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A Street Hawker: Poems by Tope Akeredolu

Image: Sola Osofisan
Image: Sola Osofisan


That black tray that balances on her head
Is the sea from which she must fish
The blue purse tied around her fragile waist
Is the harpoon to wade off street sharks
The previous night
A bitter creditor had thrown a tantrum at mama
She had called her hopeless
One whose porous bosom cannot keep a man
One whose fallopian tubes retain so much fluid
A baby must come from every spurt
So on this day she went with a rigour unmatched
From pillar to post like a troubadour
With special dexterity she leapt at every beckoning
Rivalling even the minaret with her voice
The sorrow in the call
the melancholy
The fear of the war home
All made for a girl concealed behind shattered shells
A girl whose little head housed the dinner of a dozen
Whose pulmonary pumps out unwept sorrows
From broken dreams and drab days filled with half sleep on tired floors
The walls of the school want to hug her
To touch and teach her precocious soul
To light that little flame lurking in the depth of her heart
But since she must with reluctance embrace her tray
If she must not flail
From lack of love and leading light
And since she did not know
The monster who poured the milk of her conception
He left mama when all she was
Was a fragile little nymph



sing for me now that mama is away
Let me be lost in the magical maze of your
Let your drums talk me into empty land on faraway skies
For under this nebulous sun I am trapped
My minstrel my griot!
Sing! Tell the roof the walls are cracking
From many years of backing
Tell papa that the ocean from his tears are leaving
My minstrel, my griot!
Tell no stories of war and heroes
There are no heroes in wars
Only death and her riders
Tell not of how blood flows so much it forms a river
Tell not of crying kids and their lifeless mothers
Not of skinny souls under our sun
sing of potentates who, clad in stench so strong
Oxygen chokes of lack of breath
Of men pitiless as the sun,
Tell of men of robes feeding from our fears
Like Hades
Away with me!
Come here my minstrel, my griot!
Into this hearts frozen by the dark love of hate
Into these doors sealed with force so strong
Tsunami will bow
Tell the doors! tell them! that
As the ocean their spirits are boundless
Tell them! they would emerge from the rubbles
Of the ruins like a Phoenix
My griot, my minstrel!
Tell her! The foetal seed is sown
Teach her lullabies to open the dark night
And welcome the throb
My minstrel my griot!
Weary not! And tire not



She sang of the time
when barns overflowed with plenty
And gifted itself away to elusive creatures
When innocence sold goods in the market place of life
When piety did not mean pity
When the silent twinkle of her old eyes
Drew out needed replies
The showers that soaked and wetted our dry earth
Is gone
Defiled by the catacombs of fleshy skulls
Lined with tears the size of Zambezi
Now if your see her back you’ll see
How bent it is from years of backing our dreams.
Daily she kisses the tongue of the earth and mould
Buffets with her sweat
In this ordered times she is only allowed
To be silent and lonely
The dreams she helped built have taken her treasures away
To cities of street lights and night clubs
Her saggy breasts ache
They murmur and call out our names
Wale! When will you come to hold my tips
Her bones creak now like never before
From lonely treks through struggles
Through silent nights when noisy frogs would croak as if
Mocking her many visits to the Dibia.
Mama is tired!
She looks at the village park
Whenever a new car arrives
But on this day she did not look!
She has hugged the silent horse man
With no one to help load her spoils
The town crier banged his gong
Alas! No rain fell



I learned
you were told
That the fluid
from which you swam
Was housed inside covered glass
on peptized floors
That the milk of your conception
was not poured
But collected by gloved men in whites suits
That you did not suck from the umbilicus
But fed from syringes and wired pipes
That you did not kick the walls of her womb
But yet joy so boundless
you brought home
I was told that you are a miracle!

Poems © Akeredolu Tope
Image: Sola Osofisan

Tope Akeredolu
Tope Akeredolu
Akeredolu Tope Akinola is a Nigerian poet, language instructor and contributor at People’s Voice magazine - a community based quarterly magazine. His works have appeared on African writer, Indian periodical, for Harriet, ink sweat and tears, dwartz online, Antarctic journal and several literary outlets. He is back at his alma mater in pursuance of a degree in law. He lives and writes from Ikare Akoko- the land of the twin mountains.


  1. ‘A Street Hawker’ brought me close to tears, especially the part that reveals that she doesn’t know her father, and ‘Miracle’ is a poem that more than resonates as far as I am concerned. Good work!

  2. Beautiful poetry! Love the artistic use of words. ‘The Street Hawker’ and ‘Miracle’ receive a louder applause for me. Well-written, Tope, well-written.

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