#64. Floetry by JulietKego – A Poem For Every Girl-Child: “Today, I Will Not Bow.”

Listen to the revised AUDIO version of the poem here.


Floetry by JulietKego: “Today, I Will Not Bow.” (Version II)

Today, I shall be born and my mother will not weep

when she beholds the folds between my thighs

and my father will not stare at her with accusing eyes.

Yes, today, my father will not hunch over,

and hiss out loud, brokenly; ‘It is a girl!’

To the soft hum of my mother’s searing, silent cries

And his half-brother’s pitying glances and mocking sighs.

Today, he will proclaim to his kinsmen,

hitting his hard warrior chest with pride

that a first-born child is gifted to him,

a child who’ll inherit his history, cattle and farmlands.

A girl-child who will be free to love and to learn,

the secrets of kings

and the traditions of his land, of red earth

Today, I am Queen, cherished and respected

I will not be bartered off to any willing aging groom.

I refuse be beaten or battered, stoned with cold rocks and killed,

in honour, by the callused hands of beloved brothers and uncles

On whose knees I once bounced with joy

in whose warm arms I was lovingly rocked

Today, I refuse to be sentenced to a life-prison, that cold-room

of resentment, bitterness, gloom and doom.

Today I will not bow,

to the voices telling me hush and stand still

and watch passively as my dreams disintegrate and die before me.

I refuse to live a sham version of life, feeling fractured and broken.

Today, I will honour and nurture the seeds

of my day dreams and night dreams

Today, I choose to bloom.


Today, I will not bow!

To the sounds of the bullets piercing my body,

because my spirit is still strong and unshaken.


Today, I will not bow!

Not even when I am attacked and maligned

by lost souls, shackled by their own fears,

who turn my eyes away from the pages of life

afraid that I may discover new worlds and adventures

-of Achebe, Adichie, Tennyson, Tagore

-Marie Curie, Funmilayo Ransome-Kuti

In citadels of learning, within the sacred halls and walls of life.


Today, I will not bow

To the drums of the shrivelled village medicine woman

as she leads the crazed dance, and at its feverish peak

they restrain me down and crudely hack off

the tingling bud of my maidenhead!

They cannot stomach the sensual powers of this woman-child.

How they fear the fires of desires hidden in my shapely hips.

And the heavenly bliss waiting in the un-suckled milk

of my beautiful, budding, bouncing breasts.

They seek to silence my tongue so that I shall not question

the ineptitude of the men who ride with no skill.

They seek to strip me of the source of my multiple deaths of life,

sentenced to an endless, aching waiting,

-that never comes.


Today, I will not bow

To the diseased, sick, dirty old village chiefs

My bridegroom? Stealers of my childhood

Who take me, a mere 13-year old, for wife, -slave

A child bearing another child.

Today, I will not bow

Not in guilt and definitely not in shame

to the cowards (they, who call themselves soldiers of faith and religion),

who greedily plucked and sucked away all the fruits and juices

from my plush innocent gardens, even when I screamed ‘NO!’

leaving me there, by the dusty, dirty roadside

dead and dry.


There are many days yet ahead for bowing,

many days gone past for crying

but not today, no, not today!

Today, I refuse to bow

This is the day that I will not bow

Today, I rise for every woman-child;

Ancestors gone before me and the unborn, after me.

I stand here,

and hold sacred space in the gap.

And together, with my sisters’  spirit to guide me

I declare that we are all worthy- man, woman and child!

Yes indeed, tomorrow is yet unknown,

and yesterday not yet forgotten

But today? Today, is NOT the day I bow!


Today, I cease to hide under the sweeping skirts

of my mother’s fears,

Ma-jestic, a free-spirited stallion

chained in life’s choking barn,

a fierce tigress, caged in, breathless

I choose now to awaken, run my race, breathe

and live my dreams instead

Today, I shall stand tall on this stage of life

And be me, authentically me, W.O.M.A.N:

Wise-strong-weak, Opinionated-extraordinary-ordinary,

Ma-jestic, Accepting, embracing the Newness of all I co-create

And when I’m done, I’ll gracefully take my bow.


Yesterday, I was nameless, faceless, dreamless, voiceless

And today? I am re-born anew by a-ma-zing grace

I am Amina of Nigeria,

I am Malala of Pakistan

I am Rawan of Yemen

I am Damini of India

I am a little girl lost in Chibok…

And today I shall not bow

Today I invite you all

And together, we ARISE!

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

Click Here to listen to the Audio Version of the first draft of the Poem: “Today, I Will Not Bow”


For Whom and What Cause are you rising?

#EndChildMarriage #ChildNotBride

2 thoughts on “#64. Floetry by JulietKego – A Poem For Every Girl-Child: “Today, I Will Not Bow.”

  1. Pingback: Postcards From Africa #9: A Salute to Senator Victor Ndoma-Egba for sponsoring a bill against Female Genital Multination (FGM) | Whole Woman Network Blog

  2. Pingback: Random Musings: Highlights of International Women’s Day, The Joy of Finding a Perfect Bra (Warcoal) et al | Whole Woman Network Blog

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