NIGER DELTA

There used to be a village quiet
One of many of the same childlike face
Faces of native fisherfolk
Of contentment in nature’s ancient cradle

A village on the river
Somewhere in the labyrinth of the Niger Delta
The songs they sang on their swaying boats
Put to sleep the fish in their nets’ embrace

Sweet was the voice of the water
Clear, her heart, clear, her mind
But, treacherous, the land bore a secret treasure
Deep within her precious heart

And they came, they came, thirsty
For the dark oily secret in her laps
And they drill, they drill, deeply, and spill
And until today they’re coming still

The village, it is no more
The river’s song is choked slowly to death
Crude and dark and slimy and viscous
The oil has smeared the water and defiled the land

But, unquenched, the flames of caustic lust
Still they burn, still they yearn
The bright acid fires that char our skin
Burn our throats too and poison deep our thoughts

Our colourful birds are burned into memory
Our fish, our beasts will be future-fossilized
There was a tree, it was the last of its kind
May nature preserve our footprints still formed

And the villagers now are refugees at home
Seeking other shores and other huts
Seeking rivers where they can again sing their songs
As they outcast their ancestral nets

And in their hearts they never forget
That once upon a not-so-distant time
They had a land, they had a river, that hid
A precious dark secret beneath its soft breast.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

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NIGERIA OIL

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