This Is Not A Feminist Poem



By Wana Udobang

This is not a feminist poem

This is not contorted metaphors with neither punch line nor chorus

This is not a feminist poem

It is a woman learning to trade possessions before her lover takes his last breath.

She will never get the chance to say goodbye because those final hours are one match-point away from the backstroke of ravenous relatives.

You see where we come from, widows learn to bid their dead farewell even before they are lowered into the ground.

Because grief requires time and time is a luxury she cannot afford.

But I don’t want to talk about funeral rites or a daughter’s non-inheritance

Because this is not a feminist poem

It is a thirteen-year-old leaking between her legs. She cannot will her waste to stop because culture demands that babies must birth babies even before they are whole.

This is Mercy, waiting to be fully formed before the doctors can fix her. We exchange broken smiles but mine is crackling with questions and I want to ask, how does a six year old ask to be gang raped for lunch after school?

As she fiddles with the beads of a rosary that crawl around her neck, my lips are too drowsy to ask God why?

But I am trying to not be feminist about this because

This is not a feminist poem

It is the landlord who pays off your father to clench his teeth over choking tears for what his son had done to you.

And your daddy knows that homelessness is too close to home so he washes of your shame with a sponge, dabs your wounds with scripture hoping these words will in turn douse the stench of the breath, erase the handprints that form maps across your skin, and glue together all that is broken of you.

But instead memory has an interesting way of refusing to disappear, so this is how you exist with a tape loop in your head playing over and over again.

I am not here to talk about the kidnap of justice in my country or whom, how and why we have refused to pay her ransom

Because this is not a feminist poem

It is piercing screams of gaping mouths choking as hands stifle their lungs of ambition

It is men in uniform with bellies swollen from bribe, sworn to protect you but tell you that domestic matters are family matters.

So you drink up your pain till you are full, your throat is parched and yet again you begin to thirst for it yet again.

It is walking around with a womb too hollow to bear an heir that you take in the seeds of betrayal wanting it to pull together the remnants of matrimony. This is what it means to be a real woman.

It is the girls who are sent to school only to come back home knowing that their future is dangling between their bodies and their silence, yet deciding which to betray first

It is those 2am text messages from your boss’ phone that leaves you reminded that you will always loose so you grin, dust it off a shoulder and bear it. You return to your job because this meager wage pays for your little brother’s tuition and your mother’s heart medicine.

But this is not a feminist poem

It is acquainting your self with the normalcy that your body is a minefield, trampled upon by the politics of culture

It is a reminder that you are click, you are bait, you are currency and by virtue of your existence you are only half human never equal, never the same.

It is learning that the heavy medals of your success are meaningless until they are smelted into a ring on your finger

But I told you at the beginning that this is not a feminist poem

It is not a rant or a call to action

It is not a call for your attention

It is not a checklist of everything you already know

This is not a feminist poem

This is a poem about life, about rights, for my sisters who struggle and continue to fight

Inspired by Efe Paul Azino’s ‘This is not a political poem’


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  • Reply Bukky Shaba June 28, 2016 at 4:58 am

    I don’t know whether to scream, laugh or cry with the words shared here. I did bang my hand really hard on the chair though, I wanted to jump up and snap my fingers.

    I really love this poem for the realities it portrays, the warnings contained and the challenge it throws to every one to do more and be better for a saner society.

    Thank you for this poem.

  • Reply James Ademuyiwa June 30, 2016 at 10:56 pm

    Thanks for not debasing the creativity in Efe Paul’s piece. Heartrending piece!

  • Reply idara June 30, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    The woman who have found liberation should make an example and a clear path so that the younger ones can follow.
    The truth is some women undo the years of struggle for female rights, they undo it by chasing after men and money and fighting their fellow women over callous things, they undo it by not having an ambition beyond getting married to the ‘love of their lives’ and making ‘cute’ babies. The enlightened ones have to have big dreams and chase them and show that women are capable, so as to clear a path for the oppressed woman.

    • Reply Rebecca October 18, 2019 at 4:45 pm

      You’re just right👌

  • Reply Maureen Alikor June 30, 2016 at 11:41 pm

    This, I love.
    The sincerity of the words and the truthfulness of each world of pain described.

    This, I truly do love.

  • Reply Iveren Tserga July 1, 2016 at 3:35 am

    ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️ This poem..
    A thousand times over.
    It says everything and more

  • Reply Lexi July 1, 2016 at 6:07 am

    This made me incredibly sad. 🙁

  • Reply Joy July 1, 2016 at 8:46 am

    Really beautiful. This is a wake up call.

  • Reply Emuzor Moses July 1, 2016 at 11:38 am

    Thought provoking

  • Reply Enny Cole July 1, 2016 at 6:18 pm

    This is a beautiful poem.

  • Reply George Ukaegbu July 30, 2016 at 12:03 pm

    Incredible verse… Each word drips with haunting imagery of the pitfalls/challenges of girlhood/womanhood in the Nigerian social reality.

  • Reply I.am.the.chiamaka December 14, 2016 at 9:32 am

    beautifully expressed

  • Reply Dorcas Osazee Ogiamien March 28, 2017 at 6:45 am

    She Captured all Rights Infringements against Women in One Piece.
    Soft yet filled with 🔥.
    This is Feminism
    Feminism is ALL ABOUT Human RIGHTS
    Woman Right is A Human Right.
    This topics are covered
    Child Marriage and Abuse,
    Sexism and Sexual Violence
    Patriarchy in our society against Women.
    Her body isn’t RESPECTED
    She’s regarded as NOTHING
    She’s termed isolate to be subjugated to the Man
    Is this a Society
    Thanks @WanaWana

  • Reply MUST LISTEN! THIS IS NOT A FEMINIST POEM BY WANA UDOBANG – The Memoirs of a Great Lady September 19, 2017 at 1:56 pm

    […] spoken word is titled This is not a Feminist Poem and it is written and directed by Journalist, poet and filmmaker Wana Udobang. Check out her […]

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