Every time I want to speak
I admonish my tongue
Warn it not to say a p for an f or an f for a p
I tell it to weigh every word
And pronounce every letter carefully
Like a midwife delivering a baby

Every time I want to speak
Fear takes hold of my being
What if my accent betrays me
And I hear people laugh
At this Hausa girl that says pish and fafer

So I look at every word that leaves my lips
As it dangles before my face
And gauge its perfection
I align all the consonants in their right angles
I speak slowly, nervously
Afraid that the amusement in their eyes
Was born from all the mistakes I make

Not anymore

Now I let the words drop in torrents
Like the first rain after an endless drought
I let them come raw, unchecked
I let the ps and the fs go wherever they wish
I let all the things I want to say shoot out of my mouth

Let the world laugh at my accent
I am what I am
I am a daughter of the North
I learned my mother’s language in her womb
And its marks were ingrained on my tongue
Long before I learned the foreign language

So here I am
Wraffed in all za shades op my accent
Wondering weza ip I sfeak wiz all za wads in za right flaces
Will I cease being a Hausa girl?



Photo by Katie Atkins on Unsplash