SOMETHING’S MISSING

I don’t know if you’ve heard
There is a land where girls were stolen
Kidnapped it’s called in sociopolitical speak

That land happens to be my country
Those girls another set of casualties
In a war of religion and education

Let’s just call it a war on humanity
The candles are going out
From one country to the next

Some swear the second world war is not yet over
Others boast the cold war is far from done
Meanwhile an old war has long begun

Some call this the third world war
The last one apparently Nostradamus encrypted
For sure it is a religious war on faith

Everyday it opens up a new field of battle
Now it has picked on my country too
And made her the new local theater of a global scourge

But how do you win a religious war?
By killing, or by forgiving?
By retaliating or by reconciling?

It is a philoshical puzzle
A paradox of semantics
In which real people die everyday.

– Che Chidi Chukwumerije.

THE SHELL

The sun was setting at the back of the ocean. I could see it from the beach where I was standing. I stood on a risen shoulder of sand, a few paces away from the edges of the sea where the licking fingers of the waves, rippling and splashing, drew back and forth, and back and forth.

The setting sun itself was of the utmost beauty. It was like a magical shield full of life and light, its fire subdued but radiant, warm and red, the beginning of seven colours and a million and one unnameable hues.

They stratified the wide ocean into homogenous groups and, riding on the waves, transferred the sea of water into an ocean of colour. Every wave was a house of tonal creativity. Every cloud above was a surrealistic masterpiece, briefly floated upon the skyscapes of our hearts. Catch me if you can.

Transfixed, I stood, gazing out at the setting sun.

Normally, on the west coast of Africa, looking south, the sun sets, when we face the Atlantic, on the right side of the ocean. But sometimes a curvature of coastal line, a geographical comma, nature changing its mind, like we all do, produces a long stretch of beach where, standing as I stood upon the risen announcement of hilly sand, I, gazing ahead, gaze straight into the setting sun.

And the sun was a stone, nay, actually it was a shell, a little white shell glittering in the sand just beyond the tips of the reaching fingers of the sea.

You should have seen this shell. There was something about it. It glittered white in the orange sand and seemed to be a stranger. More than glittering, it seemed to glow. My imagination conjured up pictures of master craftsmen in the merrealm just off the West African coast of the Atlantic, leftovers from Atlantis. Silver-bearded, golden ebony, nobly finned, hardworking merfolk, shaping and polishing. Then I thought of gently swaying mermaids, wiser than the wisest housewives of yore, with nimble fingers, moulding, weaving, shaping and polishing. And one of them had formed this shell and polished and polished it until it shone.

Then she had flung it out.

The sea was jealous. It had hardly been in possession of this shell, this beautiful white shell that glistened so beautifully in the sand beneath my gaze on the beach. Now the ocean reached with even longer fingers for the shell, my shell.

For, as soon as I laid eyes on this enchanting, pure white sea shell a few paces beneath me, just beyond the rolling waves, I knew that she, the beautiful mermaid who had made it, had made it just for me and had waited for me to appear on her beach today and then flung it out to me.

But like in all things in life, I also had to fight for it, I had to carry out an action which symbolically or really encapsuled my recognition of this thing’s worth and my need for it, my claim to it. That is to say, I had to walk down the risen shoulder and snatch the shell away from the reach of the sea’s licking fingers and possess it.

But a cloud bunched up against the sun for a moment and I remained there, squinting in the direction of the veiled Settingsun until it had been unclothed again.

Then, with a spring, I alighted Risen Shoulder and walked towards the white shell glowing in the orange beachsand.

The wave was faster, and it came without warning. I guess the sea was afraid, that was all. When it saw me move, it knew I would take the shell and keep it with me forever. Seas, being deep, always know such things, for they rest in the depth of heart. So it mustered up all the strength it could gather at such short notice and lunged at the shell.

In Creation, everything happens within the boundaries of space and time. Nothing is instantaneous, as long as it is a process, a development, a translation from one part, or one form, of space to another. The space here can be innerspace or outerspace. By outerspace I mean the physically tangible and, even if only to an extent, measurable, however vanishingly small it is, and by innerspace I mean the conceptually graspable, however large.

If a thing changes position in space, it also does so in time. There is nothing that does not take time to happen; not even light is that fast.

This means that between the ocean’s beginning to summon up all the strength available to it at that moment and its lunging at the shell, moments must have been bypassed in time by both the ocean and me.

If I had not dallied in carrying out my decision, by remaining there squinting at the cloud that had bunched up before Settingsun, the ocean would not have had a chance because the distance in time it had to traverse in order to overcome the inner and outer spatial distance between it and the shell would have been too long. Its time was too short. Had I moved.

I, however, remained there on Risen Shoulder, gazing thoughtfully at the temporarily veiled sun, thus allowing the ocean, who had read my intention, to prepare for me.

And it did.

For the wave was faster.

I was three steps away from the glittering white shell when it was suddenly swallowed by a swift and smooth beaching wave.

The wave was also a mocker, something like a teaser.

It retreated slowly, slowly into the sea. If I moved just a little faster, surely I would overtake it, thought I. A little faster … faster … further out … further in … I was in the sea. Suddenly I saw the shell again, lunged for it.

I did not realise how deeply in I was until it was too late, I slid in the wet sand, the water was above my forehead. I do not know how to swim. I began to drown. I fought, I grasped, gasped, swallowed, choked, drowned. I heard voices. I heard the ocean’s roar.

I thought I felt a hand, a delicate hand, a firm grip … I could not be sure. I passed out.

In how many seas, rivers and lakes have I drowned? From how many been rescued?

The strong hand was still holding mine when I opened my eyes. I was lying on my back in what looked like a garden. The bare walls were trees side by side, green with pulsating life, the red sun had been replaced by a white one whose blue light hurt my eyes and warmed my heart.

The hand was strong. I turned my head to the side. It was a woman whom I did not know. She was wearing a milky white sleeveless wet gown that clung. Her bare arms were slim and chocolate brown. The strong fingers that enclosed mine were long and fine, the kind of fingers only paintings have.

All in all she was slim, with slight and graceful curves, delicate in appearance. Her face … she did not have the beautiful features of a model, she had the beautiful features of a loving friend, yet I knew her not. Her lips were full and soft, and curved into what looked, oddly, like a proud smile.. Her nose was round and flat, open, a negro nose. Her face was oval. Was she the sun? I could not see her eyes, it was covered by her hair, braided, beaded and woven, which clung heavy and wet to her head, hanging down like a curtain across her forehead and eyes, down to the bridge of her beautiful nose. With her other hand she opened the curtain and hung the braids behind her ears. As she did this, our eyes met. She was starring at me worriedly. It was a strange experience.

“Not yet,” she said, with strong emotion, “You can’t go yet.” I did not hear her voice, because her lips did not move. I only heard what she said.

When I woke up, I was lying on the beach with the white shell in my hand, and it shall be my sign and my memory of your promise. It was dark. The beautiful red sun had set, the orange sands had changed colour, grey was its name now, this beach. We had journeyed through time, and space had changed. But one thing remained, unchanged, even up until today: I’ve never forgotten her proud smile or her face or her eyes or the worried, very worried, look in her eyes.

“Why not yet?” I had asked her.

“Because I’m waiting for you on earth in the future, and we’ve not met yet. We have work together to do.”

—————-
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.

Niger-Delta-residents-pas-006

safe_image.php

Oil-pollution-in-Nigeria-007

Vanguard-NGR-0il-spill-7.6.10

Niger-Delta-1

Bodo spill_Inferno

640x480xMr.Celestineexamining-a-pool-of-CRUDE-OILnear-the-Oya-lakeat-Ikaramao6-o3-09.jpg.pagespeed.ic.rP4bYlaaWU

NIGERIA OIL

nigeria-oil-spills-pollution-2012-6-24

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.