Oppression

Poetry: The True Nigerian By Tolu Akinyemi

This piece was originally published in Funny Men Cannot Be Trusted.

Early in the morning
a true Nigerian meets a friend
and like a game of ping-pong
they play with greetings.

“How is your wife?”
“she is fine!”

“And the children?”
“they are fine!”

“How is work?”
“work is fine!”

“Your father’s health?”
“he’s doing well!”

Then one says a greeting
that sounds like this;
“I’m with you o, enduring
this ‘Buhari economy’”.

The other laughs in surprise
“who would have guessed
you are affected too?
with your skin
glowing like this?”

His friend smiles, pretending
to reject the flattery.

The true Nigerian comes back from work
hungry, he could eat a horse
he raids the kitchen, finds a wrap of eba
then his neighbour walks in.

He doesn’t mean it
But he says “join me”.
His true Nigerian neighbour
with his rumbling tummyside
must politely decline.

The true Nigerian child sits with an elder
The elder farts
but he must savour it without a smirk.

The true Nigerian rushes off to work
But he must offer his help
to his laundry-doing neighbour
even when it’s obvious
he has no time to give.

The neighbour is a true Nigerian
she says “no thank you” with a smile
even when her laundry
spreads out a mile.

The true Nigerian in the market
knows the price given, when she asks
is the value, twice or thrice
and so, haggle, she must.

Every man from his village
The true Nigerian calls “brother”
Though they just met
it really doesn’t matter.

The true Nigerian knows
to decipher undertones
of a neighbourly evening visit
the housewife says jokingly
“we were already snoring
this time yesterday”
the true Nigerian knows
he’s overshot his stay.

The true Nigerian
loves to laugh
he loves to suffer and smile
his leaders rob him blind
but he laughs
they mess up his life
but he suffers and smiles.
— Tolu Akinyemi

Akinyemi's compilation of poems 'Funny Men Cannot Be Trust' can be purchased on here

Image: Paul Jung.

Poetry: Equality By Maya Angelou

You declare you see me dimly
through a glass which will not shine,
though I stand before you boldly,
trim in rank and marking time.
You do own to hear me faintly
as a whisper out of range,
while my drums beat out the message
and the rhythms never change.

Equality, and I will be free.
Equality, and I will be free.

You announce my ways are wanton,
that I fly from man to man,
but if I’m just a shadow to you,
could you ever understand?

We have lived a painful history,
we know the shameful past,
but I keep on marching forward,
and you keep on coming last.

Equality, and I will be free.
Equality, and I will be free.

Take the blinders from your vision,
take the padding from your ears,
and confess you’ve heard me crying,
and admit you’ve seen my tears.

Hear the tempo so compelling,
hear the blood throb in my veins.
Yes, my drums are beating nightly,
and the rhythms never change.

Equality, and I will be free.
Equality, and I will be free.
— Maya Angelou

Image: Olaf Hajek