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Nawa o: Because my skin soft like bread, na woman I be?

By: Joemario Umana

“Why you come dey do like woman”

                — A Nigerian anthem for boys, men seen like girls, women

They carry earthen pots in front of them

without their hands, as if contained with

enough food to feed five thousand,

another Jesus miracle

And if there is anything like mouth race,

they will always be in first place

O! how I love them like Nigerians love Nigeria,

like politicians wey fit kill to sidon seat

When it comes to them, I feel like

parrots and bees are insulted

And those deserve massive apologies

for being objects of synonyms

But una wicked o

Una bin no yarn me sey

man fit be woman

—hmm, nawa o!

Because my skin soft like bread

na woman I be

Because my face shine like shoe shine

na woman I be

Because my voice be like bird’s

na woman I be

Because God loved me so much,

and made my legs one of the

twenty-six letters

na woman I be

Because my chin don see erosion

and grass no wan grow dia

na woman I be

Because water don comot for my eye

na woman I be

Congratulations o!

World number one dictionaries!

Henceforth, I will start wearing bra

and pee while squatting.


  • Nawa: a Nigerian Pidgin word of exclamation/lamentation
  • Dey: can mean several things and of usage in this poem includes
  • Wey: a Nigerian Pidgin word for “that”
  • Sidon: a Nigerian Pidgin word for “sit” or “sit on”
  • Una: a Nigerian Pidgin word for “you”
  • “Una bin no yarn me sey man fit be woman”: you didn’t tell me that a man can be a woman
  • Stanza 5 is a blend of English and Nigerian Pidgin language

Joemario Umana is a Nigerian creative writer and a performance poet, whose poems are available and forthcoming in the anthology publication of NSPP 2022, Loch Raven Review and Nairaland. His works have drawn literary appreciation to themselves. He is currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree at the University of Maiduguri, Borno State. He tweets @Jo_marioumana

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