TRAYVON

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You’re walking on water
Don’t think it is land
The tide is about to turn
Your feet into sand

Signals sent out over the earth
Kill them before they grow
There is a protection Claws in our justice
For a darker tomorrow

Subliminal messages
Password more valid than passport
What is the colour of love?
Blindness is just in court

Mankind will destroy humanity
And claim to be its saviour
And cunning will mask hatred
And none shalt love thy neighbour.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

In Memory.

LINEAGE

handpalmtree

Look at the palm of my hand,
My lineage has run riot –
Griot! Take note!
For the palm is the root of our land.

Tapper, come down
from them high
intoxicating dread locks,

The Elders on the ground
Can see beyond the highest tree.
Tapper, come down
And tap your roots instead

Look at the palm of your land.
Before you boast, ask yourself if you really know
The back of your hand.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije
(PALM LINES)

ABOMINATION

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My feet are stepping on me
My souls are brutalised
My grass is Thorn, apart

Strangers
Are laughing in glee
But my children do not understand

It is the foolish lizard
Who nods along wisely
To the snake’s slithering sermon

A child slaps his father
And corrects him
Did you hear the sky fall down?

Are you not ashamed?
If it is wisdom,
Why is it vestigial?

A short tree, shorter than me
Has peed on me –
Can I take it like a man?

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

STILL SEEKING THE FUTURE

I see
Wavering eyes
Tied around my ankles
Tightly beaded the masquerade stumbles

The drums think it is a dance and praise on
The familiar djini pokes his feathered skull
Out of the future – here I am!
Leaden feet leading until again

We stand on the river bank…
Sorry, where exactly?
We have been singing for the boat
Since time immemorial –

Unreversedly.

The mamiwater’s melodious silence answers us

Yet our ancestors did not lie
When they reassured us that the only
Real things are the invisible ones
Who refuse to see us.

If there be no boat
How shall the river
Cross us over
Onto the promised sand?

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

LAGOS

And then I remember Lagos
Red calabash and clay potholes hollow enough
So the colourful depth of abstract density
Can find its feet –

They are iodine feet, will crush
Every wound that opens its mouth
Don’t believe every boast you hear, or
They’ll laugh at you for being a fool

If you must believe, then follow
If you dare, the labyrinthine lagoons
One thing for sure, you will get lost in their veins
But, courage! – They all flow into the sea

Lagos, I miss you like a shark misses blood
Your wild rush, your noisy music, your
Unapologetic pride, your slang, in the heart of which
I fall silent and breathe, as one among friends.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

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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YELLOW SUN

And we shall sing as though
There be no morning,
Hear the night sway softly along, my dear
My heart is trying to say something
But I’ve forgotten the language
Of my ancestors…

But when we sing, I remember
A time before Christmas and December
When red earth and green hill and blue sky
Were home enough for us.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

NAIJA

They call you many things
Name-calling is a game of stones
Hydra-headed mad woman chattering away
Away noisily to the sea – come to me, let me be
My own jam-packed contradiction.

Let’s take a stroll from the desert to the sea shore.
Before you get there, you will have to heal
The sick and the infirm, educate
The ignorant, the uninformed, the misinformed, the rudderless, help
The needy, house
The homeless, don’t forget
The aged, the retired, give money to
The poor, awaken hope
In the despairing along the long way to Africa’s destination.

Dictators and cabals raise hell
Entertainers and fanatics raise the roof
And the corrupt raise the cost of life –
We’ve had enough of them all
Let’s raise our standard of living.

There can never be freedom, never
Be peace, nor security, in a system that nurtures
The endemic poverty of this
Many people.

– CHE CHIDI CHUKWUMERIJE.