To my uncles

To my uncles that nod from their posts with their badges
and suits, the ones that stand security for white
collars and stand as pillars for us;

to my uncles, with dreadlocks wrestling red lights
dishing trims at barber shops, whipping up sauces
and showing us who’s boss,

to my uncles with white aprons behind counters
to my uncles in well lit theatres with sharp scalpels

to my uncles who landed and stayed legit, salute
to my uncles who landed and deal illicit, invest.

to my uncles with PhDs, Drs, Mr’s, Sirs
and still know their kin, – chiefs.

to my uncles who kneel on Sundays and bow on Fridays
who chew khat and miss sugar cane, may the Father bless you.

to my uncles who send Naira back home even when rent is late
who squeeze Arsenal jerseys onto their pot bellies, captains.

to my uncles that came before, who stuck their foot in the door
my success is forever your success.

to my uncles who’ve stood like Jupiter and taken the meteors
of injustice on their backs, who bled, fled, persevered

to my uncles who know their rights, stand their ground
and keep their fists loaded, we see you.

to my uncles in the ground & in the sea, honour.

to my uncles in the motherland, the ones who will never leave
who insist home is where the soil is a mirror,

to my uncles who’s seed now give shade,
enjoy the fruit of the land.


Uncle Rotimi reminded me on his lebara connection
“Don’t marry those oyinbo girls over there oh,
this is your home, this is where you belong.”

The bus conductor in Nairobi mistaking me for a Kikuyu
demanded, “eh, are you a white man
why can’t you speak your mother’s tongue?”

Sometimes, like a true Yoruba tribesman
I play with my h’s like
‘ospital and hoffice.

I still dobale before my elders,
an ancestral reflex.

Though I understand, my tongue is not loosed to speak
that’s why aunty Tolu teases me with “omo London“.

Yet, roadside suya, gala, pure water, garri and groundnut,
NEPA, noise, catapult, marbles, malaria, dust,
dance, anointing oil, all-night vigil, morning pledge, super eagles,
condensed milk, gizzard, pepper soup, Robb, Dettol baths
and endless summers – these are the ingredients of my childhood.

My harmattan birthday now comes wrapped in winter.
You know, I didn’t even flinch last snowfall,
now, I use SPF 50 when I visit the motherland.

When I’m asked,
“So, which are you – British or Nigerian?”
I say, “Both”.