O Jewa Ke Eng?

Hello Royalty

If you have been on Twitter for two months or more, then the title of this post is pretty familiar. A big shout out to my friend, Dominion, @domi_ie who suggested this as a blogpost title. Why?

Last week Friday, I put up an Instagram poll, asking, “How has your week been?” The answers to choose from were “AMAZING” and “I NEED TO TALK.” 23 people voted the latter, and although this was not my initial intention, after seeing 23 people pick that option, I knew I had to do something. So, I messaged each of the 23 separately, asking what they wanted to talk about. About 18 of them were willing to talk in the long run, and I must say I had the best conversations that weekend/this week. It made me realize over and again that sometimes, people are going through a lot and they just want to talk. Back to the title of this post, I was sharing this whole experience with Dominion and how I was going to blog the few things I wrote after that experience, and he said, “oh so you did your own o jewa ke eng” and I suddenly saw it from that perspective. I also shared my previous title with him: “Poetry for the Going who Gets Tough when the Tough Gets Going” and we both agreed it was too long. Hence, “O Jewa Ke Eng” – a term from one of the Southern African languages which translates loosely in English as “What’s eating you up?” or “What’s bothering you?”

So, I put this these writings up (some freshly written and some from my archives) for all of the 23 who wanted to talk, and for you, Royalty, in those times that are all a part of our lives’ clocks.

  1. “Sweep”

It’s in how we step into the room. How we have it all planned out. How we become architects, painters, and authors of our own destinies, or at least, our own weeks. Then, it’s in how the math no longer works. How one plus one never equals two. How the letters in the alphabet are no longer 26, because we now have a new language called gibberish. But I say, “sweep.” With all the energy you have, pick up the broom. Sweep every thought of perfection. Sweep every notion of it has to work this way. Don’t overthink it. Don’t be paralyzed by plan A. Pick up the broom and make room for plan B.

2. “Ariyike”

This was the name I would have given to you before you became a pool of blood. What was I to think? I know many people have called me cursed, an unlucky woman whose joy will never come. I thought you would come to put a smile on my face, and to wipe the pain of mockery from my eyes. But wasn’t it in that seventh month you left? I woke up to a river of stained sheets, crimson to remind me of my past sins. If only he let you stay; if only I hadn’t been so unlucky to say yes to him; if only I listened to Amaka when she said he would be the death of me. When I told Aunty Risi my story, she said, “You too shouldn’t have raised your voice at your husband.” “Yes omo mi. He wouldn’t have put a finger on you” Aunty Tola added. You see? Now I am the victim of my own victimization. The one time I finally decided to raise a voice for my rights as a wife, I lose my unborn child, and not only that, I am blamed for the loss. They say life begins at forty. I am almost there, but I think it is about to end. But I choose to live. I am determined to.

3. “Dons”

Again, victim of her victimization
There’s rain coming 
And it’s not pleasant showers

Source: Instagram

4. Ugly.

Worthless.

Full of shit.

And you?

You permit the words to slip

Into the bowls of your head.

Broken yolk and albumen,

Waiting to be whisked

By insecurity and depression.

But don’t you see?

Don’t you see cataract in their eyes?

5.

Yesterday,

away from the bustle and yellow of Lagos,

I had a naming ceremony

for my goals.

Perfection is not it.

Progress is the baby’s name.

And a few nuggets to everyone who’s somewhere here:

  • Just breathe.
  • It’s okay to leave an unknown future to a known God.
  • No one has it altogether – not strangers on the internet, not familiars in real life, no one has it 100.
  • Don’t compare.
  • Love your journey.
  • Work hard
  • All of these may be cliché, but internalize them.

Goodbye Royalty,

With Overflowing Love,

Alexandra Zion

About the author
Christocentric. Academic. Writer. Poet

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