The African Way

WARNING: This literary work contains sensitive words that some may find triggering. It is not meant for everybody.


Pearl drop on a plantain petal

mama rains down a storm

baby’s temperature is too high

red pustules and crusts marking her skin

something we’ve never seen before

Take her to holy grounds!

only fools trust in western medicine

we will cast and bind and spray and fast

till she is released from demonic schakles

a Doctor will do no good

They say the west is nearly bezirk

men flaunt in colourful robes

women flaunt like men

children flex like adults

anorexia is in vogue

O’ dear African Daughter

our daughters should eat when hungry

eat when satisfied

eat when exhausted from food

eat more and look good

Our daughter must be robust

exercise endangers the organs

Fitness repels the suitors

Your dress should drape on curves

A skinny bride is only half beautiful

And what is a woman without a husband?

She went to school and got a degree

we’re proud of her but where’s her man?

She read too much and forgot to cook

Her place is in kitchen playing suburban wifey

God forbid you live your life

god forbid you ever speak up

if you’re not under a curse

you will be cursed

watch the sun fade with blind eyes

Our children never live long enough

to bury their parents

I wonder whose sins they hawk around

whose shadows chases them underground

whose horrendous voices echos cohesively in their mind

Children carry on the sins of ancestors

It is only an open secret

children musn’t speak in the midst of elders

look in the mirror carefully and point your wrongs

be mindful of the silhouette of profanity

No one wants to be the first

fear tallies us together

hatred segments us into aliens

we stand alone facing a highfalutin coven

admiring the crumbling foundation of many ignoramus generations

I too have something to say

Breaking news, beautiful people, I’m back!. If you’re wondering what I mean by that, I honestly have no inkling. But today, I too have something to say regarding cultural silence and violence towards women.

The other day, My dad posted something about why women’s modesty is equal to virtuousness on our whatsapp group. My sister challenged the post with some strong feministic views. Now if there’s anything I’m good at, it’s ignoring conflicts. I’m not proud of it. Albeit, this banter did trigger something almost like a primal defence system in me, Much unlike any conflict. This may have a positive association with an issue I’m still dealing with.

If you’ve followed this blog for a while, then you may remember that I was raped at about age 7 by an uncle. I don’t like to bring it up, and it’s not a ploy for sympathy. I thought that was in the past, but apparently it resurfaces when a women virtues is questioned.

Permit me to derail yet again. Y’all know Nigeria right? the country that I’m rumoured to be from. We tend to be late, however the first feminism movement completely flew past us. Todays, several Nigerian women are what I call “Quasi-feminist”.

I simply do not value gender roles. I don’t care about whose submissive or who makes the most money. So, why did this simple harmless post about women’s choices of outfit churn my tummy into chucks? Then it hit me, this had nothing to do with the post, and everything to do with my father. I can’t come to terms that my father much like many Nigerian men still believe that rape is either partly or wholesomely the victim’s fault. Much like he may have not come to terms with his step-brother’s action. This is a conversation we need to have but I can never see it happening. Maybe in my next life, maybe.

The #MeToo movement bellowed the voices of women that were living in silence. Rape has been an epidemic in Nigeria for years but it has never been brought up as a societal concern because women are silenced against their violators and programmed to believe that it is a consequence of her promiscuity while the offending gender are left on the bench .

Many victims will venture through life never reaching their finest, most distinguished potential, because conflict especially with the opposite gender sets them back to the moment they got assaulted and they are crippled with a need to be submissive in order to survive.

As a writer, I feel like something has been stolen from me every time I want to connect with my childhood experiences and find blocks rather than creative flows. This doesn’t mean I’m bad, I’m acknowledging that there are seams of my memory that I don’t have access to and that really sucks.

My final point is harsh but there’s no polite way around it. I’ve probably penned it in poetry. They say children grow up to be their parents, and that is my biggest fear. I intend to triumph all the many different ways I am messed up, really because my children deserve to not grow up around the same personalities I did.

Thanks for stopping by for one of my self-therapy sessions, but I have to disappear again. I hope you endure my sadistic poetry for another week till I get back to creating real content.

Auf weiderschauen!

The Root of Nigeria’s problems

“MENTAL SLAVERY IS R.E.A.L”

In today’s episode of “Wetin this one dey yarn?”, I wanna stress on a topic that really hits home.

You may have heard about Nigeria in your local media. A lot of foreigners associate us with Boko haram, religious wars, poor infrastructures and welfare etc, and a lot of foreigners are not wrong.

Permit me to do a throwback and shed a little light on the history of Nigeria.

In 2015, Nigerians voted an incompetent  authoritarian named Muhammed Buhari, into the presidential office. As a result of that, we’ve suffered great losses as a nation.

But wait!  wasn’t it obvious that he was the wrongest candidate to elect? You may ask.

YES!

Six decades ago, after Nigeria became Independent from the British colony, we were subjected to military rule. Whenever a Military leader was not effective, a Coup d’état would ensue, as a result of that, the nation was always on her toes.

In 1983, Muhammed Buhari organized a successful Coup d’état and became the head of Nigeria, albeit,  his reign was one of the dingiest in Nigerian history. He was relieved of power in a bloodless Coup.

The man had no business getting the power in 2015, yet because Nigerians have a ph.D in outstripping their prior misfortunes, oodles of people supported his campaign.

How foolish are the people who don’t learn from experience.

It’s obvious that I hate our current government, nevertheless I prefer to look at the root of problems and deduce a solution rather than allowing my anger overshadow my sense of reasoning.

 

“WHEN WILL THE VICIOUS CYCLE END?”

 

 

From the moment a Nigerian child is born, they are taught to follow the rules. Don’t ask questions, respect the elders as questioning authority is the seed of rebellion that is not tolerated.  This is directly enforced by our primary care takers like our parents, school teachers, and religious leaders.

We grow up being fearful,  far from respectful as though we are still serving slave masters, colonial leaders, Militants. The average Nigerian child does not know the meaning of liberal.

Democracy is just a word. Even when you are right, you’re wrong!

Some Africans suffer from Mental captivity, the older generation especially.

This eventually shapes the youth’s mind so that when he travels to foreign land, he cannot socialise with  others, and he thinks of himself as a lesser human.

Ever wondered why Nigerian youths become successful after they have spent years in another man’s country?  after they have realised that they should not be repressed for thinking the right way?

Nigerians are some of the most innovative, creative minds in today’s world, but that potential is only discovered in foreign institutions. This is why instead of hearing about technological advancements made in Nigerian, we hear about innovations led by a Nigerian inventors working for, for example, a Canadian company

That’s right, there are no jobs for majority of youths in Nigeria, and that’s the main reason we emigrate.

Buhari recently said that Nigerian youths are the laziest people in the world.

Lol.

Sooner or later, these old greasy scumbags fighting for power will be gone, and where will the youths be? contributing to  the sublimation of another’s country’s economy.

Good job Federal Govt. Good job Buhari. Well done!

I’m sorry for my tone, if you picked up on that, I’ve just really wanted to say this for 4 years. If you made it to the end of my rant, Thank you for coming to my TEDx talk.

 

Image from Twitter

 

 

 

My Journey

 

Graduation week. I was fatigued, mentally, even before it began and although I turned to exercise to recuperate, It only seemed to worsen with physical stress. The only person this was harder on was my sister. My beloved Viktor was on an emotional rollercoaster, he was trepid with anxiety. Now some may wonder why graduation would be anything but Joy and relief,  while some of you might already have guessed it. My parents, the Ukuts, were coming to town.

Naturally, I was more worried about my boyfriend’s first encounter with my parents than I was about the graduation, to further complicate things, Nigerian tradition demands a formal introduction.

Dr Otuekong Ukut has made quite a name for himself because he is determined and strong-willed. He’s the type of person you notice in a room because of the panache way he carries himself, he can be rather obdurate—kinda like me. Then you have my Mum, Mfon Ukut, a torrid energetic Leo and a colossal bundle of fun.

To God be the Glory, both my introduction and graduation hit off well and I unknowingly achieved two important milestones in my life. I will definitely not be missing med school. Next week, I will go back to posting on Fridays. Here are some of the photos of events that took place these past days. Official Grad photos will be uploaded later.

arrivederci, Dr Idara-abasi Ukut. 30/06/2018

 

 

memoirs of Alex

memoirs of Alex 62018.06.30_1342018.06.30_087memoirs of Alex 2memoirs of Alex 13memoirs of Alex 8

 

 

 

The Shrine

Her hips sway to the beat of the banjo

Skylight filters through thatch roof

The flicker of light on a solemn night

A hue of blue shades her face

Her pelvis wines

In the center of the shrine.

 

 

The audience watch keenly

Such mastery,

Such art

From a beautifully dangerous woman

Like foreplay for their eyes.

Their unduly gander, in turn, solaced her.

 

 

She calms herself with each exhale

Invoking a fire

Attuned to her chakras.

This dance was passed down

Her grandmother to her mother,

Through generations

It was dubbed;

“the puppet and the serpent,”

For it reached into each heart

Those stubborn, frivolous hearts

Becharming them to her will.

 

 

 

Her body twists aggressively

as though strings attach to her

the one thing she excelled at,

it called to her

unlike the job she so dreaded

so society wouldn’t label her, a trollop

because people are threatened by anyone outside the box.

 

 

Each evening,

she polished her pearls

she donned her shawl

she’d burn the incent

and step barefoot into the shrine.

 

 

Night after night,

her lovelies would pour in

this was where she was meant to be

because even if the world passed away,

this was the one place she reigned as god.

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.

Ode to a friend

With my eyes, I saw Orion

sculpted jawline, strong chin

Intelligent & prideful

 we’d compete, and you’d make it to top three

 

I wasn’t fair to you,

 just like he wasn’t fair to her

 I’d been a bad friend

my arrogance lead me

to the point that even when you

 were at your humblest,

 I turned away from you.

                                                                               

We should talk more

 I will call you more,

 sorry, not now. Not today.

                                                                               

 Then I see it

 tears trickle down, down, down

 I called. 

only this  time,

you’re not there to pick.

 You never will.

 

 

If my heart implodes,

it would be because

I couldn’t stop it sooner

from drowning.

Lost seemingly, without you.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(In case you) Find your ghost

“A Toast,” she said, raising her glass, “to my adorable cousin, may no man ever traumatize her sexually, and physically like my uncle; her father did me”.

The venue went cold with unwavering tension. Out of nowhere, the head table overturned, shards of glasses glistening as they struck concrete. From the side of her eye, she saw her dad lurch towards the father of the day, gripped him by the throat before he could utter a word, his eyes red with fury.

And just like that,  the party was over.

 

********

 

Some secrets are too perverse to remain hidden. Secrets that burrow a hole in the middle of one’s chest. This is the story of a young maiden plagued by the ghost of the repressed emotions that she has never been able to confront.

This is the origin story of Alexander.

Born to working-class parents, the family had nearly nothing, except for a Volkswagen Beetle. Dad was never home; always at work, gunning for that big break that would catapult him to the next phase of his career; and mum, she too was hard at work, holding down the fort. Doing what good mums do.

About 18 yrs ago, on one of those evenings, an uncle visits for a meeting with dad but he didn’t come home that day which wasn’t unusual. At the time in Nigeria, you couldn’t just pick up the phone and call someone, NITEL was somewhat popular but people were adapting rather slowly. He stayed over solely because his village was somewhat far away and the sun was setting.

Her family were subtenants renting a one- bedroom apartment with a shared bathroom and while her mum and brother stayed in the bedroom, she slept in the parlor feets away from her uncle. Sometime between thirty to eleven and midnight, he drew closer and closer to her, then he began fondling her prepubertal body and genitalia…

Like a good little girl who always behaved in front of her elders, never spoke unless spoken to; she remained mute but then again, she was always a quiet kid.

Thought more than she spoke.

Wrote more than she was willing to say,…but that broke her. It solidified her antisocial exterior; her social awkwardness. Until this day, she would never be able to make eye contact or flirt the way normal people do.

********

A lot’s changed, the family lives in a big home, that old beetle replaced by numerous automobile model from Honda to Range Rover. What hasn’t changed is, dad’s still as busy as ever, and those flesh wounds never healed.

If he had stayed where he belonged—in the past, perhaps the ghosts wouldn’t haunt her.

Last she saw him, he came to the house with his then fiancée, to introduce her to dad and get both financial support and his blessing for their wedding. That was her chance to confront him, reveal these ghosts to the woman who probably thought she knew him so well, in front of her dad; so he would throw him out of their lives forever….but she didn’t.

Couldn’t.

Turns out she wasn’t ready. She would never be, but she knew she owed it to her younger self, that poor girl deserved even one honest moment where she didn’t have to hold it all in and pretend it was all okay.

It wasn’t until that day, years later, at her cousin’s naming ceremony when she climbed on that stage and her gaze settled on him, that her ghosts were enraged, threatening to unleash all the emotions of the past that have subdued her physically. Sobs welled up in her throat, her head buzzed with unsettling thoughts. This wasn’t the right time, but then again, there’s never a right time to talk about sexual abuse. Either she’d do it or she wouldn’t. So she swallowed hard, parted her lips and let the words spurt out….

A deafening silence.

A moment of sincere epiphany.

Through all the ruckus,  she swears she saw a little girl, not more than six years of age at the far end of the blinding stage lights whisper, “Thank you”.

From that moment, she began to see herself more as a force to be reckoned with and less like a victim, began trusting herself. She’d given herself the single greatest gift,

Freedom.

Some secrets are too perverse to remain hidden,…..

In case you find your ghost.

 

Element

Love is when you go along with her outlandish psyche

Not because you’re gullible,

Because you like how her brown eyes lit up

So complacently

when she has her way.

 

 

Love is a fragrance so subtle and unique

It trails you,

and it rewards you

by revealing its depth to you

To love is to surrender pride.

 

 

For millennium to come

As long as the tide ebbs

Farther than the eyes can behold

Your love for me flourish.

 

 

I abide by it,

The conjectural element that eludes even the astute.

My pulse grows rapid

my dry skin dampens

my breath is foggy

my stomach tightens

An unwritten enigmatic rule

 

 

Dine with me

Let us lay in the meadow

And gaze skywards

As clouds morph

Into animation characters

Let my wandering fingers rake

Through your brown mane.

 

 

 

A grasshopper chirps

Owls hoot

Dusk dawns on us

A desert storm billows through

Queer sensations lingers in my loins

A dallying experience confronts us.

 

 

 

Love is like a flight

From Nigeria to Budapest perhaps, it’s long and uneasy.

A higher altitudes cause more wear and tension

But the journey is more bewildering

than the destination.