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Pandemic: Poems by Titilope Sonuga


It is this deep, dark, empty thing
caught between chest and throat
begging lips for relief in words.
The noise of 2 million heavy sighs

Our mother is dying
the one who bore us all
she lays in squalor and
we all pretend we never heard her fall

It is the regret of unsaid farewells
It is tongues caught mid sentence
Quick whispered goodbyes
Tears frozen in eyes, too young still
quiet prayer, cast up in desperation

This steady rumble
commands our attention,
calls us from our apathy
Sudan, Uganda, Kenya,
Rwanda, Zimbabwe, Ethiopia,

Our mother is dying
the one who held us in her green and red and gold

It is motherless children
Cries un-soothed
Bottomless grief
It is stolen childhood
interrupted hop-scotch, freeze tag, hide and seek
cold and bleak

It is broken promises
Naïve trust
Gross mis-education

It is dreams unfulfilled
Stories left unfinished
Hope snatched from weary hands
Eyes deep with despair

This is not, sit and wait
Maybe later
This is not, so far away
Maybe some other day
It is today, it is today



I am
Gap tooth girl
back corner of class
Scribbling left-handed poetry on blank paper
Save the school’s curriculum for later

I am
Overflowing ancient African
Tales by moonlight
That informal education
Connecting and overlapping
Modern history

I am
Fast and fluent Yoruba
Criss crossing English
Hidden messages in
prose and proverbs
Call it “Yorubanglish”

I am
Rich Hi-life rhythm
marrying heavy hip-hop beats
That pop lockin’, 1-2 stepping
Blended over back bending
fluid hip shaking

I am
Sky high gele
Bold and beautiful
Meets super stretch skinny jeans
Cowry shells wrapping wrists
Bright and wonderful
They call it “Afro-centric”

I am
Perfect pendulum swinging
Legacies of age old traditions
Incantations of ancient griots
Free flowing spoken word poetry
cling tightly on to Africa
This land that shaped me
I watch as poverty, corruption
And lack of opportunity
Inspires creativity
And still leaves room for
Unexplainable hope
Unbelievable strength

I stand deeply rooted in its culture
Reinforced by the history in it soils
While looking on at new horizons
Blending old and new
This wonderful fusion of
This is who I am



I wanted to write you a poem
Etch you bold and timeless
Wanted to sing your praise
Find words to describe you flawless
Dug deep in the recess of memory
To piece together
Smell, touch, sound

I wanted to write you a poem
Something to look back on
In remembrance
Speak of your success
Give you one last dance
Show your legacy in your
Children, grandchildren,
Great grandchildren

I wanted to write you a poem
Fluid and beautiful
Tell of your kindness
Show your strength
Explain your quiet nature
Describe you
Smile, suit, mahogany cane

I just couldn’t find the words
Didn’t know the things to say
To describe you
Truly and completely
I just couldn’t find the words
To paint you vibrant and wonderful

But your poetry
Is in
Yewande, Eniola, Funke,
Adeola, Abiola, Abimbola,
Funlola, Adebiyi, Somide,
Morenike, Ibilola, Afolake,
Ayodele, Olukemi, Ibilola Coker,
Taiwo, Kehinde, Dupe,
Tunde, Oluwaseun, Ayoola,
Morgan, Korede, Blake.

In me


Poems © Titilope Sonuga

Titilope Sonuga
Titilope Sonuga
Deeply immersed in Yoruba oral tradition, Titilope formed a love of spoken word at a young age. Born and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, her family immigrated to Edmonton, Alberta when Titilope was 13 years old. She describes her poetry as a means to reconcile her African roots with her Canadian identity. She has performed at The Roar Spoken Word Festival, Poetree Open Mic, Afro Quiz, Legacies 2008, Ribbon Rouge and several events around Edmonton. She recently graduated from the University of Alberta with a Civil Engineering degree, but continues to share her words within the Edmonton community. Her words are pure, honest, and grab straight for the heart.  Visit her BLOG.


  1. Titilop, I call you. I am really touched, especially at GRANDPA’s poem. GO GO my darling girl. Your Aunty Mummy.

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