Self-Portrait

Self-portrait

Two worlds collide in my name—
searching for balance, and sometimes like an incursion
invading the depth of each other.

My friend calls me Hausa because it’s the closest tribe to Muslims,
she said in the distance,
my name is the shape of a faraway culture.

A man on X said Yorùbá muslims are less muslims,
because I come from a tribe that
substitutes /ʃ/ for /tʃ/— where check becomes sheck.

At home, mother calls me diméjì
& Àlàbí when she swells my head with praises.
My grandmother upheld this balance in my names
like a knife sitting on the tip of a finger.

Put a razor to my name & find my grandfather’s bones in its haven.
A door leading to another identical door.

At the Osun Osogbo sacred groove,
an old man prayed for me & my friend into his palms, ọ̀ṣun á’gbèyín,
but the pause between his voice & my reply is an ocean drowning my amen.

During tawḥīd lessons, the imam reminds me to paddle my boat
far from the edge of polytheism.

But once, I want to dig deep in the roots of culture,
through language, wear its flappets like a masquerade.

Heritage says I’m Yorùbá before Muslim.
But in His words, Allah says Kun fay kun —be, and it is
& I am, existing—a boy, Yoruba & Muslim.

& I am, existing—a boy, Yoruba & Muslim.

What are you looking for?