_We make our own stories.
Our histories will be Our version.
_We write and break and build and burn archives as we choose.
_We sit at the complex of the Diaspora, a liminal space that is everything, that is everywhere, that makes home of our bodies.
_We use codes between each other to educate and fortify. We trust in a language that exists beyond construction.
_We are not opaque, we do not disappear, we will not fade.
_We choose care to guide the core of our actions. We believe in love.
_We scream and breathe and heave and wail and laugh and sigh and relish in the breadth of our Power.
_We are rooted to the sound, the sight, the feel of our rhythms.
_Without fear or reservation, with our side eyes and suck teeth, with our memories and future building convictions, we solicit the darkness.
_Relationships with ourselves, each other, and our mothers are at the centre of our meaning making.
_Our embodied lives thrive with the trees, our children, the land, the moon, water, sex, the way we breathe, the pauses in our explanations, the blue in our devils.
_Our labour strengthens us, sharpening our acuity, refining our movements.
_Our world is holistic and shared. We carry as we rise.
_We face our failures, our falters, our mistakes, our errors. We dust off, reflect, and build upon them.
SOLICITATION OF THE DARKNESS AFFIRMS
SOLICITATION OF DARKNESS REJECTS
I've now been away for twelve days. My feelings have become simple. I am either happy or sad. Happy mostly when I remember where I am. When I leave the four locks to exit my godmother’s house and walk up the hill past the flesh craving dogs, past the full full mango tree dripping with young, towards the dead end where I'm sure the sour cherries are (though I'm not certain—haven't made it that far yet), I can remember that I am happy and why there is reason to be. Spending time home where every scent, voice, phrase, touch, breeze is me, is full of my insides and reminds me so potently of my life here.
Then there is the pitiful emotion of sadness.
IT WAS ALWAYS THERE // THE EARTH IS MADE OF ICE
My hands hold my belly
I am nestled in my form
Rooted in hair
Rooted in the laugh that laughs
with the glint of fire
Rooted in sound embodied
new and ancient
one line to carry us
Head down, eyes open
BLACK BLACK BLACK BLACK BLACK // “MUSEUMS ARE NOT JUST ENCLOSURES FOR THE DEAD”
I have been away for three weeks to the day now. I find myself in a daily rut of frustration not being able to produce or read or think an original thought. I suppose part of the work of being here is pushing through these hesitations and productive lulls to find the meat of it all. Truly then, this is the exact reason why I am here. To work through the matter that has settled and gone undisturbed for so long.
I know your life is going faster now. It always does when you cross oceans. When one leaves and another stays nothing but the water changes between you.
I find comfort in knowing these sentiments are shared between us.
WHEN YOU EMBARK ON A JOURNEY, YOU HAVE ALREADY ARRIVED. // NEW YEAR DAYS
I owe you a letter.
Old years eve I was with the Jordans. I have never been with the Jordans. Now, on old years eve, I am surrounded in a room filled with us/them/us. We are in an African Baptist church.
I learn I was christened there, my mother was baptised there, the ankh placed instead of the cross is intentional and the Black man posed as Jesus is deliberate. The service was filled with women dressed like Yemaya with white long head dresses, blue uniforms, and bare feet. This church is probably what I’ve come for. I am surrounded by djembe drums, symbols from candomble, candles, Florida water, loud bells, calabash, croton, Hindu and Buddhist icons, alters, and the tipping of bodies catching the spirit. I think to myself this must be where I was born.
YOU MUST NEVER LOOK AWAY FROM THIS.
In between studies I have private lessons with a Trinidadian gender scholar from UWI. She tells me how little is known of Trinidadian history. I read her words as: “you know little of your history” and I’m embarrassed. Still, she sits with me combing through newspapers, pulling out relevant stories of the day, connecting it to the colonial history of the island, and asking about my life.
I am asking a question about both life and death. I want to know if I am free, and by extension I want to know if you are. Are you? It is an overwhelming question because it is never answered. I would not know what to tell a child if she asked me. If she ran around in circles, showing me she could go anywhere her legs asked of her. I couldn’t agree or negate, I could just watch the circles she sprang round me. This haunts me. An inquiry of freedom. Wanda Nanibush once told me to be free in the Nish way of understanding the world is to own oneself. To be free then is to be possessed. I am possessed. I am haunted. I am free? The question is unanswerable.
// DEEP WINTER
My father never spoke of Nigeria. His sporadic presence in my life and his choice to obscure our family ties ensured my inability to ever identify as Nigerian. Unsurprising for a biracial kid raised by the white side of her family in the prairies. I didn't realize this absence—this full side of my self was missing until I was in my thirties. This absence filled a monstrous balloon I carried with me wherever I went. I'd fill the balloon with famous Nigerians in order to feel connected to my culture. Sade, Fela, Soyinka, Achebe, Dosunmu, Ngozi Adichie, Saro-Wiwa,
but of course,
that never did the trick.
Most movements/shifts in my life have arrived by way of a swirling, riptide flow, slowly pulling me in. At the centre, my vision is acute, choices are clear, and my actions become necessary. I do not fight the circuitous swirl, I feel it and trust this is the way through. An absence and presence is always in balance in these moments.
How do you teach intuition to your children?
ON AFRICAN SOIL // GREY DAYS
Tonte and I embraced for so long when we met in Lagos. Holding each other, not quite believing we were both real. Unknown to each other, yet cousins by blood. The quiet longing that would wake me in the night had led me here, to one of my homelands. I had planted feet on African soil, I had obliged this stirring and was embraced. The visit was electric, I felt buoyed/protected by the unknown, ancestors welcoming their own back. So much remains unknown. This, my first chapter, would not answer all questions, but I could let go of the balloons now.
WHEN THE HURT IS OVER. REMEMBER TO LOVE AGAIN.
Carnival is over. Things change rather rapidly here. The rhythm of the country is down to an R&B pace. The Lords, Sparrows, Kings, and Queens have returned to their kingdoms.
I haven't missed Toronto much. I don't often remember I'm from any place other than this chair and that couch and the secret intimacy my drawings and journal create for me. Home doesn't matter much does it? Not when you decide that you are home in your body or that you can be home in a body. I had to make that decision.
A TURNING // A HOME
This past year was a doozy. I disinterred my father's ashes from where I'd buried them in Saskatchewan, with the thought that I'd bring him home to Buguma, just outside Port Harcourt. But I was given this wooden box of his remains on the morning of the solar eclipse. I sat with him on Treaty Six territory at Wanuskewin. A land that has held me as its own and my search was finally complete. Through these years I've sought Home elsewhere (always out there somewhere not here) I could only know it now to have lived deep deep in my belly.
I became a daughter and a home that day.
THE HOLD BACK
COMING SPRING // SECOND WINTER
In Boston, I met artist Jen Everett, and her work and words have been sitting with me. She uses old family photos that she reprints, duplicates, and crops. She spoke of her desire to withhold the full image as a form of protective care of Black bodies. I’m drawn to withholding as protection. Not as a defence or as a symbol of absence in our society but as a form of care. Our bodies, our histories do not need to be shared. It is enough to carry them.
SPRING BUT NOT SPRING // A HARD DAY
To Maintain, To Continue.
A List for Today.
_Cucurrucucu Paloma/Caetano Veloso
_Reading Freshwater/Akwaeke Emezi
_Looking out windows
_Playing speed with Es
_Watching Otobong Nkanga perform
_Beychella because gaddamn. We gon be alright.
_Every morning: How can I serve the world? What am I capable of? What is in reach?
_Thinking bout that breakfast at the Rex with Chiedza
_Seeing our bodies connecting with the earth. Dry caked prairie muddy feet, dusty desert feet, wet swampy feet, sandy sunkissed feet. Planted, wriggling, feeling our feels. Not sacred, just grounded.
_Crying with O
_Smooth stone in my pocket
_“We do as much, we eat as much, we want as much.” —Sojourner Truth
I'm back now. I spoke to Honor tonight. She told me to write everything I possibly could down before all I learned slips away. She said coming back is like waking up from a dream. You always remember everything that happened at first, but soon, as you return to the before life, it fades and you can no longer distinguish the sequence of events or the colours of the moons. Everything is back to the North American monochromatic blah. It’s not quite blah to me. I still feel warm deep deep inside. I still feel the intense love from family members who were taught as children to say I love you or who learned it as adults. As much as I was excited to come back to my beloved TO, I wasn't excited to leave. I miss that home. What is this geography?
What is this home that is home that is not home that is home?