Being Sold*

You bought me.

You bought me at 8 years old when you paid a dowry.

You bought me when you gave into blackmail,

A dowry to be allowed to meet my bio-grandmother.

Before it’d been hard,

But when you handed over enough money for a farm,

Just to be able to keep me,

That was the day you broke my soul

Because that was when you bought me.

I’d accepted my name not being used,

What’s in a name?

You’d bought my birth certificate and a false name with it,

But it was that day, visiting my bio-grandfather,

That I learnt the power of money.

You bought me and didn’t notice,

In a few moments the world shifted,

It was yet again about power,

Power that as a child I would never have

It is always about power,

As a black woman I’ll always fight for,

Nearly in reach but never there.

I don’t get to take it, I experience it.

Today I’m sad because you bought me.

You bought me on an idea of a dowry.

Bought when I was already yours,

A child trying to understand the world

But money makes it go round right?


*When I was eight my mum and I went back to Rwanda to meet with my bio-mum and two sisters. I was apprehensive as that was the first time I’d been back in Africa. My parents had read countless of books and spoken to experts to say that it was healthy to keep in touch with biological families in circumstances such as mine. It allowed me to have roots and understand where I came from.

Being with both my mothers was really strange. They were both the polar opposites of each other. Both caring and loved me, but it was a situation hard to juggle for all involved. Which mother do you pay attention to, respond to, appreciate. I was already sulking at them because they’d shaved my hair, having had enough of my screams as they combed my afro. One day we traveled to meet my grandmother. My greedy grandfather refused to let us visit her without first paying a dowery for what I might be worth in the future. My child self was already upset at everything and trying to process.

Looking back on it now, I can see why the dowery was paid. It was worth meeting my bio-grandmother. But it still makes me sick that my mum had to pay in order for me to meet members of my own bio-family.


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