Ini Ere by Tari Diete



Meaning “my name” in ijaw (nembe) language

Of all the things they took from you, the name was the most delicate

A name you were identified by in your fatherland

How many times did they take what you had

First your paradise, then your pride

They did not call you Chigozie but they called you Chi, the ‘i’ pronounced as a ‘y’

They couldn’t pronounce Ayibanengiyefa so they called you Ay

You answered because it sounded nice but didn’t know why

It wasn’t your fault, with their tiny nostrils how are they to pronounce a name so strong that your father sang with pride the day you strode your first mile

Now you’ve colored your skin white

Chemicals and bases straighten the curls from your fro, your halo light With every passing time you are new

Depending on how where they place you Do you remember the name they called you?The familiar name mama used to yell from the backyard

The very same name you write in initials at job applications

Yes that name

Answer it, Wear it, hold it for what is a man without a name, a name from the root he was planted.

So the next time the oyinbo immigration officer fails to pronounce your “hard name” correctly, take a breath, teach him with each of his alphabet that it is Ebiegberi because no white man will bear a child and name him Dayo instead of John.

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Pencilmarks and Scribbles Magazine was founded in 2017 by Clara Jack to be a home for African writers, asking them to come as they are and giving them room for growth. The publication aims to give back to the Nigerian Literary scene for the things it has given us.