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African Writing Archives


Olajumoke Verissimo


Olajumoke Verissimo

Verissimo is a Nigerian poet living in Lagos. Her work has previously been published in Ashes & Diamonds, Chimurenga and Eclectica. She is a sub-editor with Farafina Online.



I know brokers of diamond dreams, who

copulate in mines when mates are in fetters.


I know IMF;

International Misery Fellows, whose

kindness borders on wretchedness.


I know desire that flowered trauma,

tales of protection that weaves destruction,

stories of UN-desirable aid-givers

and World Bank of unmeasured miseries.


I am the memory of waters where anger

shushes voices, into a stem of bitterness, into

a tree: two stems; with three branches,

the knower, the-knowing and the know-not.


I am Diaspora, the fresh ire, of

erring sires who flipped destiny.


I am the memory of ancestors

who embraced figments of hope, but

found discord rooted in posterity.

I am the memory

of Sierra Leone

serial loan of enchanted bitterness

of Liberia

lying burials of ailing serenity

of Sudan

sudating hunger and impaired righteousness.

I am the memory of places

where death is an appraisal of hope,

I know the home of familial disconnect

where ties of belonging are soups of blood,

and happiness farms anticipation; harvests sorrow.


I know of fathers who are

heedless fighters of kindred enmity.

I know everything that means nothing.




I know non-travellers voyaging into waters of amnesia,

slipping into the eternity of jumbled history,

stalling yesterday's possibilities in shipwrecks,

overboard burying, plantation rapes, skin abuse.

I am the memory of ships;

Mercy, Jesus, Ann, Desire…

where humans evolved into

rotting meat sighing for death.


I know Royal African Company;

makers of Royalty Alienated

companionship, traders of serfdom.


I am the next-of-kin of plantation workers,

next-of-skin to worldly neglect,

I am a story, I am the memory.




I tell tales of a question-marked century,

of history’s untreated patients, whose

memoirs of festering sores ache to heal.


I wear regalia of prayers,

murmur hunger-sagged dreams:



I know the story of a century’s scar,

and history of a noiseless brawl, where,


the absence of memory,

wormed a race into discord.


I have the remnant of a memory

where ships rode ignorance to shores of abuse.


I know when conscience in a dance of shame

asked, ‘who should be blamed for its woeful name?’

Who does it blame for his mother’s nakedness?

the child who sells off her clothes,

or the strangers who peddle her pride in glee?




I am memory,

the recall of aching joints,

of passions, of pain, of un-priced productions.


I am memory,


of wounds that don’t heal, of scars yielding foes,

of desert sun and lash from arrogant Arabs

whose anger against self, repels mercy.


I am the welt of the world,

the caustic memories of black labour,

whose inheritance is of slummed fathers.


I am the memory of a time.


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