I Was a Flower – Ododo Ni Mi

Emmanuel's poem 'I Was A Flower'

ODODO NI MI (in the original Yoruba)

ododo ni mi
ododo ni mi ooo,
olabisi leni tu mi nigbo
olabasisi gbin mi sinu iko dudu
ikoko dudu ti n dan ginringinringinrin
bologini inu okun kun owuro,
ododo ni mi ooo.
Mo n hu; mo n dagba nile olabasi
baba omo yeye,
olabisi n fowo pa mi lara
aya olabisi, omo olabisi n fowo pa mi lara,
won o ranti? ati fun mi lomi mu,
mo n gbe, mo n ku nile olabisi baba omo yeye,
olabisi ni je, aya olabisis n je,
omo olabisi ni je –
mo ni won or ranti? ati fun mi lomi mu
Mo womi; mo romi.
mo dota eni ni mi ooo.
olabisi tu mi, laitegbo mi,
mo ni lola omo mi a womi, ku ku omi.
a fi komo olabisi fomi fomo mi.
ododo ni mi oo.
ododo ni mi loni
ododo ni ma je lola
ododo ni mi oo.

I was a flower

I was a flower, a blossoming flower
Olabisi plucked me from the bush,
Olabasi transplanted me into a black pot.
A black pot, as gleaming as the cat’s eye in a dark dawn
a blossoming flower I was.
Flourishing, in Olabasis’s family house.
They fed on the fat of the land,
Olabasi, his wives, children and relations.
Yet they offered me not a drop to drink,
a blossoming, flourishing flower that shone
in the bright sun of day,
in the dark pall of night,
reflecting the mood of the times.
They would caress my sweet-scented petals,
nectar-laden for the butterflies.
Thirsty, I search in vain for a drop,
drying out and dying in drought.
No more a pretty sight,
my master cut and threw me out
but not my root.
It was then I swore my offspring would seek and find water
unless Olabasi’s children give my children their birth right.
The flower of the day must produce the flowers of tomorrow.
I was a flower, a blossoming flower.
Chorus: I’m a flower – I’m a flower.
(from JIGI OJU OBA – the King’s mirror, 1985/86)