From my friend in Nsukka, Ikeogu Oke, comes this new poem. I am also pleased to mention the release of his new book, complete with an endorsement from Nadine Gordimer.
Does it mean to wake poor, and sleep in squalor,
And live as if you’re drained of strength and valour?
Does it mean to doubt the power of your own mind,
And be the wagging tail of humankind?
Does it mean to have leaders riddled with maggots of shame –
Mostly, that is – and yet unmindful of their putrid fame?
Does being African or black
Mean carrying the burden of your past like a hunchback?
Does it mean to forge your own chains even after you were freed –
Chains of strife, misrule, of sloth and wanton greed?
Does it mean to declare, “I’m black and proud”
Even as your mind whispers, “Shh! Don’t say it loud?”
Does it mean to rule the place of slumber,
And lay oblivious of your strength of number?
Does it mean – I ask –
Not to know your task
Is to rise like the sun you ought to be,
And shine your bright light on humanity?