Traditional African Dress

Odeyemi Idowu


Idowu Odeyemi is a Nigerian poet. He is the winner of the 2019 Merak Magazine Annual Literary Recognition Award for the Poem of the Year.


They said Green pastures are

What we must chase.

So I ask myself:

What about death?

Should we leave it to stay, with us?

Or, we chase it away?

Perhaps, no need for Green pastures,

Since death makes

all synonymous to nothing.

So how do we chase death?


We can only chase death

By leaving Green pastures.


Something is illusion

Death is – reality.

How to Live in Africa as an African

Don’t wear beards

on your neck or around your wrist,

It is diabolical


Don’t wear a native dress

to office,

you are depicting Africans as primitives


Don’t worship your forefathers gods

because it is black

since whiteness is the measurement we use

for judging  righteousness.

And a white god passes judgment after life.

Vindictive punishments awaits your soul

if you do not accept whiteness as holy

and black as evil.


Don’t protest against ill government

It means you do not have works

to do.


Don’t order pounded yam

at a restaurant in your street

You will be labeled as ‘uncivilized’

by your own people.


Don’t speak Youruba,

or any African language,

to your new born babies.

they will not be intellectually inclined.


In Africa, imitation is the only means

for survival.

So, when you get to an interview

Imitation will get you the job.

Dress, walk and talk

like prince Henry.


Don’t speak your mother’s tongue

it means you are uneducated.


Do not sing afrobeat,

if you want to earn money with music.

Mix it with some hip-hop or pop gibberish.



To imagine, your nuclear family as a language you must pronounce needs a thorough study. Family is the first medium for building a self. Pronunciations are often erroneous once a lacuna loops-into the word. What counts when you want to take your family as a language, is it blood or relation?



Zero counts. How do mathematicians validate what counts as zero? Is it when emptiness fills a place or when all is void (Not Moses description of void. There was water; sands must be downward, too. ). If zeros are recognized on those two bases –emptiness and void- then, mathematics is not an ideal language that warrants truth: it is a sham.



My thoughts are presuppositions. I have seen entities that do not count. Like a father who works to afford transactional sex. Like a father who steals from his wife purse anytime, hunger visits his stomach. Like a father who eats breakfast, lunch & dinner, not minding Israelis already exhausted God’s manners. Like a father who transformed his wife to a punch bag and his house, a boxing avenue and his room a boxing ring. Like a father who turned his wife sight towards darkness forever. Fathers like that must not count as part of those syllabuses you pronounce when you want to compose the word by which you pronounce your family. Every zero father has an innate talent of masking the animals in him with humanity.

In Syria


Salah and I escaped

The blast that ate our mother

And turned our father

            To the offering God punished

Eli’s sons for eating


Looking for the safest tattered house to sleep:

I held Salah’s hand, smiling

            To him

As if what we just lose is the leg of the goat our father rears

            Before death

Everything in Syria will make you cry, so why not smile?

I know Allah hates oxymoron


A bullet entered through Salah’s forehead,

            While we were fleeing from gunshots,

 I smiled and took it from the back of his skull

& put it in my pocket

(I cannot carry a dead body with me &

 I have to show the world I have a lineage)

My smile convinced the BBC journalist

            (Just as I know, it is convincing God)

So, he came to me and asked me:

 before now, what do you want

to become?


Me: I want to become some mothers’ prayer

every morning they wake up to pray

for their children.