Awuleth' iPen yami Pen yam'

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Ya, neh.

It's been so buthsy I wish there were two of me, and of course I'd totally pick the chilling self. Otherwise I'm hanging in there, feeling inspired and dangerous. Also been talking Names with college students and I'm very humbled and wowed by their enthusiasm, by how they are carefully reading Names even when they could be tobedzing and tobedzing and tobedzing, and how their questions to me are ever ceaseless when I visit. I love and appreciate all my readers, but the ones that make my heart ache are the young ones, ahhh. 

Friday, May 2, 2014

News From Nigeria by Sarah Ladipo Manyika


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I told my son that he would get his first sense of things as soon as we boarded the flight. Planes bound for Lagos, I told him, were filled with black people and not just in economy but in first and business class too. Lagos, capital of the Black Atlantic and megacity of nearly twenty million people, was loud and theatrical with a noisescape of musical car horns and danfo bus drivers shouting out their destinations like racehorse commentators. He was going to see some crazy traffic, feel the sweltering heat, and experience the perpetual on-off-on-off of Nigeria’s power supply. He would also meet writers and artists, for I was returning to Lagos this time in my capacity as book juror for Africa’s first pan-African prize for debut fiction. In a nice twist of symmetry I had left Nigeria at the age of fourteen, which was now the age at which my son was visiting for the first time. I warned him that not every experience would be enjoyable, but I promised him a memorable visit. 
Then, shortly before we were to leave, came the New York Times Sunday Edition with its front-page article about President Goodluck Jonathan signing a bill banning same-sex relations. “Nigeria Tries to ‘Sanitize’ Itself of Gays,” read the headline, and my heart sunk as I picked up the paper from our doorstep. An accompanying photograph showed a smiling bailiff lifting his whip to punish the condemned. My immediate response was anger and shame for Nigeria. Shame at the injustice of this law and anger that in a nation riddled with corruption and the related infrastructural, employment and educational failures, this so-called “gay issue” had strangely become a government priority. I was further outraged that those most targeted by the law lived in the north close to my home city of Jos, a city now blighted by ongoing ethno-religious fighting.
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I grew up, the daughter of a pastor, to a British mother and a Nigerian father in post-colonial Northern Nigeria. At the time, as is still the case, homosexuality was viewed as a depraved way of behaving and deemed alien to African cultures. The only place in Africa where homosexuality was ever even acknowledged was in South Africa and there it was blamed on the large presence of white people, the majority of whom were already deemed reprehensible for their participation in apartheid. While my upbringing was religiously and culturally diverse, the only acceptable sexuality was heterosexuality. As a child I believed what I was taught about homosexuality and continued to hold to these views into adulthood. It would take me several years to overcome my prejudices and of this I am not proud. (Read more at Africa is a Country)

Monday, March 24, 2014

~ “If the concept of God has any validity or any use, it can only be to make us larger, freer, and more loving. If God cannot do this, then it is time we got rid of Him.” James Baldwin ~

Saturday, March 8, 2014



sometimes tragedy is a part of life, this we know, and accept. but awu bakithi, like many i’ve been following the missing Malaysian Airways jet and it just proper crushes you. my heart goes out to all the 239; may the angels keep watch of their souls wherever they are, whatever happened, and may their friends and families be comforted at this unimaginable time, and always.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

... Kamanda

This disbelief, this heartbreak, this sadness, but God has spoken, gentle Prince. Lala ngoxolo.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

"Wild flowers with strong hearts take any season to bloom. " Yvonne Vera.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela

Wena oweza lokukhanya. Amandla. Hamba kahle tata Madiba; duduzeka South Africa.


Sunday, December 1, 2013

... recycled.


Sweet Seed



(for my brother, Nene).
He could have been wearing an expensive dress of bones, my brother Ronald, that’s how I remember him, lying there on that narrow bed by the broken window, skeletal thin like a man fed on pins all his life. There were the screaming curves of skull, a spine like the edge of a table, the most perfect jut of hip, knee, rib, bone and bone and bones, Jesus, nothing but bones. And then the skin, tautest cloth draping over the bones, over dried furrows, rivers of blood once, then the weary eyes, drowning in the depths of edged sockets. This is how I remember him; I was fifteen and I woke up everyday to search the country of that strange new body for my brother. What I saw was war. And it raged and we watched it drag out, bombs falling above my sisters’ prayers, above my grandmother’s prayers, and at fifteen I crossed my fingers and thought, Like, isn’t this where God is s’possed to do something, like, can’t he hear them praying? The bombs fell above pills and medicines, above herbs and mutis and talismans, above every hopeful hope, every plea, every single thing that could have been; it was a terrible war and couldn’t nobody stop it but at fifteen it never occurred to me that my brother was dying, didn’t occur to me that this was the AIDS they were talking about on the news, the AIDS of foreign countries and whores and everything that was not who we were, and if it occurred to anybody then they kept it inside like blood and we walked around in silent silence, adults slow-dancing with grief already because yes, war was war —

But in that war though, we never cried. Never sent distress signals, there were no flags, no shouts to the neighbors. We kept it all under the tongue like a zhanje seed made too precious to spit out by the memory of its sweetness. We pursued our mouths and smiled on the street, and at fifteen I went to school and kicked it with my homegirls and homeboys with names like Thabs, Leslie, Sna, Thuts, Stha – Ronald my sweet seed under the tongue like a forbidden lover. And after school I ran home to pick up my guns and be a child soldier standing at the edge of my brother’s bed, around me feet and feet marching into silence and more silence. And when one afternoon Ronald’s war ended, not because we won, we flung the gates open and the village came and there was wailing and wailing and wailing but nobody said AIDS. We said Rest in Peace, Go well, He fought Hard, Ronald, Ronald,“Thabath’ is’phambano, ulandele. Tshiya lumhlaba, lentozawo, ngcono ngiz’hambele, ngalindlela. Thabath’ is’phambano, ulandele. Tshiya lumhlaba, lentozawo, ngcono ngiz’hambele, ngalindlela.” And when after the funeral I stood alone in my father’s bedroom, Ronald’s crisp death certificate in my trembling tresspassing hands and I saw the words “Cause of death—HIV-AIDS” I read them with barely-moving lips, softly, softly, so the wind would never know. 

*In memory of all those who have fallen, in gratitude to all those who fight, with hopes for an AIDS free generation one day. And, if you are reading this and it applies, I am sorry. 

Wednesday, October 23, 2013