A statue at Ring Road, Benin City, Edo State

In my Benin, there are bushes everywhere. Thick clumps of bushes adorn the sides of the road no matter where you are. Sometimes, they scream at me, they speak to me and ask me why I ever bothered to come when I refuse to see the beauty that lies in their chaos. The bushes crawl, they crawl with lizards, with snakes, with insects and these come in different species, shapes and sizes. My Benin’s bushes will scare you even if you have never been scared before; ask Queen, she will tell you how she ran away when she first arrived.

My Benin is full of people who will try to take all your money before they ask your name. It is not their fault, it is Nigeria’s fault. The people of my Benin struggle to make ends meet after all. In my Benin, bars and churches litter everywhere. Churches large and small will greet you with smiles as you enter a new street, as you try to navigate your way through the city. They will preach Jesus to you and condemn you when you refuse them.

In my Benin, the mentally deranged people are so many, you cannot begin to count them. They are scary, quite alright but they smile. The mad people in my Benin smile at you as if you both share a private joke and that makes them so scary, I have to hide every time I see them. My Benin is kind, even to those people.

In my Benin, transport is not for the poor. The buses will only take you where you want to go if your pockets are dancing with coins. If not, you walk or you spend hours trying to find cheaper transport. Either way, my Benin takes everything from you. Your money or your energy, choose.

In my Benin, you can find a sacrifice anywhere. A basket or calabash filled with a dog’s carcass, dead snails, anything. You must be careful in my Benin, she teaches you how to mind your business.

In my Benin, eating meat is not for the careless. If you’re not careful, donkey meat will be sold to you as beef. I’ve told you o!

My Benin is not for the faint, the weak at heart; My Benin is for the strong, it is for what I am becoming. My Benin, like everywhere else will test you, it will also reward you for…

In my Benin, the houses are a work of art. Constructed with meticulous care and obvious love, my Benin is full of beautiful houses. The walls in my Benin shine a brilliant red from the soil in my Benin. I should tell you, the soil in my Benin is red, red as if it has been washed with blood and then laid to rest here.

In my Benin, the people are full of smiles and the old women greet everyone with a friendly ‘do’, the word, like my Benin, is vast. The young will greet you when they come across you on the street and everyone says a greeting as they enter a bus, my Benin is friendly.

In my Benin, women own a vast number of the houses, the cars and the valuables. The women fill the markets, the offices, the important places. My Benin encourages women and tells them they can be anything.

In my Benin, as long as rain falls, we swim everyday. There are no drainages in my Benin and so she shows her anger by refusing to swallow up the water. My Benin stares defiantly at you as she sips the water from the ground, she refuses to be weak, she refuses to give in. My Benin shows you how to be strong.

My Benin is like a mother, except she has four hands: Three to show you the different sides of life, the good, the bad and the ugly, and one to keep you in place, to force you to watch so you can never forget.

My Benin is large, her bosom stretches far and wide enough to comfortably occupy all her children.

My Benin knows how to love, my Benin shows you what love is. My Benin is Benin City, Edo State, Nigeria.


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