Donna Ogunnaike


What Do You Wear?

I wear Gucci and Zannotti
Bought from lands far and exotic
A million Naira worth of weave-on
With heels that can pay the bills
I wear my outdoor designer outfits
Though my heart is filled with pits
I wish someone would say “I love you”
And for once, actually mean it
I wear my spinsterhood like a well cut jacket
Paste on it designer labels
Like Gucci Still Single and Prada Sadness
The fragrances that fill my empty womb
I wear the lonely reality of the independent and strong black woman
I do not know how to manipulate or scheme
So I sew on the pretence of a warrior
And fix on my head a Brazilian weave
What do you wear?

I wear a foreign accent and own a foreign certified degree
Still at night I go to bed without electricity
I wear the morning like a burden on these Lagos streets
Repeat my daily politeness, but damn! I can’t stand the heat
I wish I could go back home you know, abroad where everything is nice and neat
The money is here however, this is the land of opportunity
It baffles me how I have no strength to just get up and leave
You see my Father has absolute control over me, though I am already 36
But I wake up daily and hit the floor running!
I swear in pidgin English and curse in Yoruba when power goes out
As soon as I step out of my bedroom door I am again the Queen
I wear my foreign accent and flaunt my foreign certified degree
Pretend that I am independent and that nothing has a hold over me
What do you wear?

I wear the panic of a broke chic men!
Living my life off different men
At night my sleep is bothered by hailstones and fires
The insults and prayers cast by the wives of some of these my men
I sort them out at that place where three roads meet at night,
Men, I will not go out without a fight
My shoes are made by survival; I step into them without regret
I wear my reality with pride my Sister!
I can take all your men from you without breaking a sweat
There is an upper class seat waiting
And someone has to pay for it
This body won’t keep firm forever
It needs to cash out those cheques
What do you wear?

I wear the opportunities of my social circle
I shop at Harrods and Selfridges alone
Not because of any money I have earned myself
But because of all of these people that I know
You see in this world, its pedigree that matters
I am not even aware that power gets withheld
I have never known the price of diesel
Though I know what it means to be alone
Boarding houses all my life and an arranged marriage in tow
Still, I have come to love this man
Although he is hardly at home
But this is the marriage my Mother had
And one I have come to know
I wear upper class and super exposure
This is the life I live
I will have it no other way
What… do you wear?

I wear the marriage of opportunity
I am the one with that diamond ring
I don’t care for him and he doesn’t love me,
Still I am friends with all of his family
He is sleeping with one of my friends’
Its alright though I have slept with her husband
My mind is steady and focused
infidelity cannot stand in my way
We all know what we are here for
I‘ve given my children his name
When him and his father are dead
Their legacy and riches will be ours to gain
I saw my Mother suffer shame and penury
As the fourth wife of six;
So from school I carefully chose “friends” with whom I would mix
See, I lied and cheated my way up here
And I am not about to lose it!
I wear the schemes of a street wise woman
My Mother taught me well.
What do you wear?

I wear a diet,
And fashion trends and gossip.
I am concerned with not knowing
Knowledge is power and the tabloids are there to supply a wealth of information
I wear the knowledge of everyone’s names at parties,
I know where they work, what they earn and who they recently slept with
I go to bed content; I have done my daily bit
It doesn’t matter that regarding my own life and destiny, I do not know s@it!
Meanwhile…What do you wear?

I wear the burden of one that used to believe
I no longer trust myself
There was once I would have fought for righteousness
But what’s that about? I’m now a complete mess!
Each one I see fights for nothing substantial
Only shoes and big named weave-on
They clamor for fame and cheap fortune
And those sickening travel bags by Louis Vuitton
I see them arrive at the airports in high heels and perfume even though that place stinks!
See, I tried to balance faith and reality
And came up with a weird mix
I spoke logic at posh dinner parties
And listened patiently to atheists
I even slept with this one guy, but, what a waste of sin!
He had no bedroom skills, and he never once proposed to me!!!

Now I am sick from double dealing between faith and worldiness
I’m struggling to find my way back home
Fighting to rise again through all of this mess
I’m tired, in this fight for faith, of being all alone
Being the only one to truly believe
That, men can be faithful and women submissive
That, prayers don’t need the addition of juju to make them effective
That, teenage children do not need expensive mobile phones
That, there’s nothing wrong with abstinence
There are more virgins world over than a paltry number, 6
That, we are not all “those born again Christians!”
You know, the ones who sleep around and in Church “bless”
That, they are not all terrorists who bow to pray
And rise to follow the faith of the Prophet Mohamed!
I’m sick and tired of trying to be real
When my friends panic when they are not seen flying upper class
I’m sick of girls emptying their savings to buy just one big-named bag
Then turn around and ask me “please can you pay for my meal at Mama Cass?!”.
I wear the burden of the tired and worn out believer of my faith

What do you wear?
I am doctor, I am lawyer
I am musician, I am student
I am educated; albeit only in my own mind
I am a sponsor, I am defendant
I am proper, I am a runs girl
I am married, I am single
I am fulfilled, I am discontent
I am a villager; I have just come to Lagos
I am a student; I am dating a politician
I am faithful, I am promiscuous
I am a candidate, I am a principal
I am a believer, I am atheist
I am prosecutor, I am judge

I wear this life daily
And the things I do that define me
I wear my good and bad decisions
and the path on which they have led me
I wear all that I have become
And sometimes not everything that I should be
I wear the burden of being
I wear the burden of living
I wear that WOMAN.
What do YOU wear?

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