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In a canoe/ I sail along the coast in the morning kiss of sunlight/ The river smells of Ajayi Crowder/ In the waves of water lie the new face of my country/ I find the sunbird singing in rhythm with history on the baobab tree/ It jumps into the river first/ to wash away its sins/ in its black feathers/ Second/ to shower in the mercy of light/ Third/to cleanse itself into a new name/ a name that doesn't glorify darkness/ What shall I call you now?/ I ask/ It opens its mouth to talk/ and its tongue becomes heavy with the Holy Ghost/ It manages to say/ Paul/ then flips its feathers and says/ Look at the west for your name/ for the east is taking a new beginning/

Uganu, 2023


History is blood but can never be a mystery
There is a fence sitting between me and my past
I do not know my father
And I know my mother
From the bone my brother gave to me.

In South Africa, there are a thousand voices
Screaming through the streets of Soweto
One calls me son
Another calls me brother.

The smoke of burnt dreams chokes my shirt
The tears of the innocent future are an ocean
Each splatter is the sound of gunshots in Orlando
Each wave is children running after freedom.

I do not know how to say history
Without breaking my tongue
Each syllable is a war over my breath
I do not know how to say freedom
Without remembering guns and the gone.

My heart is a forest of flowers
A silent vacuum breeding darkness
From the nightmares of the past
That return to me as carnivorous smoke.

How can I tell my story without my origin?
No matter how we try to hide history,

It will sneak out to show its face,
And most of the time, it is bloody,
Alas: History is blood, but blood can never be history.

Uganu, 2023


Forty-three Europeans
Embrace the law of reduction,
In Bamako, now just ten Westerners.
Sailing on the Joliba,
The river's cold gesture
Offers them a blanket,
The coastal sun warms their days,
While night bites, gluttonous for blood,
River spirits, dream-drowners,
Revel in their ambitions.

"...but though all the Europeans
Who journey with me should perish,
And though I myself were half-dead,
I would still persevere,
And if I cannot achieve the purpose
Of my journey,
I will, at last, die on the Niger."

Companions bound by a shared dream,
Kiss a rock at Bussa rapids,
And embrace the culture of the river.

Uganu, 2023

Philip Chijioke Abonyi, a native of Nsukka, Nigeria, is a writer and photographer. His exceptional talent has garnered him several awards, including the 2022 Brigitte Poirson Poetry Prize and the 2023 Archipelago Poetry Competition. Notably, Philip was shortlisted for the renowned Eriata Oribhabor Poetry Prize in 2018. His remarkable literary and visual creations have been showcased in esteemed publications like Eve magazine, Agape Review, Typehouse magazine, and other notable platforms. It is his desire to continue to inspire audiences, leaving an enduring impact on the creative landscape.


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