Somto Ihezue

Unbowed, Unbent, Unwavering.

Somto Ihezue

Somto Ihezue

Ihezue Somto Onyedikachi is an Igbo poet living in Lagos, Nigeria. He writes to see the world through his own words. Somto Ihezue Onyedikachi is a 23-years old Nigerian writer. He lives in Lagos with his sister, Ugochi, their dog, River and their cat, Salem. His works have appeared or are forthcoming in Omenana; a magazine of African Speculative Fiction, The Massive Company, The Year’s Best Anthology of African Speculative Fiction, Libretto Magazine, Mandela’s Institute for Developmental Studies, Escape Magazine Africa, The League of Poets and others. He recently won the African Youth Network Movement contest for his short fiction, “Can We Outrun Ourselves”. The winner of the 2020 SynCityNG poetry contest, he has been long-listed and shortlisted for the Nigerian Students Poetry Prize. Somto writes because there is beauty in the world and through words, he seeks to find it, live it, be it. He loves the smell of rain, porridge ukwa and tear-jerking movies. In his spare time, he fantasises about being a high witch and falling unapologetically in love.

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Listen to this story

Narrated by Somto Ihezue


Unbowed, Unbent, Unwavering.

Narrated by Somto Ihezue

Unbowed, Unbent, Unwavering.

- For the ones murdered at Lekki Toll gate. 20.10.20


Our mother poured from the Fouta Djallon

and drowned a sea.

When she etched our names on her scalp,

she said, Echezona - do not forget,

to be a strand torn from this fabric

is to be a bird, blind and tethered

It is stitching your wings in night’s shadow

To be a potter in Igboukwu is to be clay,

for by your hands, must you mould your tomorrow.

Your names are coal, fuel and blood”


  -      In the gele on the heads of our mothers, 

        wrapped twice on the waists of Ndi Aniocha


We are mud.

When Oliloanya’s brothers spat him across the Atlantic,

his skull broke in two, 

in three, 

in six.

A river, his blood ran into us.

Of his passing breath, we are drawn.

He festers in us, and we fester with him


Today, we are a market,

stacked with rice, kolanut stained teeth, fishwives and wandering ghosts

Does anybody need a digger? This is a digger, a big strong man, he'll dig

We dig, and Oliloanya’s corpse digs with us


- Whipped beside ungathered cotton, 

ebbing in the cobalt mines of Congo

We have lived ten thousand lifetimes 

before the first of men tore through the dirt.

Aim your arrows from the heights of Kilimanjaro 

And see as we morph to wood, to gravel to brass

We are unquenching,

for in the darkness, as the light fades,

we become lamps,

we dance fire alive.


- Worshipped in the Temples of Ra, 

buried amongst gods in the pyramids.


We are warriors, dreamers, borrowed clothes, lightning, 

echoes, streams, mirrors, queer, teachers, regrets, 

broken pots, gamblers, zebras, craftsmen, gunpowder,

rattlesnakes, cocoa, drummers, terra-cotta and kolanut.

We are Jimoh, Kazeem, Bala, Kolade, Iro, Joseph, Femi, 

Tunde, Ifeoma, Kudirat, Chidi, Aneka, Mus’ab, Ayomide, 

Modebayo, Chima and Tina.

We are.


They came,                                                                                  all of April's rain,

they came 


   away from us.

Breathe girl!                                                                        Breathe!

My lungs forbid 

                              the air that choked my father"

Feel girl!                                                                            Feel!

I feel my skin turn to porcelain, to bark,  

                                                  to stone

On their faces, they wrote our names

What are your names child?”

                   Name us a body,             we have not burned in

They called us;                                                       Okpuku jiko anyi - The bone that binds

Of our bones,                                                          we carved our children's laughter

Who died here?

Death can not kill a god named




     your name, 

lies,                                                                                               I'll rip your tongue from your skull!

Death can not kill a breath drawn

We dare not sing after a storm,                                               we are not sparrows

we dare not walk out of flames ,                                                              we are not steel

We dare…

We will.

We will craft melodies in tornadoes,

 burn in wildfires  

Our feet, we teach the taste of water.

Our skin, we wear as armour

Move child! Move!

My roots run too deep

Dance child! Dance!

First,                   sing me a song,                                   I have not died in


Do you know what happens when a tree 

dances the Atilogwu

It uproots itself,                                             breaking branches and twigs

                                  It comes undone.

See,                as palms on the streets of Lagos,                                                           we dance, 

                                                                                  willing the earth to dance alive.

Fall Child! Fall!

                                   Yes, we will wither

and come dusk, we will be etched in the dust

and tomorrow, we will be rain.