I. Umuebo

I want to tell you a story – of origins, births, and beginnings. A story of how I came to be, who I am and who I failed to be. I want to tell you the truth – of veneers, facades, and illusions.

A story to whisper to the ears of your children. “You must never deny the land that formed you” – a secret handed from descendants to generations. This is the story of my land and the Greenhorn.


II. Umuezeala Owerre

I was once a wish and nothing more, planted deep in the cushions of my mother’s womb. My existence was considered bogus yet regarded with silent hope. To silence her doubt, my mother lassoed me with the thread of life, giving me her breath, blood, and body. Imminently, I died and became an entity, an embryo of expectation gradually swelling and fussing within my mother’s womb. My mother began building her world around me, counting the months ahead of me. She told her friends about me with hushed tones and flustered giggles. She became star-struck and made excuses for my insensibilities. I listened to her laughter, her coos, and her pretentious complaints from deep within her womb.

Soon I learnt to dance – a language only my mother could understand. She indulged me by playing the drums on her belly and moaning a sonorous tune. But the more we conversed, the more of her I wanted. I wanted to see her face when she called me nwam – my child, with that endearing tone that made me curl. I wanted to know why her heart bounced whenever he spoke and why he always made her laugh. I wanted to know why he was always around and why she sighed impatiently when he was away. I was jealous of everyone, who had been blessed with her smile and had been touched by her kindness. My covetousness grew – a restlessness that she couldn’t contain. So, she released me to my land, whose sovereignty I was about to comprehend.


III. Ehime Mbano

I was once a child and nothing more, locomoting on the surface of my land. My exile from the womb had ushered me onto the vast and latent sphere, I called my land. I wailed in regret for leaving the warmth and comfort of my mother’s womb. I held on to her breast for dear life trying to suckle my way back in. My land noticed my discomfort and gently began to reveal herself to me, like a new lover craving reciprocation. First, the weather changed to suit me. The gentle breeze romanced my skin and whistled a lively tune in my ears just to make me sleep. The trees shivered and the leaves waved in excitement whenever I was near.

I began to understand that my land belonged to me, and I belonged to my land. My land fed me with a luscious variety of foods that made my tongue quiver. My land caught me each time I missed a step, teaching me the dance of life. My land embraced me, titling me a native, so I could have a place. My land became my mirror reflecting my rich black colour whenever I looked at it – an origin, an identity, and a family, that no one could take from me. I started my journey with nothing but my birthmark and my destiny in my hands. My land blessed me, with prophecies of greatness and songs of hope, regaling tales of my fathers and forging my path. My land is my home.


IV. Imo

I was once a son and nothing more, planting my feet in my land that made me. I became strong as I ploughed the paths of my fathers, branded by the scars of my trade. My land yielded where I commanded and responded whenever I brandished my birthmark, affirming that I belonged.

One day I met a Greenhorn whose nature puzzled me. The Greenhorn came from across the seas on a journey of discovery and in search of fortunes. He looked like a hairy corn with pale skin and brown stringy hair. He spoke with water in his mouth, juggling his vowels and spitting out his consonants. I marvelled at his thin nose that filled the space between his eyebrows and the lips that ran from his chin. His eyes were as grey as the dead but as lively as burning coals. We gazed upon ourselves, trying to mate our origins and heritage. But no matter how hard we tried, the Greenhorn was always lost in the abyss of my land.

So, the Greenhorn and I began to dance – a struggle for dominance. He told me how rich his lands were, and I showed him my forests and barns. He told me of how sophisticated his language was, and I sang to him, the melodies that could quieten bulls. He told me of his one true God, and I introduced him to the fortitude of Ala – my land. He showed me beautiful apparel that rubbed my skin gently and I draped him with the skins of lions that had dared to cross my path.

I offered him my home, but he desired my lands. I offered him slaves, but he wanted my wives. I offered him friendship, but he desired my life and gradually got the wealth he came searching for.


V. Nigeria.

I was once a Greenhorn and nothing more, a faux pas in my land that formed me. When I spoke, I sounded like a delusional fool – a child trying to emulate the guests. My thoughts and beliefs sounded like the chorus of a choir that didn’t know its lyrics. I dressed like a masquerade who couldn’t decide which attire was best for the ceremony. I was a fraud and underneath my coat was the restless desire to become.

I wasn’t green enough to be a greenhorn, yet I wasn’t local enough to be a son. My frustration deepened by the rejection and ostracism of both sides. I tried harder to be a Greenhorn, but I failed woefully. Each time I hit the bar of expectation, it only climbed a rung higher. I craved the machinations of the greenhorn. I deemed his culture higher and his language better than mine. I rehearsed his prayers and bowed to his inventions. His airy songs became my melody, and his stature became my god. I dreamt of his land and revelled in the stories he told me. His laws became my laws, and I began to judge and blame my land for colouring me so.


VI. Africa

I was once a son and nothing more, shamed by my conflation. My desire to be someone else had turned me into a stranger in my land. My response to my language was “Eh?” and my elders shook their heads in indignation. I forgot the road to my home and lost the culture of my fathers. But deep within me was a cry demanding a response – a wail seeking comfort. My heart bled for loneliness and my eyes filled with tears of longing. I called out to my home and my land heard me.

My land beckoned to me and swallowed my shame dusting me with the colour of the soil. My birthmark shone again, and my skin glowed like a fish in the midnight ocean. My tongue was uncurled in my mouth so I could speak my language again. The tune came deep from my guts when I sang and echoed through the night. I resumed the dance of life, relaxing my shoulder and throwing my legs in front of each other. My land opened her hands and welcomed me back home.

I began to understand that my land belonged to me, and I belonged to my land. The way of the Greenhorn is pure, but my way is mine. The food of the Greenhorn is bland, but my food is picante. A million refined machinations will never replace my innate vegetation. My mark is not a curse to be covered, neither is my skin a cloth to be bleached. I am richer in my land and greater in my home.

This is the end of my story but the beginning of my enlightenment. I am a son of the soil, and my heritage is Umuebo. Born to the kingdom of Umuezela and crowned in Ehime Mbano. Imo answers when I call, and Nigeria looks exactly like me. My place is in Africa and Africa is my home.












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