does… and honestly, I hate spanking because it wears me out… the energy both physical and emotional and maybe even the rltn it’ll ruin even only for a while… u never can tell how deep that’ll run : ) but candidly your number sparked some thoughts thanks for sharing

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    1. A red dress draping a mocha skin would be a lovely sight to behold me thinks. So…

      Where is the story? 😀 No Benn, you don’t get to whet my appetite and take off. Out with the story of Mocha and red and daughter(s) please! 😀😀

      Thanks a lot for reading. I do appreciate your sparing time to read.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. It’s a beautiful place I tell you, and I feel honoured to have my work published here. Timi has entertained, instructed and given much food for thought over the years.

      Thanks for reading. 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Yay! Isn’t this what most writers wish to hear from readers? 😀😀. Your words are very encouraging. I am really happy I could take you on a journey to places and times I have engaged with. And if these stories did evoke the scents of special times in your past, their work then is mostly done.

      Thanks again! 🤗

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Awwww. Thank you thank you! You are far too kind with your words. Really glad you enjoyed this. And thanks for taking out time to view my seven colours. 😊😊

      Liked by 2 people

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