Campus Deer by Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún

in Poetry

Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún is a Nigerian linguist, writer, scholar and cultural activist who works across many fields including education, technology, literature, journalism, and linguistics. His debut collection of poems is Edwardsville by Heart Wisdom’s Bottom Press, UK, 2018. He has received many awards for his work including most recently in 2018 the Miles Morland Writing Scholarship.


‘Campus Deer’ was first published in Edwardsville by Heart


Campus Deer

No one would believe
that the African had not seen them
alive, this close, ever,
until language brought him there.

Certainly not the student who
regaled him with third-hand tales
he had heard and believed
of the Maasai outrunning a leopard
until it collapsed, too tired to move.

“I’m not Maasai,” he should
have responded with a frown.
Instead, he explained the difference
between East and West, rural
and urban, Ìbàdàn and Rift Valley,
wide open lands and urban zoos,
village hunters and city dwellers.

At Cougar Village[1], the difference
was never exactly clear, which tickled him.
Brown friends on the lawn,
the animals ate behind the tennis court
on his way to class, and
stared at him with scant regard.

Lagos-Ìbàdàn expressway, on poles,
hanging down the hunter’s hands
like a roadside flag, their cousins
knew an African when they saw one
in the bush singing Ìjálá to the boom
of Dane rifles and waiting cauldrons,
pounded yam and fresh palm wine
ready to welcome hunter and game.

It was disrespect, he thought,
that venison could read, like students,
the signs that read: “Call 911
if you’re ever attacked by a deer.”



[1] A housing village for graduate students at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.


To find out more about Kọ́lá Túbọ̀sún and his work.





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