Mu je Kasua
[yaji – food spice] [suya – a type of grilled meat] [Fura de nunu is a local drink ]
[Ummi – an endearing name for mothers] [Adda – a feminine name]
[Abu – father] [Deri uku da khamsin – 350 naira]
[Deri biyu gaskiya – 200 naira or nothing]
[Haba – a word used to question a rather unpleasant behaviour]
[sohon mutum – old man] [Dubu biyar – 5,000 naira] [Miji – husband]
Disclaimer: You may find unfamiliar words in the following text.
Kindly refer to the above
Glossary for their nearest in meaning.
It is the same everywhere –
People, wares, the sounds.
Men – young and old with heavy carts,
Carefully wheeling their goods,
Of woven baskets filled with partially rotten tomatoes.
I hear the chatters of pretty women,
With ‘mascaraed’ faces and ‘hennaed’ hands,
Covered from head to toe,
By the stalls they manned,
Wrapped in road-sweeping gowns;
Amidst baby cries from the back of their mothers.
I see the mix of sweat and strength,
As his thumb gracefully wipes his forehead,
While the four others serve as a shield from the sun.
Sweat drops hit the grill,
As extra yaji to the suya,
A perfect spice for the meat.
I see strength in her laps,
As she claps them round her bowl,
Heavy scoops in tiny cups,
Filling the bottles to their peaks,
With just enough space for the fura.
The choice of many – refreshing nunu.
I see joy in his eyes,
As he picks yet another bottle,
More to his already filled bag.
Perhaps he loves to keep the streets clean,
Or his little contribution to his ummi’s trade.
I see hope in her eyes,
As she drops the spare in her laps,
And ties the bag filled with scarves.
Adda would be glad,
For more money for Abu’s drugs,
Enough to cure his cuts.
I catch the smile on his face,
He enjoyed the softness of her buttocks.
As his manly hands ‘unintentionally’ grabbed the un-looking damsel,
The quick turn and halt,
His perfect rendition of the mannequin challenge.
I see the frown on her face,
As she endures the brushings.
Her eyes gazing through the other hundreds,
Searching for the culprit,
Amidst black men with dark hearts.
I feel the anger as I persuade,
Chanting the few I had learnt,
For moments I had to spare money hard-earned,
Deri uku da khamsin, she insists.
Baa baa, deri biyu gaskiya, I revolt.
With no translator to expose her mumbles,
I simply laugh as I sway away.
No loss, no gains.
I can’t imagine the menace hitting here,
The many lives that breathe.
The beauty of the spectrum of colours,
White on rice, beautiful brown of honey beans,
The redness of fresh tomatoes, the golden colour of Irish potatoes,
The mixed-race chickens and hens,
The bike men in shimmering jackets.
There is definitely something about this state,
One that reeks northerness.
I picture the buildings I had earlier admired,
Beautiful yet looking scared of cleanliness;
As most of once were had ceased to live.
The menace had hit the city.
The famous Centre of Education.
With a growing notoriety for what once was its pride.
Awaken by the sudden splash of pepper water,
Haba mallam, my next words are trapped,
As I turn to see a sohon mutum,
Struggling to display his wares,
One of the same with half-rotten tomatoes.
‘Saanu saanu hajia’, quite honestly.
Baa wahala, i cried.
With tears in my eyes, I plead.
Yet Baba refuses the dubu biyar,
As he struggles to clean the few drops on his cheeks.
He pleads that the half-gone woman with her two kids are better beneficiaries,
Who have found a new abode next to his almost non-existent stall.
She was a stray.
One who still waits for her miji to come take them ‘home’.
The horrible menace – it hit him.
This is dedicated to those we’ve lost in these battles.
A wish for peace to return to our homes, our cities and the world at large.