It’s Hard to Say How I feel About This City

Nigerian writer Precious Arinze shares her personal reflection of Lagos.

By Google Arts & Culture

Modern view of Lagos (Tin-can Island)The Centenary Project

Precious Arinze-Imposing Nightclub

I say home now & mean the grocery store
where I spent most of childhood learning
the value of want has been replaced by an
imposing nightclub. the slouching concrete
walls that once kept my closest friend
is reduced to ash and rubble. 
I say home & mean
I have no memory of when or how it happened.
so much destruction goes on unnoticed.

Fireboy DML performing onstage (2019) by @deeds_artOriginal Source: Homecoming Festival

Precious Arinze- Urgency and Greed

I say home & mean the mosques, the churches
screaming prayers for a god who must be hard
of hearing. the traffic growing impatient
beyond my window. an orchestra of car engines
slaughtering the night’s air like a monarch gone mad.
the flooded streets. the mountains of litter reclaiming
the highway. the never-ending performance of urgency
& greed.

Untitled (2014) by Obinna MakataOriginal Source: African Artists Foundation

Precious Arinze- Syncopated Rhythm

I say home & mean the middle-aged woman
roasting the gifts of the season by the roadside. her smile
big as a billboard. a constant promise. i say home & mean
the house party where i surrender to whatever need
is strongest. lost in the syncopated rhythm of a stranger’s
arms. watching my friends reel in the past & laughing
at the silliest memories. i say home & mean i could live
inside that sound forever.

Central Business District by Dayo AdedayoTour Nigeria

Precious Arinze-Talisman

I say home & mean sometimes claiming a piece of land
as your own isn’t so much the point as knowing
you have a place to go to.  a city that always lets you
return. i say home & mean the noose around my neck.
i say home & mean talisman. the city i lose my voice in.
the city that sounds my words back to me. i say home
& think i deserve to be happy here even though no one
truly deserves anything they’re given.

Precious Arinze (2020-07-01) by Yẹ́misí Aríbisálà

Precious Arinze- Luxury of a name

I say home & mean this city sprawling with roofs
held together by prayers. 
where it’s a crime to be born
with only the luxury of a name. 
I say home & mean the only thing we have a right to is the pulse in our throats. 
I say home & mean not even that. 
I say home & mean someday all of this will be returned to the ocean.
I say home now & mean the exact breadth of my loneliness.
I mean tomorrow i could leave my home  & hear the door
shut behind me permanently.

Credits: Story

About Precious Arinze 
Precious Arinze is a poet and essayist, whose work has appeared in Kalahari Review, Arts and Africa, The Republic Journal, Up the Staircase Quarterly, Electric Literature, Glass Poetry, and Berlin Quarterly amongst others. They write poems and essays when they are not sitting in Lagos traffic and contemplating the decisions that have led them to make home in this city.

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Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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