Poem by Membis Godwin Chukwukamma

Poem by Membis Godwin Chukwukamma



Yesterday, we took this path to the silver stream
To fetch water for cooking and for drinking too
We did come to this spot for warm recreation 
With fishes of this stream that knew our ancestors

Our fathers made occupation with hooks and nets
And here with grateful hearts they offered sacrifices
To please and appease ancestral marine spirts
Until government came in ambush and with guns

They have become governors of our own stream
They have stolen our occupation and recreation
Daily our fishes float like dead leaves on water
They said they discovered crude oil in our soil too

Today, we have lost our farmlands and crops
Harvest season is now a season to plant tears
They have taken our food, water and jobs
And have left with us agony bitter than death

How do we survive to see the face of tomorrow?
They said we need to go to school to make a living
So we drag school bags heavy with books
And in our dirty uniforms like prisoners
We climb up and down the rough hills

We trek for hours under the sun and rain
To school where we are taught to forget our root
By teacher who’ve learnt all except who they are
They lash our palms and buttocks when we speak
When we speak our native language in school

We never knew it was taking years to start earning
Until we graduated with beards on our infant faces
Now, we are on ties with CVs looking for office jobs
Like rabbits looking for palm kernels in Sahara desert

We really need to move to big cities to be employed
And we have travelled across mountains and villages
We have turned forty without a source of income
Is this the life they government chose for us?

How do we explain to our young what we became?
How can we motivate them to walk in our ways?
When they evidently see criminals as successful souls
And noble citizens as poor frustrated individuals. How?

(c) Membis Godwin Chukwukamma

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