IF THE PEOPLE CHANGETH NOT

If you wake up one morning
And hear a bird out there
Sing a song you’ve heard before
But can’t remember where
Close your eyes and remember
The dream you’re waking from
And you’ll find yourself again
In a beautiful kingdom

Where the things you really feel
Are the things that you say
And it’s no big deal
To stand by what you say
And the people passing by
Are exactly as they seem
And they lift their country high
‘Cause they’re true to its dream

Then you wake up from the dream
And go into your world
And meet the opposite
Of what your dreams hold
Join the people, form a line
Queue up in the sun
Cast your votes for someone who
You hope has the wisdom

That the things she really felt
Are the things that she said
And the promises he spelt
Are the path that he’ll tread
And that when she passes by
She will be what she seems
And he’ll lift the country high
By working out her dreams

But the years they slowly pass
And the things hardly change
Sadly sadly ’cause the people
Are all still the same
Truth be told it makes no difference
Which of them the leader be
If the people changeth not
Well neither will their country

So pick your brooms and sweep your streets
And go to work on time
You may laugh at my simple words
But you’d be very surprised
That it’s just such little things
That have tied us down
Oh my people we’re the ones
Who give a face to our town

So the things we really feel
Are the things that we should say
It should be no big deal
To stand by what we say
And the people passing by
Should be just what they seem
And we lift our country high
‘Cause we work out our dream.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

COARSENESS IS NOT AFRICAN

Have you ever opened the door for a lady, only to be told by another African… that that is not African?
Have you ever arrived punctually or waited patiently for your turn, only to be told by another African that that is not African?
Have you ever spoken in soft, sophisticated tones, only to be told – loudly and crudely and full of mortified or amused laughter – by another African that that is not African?

Do you, when you are with your fellow Africans, deliberately coarsen your ways or diction – sometimes greatly, sometimes very subtly – in order to be accepted as being authentically African?
Do you act as if certain habits are normal to you which you actually inwardly abhor because they are less than your innate take on nobleness?
Do you too subscribe to the thinking that coarseness is not only a badge of belonging but also a way not to show weakness in African culture?

Well, the truth is this: You carry Africa in you. Africa begins and ends with you. Whatever you do today, that is what posterity will one day point to and label as being African. And if you acquiesce today to something which you inwardly know to be inferior and improvable; something a better version of which you carry consciously or unconsciously within you; then you commit three sins, at the very least.

One: you fail to establish the next stage of African evolution by not bringing out the New which you carry within;
Two: you reinforce in the next generation the false assumption that it is African to be coarse;
Three: you transfer to subsequent generations the poisonous message that it is right to acquiesce to what is wrong and to lower one’s standards, within the context of one’s African culture – even if one carries strong convictions in the opposite direction within one.
And these three things, which reinforce each other reciprocally like the sides of a triangle, are some of the greatest killers of Africa.

Additionally, as a human being you are not just an African, you are also a member of the human race. You owe it as a duty not only to Africa and not only to yourself but also to mankind as a whole to be a part of the evolution of civilization. Very often the African component is missing on the world stage of emergent ideas and evolutionary effort. But each time you break the self-fulfilling stereotype of African coarseness, and of African lethargic changelessness, of helpless receiver mentality instead of creator impulse, and of lower African standards, you produce something – tangible or intangible – that fulfils a part of the the African responsibility in the advancement of humanity.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

PAIN LIKE A STREAM

Like a stream runs this ancient heart of mine. I write truest and best when I am in pain and all alone; this is when I write down tomorrow’s pieces. Not when I am happy and relaxed; lazy, immature me.

When I have comfort, I forget, I become complacent. When there is peace, I laugh, which is good, but I also fall asleep, which is dangerous and wrong.

Maybe two thousand years from now I will be mature enough to be happy and be inwardly mobile simultaneously –

Pending this day, however, pain will be the helper of the Poet and of the wanderer. Pain and love and longing. To Keep me awake, to drive me onwards…

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.