Babatunde Babafemi: “Borne”


There’s a Yoruba adage living under her tongue.

You listen to this.

We don’t talk much in our place


Before you wish my father farewell remember that

My mother grew a mustache before the fair;

First trade fair is always romantic.

A single mother of five at the center of a bidding tussles.

She always knew how to wriggle her way to the highest bidder.

Before she chose a father for us,

She’d ask me to run home and measure the length of our blanket.

Maybe it will cover our favorite shame, Hers.

The truth is

The demise of a husband spells doom for a child

Lurking behind a church named Your Father’s House.

Of course my neighbor’s niece also called us names

& my cousin traded words with my sister at the fair.

I tell you,

Hurling is a bullying bastard.

It topples the awning on your head.

Probably prayers weren’t enough

Because we open our tongue to call God our Father.

Perhaps God isn’t a man, because my mother keeps searching for one.


This is the first of Nigerian Voices Today, a 7-week series featuring young Nigerian poets, curated by Babatunde Babafemi.

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