OYA Part II
February 14, 1569, The Slave Coast.
A boy bathes where water whorls with wind, rock and sand.
His limbs lithely disrupt the flow of the N’ger-n-gereo
with a graceful tap. He is the water,
as a ballet dancer is the ballet.
February 14, 1799, Oil Rivers.
Bismillah ir Rahman ir Rahim,
they have been discovered:
the boy, his children, their children,
and the gleaming, unfurling river.
February 14, 1897, Benin City.
A conquered kingdom,
is a river weired
from its own
swampy and swollen
source. Crawling its entire length up- and east-wards,
toward the mouth of the earth
where the boy – now sediment –
bashes against crude truths,
his fanciful, almost ridiculous (in retrospect) battle gear
aboard the small, sinking canoe.
February 14, 1967, Lagos.
A telegram from the US embassy
warns of tribal violence
certain to break up countrymen unless
Ankrah, Kuanda, Kenyatta
intervene. Man, the boy is so hungry
he provokes protest
in London, New York and Prague,
all the while wondering –
if he did not drink muddy waters,
and a mutilated spirit,
would photos of him
make their way across the Onitsha bridge
into Life Magazine
where what is too hard to put into words, can be emotionally bribed out of wallets.
February 14, 1999, Niger Delta.
In a scarlet dashiki, safari trousers and a towering straw hat,
Mr. Simpson’s kidnappers had the last laugh.
Bilateral trading agreements
are of no value to heartless rebels
to whom the price of oil
is easily converted into barrels of fear,
and a hundred years of grieving the damn
February 14, 2012, Kaduna,
is the city of bombs.
Sunday Bashang feels the blow in his left ear,
realises that he is going to die,
and seconds later,
his strewn limbs fluidly form a letter “Y”.
February 14, 2015, Plot 436, Zambezi Crescent, Abuja.
a haunting memory,
of a glittering goddess
that will stay forever.
‘Oya’, the first part, is featured in my poetry e-pamphlet titled ‘cache‘ available to download for free. It seems the elections that were supposed to be held in Nigeria today 14 February, but never were, inspired this poetic pilgrimage.—
Hi! I’m Minna Salami. I’m a writer, blogger, columnist, lecturer and speaker and the founder of the feminist blog, MsAfropolitan, which connects feminism to contemporary culture from an Africa-centred perspective. I’ve been listed alongside Michelle Obama and Angelina Jolie as one of “twelve women changing the world” by ELLE and my work has been used as a resource and case study at universities around the world. Like what you just read? Sign up above to receive new posts directly in your inbox.