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Auteur: Chika Unigwe

A man’s got to do what a man’s gotta do, Prosperous heard him shout into the living room one January evening. Godwin was small, new in town, and struggling. Prosperous did not know his story. Not entirely. But she knew that like all of the other men, he was a hustler. He had the same tired look in his eyes, the same high-pitched tone when he spoke, as if he wanted to convince everyone of his optimism, his certainty that he would achieve whatever it was he had come to Europe for. A man’s got to do what a man’s gotta do!
       And what a man’s got to do apparently was marry a white Belgian woman. Four months later, Godwin came to visit with his fiancée. Tine was round and soft. She was the colour of dough. She looked like her skin was the consistency of dough too, like she would dent wherever you touched her, pockmarked by curious fingers pressing her skin.
       She took time finding, Agu told Prosperous later. O fịalu aru nchota, nwanyị Godwin aa. Certainly longer than Godwin chelu na o ga-adị. O che na o ka-adị easy. He thought white women were lining up waiting for ndị oji to fall for and marry. O akuko a na-ako na Naijeria. O che nonno ị bịara umu nwanyị ndị ocha a na-achu gị n’azu, na-eso gị n’ike n’ike ka nkịta no na heat.
       O ro ife fa na-anu na Naijeria, Prosperous said. Oyibo women want black men. I remember years ago, nwa neigbour anyi si America nata, na-akolu anyị maka umu nwanyị ndị ocha na-achulagh ị ya. O sị anyị, Everytime I go out I have to fend off the legion of white women wanting a piece of my black ass! We all believed him. O sị even sef na o nwelu mgbe o na-achịgahlị umunwanyị six at the same time. Ma ndị blonde, ma ndị isi oji, ma ndị dịka supermodel!
       Yes, the irresistibility of the black man, ị kpara aka, onye ocha e sobe gi. Until you get here and find out that like almost everything else we hear back home about this place, that that also is a myth, Agu said. Folded into the edges of his voice was something she could not immediately recognize because it was new, it was nothing she had heard before.
       This is Tine! Godwin shouted into the room once Prosperous let them in. His smile was too wide. His small frame dwarfed by the woman beside him. His tired eyes gleamed as if they had been miraculously polished. Tine smiled a nervous smile and said Hello! unsure whether to give the traditional three kisses on the cheek or hold out a hand. In the end she did neither. Godwin held her around her massive waist and even when they sat down, would not let go of her hand. It was as if he was afraid of her slipping away once he let go.
       Love nwanti nti, Agu joked. No wound me with your love ooo! Godwin snorted and said, Nwoke ma-ife o na-eme.
       Tine had large wooden earrings. The sort of earrings that would be described as African because they did not fit anywhere else and Africa was the continent of woods, was it not?
       That night, after Tine and Godwin had left and Prosperous was lying beside Agu in bed, she said, Ah, that Godwin woman na room and parlour sha, as if the thought of Tine’s corpulence had just occurred to her. O buka. O dị ka hippo, Agu said uncharitably. But Godwin ma ị fe o na-acho, and he’s a hustler so o ga enweta ya.
       Prosperous thought Tine seemed too eager to please, too eager to belong. She insisted on eating the poundo with her fingers even though Prosperous had offered her a fork and a knife. And alternative food. Should I make you some frietjes? Some chips and fish? Or something easy like rijst? Ik kan het nu maken. Niet mogelijk. No, no, niet mogelijk, moeilijk, she corrected herself. Het is niet moeilijk. I didn’t know you were coming, sorry. Godwin didn’t say. I’ll make frietjes, now.
       No, it’s fine, Tine said. I’ve eaten poundo before. Godwin showed me how. Her earrings dangled as she spoke. Prosperous could not tell which animal shape they represented.
       Ah, Tine is African woman oo! Godwin said. She’s my African queen! She eats fufu well-well.
       He turned her face to his and kissed her on the lips.

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