Welcome to Baga

Welcome to Baga
where nightmares live
and dreams go to die
I had heard the men talk in low tones about what they did to Chibok
and how the nation stood still for a day and moved on

Mama never thought they would come
we have soldiers here, she would brag
oh but you see, they did
last night while men slept, they crept in on us 
plundered our lands and set our homes on fire

It burned so beautifully that it reminded me of the fireworks last Christmas 
mama and papa were taken away in that van
perhaps they will be back tomorrow 

my shoes were left behind
the ones mama bought me for school
but my life is worth more
and so I ran through the forest until I came to a temporary place of solace
where a million other children dwelt

Every night since Baga
I wake up with screams that drown out the screams of the other tortured souls
perhaps, our brothers in the south would help us
or today, the world will end
and I will finally rest where peace lives

(c) Olamide Oti

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I am She

I was doomed from the beginning.
Before I got a chance to know my family,
I was sold into slavery.
My father was royalty,
but when my new parents came,
He sold me off like a bale of cotton.

So, I became one of them.
Dressed like them,
Talked like them.
Ate, what they ate and quickly, I forgot my roots.
I was perfect at birth they said,
Ten fingers and toes all wonderfully made,
A headful of coarse black hair.
And no identity.

Throughout adolescence,
I was at war within myself.
I had many vices;
The love of money,
Of all things glittery and sweet
Of murder, drunkenness, and pride.
Many have died for me,
“For you”, they said, all for you.

I had an inheritance, but they took it all away, and called it theirs.
They named my streets after their sons while my father looked on unable to stop them.
My lands, my people, my crops…All gone!
My oil was my nemesis
It bubbled from within me
And came forth black, sweet and pleasant.
For a moment, it was my salvation,
Now, it seems it will be the death of me.
It is all I have left,
Until there is nothing left of me.
Today, I am coming of age
I weep for my sons, who have squandered it all,
For my daughters, who are struggling to rebuild me.

There is much to be grateful for,
For peace, however fragile,
For the seasons and for time,
For time, heals all wounds
I am in labour, while the world looks on
Each birth pang piercing through my core.
The world awaits a generation who will rejoice in my heritage,
Who will take back all that I have lost,
Who will reclaim my lost glory,
A generation that would not be ashamed to call me ‘mama’.

I am of many cultures woven loosely together.
Beautiful on the outside
Broken on the inside
Many wars rage on in my heart,
Those caused by beliefs, tribes and tongues that never agree.
The odds are against me, it would seem.
But, I am Nigeria,
I will thrive.

(c) Olamide Oti, 2014