True African Woman (For Professor Joyce Ashuntantang)

By Ekpe Inyang

When the name I first heard
Matched with plans of a great event
In honour of a fallen Iroko Tree
I saw in my mind’s eyes
A lady in full display of grey hair
Majestic look, pompous gait
Imperious tone to announce
Her place on the Ivory Tower
Like those we have around

But on the evening of that great event
A celebration of unprecedented magnitude
The crafting yet of a great historical drama
The Immortalisation of the Most Fearless
Obasinjom Warrior
I saw a picture of a true African woman
Beautiful but humble, soft-spoken
Dishing out in unrivalled generosity
Dinner of commendations to a tall Iroko Tree
Under whose canopy the fallen one picked a ray of light
And grew from a neighbouring forest rich in the craft

Yes, she did it—dragged heavy Yoruba wood
To Mount Fako foot
Tall, tough but humble-looking wood
To meet indigenous species
And form a huge canopy to pitch
The event at the most deserved height

Yes, she’s scored the golden goal
And in her I see a lady with great vision
Ambition, full of force skilfully concealed
In the pouch of a true African woman
Humbly hiding the greyness of her hair
Beneath the dark hair of youth

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