Author Archives: olumideowoo

Abuja by Olumide Owoo

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“President Goodluck’s election is a first for Ijaws,” reports NNN’s Richard Kuwesti. “People now have hope that anyone can be president in the world’s most powerful country.” At the inauguration, Nammy winner D’Banj sang his hit “Tongolo”.
The only sour note was American president Barry O’Brien who, reeling from wheat subsidy protests, still insisted on attending with fifty guests.
President Goodluck was diplomatic. “One must be sensitive to the challenges in less developed nations. We will continue to assist them. In fact, next week we are sending a team of EFCC officials out there to conduct training for the FBI.”

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The Captive

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The Captive

As gift of darkness, I’ll give you light. The words jumble all into me. And crowd the spaces and fill the holes. There is nothing left here but the beautiful poetry of silence and pages, rustling pages lit by candles, me cornered and reading and wishing the world away. I hold the books dear because they connect me to the rest. Source of my thoughts, experiences and words. Entire landscapes, lifetimes boiled down. To pages. To pages I read. In the dark. Where they cannot find me.

It’s easier to hide here. Easier to stay here. From the buses and the trains and the sun and the world. And the hard cold ingredients of reality. Jobs and salaries and bank accounts. In this darkness is solace. In this darkness my light.

On Tuesday in Brooklyn I sat in the chair and listened. And Dayo told me, gave me the punch list, the day’s summary of tasks and tricks. Which things to do, who I should call before I closed for the day. Assignments handed to me.

But I looked into the window, the glass and beyond, and saw the snow fluttering white like damaged feathers falling on a weary world. And boys and men and women and girls moved about in dark coats through slushy streets, heads bowed beaten by the snow. And fog rose from their mouths like dragons exhaling in hell. And the snow fell and cars slowed and I saw how I did not, could not, belong there anymore. At Dayo’s office, with Funlola’s nagging, in this world, letting time bleed away, thrashing away in the fog like another dragon in hell.

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Archimedes by Olumide Owoo

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Because I couldn’t stop reading science books Leke who was two years older than me called me Engineer. He found it funny and anytime I walked up to the older boys in the playground, he would shout “Here comes engineer.” I was not bothered by this. Engineer was hardly an insult. There were worse names to be called. Bayo was primitive goat, Ayo was villager and Kale’s sister was something else that I don’t think it’s a good idea to repeat here.

I loved science books mostly for the pictures. In one I found a drawing of an old man with a long beard sitting in a tub and he was half naked and water was flowing out of the tub. He had just discovered that if you put something in a full container of water, the water that flows out will equal the size of whatever you put in the container. And he discovered all this by sitting in a tub of water. His name was Archimedes and I spent days telling Leke, who never listens to me and Bayo and Kale and Chinedu, who could run faster than everybody in our class, I spent days telling them of Archimedes.

Later when I found a caterpillar just the size of my thumb, wriggling and green in the soft black soil behind our house, there was no doubt in my mind that I would name him Archimedes. Like the wise man in the book. And I would keep my caterpillar and watch it grow into a butterfly and it would rise into the air and be sparkly bright with many colors and beautiful and I would show it to Father’s friends when they came to visit as they sat on the balcony drinking cold stout and listening to Victor Olaiya. Big sister Korede thought this was crazy but nevertheless found me a plastic bowl and I turned it over and put some soil and leaves under it and kept Archimedes there and I checked on him many many times in even one day.  

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3.37 pm (Bus stop story prompt by Olumide)

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If they would hold him now they could get him now before he reaches there. If they would grab his arm or maybe his leg or his neck or something, grab something, they could stop him then, stop him, these people could stop him before he reaches that place. These people crowding round, sweaty and smelly, with their “eh yahs” and “ah ahns” around the man, the man on the floor who is mad, surely mad no doubt he is mad these people could stop him before he reaches it.
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