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  • Akosua Biraa

mythology about my father

Reality is held in Igba Iwa,

the calabash of existence

an unbroken chain of purpose stretching

the way light shimmers through the water

calmness, serenity, sensitivity, insight,

inspiration—a river,

ugwu bu nkwanye nkwanye—respect is reciprocal

maternal grandmother’s lineage was Strong,

traditional culture

from Oxford

no less

Comfortable face

father’s clone

Akara ihu bu obi madu.

(The lines on the face reveal a person’s heart.)

abstract and carved from calabash shell

greatest gift a father can give his son

oyi agbara, the caul of the holy spirit

cut the first line from the center of the forehead

down to the chin

full consciousness from birth to earth

so much better

myself so different than he was

don’t belong here or in

the land of the spirits

have eaten peppers all my life

nicknamed me Erusi (spirit)

who never received enough love,

or any of the love for that matter

I will leave a trail of love when I go

This piece is composed solely out of phrases selected randomly from Chris Abani’s (2013) “The Face: Cartography of the Void”—a memoir that is all at once poetic, tragic, and redemptive.

This amazing little book is written with much eloquence and great self-knowledge, as Abani tells us about his negotiation of and transformation away from the toxic masculinity of a loving but abusive father—while also finding his own becoming when wedged between two cultures (Abani being both Igbo, Nigerian, and English).

This post is another ad hoc share of a you-must-definitely #ReadIt book borrowed from The Library of Africa and The African Diaspora (LOATAD). I am still here in week 3 of the West African Writers Residency Programme 2022, and loving every minute of it!

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