It was not always this way. Mfina.
It was not always blanketed by the cloud of myopia atop their heads. Odovidi Anayisa nini.
The chief did not always spit in their faces. Odovidi anahinmi.
The people did not have frog-like necks. Oza vonivoni.
Neither did the children leave in flocks. Japa.
It was not always this way.
And every story has a beginning.
The box arrived when the people were sleepwalking. Alejò.
It had thongs on its side that glistened at the touch of the moon. Enyireku ipapa.
And a steaming knob that came alive from the breath of its creators. Enyireku upohuva.
They were a small group. Awọn ọlọtẹ.
Members of a lineage that had worn the crown. Oka.
Their faces were the circles atop the box. Ukwu eyi.
But the people did not see it. Oniyavara.
They did not know them. Igbagbe.
It opened at 03:00 am Republic time. Mbata.
The box. Alejò.
Creating a pin-like sound. Etura.
That drew in everything within its reach. Anape.
Leaving them in the stagnancy of time. Aga ije.
The people say that they do not remember what came next. Anayihi odivi.
But what came after was their aspiration to be like the Ones from the box. Aroo.
Ah, the Ones. Onimanasiki.
They say the Ones had purple skin ornamented by spiky green hair.
That their feet were roots with glass fingers.
The same element compositing their eyes.
Which bore the shape of a half-moon.
That their ears were stolen from rabbits.
Having holes through which they respired.
That their shoulders stood askew.
Connected to the head by a string of reptiles.
That their back was a translucent metal.
Through which one could see their bellies.
Bulging from an assortment of increments.
Soon, purple became brown. Ahụ mmadụ.
Green turned to spongy black. Ntutu mmadụ.
And their body became prosthetics of human flesh. Ovechii.
Although mouthless, their voice travelled the Atlantic. Idiok uyom.
But the people say that they did not understand their speech. Uhuhuu.
That the Ones spoke behind golden teeth that blinded one’s eyes. Anape.
That their words enchanted retailed ears. Inan.
Until they were echoed by those who aspired. Anaroo nini.
Everyone aspired. Omenala.
To join the Ones and drop the ladder for their blood. Odusat.
To rest their head in marbled rooms. ọ̀gá complex.
While having their feet washed by those below. Oshieyi shozaa.
And so when the Ones opened their window. Mbanye.
Some humans became the Ones. Bad boiz.
Making it harder to tell brown from purple. Okube.
What came next was a journey to the pit. Nsobo.
The ones declared change with food sacs and pennies. Oto osusu.
Only to fall asleep when it was time to walk. Oniyavara.
They mounted hand basins by Anopheles’ Pond. Onidoti.
And washed their hands at the other end of the ocean. Uhuotu.
They cut the tongues of storytellers. Evenee.
And wrote tales in the clouds. Onye asi.
They made holes for the people. ụzọ ọjọọ.
And flew with the birds. Njem elu.
They built empty bookshelves for the scholars. Agụghị akwụkwọ.
And spread their blood across castles. IJGB.
They left their eggs in the other room. Akaarahi.
And unlocked the deep ends of the pit. Ńsògbú.
Now the mines have spread across the city. Anwahi eteh.
The angels are killing the people. Ayichama ojisasune.
Bats are beating. Afai.
The cows have gone mad. Anihurani.
The gods of harvest can no longer feed the people. Okuruku.
Suits and ties are sucking dust. Enwe.
The heat is melting the pennies. Isa okatarehi.
Empty pockets are dancing. Uya.
The children are dreaming in the barns. Ainireti.
People are bathing in crescent rosaries. Esin.
The healers are running. Ijira osise ilera.
The sea has turned its back on the people. Ireha odivi.
Ah. Yes. Yes. The Ones tied the hands of the people. N’agbụ.
But they forgot to lock the city gates. Esuk mbehe.
And so they did not see when it happened. Ibubata.
When the fibres went under the oceans. Ijikọ.
And opened their strings to the bleeding land. Mkpughe.
They did not see it coming. Ngabiga.
The river with all kinds of fishes. Intanetị.
The sinking gatekeepers. Wiwọle.
They could not fathom it. E shock them.
How the children unlocked their voices. Sọrọ sókè.
The Ones still walk with their backs behind the people.
They are plotting.
But the people are coming.
The clock is ticking. Atomic.
Everything that has a beginning must come to an end. Unknown.
“Everything that has a Beginning…” is a story that addresses the fragile state of Nigeria. Under the umbrella of Science Fiction, the story follows the arrival of an alien group that surreptitiously seizes a community and wears the human skin as a form of camouflage. With the fusion of English and several Niger-Congo languages, the poem explores what follows and how it might all come to an end.
Find the glossary of Niger-Congo words here.