A King and His Kingdom

18/08/1975 Dear Mum, I can’t believe I am here. It is everything you said it would be. First day I…


August 9, 2016



Dear Mum,

I can’t believe I am here. It is everything you said it would be. First day I arrived felt like a homecoming. I could hardly sleep that night. The next day we went on a school tour with a student guide. It felt like I knew this place better than he did as we walked us through places you had told me bed time stories about.

I miss you like a child misses his mother. It has been a while I called myself a child I know but it is what it is. In this place that is so familiar to me, on these streets that flow like a known river, I am lost, unashamedly lost without you.




Dear Ireoluwakanmi,

Last night I had a dream. There was you, me and Papa’s mother, that old witch. In the dream, i was holding both of your hands in that way that means I had no intention of letting anyone have you but then you started singing a song I no longer remember. It was then that I let go your left hand, and then that you used your freedom to embrace her. Does this mean there is a reconciliation on our horizons?

I miss you more. Say your prayers and when next you walk through Wren breathe my name so its walls know whose you are, whom you are.

Love, Mama



Dear Mum,

I laughed out really loud when I read about your dream. Thank goodness, Pop skipped ‘Josephine’ when looking up suitable names for you.

I am at Pop and Grandma’s this week for Thanksgiving. They had a big ole’ (see I am talking like Pop already) party the second night I arrived, showing off their unmarried’ PhD genius’ grandson to all their neighbors and friends with suitable granddaughters.

My favorite part of being here so far is hearing all about the mischief you got up to as a child and teenager. I can’t believe you were so hard on me-God knows I didn’t get up to as much trouble as you did! Uncle Mike took me fishing. He tells me I have your arm. I didn’t take that as a compliment-how can I have a girl’s arm?

Walking the hallways of this house brings back such warm memories. Here I belong to someone. Here I have roots.

Your photos line the wall here and sometimes I spend hours staring at them, wondering if life has been as good to you as you hoped, if all the dreams you had have come true, and which ones are yet to come true.

Granny asked to send her love and her apricot jam. I can only hope the latter survives NIPOST.

Love you,


PS. I think I met someone but it is too early to tell yet.




How dare you end a letter in that cliffhanger manner??? To your own mother nonetheless!

You must write and tell me all about her.

You Kanmi, are better than my every childhood dream.

I heard your father isn’t doing so well. He has sent for me. In the past I wouldn’t even have considered going but I must be getting old and soft.

Kiss Granny and tell her thank you for the jam. Kiss Pop too however deftly he might try to dodge it. Tell Mike to hush up about my arm.

Merry Christmas to you my boy. I hope you like what Santa got you this year.





Dear Mum,

Happy New Year! Do you realize this was our first Christmas so far away from each other? And yes, I loved the mittens and kilishi. However did you get kilishi through NIPOST? You super mum, you!

What do you mean you are considering going to see him? Have you forgotten how he kicked us out in the cold? How he quickly replaced us and never looked back?

Don’t you dare go.

‘She’ is from Savannah Georgia and last week she took me to meet her parents. Don’t freak out- it was just an excuse to get away from the busyness of school.

Her eyes are a deep blue especially when she is happy, which is always. She is a professor of Economics at V.Tech on weekdays and a Sunday School teacher on Sundays. That leaves me with Saturdays. On Saturdays, she is summer in winter, summer for all seasons.

For the first time in my life, I am in love. I hate that I am getting a PhD in literature at the same time. It has made me strangely verbose in my essays.






I went to see your father. He is in a very bad way. Please come home and see him my love. If for nothing else, for me.





Ask me anything but not that. Never that.

Tirzah sends her love.





I am not asking. I am pleading. Come home now.





Happy birthday my boy.





Dear Mama,

It has been a while. I figure you are mad at me. I am so so sorry.

Thank you for the birthday card. I didn’t forget yours. I was just too ashamed to have hurt a heart that has suffered so much already.

I took Tirzah to Pop and Granny’s for Thanksgiving. I have never seen Pop so well-behaved. Raleigh got married last month. After the festivities, I found Uncle Mike weeping in Pop’s barn while Pop consoled him. I imagine how much harder it must have been for Pop to let you go.

Everyone sends their love and I hope Granny’s jam makes it through NIPOST again.

Do you remember when I got that job in the oil company? Before I knew what I really wanted to do with my life?

You were so naïve Mama, even after all those years in Nigeria. Maybe it is because you are a pure bred Southern girl who shuts her eyes to all kinds of things her heart can’t take. I however knew Papa was involved somehow. A second class lower English Literature graduate getting a job in one of the country’s foremost oil companies just like that? How was that even possible! So without telling you I went to Iloro. If for nothing else, to ask why, and because you taught me well, to say ‘Thank You’.

It took two days to gather courage but I finally left the hotel I has sought accommodation in and went to the palace to request an audience with my father.

I was turned away Mum, turned away like a dog. I was told the king had never heard of me and warned to stop claiming false relations with royalty.

I am a little less because of that day.

Tirzah turned me to reading the Bible. She is a Sunday School teacher after all. There is this verse “If an enemy had insulted me, then I could bear it. If someone who hated me had attacked me, then I could hide from him. But it is you, my equal, my best friend, one I knew so well.”

I know exactly how that writer felt.

30 years ago my father chose a kingdom over you, over love, over a half-cast child. I was not good enough to be his heir 30 years ago but now I am? Because he was plagued with only female children after me? To have come home would have made me my father’s son. I am not my father’s son. I have no need of a kingdom. I have all the reigning I want in Tirzah’s heart.

I am bringing her home for Christmas. She can’t wait to meet you or to sit in your Sunday school classes. I am glad you both have that in common to start with. That and eyes that shames every shade of blue. If you end up loving her too, then right there, underneath your watchful eyes, I hope to ask her to marry me. I already asked her father’s permission.

I love you Maami and I hope you know you will always, always be my first love.




My dearest Kanmi,

I went to the Kabiesi ‘s funeral and didn’t dance on his grave. It was a huge show for nothing. True kings don’t do the things your father did.

After the funeral, they made Adelaja, your father’s second cousin the new Kabiesi. He has married one of your half-sisters as well. That old man and that beautiful child. Could anything be more gross Ire? If I never go back to Iloro, it won’t be too soon.

The kingmakers grilled me over and over again before settling for Adelaja. Eessshhh! They have never had a Southern girl to deal with obviously. When they saw I would not be forthcoming about your whereabouts, they gave up and forced their gods to accept the next best thing-Adelaja.

I am counting the days till I see you and meet Tirzah. As for having Sunday School and blue eyes in common, you foolish child, we already have the most important thing in common – our love for you. I love her already.

Hurry on home.


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