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How to Change the Name of a Place

Photograph by Ayo Akinyemi

Say, “It is not Abakaliki. Aba Nkaleke.”

Repeat: “Aba Nkaleke.”

Be born there. Grow up there.

At St. John’s Primary School Okpaugwu, listen to the kids from the other states talk about where they come from, …

You are near yet you are far

You are Cameroonian. Yet all your Nigerian writer friends say you are Nigerian. You’ve never even been to Nigeria before. So how can this be? You wade through their observations about your Nigerianess.

“You’ve got our vibe…you look Igbo…you speak …

White Patches

Photograph by Ayo Akinyemi, from the series Afterlife.

What’s all the fuss and flurry about Christmas, I wondered as I drank my fourth glass of red wine. Most of the guests were dressed in different forms of white attires; …

a witness’ burden

Photograph by Ayo Akinyemi, from the series Eripa.

& because i have no courage to speak about this

i’ll fold myself into paper planes        i’ll let this melancholic memory propel into my sister                       to the very first day her …

Peace in a Time of War

Photograph by Ayo Akinyemi, from the series Eripa.

They say
mother and father
named me Peace
because they conceived me
in the midst of turmoil

They say
guns boomed
as midwives slapped mother’s thighs
told her to quit being …

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Birthmark

Photograph by Ayo Akinyemi, from the series Eripa.

Since colour is country
at every new moon
a body speaks a new tongue
you do not know this yet
as you do not know that big men
in little girl’s …

Great Rift Valley

Photograph by Ayo Akinyemi, from the series “The Sacred Architecture of Osun Grove”

Mieso was a speck on Ethiopia’s map. A small place, remote and tucked away. We were Lesotho without the diamonds, and sometimes without the water. Caught between …

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Losing My Father

Photograph by Ayo Akinyemi from the series “After Life”

The journey towards my truth is littered with untruths.

 

Like that time I denied being queer when dad asked me directly. It was right as I was starting grad school …

Magnata

Photograph by Ladan Osman

The man who brought a miracle to the small town in northern Mozambique was both remarkable and ordinary. As an albino, he wasn’t an unfamiliar sight although other things indicated he was different; he walked with …

Morningside Park

Photograph by Ladan Osman 

My thought was to sit and perhaps
in sitting, one might learn how to reach

across a bench where emptiness sits and
touch a woman’s skin.

In this touch, my hand is a voice, it lifts …

Saraba is a literary magazine focused on the work of new writers in Nigeria and other parts of the African continent. Since 2009, we have published several issues of a magazine, editions of poetry chapbooks, and online-only work.
Our ongoing Manuscript Project supports the publication of long-form fiction and nonfiction by ten new Nigerian writers.
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