Our history pants hopelessly
Under the burden of our complacency
Like an old palm-wine tapper with a huge gourd
Balanced upon his crooked, creaking back.
Our time, tired of regrets
Spread around its sodden sands for too long,
Has turned a rooster with a penetrating crow–
Deafening like the sounds of the trumpets of rapture,
Or rupture–so it can wake its emissaries lost in deep slumber
And ask whether it’s becoming to be aloof
In the face of deprivations and the attendant brewing rage.
Or to say let’s withdraw into our ideal selves
Like a snail into its shell,
Snub, and leave the smeary polity to the scoundrels
Or yield the soul of the land sheepishly,
Like a fool does his accidental wealth,
To the audacious megalomaniacs
And their perverse absolute indoctrinations
This time has turned,
Into a rooster with a deafening crow;
Summoned a whirlwind to help it soar like an eagle,
Entreated companions from Cairo, Galkayo,
Tripoli, Maiduguri; and the wild ones in Sambisa,
In the banks of the Nile, Congo,
The fast-shrinking Chad and Tangayika
To perch atop the Jericho-walls barricading your cocoons
And to rain barbaric crows torrentially,
Because of the agonies exacerbating
Like un-minded cancerous tumors;
Because the bombs tied to the malnourished body of Aminatu,
A twelve-year-old mother who has never been to school,
Cannot distinguish a saint from a scoundrel
Because the ticking bombs
Hidden beneath the comfy thrones
Do not snub,
Nor tell who’s upright from who’s mendacious.
The poem was inspired by the speech delivered by Prof. Yemi Osinbajo during the 2018 edition of Ake Books Festival.
Bayo Aderoju is a writer resident in Lagos, Nigeria. He holds a first class B.A. in English. His works appear in Praxis Magazine, Spillwords, Kalahari Review, Ngiga Review, Sub-Saharan Magazine, and forthcoming in The Shallow Tales Review. You can find him on Twitter @bayo_aderoju and Facebook @Bayo Aderoju.