9352663965_8676c69f21_kHer feet catches my attention. The darkened patches on her ankles and toes are calling my name.

She’s light skinned, that skin shade that comes from a container most likely prepared by a Yoruba Maami. Yes I said it, Yoruba Maami. Before you come for me with your tribal pride and swords, think of all the bleachers you know and shut up.

Her color! It reminds me of “Yellow fever.” Like Fela, I want to sing “you dey bleach o, you dey bleach.” I want to sing the song for her, to her. There’s no Fela song I don’t know. There’s no Fela song I couldn’t sing every word of.

I am my father’s child, the man would sits on his “throne” with a stick of Benson & Hedges glowing between his lips, a Fela cassette playing on the stereo. From time to time, he’d exclaim “Fela is a god! A fucking god!”

“Beast of No Nation” was my father’s favorite album. He said going to prison brought out Fela’s true genius. One of my father’s favorite stories was about Fela’s victory over Abiola.

Abami eda had been signed to MKO Abiola’s Decca records, and the label refused to pay his royalties. When Fela went to protest, he and his group got tear gassed and harassed.

How did Fela retaliate? He got a truckload of shit, yes! Good old shit, faecal matter— if you wanna be scientific—and offloaded it in Abiola’s luxurious compound at Ikeja. In true Fela fashion, his next album was all about Abiola, the “International Thief Thief” album and songs like “You gimme shit, I give you shit.”

If my father were in a good mood and that was usually dependent on the number of empty Star or Guinness bottles by his side, he’d tell me other stories. He’d tell me how Jimmy Cliff sang the best song in the world—the song Vietnam.

I am my mother’s child. I have never missed Sunday mass before, and only ill-health has made me miss daily mass. I’d kneel beside my mother every morning to receive communion and to pray for my father’s soul. I knew all the homilies and could conduct the mass in my sleep. I also knew all the gospel songs. There’s no Patty Obasey or Helen Nkume or Paul Nwokocha song I can’t sing backward. I’ve read the bible from cover to cover six times, and I had Latin lessons as a child just so I could sing the Latin songs and homilies at mass.

I am my own man. I think 2face Idibia is the most important artist Nigeria has ever produced. I think Beyonce is overrated (dodges the bees) and Rihanna is the best thing that has happened to music in this millennium.

I do not smoke because when I was ten, I saw an antismoking documentary that compared the lungs of smokers and nonsmokers. The blackened lungs of the smokers scared the living shit out of me, nothing and no one can make me smoke now.

The woman—the walking advert for skin cancer, notices me and smiles. Confidence and arrogance are embedded in that smile. I am sure she thinks she is irresistible to anyone who has a penis. This teenage boy wants to go to her and sing.

Who steal your bleaching?

Your precious bleaching?

You buy am for shopping

For forty naira

You self all yellow

How you go find out?

Your face go yellow

Your yansh go black

Your moustache go show

Your skin go scatter

You go die o

You go die o

You go die o

You go die o

You devy bleach o, you dey bleach!

I smile at her and continue my journey to the market.



Post image by Daniel Lobo via Flickr

About the Author:

Portrait - AdaezeBorn and bred in Lagos but buttered and toasted in various locations in Benin, Bida and a couple of times on the Benin-Ore expressway. Adaeze likes to laugh(which should never be construed as showing off her gap tooth) and totally loooooooves Lionel Richie, who still comes in second to a meal of fried over-ripe plantains garnished with liver and gizzard and a bottle of ice cold Ribena or Coca-Cola. Her fondest wish is to be a member of an eclectic think-tank that gets to travel around the world… However till then, Adaeze is a writer and a reluctant pharmacist.


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I'm finishing up a phd at Duke University where I study African novels, which I believe are some of the loveliest things ever written. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

6 Responses to “Yellow Fever | by Adaeze Ezewa | African Non-Fiction” Subscribe

  1. chinenye 2015/11/12 at 10:47 am #

    Had a long lengthy laughter reading. I like…

  2. Hannah 2015/11/12 at 3:10 pm #

    Enjoyed this.

    Question, though: is it really non-fiction if it’s not about the author’s personal experience? Or is it someone else’s experience? Someone she knows, I mean. Because “this teenage boy…”

  3. Ibukunwrites 2015/11/29 at 12:42 am #

    Hehehehehe! I love it. Well done Adaeze

  4. Nedoux 2015/12/03 at 3:40 am #

    Hi Adaeze,

    This was brilliant, like a wonderful mash up of bits and pieces that held my attention till the very end.

    I already know that I will end up on YouTube searching for Yellow Fever. 😉


  1. Omooba Vs Duru | chynanu's Blog | a mixed bouquet - 2015/11/26

    […] PPS: I also wrote something that got featured on brittle paper. Again, my ministry needs boosting 😉 Here’s the link Yellow fever […]

  2. Ibukun’s tag. | chynanu's Blog | a mixed bouquet - 2015/11/26

    […] PPS: I also wrote something that got featured on brittle paper. Again, my ministry needs boosting 😉 Here’s the link Yellow fever […]

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I hold a doctorate in English from Duke University and recently joined the Marquette University English faculty as an Assistant Professor. I love teaching African fiction and contemporary British novels. Brittle Paper is the virtual space/station where I play and experiment with ideas on how to reinvent African fiction and literary culture.

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