Witch Hunt Of Our Names


to us, the names emerged cloaked in insult and heavy with disgrace

but did we want what was left of them? did we say,

“give us the names like that! give us, maka na anyi ga asacha ha, we will wash them clean

anyi ga enye ha akwa mme mme ka ha cheta onwe ha

we will cloak them in ceremonial attire so that they remember who they are”?

instead,

like a child whose mother forgot his ihe afia at the market, we sulked

we begged, we cried, we tore at our throats until we drew blood

wanting to garment ourselves in insults

casting and exorcising our names like they are leprous cockroaches-

amusu!” we spat furiously at our names

eyeing them, wishing them dead, just like we did the village witch.

it became daniel, mildred, stella, joshua

we said them loud and in pride,

we burnished them, turning them this way and that

saying to them, “i ga biriri ndu! You will live long!”

like a favourite child they were spoilt before the knowing eyes of the other children.

those other children are our names, the ones who are not bastards

but they are taunted by outsiders, who call them bastards

Chinechetanwaya, Chijiundu, Onyekwere, Mgborie, Nnedinso

become unbearable burdens for us to carry at our lips

they suffer incurable ailments and are left for dead

with a collection of fortnights spent in the dark room of a missing identity

our names, yellowing in the eyes are seen

limply clutching the barricades we have forcefully erected

while daniel, mildred, stella, joshua

get regular sunshine, mmiriihe oriri, ihunanya

and wander afield playing hide and seek

but our names are in a perpetual hide with no seek

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