Litro #162: Literary Highlife | The Sisterhood of Wahala

I
If you want to know wahala
You can find it always in two places
A tro-tro in Accra
Or a danfo bus in Lagos.

II
On a tro-tro in Accra
Wahala is the conductor raising
His armpit, his mouth spouting words
Responding to another passenger
While I defend my face
From his cascade of spittle
Until I find a voice to scream, Wetin do you?
Only to see the other passengers snigger,
“Ha, she’s Nigerian.”

III
On a danfo in Lagos
Wahala is the conductor shouting owa-owa
While the driver speeds
Many kilometres past
The intended stop.
Trying hard not to scream,
Knowing I have not learnt to pitch
Higher than the danfo’s din
I alight muttering, “Chale, your eye red.”
Only to see the other passengers snigger,
“Ha, she’s Ghanaian.”

IV
Danfo or tro-tro
The fire heats against my skin
And the conductor’s armpits
Always confesses to my nostrils
That home is where I can alight at a market
Where the sky opens over my head
And I can move from one stall to another
Haggling a price over our collective sanity.

About Jumoke Verissimo

Jumoke Verissimo was born in Lagos, Nigeria. She is the author of two poetry collections, I am memory (Dada Books) and e Birth of Illusion (Fullpoint). Jumoke is currently in the final stages of discussion with the CassaVA Republic for her first novel. Some of her poems are in translation in Norwegian, Japanese, Italian, French and Macedonian.

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