Each time an aunty at a party asks me ba wo ni?
The real answer is a lodge in my throat.
I reply the way I know how; I am good aunty.
Days like this I shrink into a cage of shame.
Maybe it’s partly to do with my father, I was hesitant
to learn the language he wanted to speak to me in.
Whenever I return home my grandmother asks
if I still wear her aso-oke on my tongue.
She examines my mouth to see if it’s been sliced off
with an English sword. I smile, I tell her I understand
Yoruba but I can’t speak it without stuttering over silence.
As if my silence was something to be proud of.
– Theresa Lola
I recently came back from Nigeria after attending my cousins wedding. It was a beautiful / stressful / interesting / fun experience. I am yet to finish the poem I wrote inspired by the trip so thought I would share Theresa Lola’s instead.
I could imagine that some of my [Nigerian] friends would find aspects of the poem relatable. Although I am not Yoruba, I can empathise. I hope you enjoy it too.