Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Immigrant


I’m trying to lose this accent
trying to blend into my surroundings
like insignificant wallpaper
I’m trying to smile
when you laugh at my mistakes.
Trying to be a good sport.


I’m trying to appreciate John Keats
and William Butler Yeats
I’m trying to put up a jolly good show
I’m trying to sit in this blood-red bus
and act as if I know this city
and I’m trying to look inconspicuous.


I’m trying to be dismayed
when you catch a corrupt official
Trying to forget he’d be a lord in my land
Trying not to think of those I left behind
Trying to forget
how I almost didn’t make it out.


I’m trying to be you,
curse this clumsy tongue.



(c) Wole Oguntokun

19 comments:

Calabar Gal said...

*SIGH* The Immigrant. So conspicous and yet trying so hard to be inconspicuos. Better Days Ahead.

Vanatu said...

Wolzie,
I love this classic poem, it rings true always.

Anonymous said...

Interesting....

offtopic
You're hosting the series on friday. The date is now on the Nigerian series post.

Anonymous said...

Lolllll...I giggled when I got to this line...

"I’m trying to sit in this blood-red bus
and act as if I know this city
and I’m trying to look inconspicuous."

Anonymous said...

Very nice!

LOL @ trying to lose the accent, i love my Naija accent to death. I remember when i got here and i was talking to another Nigerian friend in School. This busybody lady came by and told us "you know you're not allowed to speak in vernacular on school premises right", we both looked at her and said, "we're speaking english", she's like oooh. LMAO, i'll never forget that day, memories.

Please say hi to Sammy for me next time, i'm his no 1 fan, lol.

Have a great week laspapi.

Anonymous said...

Wow Wole,

Is this yours? Simple. Aptly descibes the feelings of an immigrant; a visitor. I definitely feel like this every time I am on foreign soil.

Excellent!

Ebun.

ifeanyi dibia said...

Mr Wols, i love this poem. i've read it over and over again. it has this stylish rhythm and 'funny' humour. i've never been an immigrant, but reading this poem... i think i have been. funny.

laspapi said...

I hope the better days come soon, calabar gal.

ta ta, Vanatu

@ nilla- off topic point noted, dear nilla

I'm glad you appreciate the imagery, JayCee, you've got humour. These fellas abound on the back seats of the buses of london.

@ omosewa- that anecdote made me laugh. The lady thought you weren't speaking English? I remember a line from a movie-"you think because I talk with an accent, I think with one?'
Glad you're comfortable with your accent, many aren't. And when I see Sammy again, I'll try to get an autographed CD for you. Honest.
Enjoy your week too, omosewa.

@ Ebun- Thank you for appreciating the poem, Ebun. Been a while since I wrote it. Its one of my favourites. What happened to xplicit?

@ Mr Dibia- glad you liked it, ifeanyi. I 'reported' you to Joe Black concerning that other issue. Don't be alarmed, he and I were just discussing matters.

araceli said...

Welcome to the world of EXPATRIATISM. Like you I want to ask: Did I just invent a new word?

Anonymous said...

Yay! That'ld be really cool:)

Update!

laspapi said...

"...And the 'blogscar' goes to Araceli for the creation of the new word "Expatriatism'...'.

It's a new word, Araceli. Let the records so note.

@ omosewa- I hope to do so tonight

Anonymous said...

I really like this poem. Speaks very true.

@Omosewa - Lolll - v.funny story. Cant believe the cheek of the woman! Lolll.

Anonymous said...

I’m trying to be you... that about sums up the whole thing doesn't it... This is brilliant papi... Here's to becoming more comfortable in our own skins and 'tongues'

laspapi said...

Thanks, noni. Don't forget to read my comment on your thoughts about being jaded.

@ Storm(ONB)- Amen to that prayer, Storm. I hope you're fine, love.

Overwhelmed Naija Babe said...

lol..what's wrong with your blog? why is it converting everybody into 'anonymous' and you do realize that i love my new name Storm so except there's someone else you're calling by the same name(which i doubt)... I identify with it... the onb doesn't need to come after it. I've been sick... flu, migraines.. the whole 9 so i've been out of it for a while.. but i feel a little better now and i'm gearing up for my little dance performance on saturday... should be fun... how are things on your end?

mack said...

you write well... like very well.

Araceli said...

And for good measure, let's define the word. Expatriatism means everything you have described in the poem, i.e. trying to adjust in a foreign land and wanting to belong. Expatriatism is a feeling that is both positive and negative, Positive because you are experiencing new things that you would never experience in your own country, and negative because if you are not careful or if you are not ready for it, you might end up getting alienated and frustrated. (Wikipedia, take note!!!) In other words, expatriatism is what a person feels when he or she is in a foreign land.

Mona said...

Nice...saw you on the future nigeria website gallery

laspapi said...

Storm,
I can't figure out what happened. Blogger had your name written out at one time and then converted it to 'Anonymous'. I was compelled, and I mean really forcefully by Google, to upgrade to the new blogger yesterday which might have been the reason why.

And no, I don't call anyone else Storm, no one I know has that persona apart from you.

Sorry to hear you've been ill, I'm glad you're much better now. Had no idea. I'm having some diva trouble concerning the play (the lead role), once its sorted, I'll update you. We're still on for March.

@ mack- thanx man. I try.

@ araceli- Your definition's been noted, I intend to disseminate and store it on my system.

@ mona- thank you, mona. I appear in the gallery of pictures? Fame, fame at last!