Hi Guys,

So, if you are interested, watch the lil film posted by, click here but it is not necessary for the full comprehension of this post. Right? Cool? Lets go…

Fela Anikulapo Kuti (his middle name meaning he “who carries death in his pouch”) wrote ‘Yellow fever’ (You can listen here, the lyrics kick in at 2.45) The song is about Nigerian women who used bleaching cream to lighten skin colour. The discussion we could have about this, the reasons why it happened (still happens) and why it infuriated Fela enough to compose a song – specifically within a Nigerian context – could last dissertations worth of words. It is beyond the remit of this post, so we will not go there. Fela just made fun of the whole damn thing. Earlier in the year, I (Inua) worked with Josh (say Hi Josh) {Hi Josh} (grow up will you), at the National Theatre to deliver a workshop on Fela Kuti’s music and wrote a set of poems inspired by his music. Josh choose Yellow Fever and in response, we wrote poems in the form of alternative instructions you might read on the side of beauty product packaging. Here is one Example:


1. It is winter. As normal, spend days wrapped
keeping cold at bay, to and fro-ing from work,
your skin safe and tucked from the frostbite blade
of winter. Be fully content till your ex invites you
to dinner.

2. Remember the summer’s sunlight, how its touch
kissed your skin golden and you bus-rides were
soundtracked by wolf-whistles. Find a tanning salon.
Bribe the attendant to create a masterpiece of you.
When he is done, acquire spray tan from a shop
– just in case.

3. Arrive home flustered and frustrated your skin
isn’t Mediterranean or latte-like, dip into your
bag, retrieve and walk bravely into your bathroom,
the saying ‘if you want something done right,
do it yourself’ – a mantra on your lips.

4. Layer, spray and turn till you are golden.
You are not satisfied. Fill bath tub with fabric paint,
acrylics, oils, watercolour, dye and dive in splashing
the walls till your bathroom is kaleidoscopic.

5. Rise now, a child of rainbows, a United Colours of
Benetton accident. Walk barefooted, naked, through
snow swollen streets to the restaurant where your
ex sits waiting, pass onlookers and the manager too
stunned to stop you. Kneel crying at her feet, your
tears washing two tracks clear on your face, say
‘I’ll be anything you want, just come back.’

The poem was written to a strict set of instructions and Poejazzi has invited the following poets: James Massiah, G.R.E.E.D.S, Kevin Pocock, Dean Atta, Deanna Rodger, Bridgette Minnamore, Warsan Shire, Belinda Zhawi, Luis Antwi and Raymond Antrobus for a LIVE poetry workshop where we will ask them to choose a beauty product and we will tweet the instructions. They have to write the poem in REAL time and send the finished poems to us to be published online immediately. The live twitter/workshop will take place on Weds, 2nd February at 8.30pm and will last 30 mins, we encourage you, anyone, to join and send us your poems too!

Inua x


About Charlotte Morgan Nwokenna

Editor and Public Relations Officer
This entry was posted in Poetry. Bookmark the permalink.

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