The fear that comes with chasing the unreal
The silent night with a gripping shrill
The tears that flow ceaselessly on dry faces
The pain that rests endlessly on smiling faces
The truth that is borne as a burden on lying lips
The water that flows on and on, on dry lips
The questions that stare when we try to believe
The morrow that evades howe’er long we sleep
The harvests we meet and are forced to plant again
The races we do but never take a single step
The stories we live to ever retell
The choices we make only to regret
The sands that are worn from our footprints
The songs we compose but never do sing
The boy that never becomes a man
The man that never leaves the boy
The girl that lost her doll
The doll lost in the girl
The truth we know so well
The veil that masks the truth
The lies we love to tell
The tales we tell to lie
The man is his own prisoner so long he loves it so
The change that changes the man lives in him
The time to sleep or wake’s not the cloud’s to say
The eyelids may not be yet he can dream
The time for chance is the time for choice
The choice to die is the chance to live
The dead speak if we give them a voice
The earth’s a sphere for those who believe
Your plains have become fields of blood.
Those you blessed have found it is anathema.
Your gains have become skyscrapers abroad.
The wealth of you has left peasants no richer.
Voyaging your home keep peons in flood,
Yet these waters hold no fish for the Pekan.
Black gold, the reverie of the poor and clod,
The vial from which the rich perfume their “Kaftan”.
Your viscous beauty has stirred hearts to lust.
So many have guiled, lied vied and fought.
Ogling soldiers of fortune kiss the dust;
Queerly they become you whom they sought.
Your ebony fame has left many sons with crumbs.
Hitherto, we satiated with the pride you ring.
Now, our giant egos overweigh our empty tums.
We grope, blinded from gazing your untapped ming.
Your miners came, raped and ravished our land.
Careless about the seeds and tubers that feed us,
They robbed our soils of vigour, left it bland.
Our trees and crops were blessed with a death curse.
O black gold you who has poisoned our waters!
You black gold, have starved our children!
We cried for our soils and wept for our rivers,
The case we pled, on deaf ears they have fallen.
Will I now harangue you o black gold?
Then I would be a murderer of justice.
It’s those bulgy Guts long “Agbadas” enfold,
Who have entombed our gains and your promise;
Stealthily they have robbed you of your shine.
Now we ponder what your glory was and be.
On them this guilt must stick like grime,
Till their gloomy greed will glare for all to see.
(A young Nigerian boy mimicking his photographer)
Betty Press – Panos pictures
The smile of the weary labourer
Whose toil is not feeding him
The smile of the white-collared worker
Whose pay does not take him home
The smile of the limping old soldier
Battle wearied his body writhes in hunger
The smiles of the child-beggar
Nurtured by neither father nor mother
The smiles etched to tired faces
Those of the homeless and wanderer
The smiles of the forgotten races
Cut off from civilization and its grandeur
The smiles of the stricken populace
Ailing from her very own leaders
The smile of the schooled job-hunting man
Standing with shivers in the rain
Zoom zoom goes the pot-bellied politician
Exotic fleet following in his train
Splash splash the squalid taint lashes on
Through the glass he sees them grin
His smiles all soggy and his gaze forlorn
He wonders when the sun will shine on him
Smiles mangled by many cheerless tears
Smiles battered by several spasmodic throes
The fruit of man’s unkindness to man
Smiles that plaster our shredded doleful yarn
Smiles that veneer my people’s reality
Smiles from hearts where joy is rarity
Smiles yes smiles but pain there lies
My people smile sad smiles