©Oladimeji Odunsi

DEAR IEMAKA

13th July 2021.

Words by Wendie Zahibo. Photography by Oladimeji Odunsi.

We got in contact with Wendie Zahibo as she was moving to Guadeloupe in 2020 and she was also announcing the launch of her book of poems 'CORSÉ DE CUIRS'. Her letter, which is, as per her book, a poem which brings us light, strength and true belonging.

We are proud to introduce Dear Iemaka, the letter - poem by Writer Wendie Zahibo.

Guadeloupe, 20th August 2020

My Lemaka, 

 

The day you read this letter, I won't be here. 

I’ll no longer be in the physical. I’ll no longer be material. 

I'll be something other. 

I'll be nature. I'll be the moon. 

I'll be raw. 

 

On the day you read this letter, it will have been given to you to mark your 169th full moon. Your mothers will have gathered together with you in the garden, placed you in the middle of their circle and one by one given you 13 little gifts.

I'm the 13th. 

 

You probably won't understand the meaning of it all on that day. But deep down inside, you'll feel a flame ablaze.

Pay attention to that fire, it's now your compass, your phone. 

 

Lemaka.

You're your mother's daughter. My great, great, great, great, great granddaughter. You're named after my daughter and my grandmother. Your first name is the mix of YEMANJA, voodoo goddess of water and AKA which means "at" in Creole. "When at Yemanja," you're at the edge and passage of two worlds, the valley of our dreams. 

Your last name YAGBIA means "king's daughter" in Sango, my mother's tongue. You're descended from Queens and Kings.

You’re royalty, a sacred woman. 

You wear your DNA as your identity. You’re the daughter of seekers, of men and women in search of the truth within themselves.

Remember this when you dare to doubt, when you dare to fear. 

 

This world you're experiencing is what I've thought a lot about it, imagined it, hoped for it. I thought it free, I imagined it as revolutionary. I hoped it would be a blessing. 

I want you to know that we did the best we could with what we had. We did it with our reality, with our tools, with our traumas, our illusions and our disillusions. We did it for us, of course, but also for you. So that flame which burns in you never goes out. So that you know DOING is in your power, that DOING is your duty.

 

Days will come when you'll wonder about the why, the how, the when. Days will come with tears, pain and exhaustion. Just as the moon drains and refills every month, and continues in spite of the full moon, remember who you are on the days without and who you are on the days with.

 

You are because we were. You are because we are. You are because we will be.

 

Know that every bit of your skin is love, revolutionary love.

You are love.

You are revolution.

You are the flame and the hope.

You are a mirror of our souls.

 

Hold this mirror with pride!

 

Asé!

 

 

The breeze that surprises in its softness,

Sat-Nut W

YOU ARE BECAUSE WE WERE.

YOU ARE BECAUSE WE ARE.

YOU ARE BECAUSE WE WILL BE.

- WENDIE ZAHIBO

©Katharina

CHERE IEMAKA

Guadeloupe, 20 Aout 2020

Ma Iemaka, 

 

Le jour où tu liras cette lettre je ne serai plus. 

Je ne serai plus physique. Je ne serai plus matière. 

Je serai autre. 

Je serai nature. Je serai lune. 

Je serai brut. 

 

Le jour où tu liras cette lettre, elle t’aura été offerte à l’occasion de ta 169ème pleine lune. Tes mères t’auront réunie dans le jardin, t’auront installée au centre de leur cercle, et l’une après l’autre, t’auront remis 13 petits présents.

Je suis le 13ème. 

 

Tu ne comprendras certainement pas le sens de tout ça, ce même jour. Mais au fond de toi, tu sentiras une flamme qui s’embrase.

Prête attention à ce feu, il est désormais ta boussole, ton téléphone. 

 

Iemaka.

Tu es la fille de tes mères. Mon arrière, arrière, arrière, arrière, arrière petite-fille. Tu portes le prénom de ma fille et le nom de ma grand-mère. Ton prénom est la contradiction de YEMANJA, déesse vodou des eaux et de AKA qui signifie « chez » en créole. « Chez Yemanja », tu es frontière et passage de deux mondes, vallée de nos songes. 

Ton nom YAGBIA, signifie « fille du roi » en sango, langue maternelle de ma mère. Tu es descendante de Reines et Rois.

Tu es royauté, femme sacrée. 

Tu portes en ton ADN ton identité. Tu es fille de chercheuses et chercheurs, d’hommes et de femmes en quête de vérité sur eux-mêmes.

Souviens-toi lorsque tu oseras le doute, lorsque tu oseras la peur. 

 

Ce monde que tu expérimentes, je l’ai beaucoup pensé, imaginé, espéré. Je l’ai pensé libre, je l’ai imaginé révolutionnaire, je l’ai espéré bienfaiteur. 

Sache que nous avons fait de notre mieux, avec les moyens que nous avions. Nous avons fait avec notre réalité, avec nos outils, avec nos traumas, nos illusions et nos désillusions. Nous avons fait pour nous, certes, mais aussi pour vous. Pour que cette flamme qui brûle en toi, jamais ne s’éteigne. Pour que tu saches que FAIRE est en ton pouvoir, que FAIRE est ton devoir.

 

Viendra des jours où tu te questionneras sur le pourquoi, le comment, le quand. Viendra des jours de pleurs, de douleurs et d’épuisements. Tout comme la lune se vide et se remplit chaque mois, et reste malgré tout lune, souviens-toi que tu es ; tu es, les jours sans, et tu es, les jours avec.

 

Tu es parce que nous avons été. Tu es parce que nous sommes. Tu es parce que nous serons.

 

Sache que chaque parcelle de ta peau est amour, un amour révolutionnaire.

Tu es amour.

Tu es révolution.

Tu es flamme et espoir.

Tu es miroir de nos âmes.

 

Tiens ce miroir avec fierté !

 

Asé !

 

 

La brise qui te surprend par sa douceur,

Sat-Nut W

Wendie Zahibo is born in Marseille, and raised in Guadeloupe. She has made an art form out of queen making. She is the founder of Reines des Temps Modernes, a website that delivers “a daily dose of feminine inspiration for the Millennial generation who do not apologize for existing” and she’s a familiar face when it comes to creative events. A queenspiration in her own right, Wendie is one of the dope women of the diaspora doing dope things. (Biography by Après Josephine - www.apresjosephine.com)

IG @wendiezahibo

IG @reines_des_temps_modernes

Katharina is a 25-year-old artist living in Belgrade Serbia. She describes herself as a dreamer and a hopeless romantic, a small person with a large galaxy inside of her.

IG @katarina_samohin

Oladimeji “Oladimeg” Odunsi is a Canon Canada ambassador, Visual artist and photographer based in Toronto & Ottawa, Canada. Oladimeg is also a Visual storyteller and he does that through collaborations with both individuals and brands. Oladimeg creates strong and powerful visual contents using original creative approaches and inventions.