by Oyindamola Shoola
I was asked to describe Ibadan, and all I could think
of, is you, Abeni, and how the whipping stroke
of your arm-length eyelashes can tone its brown roofs
into sliver and cleanse its street like Christ washing our sins.
You can twist your tongue into the tasteless
culture of European accents.
Yet, like Sango eats thunder for breakfast
Ibadan clings to the home of your mouth.
Ibadan's aroma seduces
the atmosphere's whistles
when you call cushion, "Kusine"
and chicken, "Shikin."
Unlike you claim to avoid shame, Abeni,
I know your best food isn't fried Calamari.
If I were to describe the treasures
of Ibadan, it will be the memories
that Mama Ope's Amala,
served with a jungle of meat and Abula
sunk in a stainless steel "555" bowl
that burnt into our finger-licking soul.
Abeni, I was asked to describe the beauty of Ibadan
and of the towers, palaces, or hills I could pick,
all I could think of is you.
Omo Ibadan Kini So? – A Yoruba greeting attributed to people from the Ibadan, the largest city in West Africa.
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