Tag Archives: Widowhood Rites

#16Days – Onwu Di


She dies and…

‘Oh! Take heart’

‘May God comfort you’

‘It’s one of those things’


He dies and it’s…

‘Aahh!!!’ ‘She has done her worst!’

Ajoo Nwanyi!



On sick bed,

On wheels,

Beneath the sea,

In the air,

‘She was the cause!!!’

They always say.


The other people lament

‘What rubbish!’

‘Such injustice!!’

But to deaf ears they fall.


They come in troops

Lazy bones in disguise

To reap where they sowed not

in the name of kinship.

Day by day they saunter in, to cast your lot

And at times, battle over the remnants

Like vultures to the carcass.



Stand up!

Get up from your eternal slumber

and show us your slayer

For your home is falling apart.

Your kinsmen have ravaged your house.


Your wife has become a barbarian

Made to drink the juice of your corpse

Stripped of her beauty by her skinned head

Ruffled and tossed like a culprit.


They have sentenced her

to a dozen months imprisonment

In the confines of your ancestral home.

They gave her white this time

to cover her nakedness.

A change from the black

that used to be the uniform


And until she completes her days,

The light of the sun she dares not see again

Nor witness the joys of the world.

And when that happens,

A second wife we fear she may become.


The other people lament again,

‘What rubbish!’

‘Such injustice!!’

Yet to deaf ears they still fall.


Your children, we know not their fate

Chased away from your cocoon

Scattered like sheep

Destitute we fear they shall become.



If you do not arise

and prove the innocence of your wife,

Then your home we fear,

is doomed forever.




©  Chinwe Azubuike 2004

Fears of a celibate woman

I want to share a write up by Koluki on London’s “Black History Month” which featured my friend, Chinwe Azubuike – one of the few people I seriously miss now I am away from London. Chinwe is also an occasional contributor to Black Looks in the past. Koluki’s blog is also one of those I haven’t read for a while so I am glad she left a comment which reminded me to visit.

- A presentation by Chinwe Azubuike, a female contemporary voice from Africa, born in Lagos, Nigeria, who describes herself as a spokeswoman for Nigeria’s deprived class.

This last one was that which touched me the most, not least because it was protagonised by a woman. Throughout the presentation of her campaign denouncing violence against women, specifically against widows in Nigeria, and the performance of some of her poems, I was moved almost to tears at times.

There I was in front of this short, slim, yet strong young lady who, with her short-cut hair – which reminded me of exactly how I used to wear mine (… for that I would either go to a barber’s shop or cut it myself, and sometimes my late partner, who also liked it very much that way, would cut it for me…) when I was about her age and had also just published my humble first, and so far only, book of poems – holding all my attention and emotions, between the gravity and tension of the subjects she is dealing with and the distension and pleasure of a frank smile conveying to her audience the idea that suffering and healing are facts of life: the first being inflicted upon us by others (and sometimes by ourselves), the second being brought about by our conscious decision to stop both the causes and the consequences of that suffering.

Fears Of A Celibate Woman

The selfish lust of man
earned him my doubt and distrust.

With this vast body of desires,
feel forsaken

Who is fit to uncross my twisted legs
And throw them
wide apart?
For my core is burning

Oh! You knight in shining Armour,
Come and prove me wrong.

She followed the paused, pulsating, reflexive (and reflective) reading of each poem (just as I would read my own) by a short explanation – something that I never did with mine, either verbally or in writing (except of late with some I’ve published on this blog), because it is my belief that poetry either succeeds at being self-explanatory or is innefective. She also somehow concurred to this assertion by saying after the first reading that it “probably wasn’t fair to do that as the author should just leave it to the audience to make sense of the poem.” However, in doing so, she was also implicitly acknowledging something that I have experienced myself: the risk of our poems’ intended message being lost in “the senses” (translation … transliteration… prejudgements… prejudices… meaning… projection … association… appropriation…) the audience, or the reader (not to mention the, often reckless, critics…), may discretionarily attach to them – but then, that’s the gamble inherent to poetry writing, especially that of the symbolic kind, isn’t it?
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