I thought carrying transistor radios were an exclusive reserve of my brothers from the Northern side of the country until I got to the Oluyole City of Ibadan.
As a child, my quest to know the latest happening from across the world, had endeared me to save up money –every now and then to get it –although I later dumped it as I grew older.
It was a chilly morning that day as I struggled to wake up from my succulent mattress –to get ready for work –when the blaring sound woke me up.
At first, I thought it was the horn speakers from the nearby mosque calling for morning prayers – I was wrong.
Seconds later, the sounds became clearer. It was a transistor radio from a neighbouring compound –it had been tuned in to a morning sports programme and the presenter’s voice pierced through the morning silence in the neighbourhood, reeling out stories from the fast-paced sports world.
While I headed for work, I thought I had escaped this but as I stepped out of the compound, the story was more surprising.
I mistook it for making a call when I saw a twenty-something-year-old man with his handset glued to his ear like a child holding his treasured Teddy Bear.
My street was walled on both sides with people heading to work and the early morning rush was more maddening with noise from several handsets, car stereos and transistor radios –all tuned to one FM station or the other.
Some placed theirs in their ears, saying goodbye to the world around them; others wore earplugs, parading the streets.
While in the car, the driver had also tuned his stereo to a radio station and the presenter was rapping away the latest sports stories in impeccable Yoruba.
“Ah! Ronaldo, mo ballu gba! Guy o ti ya weyre ni!” one of the passengers who had been listening with rapt attention, chipped in.
That day was my baptism into the radio love of the Oluyole, Ibadan people. I’ve never thought of such especially this modern day.
From the bikemen, school children, the aged, to the working class and trendy youths, listening to radio is a culture in the Oluyole.
As I later discovered, an average Oluyole, Ibadan man can kill if you take his radio away from him –I’m still weighing the level of love for it with that of amala. Operating a transistor radio is simpler than shoveling in owanbe jollof rice into the mouth in Ibadan.
From Dugbe, Apete to Gbagi Market, you’d see grandmas position the little black boxes on their wares.
One of my neighbours does not miss coming over to veranda every night with his transistor radio, tuned to his favourite station. It’s a ritual.
In Oluyele, Ibadan, the radio is the first thing that wakes you up and the last sound you hear before dozing off to sleep.