Black enough

You ought to have to have seen her

Black body paint dripped from mane down to ankles

styled with a latex jacket and thigh high boots

A cigarette pressed lightly between her lips

You ought to have seen her

Her skin coalesces with the golden shy sun

She metamorphosed into a shade of deadly night

Belladonna like the devil’s berries

Honey coloured eye reflecting jewels

shea butter dripping from endless tamed lush kinks

Authentic she is, a goddess to behold

Belladonna like death cherries

Her footprints spirals in desert sand

Causing confusion wherever she trod

Posing for the cover of blacknvogue

Nubian temptress to the very end

And to think she had to scream her lungs

to break through a forcefield of deafening silence

they said she ought to behave whiter

Seemingly she was black enough

she was stunting on cloud bursting lilac skies

One could build a dam from her tear droplets

she lined a path from where she’d been

was forbidden to tango with ethereal solace

She was a drifting butterfly

perching on a fallen crimson leave

bejewelled by virgo’s decadent virtue

paradise cradled between her bosom.

You’ll remember her by her acerbic glances

the confidence that’s apparent through her melanin glow

they said she was black enough

to which she replied, “I didn’t chose it, I got lucky”

The Black hair Fiasco

“Every Hair-day  is wahala

 

I was twisting up my hair the other day.  It was the end of a wash day routine, and I randomly asked my boyfriend to help. He says yes much to my surprise meaning I’d actually have to trust him with my hair. I gulped, sectioned a portion of my hair for him.

This got me reminiscing about the time we met, I had the faux locs then.  He was in love with my hair. Months later, I decided to cut my hair as it lacked lustre. I was anxious and self aware, I didn’t know how he would react. But I trusted him. Three years later, I find myself still trusting him.

I’ve also learnt quite a bit about what Europeans think about African hair;

 

“Braids combined with dark skin  are a unique combination”

 

  1.  They think it’s exotic: Braids combined with dark skin  are a unique combination for the average eastern European, it’s not uncommon to get stares in public spaces, especially from the older generation. This reminds of the time, we went to a friend’s wedding, we visited the bride’s family home as well, and I introduced myself to their grandma. The look on her face was that of disbelief , it was meme worthy.
  2.  They think it’s natural: My boyfriend also thought the faux locs was my hair hair. But after some time together, he knew the difference between hair styles. I often get a lot of questions and requests to touch. I assume I’m not the only one.
  3. They find the natural hair rather comedic:  My german teacher confided in me once that the afro was sometime in the past known as, microphone head.  I died from laughter, apparently the phrase is still used, just not as popular as before. We also went through a phase when my hair was short, where my boyfriend’ll pat it and say, “sheep”, lol, in the sweetest way possible.
  4.  hair style change means new person:  I had reintroduced myself a few times to teachers and colleagues simply because I took out a previous hair style and rocked something entirely different. This is the stressful bit, and then the questions roll in which  exasperated  me further.

Three years  since going natural, and two big chops later, I have to  say it’s been an exercising journey. There has been up ups, down downs, and safety breeches, but I’ve loved and nourished my hair (and self) through it all.

If you’re wondering why I dedicated a whole post to talking about hair, it’s just because I think that black women, and our rights as a whole have come a long way, from doing everything necessary to have our hair look like our caucasian counterpart, and consequently destroying it in the process, to just letting ourself be loved as we naturally are. I don’t know who started the natural hair movement but I’ll use this opportunity to say thank you.

Now, let us flourish!

 

 

The disappearing act

When I first saw you, I thought you were beautiful. Tall, tanned, Indian. And  I looked like me, awkward, weird. But I knew it was you I wanted. The most brilliant mind in our year. I wanted to pick your brain, even if you wouldn’t look me in my eyes, even if your lips wouldn’t linger on mine, I was infatuated with your mind.

on a winter’s night. I  wore my converse, and nearly not enough makeup, to the solstice ball with all arrays of fair beauties with rosy cheeks and bodycon dresses.

“This is lame,” I thought; leaning on the wall, nursing my gin and tonic, watching folks reveling. Amid that dim neon florescent hall, I recognized you in a navy suit.

I recall how suave you looked. I remember an intense current course through me like never before. I stopped thinking. If I didn’t; I would inevitably convince myself how terrible the idea was. I downed my drink, hauling myself from the wall, then I met you at your heel.

I was jittery when I yelled;

“do you want to dance with me?, you lowered your ear close to me on my ground, so I repeated it. You said, “okay”.

I began to move my heels, then my hips. I closed my eyes so I would feel the music. I took an ephemeral moment to contain myself, the man of my dreams dancing with me, and when I opened my eyes, you were gone.

I wish I could say I didn’t expect it. I wish I had disappeared instead.

No Man’s Land

We come from the same land

dear brother,

I trusted you

unheedingly,

We walked through the desert

me, yearning for a new beginning.

 

 

Your skin like mine is dark

your flag like mine is green

I’m not a slave.

But like the Portuguese pirates of the old world

you’ve branded me, a cow

and while you feel safe in your lofty bed

I cry without end, locked in a cell.

 

If dehumanizing me earns you a fortune

then our bureaucracy has failed us

the Nigerian police can’t see us as equals

Buhari is blind

and my brother

even as you stand before me

I know you can’t see as a human

In no man’s land,

only money talks.

 

See my hair,

they twist and curl in the wind like yours.

Oh, how naive I was

to have resurrected hope on sighting you

but when I learned

how  hedonistic you’ve become

With my last strength

I yelped,

My countryman, help me! brother, please.

You told me,

there is no brother in the jungle

before you disposed of my virtue

to a fate worse than repatriating to Nigeria,

Death in the Mediterranean.

 

 

 

 

A piece in light of the ongoing slave trade in Libya.

 

 

Follow the sun

7.38 AM

The streets are crowded

A glowing yellow ball

seats at a vantage point,

hiding behind rooftops.

Ike tiddled his flute

This early in the morning,

he had to go the farm.

He spent the first hour

lying on his back,

playing the instrument

then he buckled his belt,

and begun harvesting cassava.

Other kids his age would frown

at the thought of picking up a machete

or being stuck in a field

for most of their day.

They would rather play football

or shoot arrows at bush animals

but not Ike,

he didn’t see the need to play

when he had four younger siblings

relying on him.

Both his parents were gone

few rumors have settled across the village

regarding their disappearance.

Some say they couldn’t appease Sango

on the eve of the New Yam’s festival

as every man had to present his harvest

outside his hut.

In the still of the night,

Sango would descend on the land

and claim what is rightfully his.

However, the god was offended

by the measly bundle of cassava

at their doorstep.

He was so appalled that

he broke into the home

to kill them all.

Ike’s mother pleaded for the sake of her children,

asking Sango to spare her younglings

Pity overshadowed Sango’s wrath

so he agreed.

Others rumored that his parents

were so frustrated with their life,

and responsibilities

that they took off in the dead of the night

without so much as a farewell.

Ike doesn’t recall much from that night,

except that his mother sent him

into the other room in their minute two-room hut,

and instructed him to not come out

till dusk.

In the morning, his parents were missing.

In Ike’s world,

there was no time for football

but on this particular day,

the sun was deterrent to his job

He straightened his posture,

and in a burst of fury he exclaimed;

“Oh Osun, You know my heart and all I wish to do

is plowing the earth so I may feed my siblings.

I have no shilling,

only a leaky thatched roof above my head.

Why must I be cursed by the sun for my ambition?”

When he finished, the sun grew black

Ike froze in fear.

He wondered if the day of reckoning

the high priestess spoke so frequently of was nigh.

He could feel his heart implode in his chest

and minutes later, the sky became bright again

but something had changed.

The ember hue beamed eastward,

away from the field.

Ike picked up his machete and gear

He ran across the fields into adjacent farms.

He ran into the village,

past the maidens bearing terracotta pots upon their head

He crossed the village stream

and came to a halt at the east border of the village,

before the forbidden forest.

The forest was home to the gods

Only the high priestess and witch doctor

were welcome to enter for their customary rituals.

Without much pondering, Ike ran into the forest

He came to a halt at the foot of the tallest palm wine tree he’d seen.

That was the vantage point of the sun, he was certain.

He dropped his gear and tugged his weight up the tree.

Once at the top, he could see not only the village,

but other settlements,

even the city of Lagos,

where the traditional King lived.

He was amazed at the view surrounding him.

It occurred to him that he wanted more.

He wanted to explore life outside his village.

Eventually, he conceded to the blinding sun rays

and climbed down the tree against his wishes.

What he saw bemused him.

At the foot of the palm tree.

Ike was looking at a polythene bag

filled with iron ore.

He considered grabbing it

and running away

but he was no thief,

and besides, only a dumb fool

would steal from the gods.

“It’s yours,”

A familiar voice came from beside the tree

Ike stretched his neck to see his mother.

“The gods are rewarding your good will,

you could leave this village and live comfortably in Lagos,”

she continued, “or you can come with me, Ikechukwu.”

He wanted to wail and roll in the dust.

He had no strength left in him.

Eight years have passed since he last saw her

His eyes locked with his mother’s

and he knew if he left with her,

he wouldn’t have to toil the soil another day in his life.

He would have peace.

But, he wanted to be more

so he held her face, pecked her cheeks and bade farewell.

He grabbed the bag and begun his journey home,

away from the fading sun.

Neither Here nor There: Nigeria

I want to go to Nigeria, where the sun stays high and proud beaming down as palm trees morph into shadows pasted across our faces and the evening breeze sweeps fine sand beneath your slippers as we saunter into a supermarket in search of palm wine and ice-cream.

I want to go Nigeria where the houses in the city are made from bricks walls and aluminum rooftops, bearing no semblance whatsoever to historical buildings and mud huts with thatched roofs adorn the villages, creating better insulation than modern cooling units.

 

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I want to go to Nigeria where Jazz infused with beats from African Fuji drum feels the atmosphere, where culture fills the street, forcing us to groove. One of a kind.

I want to go to Nigeria where the granite kisses our feet in the safety of our abode sending chills through our spine.

I want to go to Nigeria where undiscovered talent roams the streets, raw and unrefined, savants fill the public school systems. Undiscovered. Lost.

I want to go to Nigeria where the sun scorches our skin; concentrating our melanin, where warm air intrudes our space, messages our skin as salty vapor diffuses to the surface.

I want to go to Nigeria where the traffic is as psychotic as the nation’s economy, where the rules to driving are non-existent and drivers have got no respect for the road and road side sellers barely respect their lives or anybody’s personal space.
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I want to go to Nigeria where Saturdays are for house chores and football games and Sundays, for church but the best part is anticipating the Jollof rice. Our so-called Sunday rice ritual.

I want to go to Nigeria where fear is frequently mistaken as respect and respect is perhaps misinterpreted as foolishness, where people heed to the rich for some bewildering reason and balding politicians run the nations meant for the youths.

I want to go to Nigeria where powdered milk, garri, groundnut and iced water is perhaps the most cherished dessert and Suya is the first course meal.

I want to go to Nigeria, where the market is big, variable and torturous to maneuver. The women echo in harmonious tunes wearing colorful materials whilst showcasing their products. The sound of bargains resounds in the air which is also saturated with different kinds of scents. The women gossip on ends about each passing consumer.

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I want to be in Nigeria, where one man struggles from five to eleven to make minimum wage. His two kids and pregnant wife smile regardless when he comes home and a frail stench of kerosene lingers in their environ. They sit together under the moonlight and he tells the tales his father told him of him about their forefather’s British colonization while flies buzz in their air. I want to be in Nigeria because this scenario depicts a typical day in their world,  an oil on canvas painting mixing green and white representing only one thing, Hope.

Unashamed. Hopeful— though  I’m neither here, neither there.