A Prayer From Chinelo Okparanta’s ‘Under The Udala Trees’

A Prayer From Chinelo Okparanta’s ‘Under The Udala Trees’

I just finished reading the riveting novel by Chinelo Okparanta. And after a story that filled me at once with sadness and hope, here’s the segment of the book that is my dream for the Nigerian LGBT.

Some of those nights, when we are together and in bed, Ndidi wraps her arms around me. She moulds her body around mine and whispers in my ear about a town where love is allowed to be love, between men and women, and men and men, and women and women, just as between Yoruba and Igbo and Hausa and Fulani. Ndidi describes the town, all its trees and all the colours of its sand. She tells me in great detail about the roads, the directions in which they run, from where and to where they lead.
“What is the name of the town?” I ask.
…One night, she mumbles that it is Aba. The next night it is Umuahia. With each passing day, she names more towns: Ojoto and Nnewi, Onitsha and Nsukka, Port Harcourt and Lagos, Uyo and Oba, Kaduna and Sokoto… Eventually, I have to laugh and say, “How is it that this town can be so many places at once?”
Her voice is soft like a hum, and the words come out quiet like a prayer…she says, “All of them are here in Nigeria. You see, this place will be all of Nigeria.”

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