By Marvel Chukwudi Pephel


Ogene*, the town crier’s noisy companion!
The errand bird of metallic descent
What message seeks freedom in your belly?
Is it a message that will festoon
Our hearts with happiness
Or that that leaves a man
Paralyzed with grief?
Ogene, we welcome you with your ding-donging flappings;
Tell us what only gods can envisage
Tell us what fate’s hand has weaved
Tell us ! O tell us what brought you out
From your cosy man-made nest.

* Ogene- Ibo word for “gong”.

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I woke up
As a blank slate
Yet to be written upon.
The years of boyhood
As well churned life’s dust
Upon my impressionable face;
I was told the path to tread,
The path of the good and just.
Right must be right
And wrong wrong.
I took the path I was shown;
The path the predecessors
Had known.
And when later

I felt I was somewhat different
I still kept walking
On the known path
Lest I be thought otherwise.
But when my soul
Burnt with an undying yearning
To have its natural rum
I paused, a heavy unease hanging
Over me;
The fear of being thought awkward
For not following the crowd
Left a web of confusion
On my face;
But I stumbled,
And stepped off the kerb
Seeking no man’s opinion
To follow my kindred spirits.

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All white,
Like celestial beings.
Frolicsome children
Feeding their mouths
May tell tales.

And I pity you, sister
Who is wearing a tight skirt
And has a suku.1

* suku: a type of hairstyle that a woman must not be seen with during Eyo festival.

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African Woman
With a basket on her head
I adore your native attire.
When you walk and men gaze
Do you pick offence
African woman?
I love those beads that adorn your neck
And love your colourful buba;*
I adore your native attire.
If I run after you
Would you in anyway feel embarrassed
African woman?
Even when you tread bare footed
It does not betray your beautiful dress;
I adore your native attire.
You there, wearing Ankara2
Excuse me. I have this to say to you:
African woman
I adore your native attire.

* Buba- a type of dress worn by African.
* Ankara- an African fabric.


Marvel Chukwudi Pephel was born in the early 90s in Aba, Abia State, Nigeria. His passion for poetry was kindled when he came first in an NYSC literary competition/ lecture of the Aba zone in 2006 (while still in secondary school). He has contributed to both national and international pages and anthologies.

He is a graduate of Applied Biochemistry from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Nigeria, and has a poetry collection ready for publication. He currently resides in Awka, Anambra State, where he is researching into forms and stylistics.

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