On the Road to Yola


-Good Bye…Safe Journey
-Every Disappointment from God is a blessing
-Prayer is the only master key that opens every door.
Photograph by Saadia Lababidi, 1993 Yola, Nigeria

 for Edward Aleyideino

On the road to Yola,

they grow no Roses.

You will see no yellow Daffodil

or swaying Daisies.

On the road to Yola,

sand swirls round a lonely baobab tree.

Its branches root in the sky like crooked toes

of a bent old man tired from the climbing day.

Over this unquenched Northern road,

brown craving fingers spread across

the narrow asphalt,

churning a stolen sandal.

Along the Sahel road, grasslands turn bronze.

The bending riverbed coughs canoes and nets

that once glistened of silverfish at sunrise.

Crusty riverbanks frame footprints

that prod over parched sand,

dry pails wait and bare hands dig,


On the road to Yola,

hips of barefoot women sway under loads

of firewood cut from disappearing trees.

Their eyes glaze with sweat and dust;

they bear the daily weight.

An evanescent lorry rumbles by with

shirtless men affixed to corners…

‘Where does the wind take you that you leave

dust in our faces and our faded cloth twisted?’

..and painted words recede… ‘good-bye’…‘safe journey’…

like a howling dog’s longings,

on this road to Yola.

(all rights reserved by Lesley Lababidi) To copy or re-produce photography and/or writings, written permission from Lesley Lababidi is required.

All Photographs and text are under international copyright laws. No re-use without the written permission of Lesley Lababidi 2023.

5 thoughts on “On the Road to Yola

  1. I viewed “at my own literary risk” but I am leaving very impressed! Having spent about two years oi Yola, Adamawa state, I can relate with this poem on a very close and personal level. I have plied that road more than half a dozen times (before and after it was rehabilitated). 12 grueling hours from Kaduna! and two days by road from Lagos. The sun and heat there reminds me of “death valley” (even though I have never been there). Their flies are also in divine abundance. However they have a very rich culture (and beautiful women). They are also very hospitable. I had the privileged of wearing the regalia of the Lamido ( in 2009) for a drama (a very rear privilege) .

    • Dear Mr. Sunday,
      Thank you so much for relating your special trips and experiences to Yola. There are many who travel that road but few who appreciate the hardships and beauty of the journey. I am grateful the poem is meaningful, resonating a shared experience. Thank you.
      Lesley Lababidi

  2. A good piece Maman Sadiya, I am writing a little piece on uncle Eddy, can I have your written memories of him?

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