Here, now, is the world before me: Women are struggling to make a living And men struggling for beer. The markets are full of drying-up warehouses And market stalls pregnant with emptiness.
A woman comes in, Calls the last goods on the shelf, indicating interest. There are the dying smiles that echo no goodwill Upon the naming of a price-below-purchasing; There are the hungry laughters at the teeth of the buyer Who seeks his own gains; There are the welling-up tears that fill the eyes of the seller Who needs the penny to live another day.
Poverty and want wears an ugly face And gives hate a voice to echo its disdain. Much displeasure fills the air but in business The customer always wins.
Pain eats up my heart as I watch the transaction. Here, survival matters- just as much as love, But now even this is no more.
Abacheke-Egbema, Imo State. January 2014
Basically, my kind of poetry is that which is about people, about lives, about women and children- their very lives interests me.
I’m a child and not a bride, but Last month you made me marry you. You know it wasn’t love that made me say yes But the fear of what shape my death could take If I were to turn you down. Of course I had no voice. I could only muse to myself In the dark closet and imagine myself A mother at thirteen: would it be awesome? Would it be dreadful? Would it…? I died of anxiety.
Last month you made me marry you. I had no time to discover me for myself: Who I was, what I was, what I wanted to be; I had no time to think before I had to say yes. But it pains my bones to the marrow. I am an unripe fruit for the eating. I am a piece for the show-glass.
Last month you made me marry you. I spent nights upon nights weeping over how you’ve Broken me; how you’ve set my life ablaze Like a forest in a wildfire; And now the once-upon-a-time sweet sounding music Of my soul is burnt into silence. I have forgotten the dialect of my soul. I hush. I hush. I hush. I hush. I hush. You have beaten silence into me, And now I have to prepare to moan and wail Beneath your weight, while I watch you helplessly As you bite into my innocence, As you suckle the un-ripeness out of me, As you dig into my childhood and pleasure yourself In the childhood screams you hear from me. But it isn’t the fun that makes me scream. It is the bitter pain of knowing, of remembering That my life ended at thirteen:
Broken like a fallen calabash In the hands of a fifty-five year old man.
2013, in Nigeria, a 55-year old Senator married a 13-year old girl. The #ChildNotBride campaign against the senator's decision was born.