Aframomum. Black-eyed bean. Cocoa bean.
Buried—in sacks—in the cargo hold.
Columbite. Gold. Pegmatite. Tantalite.
Dragged onto the lower decks.
Every single day, a crowded ship sailed
From the coast of Lagos to Bristol.
Grenade. Gun. Gun. Gun. Gun. Gunpowder. Gut.
How did anyone think we made the Africans dig
In the sun, sow in the rain, reap in the sun?
Joining each man was his wife, and children—
Kids, old enough to walk, joined in.
Later, each man, under the control of another
Man, controlled his family to fill the sacks.
Nigeria. Sudan. West African Guinea.
Of all names that swam to the bank of my mind (I had the
Pleasure of coming up with the names), these three,
Quite frankly, stood out like stars. For a
Real estate property, any of those names
Sounds about fine. In the end, I settled for
The one I coined last—“Nigeria.” Bible. Mirror.
Umbrella. Vase. We arrived bearing gifts, knowing
Very well what they wanted—what we wanted.
We arrived sharing gifts knowing what we wanted—killing
Xenophobia, top on the list. For a full
Year, we did this. Then we attacked: Lion. Lioness.
Zeal. Zeal. Zebra. Zebra. Zebra. Zebra. Zilch.
Note: Flora Shaw, a British woman, suggested the name “Nigeria” for the British colonialists because the term is shorter, thus a better fit for a real estate property in place of the previous Royal Niger Company Territories. (From The Ghosts of Empire: Britain’s Legacy in the Modern World by Kwasi Kwarteng. New York: Perseus Books Group, 2012.)