Juliet Kego Ume Onyido Speaker trainer Poet Poem AkwekeA Poem for every woman who waited and for those who wait still…

My grandmother,
your great-grandmother
whispered words of wisdom
that I did not understand
and I threw them away
like worthless grains of sand..

And I, Akwéké
waited for you; my unborn
but you never came
seasons changed

the rains into arid air
little boys grew into warriors
maidens into sages
and yet you never came.

I waited in innocence
watching time, slowly creep up
I waited, pregnant with longing
flushed with certainty
nwam, you never came.


You never found your way here
with every rising tide
flirting with the moon
I sat here in fear
and writhed,
as my breasts grew fuller


My woman-eggs broke down within
and wept with gushing, bloody tears
between my once smooth, silken thighs;
proof, that you never came.


I wait still
impatiently, angrily
those succulent breasts
now hanging low
the nipples framing my navel
– Shrivelled. Un-suckled. Un-latched


I wait still
but now with a silent shame
weeping in silent anguish
branded unworthy, a fake
I, a once elegant frame
now crouched..


I wait still,
shrouded in a crippling cloak
of heartache
wrinkled, dry, dirty and tattered
a once beautiful bride, now embittered
and by destiny’s hands, battered


And now, I wait, I wait
Taunted. Ashamed. Accursed
I wait,
no longer for you but for your father
for sounds of his heavy familiar footsteps
on his way past my cold, barren hut
without a moment’s pause
before my door


Nwam, had you come
he would have invited my people;
honoured my entire clan
now he curses my ancestors
walks past my door,
without a glance


He escapes to the heated warmth
of my co-wife’s mat
Nwunye Dim; this wife of my husband,
 -Obidiya; a beloved hubby’s heart-throb
I bear her insolence in stoic silence
the sharp, rude tongue of this child-woman


She rubs her rounded form
and breaks out in a mocking sing-song,
(swinging those child-bearing hips),
while she saunters before me


I bear her no ill,
for had you come
she would not be here
(funny, is it not?)
that in a different world
she may have been your best friend..


I often imagine both of you
in my dreams
walking with the careless abandon of youth
hand in hand
fetching me water
from the village streams


Nwam, I waited for you
but you never came
not once did you grace
my waiting womb
and now under the moonlight
I grow old with loneliness


The greys dance in silvery fires
on the hairs of my once glorious crown
and on the gates of my maidenhead
Nwam, how I waited for you!


And last night my grandmother,
(your great-grandmother)
came to me in my dreams
-in the dreams that I dream
of the dreams that I dream


In her sing-song voice
she whispered gently to me: Akwéké
she shared words of wisdom
I now understand
Aye, I choose to wait for you no more..


they elders say; be it at sixteen or at sixty
the day of one’s awakening
is the day life truly begins
I am finally awake
from this looped nightmare


I am pregnant
-with fruits, seeds, eggs
of unique abilities, hopes, gifts, talents
I shall yet live free
and birth beautiful dreams


Aye, stop the endless search;
dare to live!
And when we have courage to trust
we finally see that indeed
nothing is ever lost
when we cease to wait
whom & what we seek
find a way to our doorsteps
and arrive at our unlocked gate.



(c) Juliet ‘Kego Ume-Onyido (All rights reserved).


Author’s Note: On the surface, Akweke is a poem about a childless woman’s pain as she waits for her ‘fruit of the womb’. And yet, she is actually a symbolic representation of all of us, as we wait for one thing or the other, and get stuck in life, trapped in the waiting game.

We’re often waiting for the ‘right’ time, businesses, careers, relationships, to look ‘right’, to feel right, waiting to be loved, for boldness, for joy, more money, success, waiting to retire, for the children to grow up, waiting to be appreciated, to pursue our passions and purpose, waiting for a sense of worthiness, for wholeness, for perfection….and we forget to actually LIVE life!

And the irony is of course, that we are often blind to the fact that we’re already whole and complete, and we are made perfect in all our imperfections, by the Creator’s abiding grace. And as long as we have life, we are eternally blessed with fruits of hopes, dreams, talents and abilities and our purpose is to birth them in this lifetime. In so many different ways, we are all AKWEKE! For me, when I wrote this poem, Akwéké was my motherland, Nigeria, for Biafra and all the other distinct nation states/kingdoms-Arewa, Ijaw, Bini, odua ….we seem stuck waiting for this nation to birth a child of promise.

I woke up in the middle of the night to write this piece, it was as if this ‘woman’ in her pain whispered her verses and I was a mere witness to her journey of awareness, realization, awakening…May we all rise, as citizens and as a society.

21 thoughts on “#1. AKWÉKÉ

  1. “Akweke” is a compelling read…flowing and breath-taking in its presentation. I have read it several times, each time with greater foreboding at Akweke’s growing angst. Forgive me because I am not a poet and I lack the template with which to analyze the visceral dimensions of your work like a professional poet would. But I know a good work when I see one. While I feel the pain and frustration in Akweke for not being able to birth a child and hold in her arms, that which a woman cherishes the most – a baby from her womb, I choose instead, to see more in Akweke’s frustration, the angst and entropy that Lugard’s failed contraption called Nigeria has caused to birth and fester in the constituent regions that feel entrapped in its failed social experiment. May a thousand flowers bloom from this failed experiment. And may Akweke give birth to that baby soon so she can cease being the laughing stock of her “nwunye di”. May your ink also continue to flow as you give us more reason to return to your page and drink from your pool of wisdom. Peace!


  2. Wow. This is absolutely amazing. I wanted my silence and awe to be noted. So many things touched in this piece. The feelings of this childless woman, the struggles of her journey the depth of her emotional growth and pain. To be reunited with her child like hopes and dreams when she least expected and probably close to giving up. This is simply beautiful and a great write.


  3. This is so awesome and inspiring. I try to remind myself that life is a journey, not a destination. So I need to live each moment as best as I can, not waiting for something to happen or to get somewhere.


  4. Love this poem! Great piece of work, Juliet! Thoroughly depicts the life we are wont to live, waiting for the fulfilment of one dream(pursuit) and ignoring living. Truth is, more often than not the fulfilment of so called “smaller dreams” pave the way for the big one(s).

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Akweke is a must read for every woman. Whether you have children or not, Akweke will lift your soul and give a reason to keep living because you are worth every breath you take.


  6. This poem is symbolic. If our focus is on our pain, we lose sight of our numerous blessings leading to an ungrateful heart. But I am glad that Akweke was able to face her pain, let go of the past and began to live in the present. It is better to experience living for one day than never to have lived at all.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Pingback: Akweke! A poem for every woman who waited and for those who wait still…. | Whole Woman Network

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