Suzanne Ouedraogo and Chinwe Azubuike
In 2003, I commissioned Suzanne Ouedraogo from Burkina Faso and Chinwe Azubuike from Nigeria to work collectively on the subject of Female Circumcision. What they produced was extremely powerful work.
Our Dilemma by Chinwe Azubuike
You, our gods of immortals and living
Of seas and lands
Of all visible and not
We beseech, hear our cry this day
And come to our rescue.
Our sacred weapons of pleasure
Are being destroyed by the day
By our overseeing Lords and Ladies
Of ancestral descent.
They perform a barbaric operation on our ‘flesh of honour’
And call it ‘Female Circumcision’
In the white man’s language.
They mutilate our pride and say it is ‘tradition’
“The initiation to womanhood”
They cut us!
Oh yes, they cut us with the blade.
In the gaze of our fellows, they cut us!
At times in the secrecy of our mother’s haven.
They do not concede to the tools,
Nor words of the physician’s for our safety
To them it has been for ages
And tradition dare not be defiled.
They just cut us.
Against our will as they are wont to
For we foresee the agony and anguish
To these we try to parry but helpless we are
Our eyes have cried,
Tears of unending pain and torment
They have run dry of water.
Our hearts, laden with loathsomeness
We fear may burst.
They cut us, with or without our consent
Left to bleed by their ignorance
Sometimes fatal to our existence.
Other times, we become plagued with illness of strange names
“Infection” the physician would call it
Again they say it delivers us from the hands of promiscuity
As we ascend the ladder of womanhood.
Such blasphemy! We think
As if we are not bound for the act of consummation
In our ‘married’ days
As we watch our counterparts this day
Buried deep in this sin,
Sisters whom we term fortunate cut at childbirth
Fortunate to have escaped the pain we feel now,
We can’t but wonder
“Who is fooling who?”
You, our ancestral Lords and Ladies
Suffer us no more we beg
What profit do you aspire
When our lives are wont to expire
In this course of tradition?
Oh! What a shame,
That you who drum to our ears
To revere the dignity between our legs,
Become the ones that destroy it.
Poem by Chinwe Azubuike | Nigeria