a post showing Moyo OKediji art piece

Captive No More IV

Captive No More IV


After my great grandmama realized

that her songs failed

To return her child to her breasts

She stopped singing

and began to dialog with herself

even when nobody listened.

She asked strange questions

and responded with strange answers.

Her eyes stopped talking

and her words fell flat,

one syllable after another

from the flaps of her lower lip

dead on arrival

without any salt or fire.

Her world was over

Like a broken termite’s egg:

But she was not the only loss

because that night of abduction

thirteen mothers in vain

searched for missing babies

eight girls and five boys

stolen from just one street.


The ward captain was away

his horses tethered together

to visit his in-laws

on the southern side

of the Erelu river

flowing with muddy currents.

It was the second night

before the city market day

and hundreds of merchants from afar

were trooping in and out the fairs.

The king’s festival

scheduled for the first rain

was late that year

because the showers failed the crops.

They found Ajitoni’s daughter

her eyes plucked from her sockets

under a thicket of dry bushes

but she wasn’t there

as her spirit was missing

and only the body remained.


As one mother softened her sobs

Another shrieked and shivered

Collapsing like a rotten papaya tree

chocking and shaking with sorrow,

a live rooster hen

plucked of all her feathers.

The other twelve mothers,

became ghosts of an evening of the rampage,

like shattered shards

pelted against the rocks.

Amope they took from Subulade

the only daughter she bore,

a shy girl with cat-sharp eyes,

undying adoration of Olagbaju, her father.

Dark with lustrous skin

Adunni, one without a blemish,

they abducted two houses removed

from her father’s blacksmith studio.

Oyin, they called her honey,

her skin a high yellow tone

just like her mother’s pigmentation,

as cool to touch as the morning dew.

Her mother started screaming

just before dusk

and even when they locked her up

in the Orisa barn

behind the plants for steaming cheese balls

her squeals penetrated the doors

and everybody trembled

when she kept cursing the wind.


The worst case was Adeperi

who, when her Idowu disappeared

jumped inside the compound well

and drowned below the water.

That was when all the bereaved mothers

were pulled together into the same akodi

where they were drugged

with sweet iriri-oju herbs

which forced them

to sleep off their tears.

As they woke up

forty-eight hours later

they each received a dosage

of ayelapa beverage.

Many of the women promptly forgot

what happened to them

but with that forgetting

could not remember other things

that made them functioned

as able members of the community.

(To be continued)

Interested in some of my published works?

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply