Igbophilia in Amurika: What is smiling everybody in Cambridge?

I am a news-watching person, and the news tells us that Persons of Hue have a way of attracting ammunition, much like Dwight Hendrickson does. Drawing fire is apparently our Trouble, so I just open my eyes when I am walking well-well. This was not something I worried about on my previous visits when I was (a) Single/a newlywed and (b) Here for a short while. However now that I am raising a black man-child, staying here for a certain duration, I gats to sharpen my eyes.

So, you can imagine my alarm as I was walking along minding my business, when one  woman like so greeted me. She looked me in the eye as if she knew my father’s name and our compound in the village. Me sef, I faltered and nearly stopped, so familiar was the gaze. She moved on.

A man the next time. I told myself ‘Nwunye, they have come. It is that thing which they have been discussing o,’ did my mouth hyo  and continued walking. Can you blame me? I’ve lived in South London for ten years, Newcastle/Bensham for two years prior to that. If someone says hello to you and you don’t know them, better jam your hands into your pockets or clutch your bag against your chest because verily, verily I say to you brother, sister, thou art to be divested of thine worldly possessions. Avert your eyes fast and…well, not run exactly, but do the hop-step-hop thing we all do while checking an imaginary watch and pretending our bus is late.

Don’t worry if you don’t get it. It’s a British thing.

This uncanny event occurred again. This time, the woman was walking her dog across the road, stopped and shouted ‘Hi!’ then  proceeded to have a conversation. I brought out my wallet and tossed it across to her. Her dog picked it up in its mouth and brought it back to me. I raised both hands in the air.

“That’s all I have. I know the value of the pound has fallen…”

The woman threw her  head back and laughed, ‘Ha! ha! ha!’ like that, her gullet moving as if she was swallowing mirth. “You’re funny!” she said, continuing on her way.

Hmm. I was beginning to pick up on the vibe of the place.

In the chldren’s  section of the library, I smiled at a pregnant woman with two children in tow. “Hi!” I said, showing her my thirty-two. She took her children by the hand and dragged them out of the library.

I don’t understand this country.



Igbophilia in Amurika: There is no tea in Amurika.

I am crying, crying, crying.

For two weeks our luggage has had to sleep somewhere else while we went from place to place like a bunch of vagabonds, kipping in various Airbnb’s: East Boston, Allston, Harbour Point (sorry, harbor) near Dorchester and now Somerville. In a few days we will move to our permanent abode in Cambridge and then I can rest properly.

Anyway,  a few days ago I was gasping for a brew. Gasping. The last few times I visited Amurika, I always had coffee because I still could, so I never noticed how little people seem to drink tea. I had been informed by reliable UK northerners though (the only people you should trust besides Kenyans to make a proper brew) that the tea was pigswill so I came prepared. However, the teabags were in my aforementioned luggage stored somewhere else. I hit the shops.

In a Star Market I found Twinnings, tagged with ubiquitous, quality-assured tag of ‘London’ and grabbed it like a drowning man grabs driftwood. I hurried home, crouched in anticipation, mumbling deranged drivel to myself whereupon I was confronted with the first problem: There was no kettle.

I mean! What kind of house has no kettle? This is when I should have packed my bags and returned home to London. No kettle means no tea and no tea…why would you trust someone who doesn’t drink tea biko nu? I persevered. Filled a mug with water, boiled it in the microwave and popped a tea bag it, hopping from foot to foot as it brewed. A heavenly smell, like the piss of angels filled the small kitchen. I salivated. Oh, beloved tea. Only the image of my onku in the village drinking Lipton with a tablespoon stopped me from doing the same. The way he would stick his lower lip out and blow, followed by the ‘sluuurrrrp’ that made me understand the true meaning of ‘avunculicide’.  I stirred the tea faster with an eku and prayed to the gods for breeze. After a while, I took a sip.


It was as if someone had poured a gallon of water into a teaspoon of leaves. This tea was the weakest tea I have ever drunk in my life. It was so weak that a newborn baby could use it to rinse its gums. So weak,  that other teas could beat of this tea’s mother and stuff its mouth with sand. It was so weak that had I been so inclined, I would have douched with it and nothing would have happened. Upon all the tea scent, there was no flavour. What did they do?

The next time, I tried two teabags in a saucepan of water. Marginally better. I saw a Union Jack flying on Hooker Street and in desperation I went to knock to beg for tea but the owner was not around. I tried three. Oh my ancestors!

This is how I know this Trump of a person is not a serious somebody. You want to build a wall but ordinary good tea your country does not have. Even the coffee sef comes from South American nations. ‘Make America Great Again’? Tchiuuuuu! Give us us TEA!

My advice to you if you’re a tea-drinker like me is, bring your own bags. And go to Argos and buy a kettle too. Or find an Asian family to adopt you so that you can have unlimited refills.  That is the next thing I plan on doing.

*There is a joke about The Boston Tea Party in here, but I won’t make it.






Igbophilia in Amurika: ‘My Predicament’

Look, I swore to myself that there would be no ‘Hello from Amurika’ blog posts. There would be no ‘Oh look, forced-culture-shock’ posts or ‘I-am-immigrant’ posts because, let’s face it, they are boring and award-bait-y and I have visited the country several times before now. Besides, I have never seen anywhere I did not simultaneously belong to and yet be estranged from, even when I was growing up in Awka. I already belong here. I just have to get used to saying ‘Restrooms’ instead of ‘Loos’ so that people will stop looking at me strangely.

Bhet look eh, I am sorry because this one thing in Amurika ate my mouth and allow me to gist my story because it is an egwu of a something.

In London, I remember once running for the bus in heels, running so hard that breathing sounded like trying to suck akamu with a straw through my nostrils. My chest hurt, my calves pulled tight and yet I ran, exposing my ‘predicament’ as my dress blew up in the wind.

“Wait!” I shouted, hand raised. At least I thought I was shouting but seeing as I couldn’t breathe, it might have all been in my head. My bag slid off my shoulder and I clawed at it. Just as I was getting to the first set of doors and with the last passenger still beseeching the driver on my behalf, the doors shut and the driver pulled away.

That was the day I swore by Amadioha for the first time. What kind of wickedness was this?  A guy at the bus stop smirked at me. I wanted to cry. He’d seen my ‘predicament’ – my pink predicament under my dress, possibly my belly button too – and now I was going to be left alone with him until the next bus arrived.

A few years later, I saw this advert and realised that London bus drivers were collectively Legion, the spawns of Satan. It is known.

Fast forward to Amurika, the day before yesterday on Commonwealth Avenue in Allston, MA and my family and I were across the road when the bus we needed pulled up and loaded.  My heart skipped a beat. The red hand flashed red. We couldn’t cross. I stamped my feet and waited. The lights changed. I dashed across the road, signalling the driver. He waited….and waited…my heart fell. I knew he was going to pull away once I got to him.

HE DID NOT. The driver jejely opened the door and let us all in. And what’s more important, none of the passengers hissed, cursed, sighed or shouted at the driver. He even bid us a good evening as we entered his air conditioned kingdom. HALLELUJA SOMBORRI!

Amurika is sweeth. It might not be beans but it is certainly moi-moi and I shall eat it up, nyum nyum nyummy.


‘Soursop’ my new short story in Apex Magazine

Hello everyone,

How time flies and Happy New Year.  I know, I know. I am using this site more as an archive for my work, but really can you blame me since my mother is now a follower? No, you cannot.

Anyway, I have a new short story out today in Apex Magazine. You can read it here or click on the cover below.

Apex 80 cover

I just love the illustration. It reminds me of someone between Prince Robot IV and Dengo in Saga. Some middle-class robot.

(And if you haven’t read Saga, what on earth are you waiting for????!? [Just bear in mind it is NSFW, R18, PG, S, V, N, L and reader discretion is very advised. Also, don’t leave it out where old people on beta blockers/heart medication or fitted with pacesetters might take an interest. You’ve been warned!] Go get volume 1 now.)

I hope you enjoy the story!



Uda ume : Igbo vowels

I’ve just started teaching my kid the rules of Igbo grammar and I thought I should share one of his first lessons with you.

Below are the Igbo vowels with pronunciations:

a – (pron. Ah) Example: ‘Aka’ (Ah-kah). Hand.

e – (pron. Eh) Example: ‘Egbe’. Gun*

i -(pron. Eee) Example: ‘Ite’ (It-ae). Pot.

ị – (with a dot underneath the ‘i’)  – Same as the sound at the beginning of ‘inch’. Example: ‘Isha’. Crayfish.

o – Same as sound at the beginning of ‘own’ but without saying the ‘w’ sound. (i.e. not ‘ou’). Example: ‘Obi’. Heart.

ọ –  (With a dot underneath) – Same as sound at the beginning of ‘On’. Example: ‘Ọka’. Corn.

u- (pron. ‘Oo’) Example: Uwe. Dress.

ụ – Example: ‘Ụka’. Church.


Let us review:


*Egbe contains an ‘uda mkpi’ which is two sounds pronounced together. Perhaps the closest approximation would be a diphtong. More on this later.

It irks me when people misspell things in Igbo, especially if they’re people I have grown up with in back east because WHAT WERE YOU DOING DURING (COMPULSORY) IGBO LESSONS? Okay, fine I was playing too, but I’ve since rectified this.

(If you grew up outside Naija and did not learn Igbo, my ire does not extend to you.)

With regards to the above rant, the vowel ‘ị’ is also the vowel used to refer to ‘you’. Example: ‘You are looking for trouble’ would be:

“ị n’acho m okwu” and NOT: “E n’acho m okwu”.

Homework: Think of other igbo words that contain these vowels. Write them down with the correct letters.

Ka ọ dị ụbọchi ọzọ. Till next time.