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IKWIIKWII

In my village there is something we used to call, ikwiikwii. Ikwiikwii can never be caught because he can see his enemy from the front, from behind, and from the side. Ikwiikwii can never be surprised because his eyes are from the moon, big and watchful. Ikwiikwii is the gentle warrior of the night, but in the day, his powers are taken from him and he is like an old man in his hole. When I was a young woman, I could make 10 rounds to the stream to fetch water and my sweat would be too afraid to fall from my head. I could command all the dust in my compound to move to the front, move to the back, oya move to the left; they would all move and I would pack them away. Even my house, it would bow down so I could take care of its head. If you want to say I was fearless then you can say I was fearless.

 

In my late 30’s I moved to Lagos to support my husband because he wasn’t making as much as we had hoped. Lagos welcomed me and unwelcomed me in the same breath. As time grew, I began to lose my command. Sweat was no longer ashamed to fall from my head, in fact, sweat was beating me. Even the dust I used to command would stay on my skin from morning to night. I can’t tell you the exact moment, but somewhere, I lost myself and I found regret. All day, I would think about that young woman in the village that used to be a warrior. Inside my memories, I could see the power of the night, the blueish green light that gave me strength. Inside my memories, my eyes were big and my wings were wide. Inside my memories is where I would rather be these days. Let the sweat beat me and the dust command me to move, because who I am now is not who I used to be.

 

I was a gentle warrior in that my village, but in Lagos, I am an old woman covered in dust reminiscing inside my hole.