SOLIDARITY IN VICISSITUDE

What’s the point? A good start,
A bad fall. Bright sunshine, broken
By patches of night –
Hunger, loneliness, all that you have
Is your soul and the spirit
In it –
You.

It’s not the door cringing,
It’s the stomach wringing…
It’s not a statue,
It’s a lonely person…
Be good to me, brother man.
Sister woman.

Be good to me.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije

SHE WAS A WEIGHTLIFTER

She was a weightlifter
They found it unseemly
But she was a shape-shifter
Their disdain was a lighter burden to bear
Than her fate.

Slum lady. Carried mud and bricks
Bore stones and sticks
Firewood, rusted water in weeping baskets
The stretch marks of impatient thirsty men
Bunched up her muscles.

Owned by all, never owned a thing
The madams’ slaps, the masters’ secrets
Nothing was too heavy a load to carry
To snatch, to clean, to jerk off –
Each jerk. Very ordinary.

Today, when she steps out unto the mat
Under the lights, there you see
Sunset in one eye, sunrise in the other –
It’s not heavy weights she’s lifting
She’s carrying hope.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

WEALTH OF POVERTY

They shrink away instinctively
Disgustedly
From the poor
As though poverty were a disease

But even faster they
Avert their thought-sprinkled eyes
Nobody wants to see Shame
The shame mirrored within

Who is ashamed of whom?
Of what?
The rich is ashamed for being rich
The poor is ashamed for being poor

They both are ashamed of being
In the company of each other
One hopes the tides will turn
One fears the tides will turn.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

GLOBAL UNITY IN THE STRUGGLE FOR EXISTENCE

The Elite and Power-holders, traditionally few in number, always find a way to prevent the masses from uniting against them. The most popular and effective, trusted and time-tested, methods are the instigation and strengthening of racism, tribalism, sexism, religious intolerance, etc, within and amongst and between the masses. Man, being a living being, soaks up these sentiments and they grow within him, upon which he begins to also defend and propagate them; thus they become self-perpetuating from generation to generation, across centuries, and people even forget where and when and why these things started.

But these things were never the actual problem of the masses in the first place. It’s all an illusion. True, when different sides happen upon each other there is initial distrust and competition; but there is also curiousity, such that left on their own – if there is no conscious malicious and insidious effort to awaken fear of each other amongst them – they will always merge with time as they unite in the common struggle to master the battle of life. Especially when they face a common threat, e.g. nature and the elements.

But man has a fragile nature sometimes. In his struggle to master his own personal little life he can lose sight of the bigger picture, thus making him gullible and susceptible to the intrigue and manipulation of those who seek their own personal and selfish goals. And those who have money and power, or who strive after money and power, know well to prevent the masses from ever uniting against them or developing a WE-consciousness as a united group. Thus they keep them occupied with the individual struggle for existence, or distracted by a media barrage of empty things of no importance and, as the master stroke of genius, they keep them divided amongst themselves by pulling the strings and feeding the sentiments of religion, ethnicity, race, sexism, etc.

Any leader or leadership system which really loves its people will seek to unite them. This however is rare. Instead what we see are power-centers which perpetually ensure that the flames of division (religion, racism, ethnicity) never die. All the rest of the people perpetuating these things are just blind tools. But if you follow the trail of the true power-centers it will always lead to where the money is. Follow the trail of the money’s smell. Those who have the money – who OWN the global wealth – are the ones who make sure that those who need the money always stay divided amongst themselves. Divided and distracted, so that they will never see the effort being deliberately made to keep them from recognising the path that will lead to freedom. The path of unity.

People, unite.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

CLASS DIVIDE (II)

It’s called the hardworking middle-class
Let’s call it the narrow mountain-pass
For it keeps nervously thinning out

The underworld is getting crowdy
And impatient and restless and rowdy
Getting ready for a bout

The top one percent noiselessly feeds
Off the profits, the interests, the proceeds
No sound, no word, no whisper, no shout.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

FALLEN THROUGH THE CRACKS

Originally I used to cover my face
I was new to the street
A freshly fallen angel –

Would old friends pass this way
And recognise me? Old colleagues?
Old neighbours with whom I shared
A beer and a philosophical hour
Reflecting on the vicissitudes of life
The changing destinies of human lives
Society, politics, the role of science in
Religion, male jokes about women
And feeling entitled to be fortunate.

Will they recognise me now, when
They pass this way and hurry past the
Wretched beggar on the street corner
Maybe throw him a coin but avoid his intrusive eyes?
Opposites don’t match, is their marching song
Did they recognise me in me?

But I don’t avoid their eyes anymore
The eyes of my yesterday
Not anymore
Not anymore.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

RETIREMENT

His pride is on sale
And his shame
And on his broad frame
You can see him bearing his fate
With a brave face on display

Seventy years of age
All his fears have come of age
His hopes, dreams, plans, crumbled
But now he’s picked himself up again
And sits at the south train station

Easel, paint-brushes, stool, low table
But he holds his head up high
Give him a smile and a coin
And he’ll paint a portrait of you
That will stand the test of time

He: You speak good german
I: Can I write something about you?
He: Yes, but no names please. I
Have a granddaughter in Darmstadt, who
Doesn’t know what I do to survive.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

SOCIAL INSECURITY

A child will fall ill today
His parents will weep
Not because the child is ill
But because there is no safety net
To catch the weak and defenceless
In the land of the Niger and the Benue

Every fall is a fall
Through the cracks
Down to the rock bottom
Your savings alone might save you until
Your savings are gone – then, if you have
No rich family or friends, citizen you’re done

A man will lose his job today
A woman will lose her home tonight
Do not tell them not to weep
For they’re falling and there’s no safety net
To catch the weak and the helpless
In the land of the Niger and the Benue.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije 

MAID

They are nice masters
In this regard she is lucky, I guess
They make her feel at home

When she cooks and cleans
Sings to the baby, feeds the dogs
And the cats and is allowed to watch TV

But when she gets home in the evening
Without electricity, it’s a marvel to her
In the midst of her poverty, to see the joy
In her family’s eyes and to be at home again.

– CHE CHIDI CHUKWUMERIJE.