Subscribe to Newsletter
Monthly Newsletter: Join more than 3,000 African literature enthusiasts!
Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our "Guide to African Novels."
14-anthology

Cover concept and design by Seyi. Cover typeset by Seyi.

Your mother’s hair used to be a mass of fine threads
that touched the back of her shoulders,
curving into a cluster of curls.
She fed them thick portions of cheap oil each morning,
scrubbed hard then softly, with hair brush.
Once, she said,
“When yours grow, Miriam,
a man will find it attractive,
then he’ll buy you lavender cream.”
But somewhere on the toilet wall
you made and re-made sketches
of two happy stick-girls
because you’d rather have Susan
than Mike touch your hair.
You stopped attending Sunday School
the day the teacher mentioned Sodom
and the girl from the next street
(who always thought you had
the queerest evil spirit)
looked sideways and whispered
like a female exorcist,
“How do you crush on a girl?”
And your eyes narrowed into
a needle, piercing its way through
tissue paper, and your skin became a city under siege,
and you fortified your defenses
and whispered back,
“You…how do you crush on a boy?”
Then you realized
you had nothing to defend, by the way.
You loved placards
but they wouldn’t let you raise them
at home,
or on the street
or at Sunday School.
So you held them inside you and
in your many dreams,
of which you’ve lost count,
for dreams are variegated things
like arithmetic.
At school, you realized you were
no more or less
like your mates,
that you aspired like everyone else,
dreamed the way others did
and that, like everyone else, your placards
had inscriptions that told of becoming,
until an end-point was attained – yourself .
Because someday, you had stopped ‘wanting to be’
and simply ‘became’.

 

 

**************

About the Author:

Chisom Okafor was studying Nutrition and Dietetics when poetry discovered him. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in various literary outlets.

*****

Chisom Okafor’s “Placards” first appeared in 14: An Anthology of Queer Art: Volume 1: We Are Flowers, a Brittle Paper-published anthology of writing, photography and digital art. Helmed by the LGBTIQ group 14, the project has an Introduction by Binyavanga Wainaina and blurbs from Unoma Azuah and Ikhide Ikheloa.

Read our other republication from the anthology: Rapum Kambili’s “Gay Wars: Battle of the Bitches (or The Tops and Bottoms of Being Out in Nigeria).”

Download and read 14: An Anthology of Queer Art: Volume 1: We Are Flowers.

Tags: , ,

Otosirieze is deputy editor of Brittle Paper. He is a judge for the 2018/19 Gerald Kraak Prize and the 2019 Miles Morland Writing Scholarships. He is an editor at 14, Nigeria’s first queer art collective, which has published volumes including We Are Flowers (2017) and The Inward Gaze (2018). He is the curator of the Art Naija Series, a sequence of e-anthologies of writing and visual art focusing on different aspects of Nigerianness, including Enter Naija: The Book of Places (2016), which explores cities, and Work Naija: The Book of Vocations (2017), which explores professions. His fiction has appeared in The Threepenny Review and Transition. He has completed a collection of short stories, You Sing of a Longing, is working on a novel, and is represented by David Godwin Associates literary agency. He combined English and History at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, is completing a postgraduate degree in African Studies, and taught English at Godfrey Okoye University, Enugu. Find him at otosirieze.com, where he accepts writing and editing offers, or on Instagram or Twitter: @otosirieze. When bored, he Googles Rihanna.

No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Welcome to Brittle Paper, your go-to site for African writing and literary culture. We bring you all the latest news and juicy updates on publications, authors, events, prizes, and lifestyle. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram (@brittlepaper) and sign up for our "I love African Literature" newsletter.

Monthly Newsletter!

Subscribe for African literature news, and receive a free copy of our
"Guide to African Novels."

Archives

SynCity NG Releases Anniversary Anthology, Introduced by Tendai Huchu, and Announces Prize Winners, Judged by Mukoma wa Ngugi & Leye Adenle

Feast 3D (2)

In celebration of its one-year anniversary, the Nigeria-based African literature blog SynCity NG announced a prize and a call for […]

Ellah Wakatama Allfrey to Lead New Project for Artistic Partnership between University of Manchester and HOME

Ellah Wakatama Allfrey

As part of their three-year artistic partnership, the University of Manchester and the Manchester-based arts venue HOME have created a […]

ReWrite London Calls for Short Fiction Submissions from Black Women & Women of Colour

rewrite london - graph

ReWrite, the London-based platform for Black women and women of colour, founded in 2017 by the Congolese-British writer and facilitator […]

Sunday Times Announces Shortlists for South Africa’s Alan Paton Award & Barry Ronge Fiction Prize

panashe chigumadzi - book - graph - wix.com

Sunday Times has announced the shortlists for the prestigious South African literary prizes: the Alan Paton Award, in its 30th […]

Patrice Nganang’s When the Plums Are Ripe, the Second in His Historical Fiction Trilogy, Tells the Story of Cameroon’s Forced Entry into World War II

patrice nganang

The Cameroonian writer and Stony Brook literature professor Patrice Nganang, who in 2017 was arrested for criticising the country’s 37-year-ruling […]

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, Jude Idada Lead 2019 NLNG Prize Longlist for Children’s Literature

adaobi tricia nwaubani - deskgram -graph

The Nigeria Liquefied Natural Gas (NLNG) Prize for Literature has announced its 2019 longlist, led by I Do Not Come […]

Thanks for signing up!

Never miss out on new posts. Subscribe to a digest, too:

No thanks, I only want the monthly newsletter.