It is the hope in the eyes
Of the arriving refugee
That breeds the sadness of heart
In the one that welcomes him
For he knows the frustration
That follows and the humiliation
That hollows out…
And the silence.

Knowledge is a heavy burden –
To know that Humiliation is
The highest they will get
And yet they are ready to take it
In the hope of a better life
Makes one sad…
What made Africa do this to itself
And its posterity?

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.


They shrink away instinctively
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.


I can show you the earth, I can show you the sky, I can show you the sea, the sun and the moon; there is nothing I cannot show you, but my heart. Yet: what is in my heart, you may wonder? And truly there are only simple things therein, little things forgotten and unforgotten – yet I shall not show it to you.

You can touch the sky if you really try; you can swim every ocean, river, sea and Lake. You can stand on the moon, you can stroke a candle-flame; but, try as you might, you still cannot touch my heart, unless I let you. Not my heart… not this little heart of mine.

Is my heart fragile? Sometimes. Is my hard adamantine? Sometimes. What is a little human heart? A mountain? A sea? A cave? A mirror? A forest of flames? What?

I can show you everything but my heart, because locked within it is a painful shyness that simply cannot bear to be seen, or touched, the wrong way, by the wrong hand, or eye, too soon, too late. It is gone. Innocence. What happened?

If I could take away the Shyness from my heart, then I could show you my heart… but then all the fun would be gone. For a heart without shyness is only a memory of a heart – and my shyness is very precious to me and my heart.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.


I know a girl
She loves to pray
And everytime we kiss
She runs away in shame

Because I don’t fit into her world
And she can’t look her leader
In the eye
When I’m on her mind.

Is your river flowing?
Should I… check again?
So she runs far away
And in the distance we can

That she’s stronger than Shame –
She’s ashamed of herself
For not being herself.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.


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.


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.


I know a Girl
She loves to pray
And everytime we kiss
She runs away in shame

Because I don’t fit into her world
And she can’t look her leader in the eye
When I’m on her mind

Is your river flowing?
Should I… check again?

Breathing hard she runs far away
And in the distance we can pretend
That she’s stronger than Shame…

She’s ashamed of herself
For not being herself

Because she’s afraid of herself.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije