The Lament Of Okonkwo - Poem by Kojo Owusu
And now coarse eddies and specks
Form evil clouds and engulf our huts
And barns. Specks haunt us and we sit
Down as if dumb. Our arms defy us.
The machetes lean against the muddy
Walls idle. Our fierce courage has
Deserted us, the evil forest has been
Cleared and void songs violating the
Soul plagues us. The gods above are
Weeping for such a strange unearthly
Disintegration to be unleashed on
Our heads. Retribution seems to
Elapse them. The messengers who
Could read their invisible signs
Now can not understand what is at
Stake and they gnash their teeth
In pain and anguish. The ancient
Powerful gourds were filled with
Blood. The gods were consulted
For the root cause of the calamity,
The dire division and they returned
With no words from the deities who
Dwell in the grooves and caves.
The gong would not sound and the
Central arena would not enjoy the
Delirious tread of maidens and the
Wild vigor of lads. The rivers would
Not flow again for they are chocked
With weeds of grief. Painful vigil
Tinged with faint glow of kernel lamb.
The hearth echoed the fading sigh
Of the trembling shadow reclining
On the antique bed. We knelled amid
Ashen embers and primal eaves
And murmured our eerie fears to
Our selves. For very soon the ancient
Man will join the ancestors and the
Hut would be dark. Suddenly, a wild
Wailing stormed the air. The funeral
Obsequies of the ancient man was
Wreathed with cataclysm. Sending
A son of umuofia to the grave with
His father was an awful taboo that
Displeased the earth goddess.
I did it unintentionally. They knew
It was in advertent. I was exiled
For seven years away from my fathers
Land. And should my return be a dream?
A nightmare? My limbs are glued
To this hearth and I cannot even clutch
A cutlass. I, a famous wrestler, who had
Dumbfounded and enthralled spectators –
My hunting tools are rusting and my sigh
Turn to echo and my visions nightmare.
But do I have to shiver and tremble
Like an old woman? I have three human
Heads to my credit and also a titled man.
I would not let this red tooth fear overpower
Me. Now our people are clutching alien gods.
The people of the horizon have done
A grievous thing. Now look at our
Traditions and way of life being
Dragged in the mud. Our way
Of life an obsolete ritual. The walls
Are crumbling and cockcrows
Are but grunts and groans and moans.
The locusts are ill omen and granary
Floors are filled with furnacing teeth
They have succeeded in dividing us
And destroying everything.
Our wives and children desert us
Each passing day to join the albinos
To sing to the glory of a vengeful
Father and son who take delight
In our destruction. They condemn us
Of worshiping lifeless stones and woods.
We are said to be filthy and primitive
And gradually they are taking our lands
And training the children to hate
And abhor our customs. Now the
Children don’t have respect for
Us any more. The elders are mourning,
The sages are overwhelmed and confused.
But why do we curse our fate and languish
In pain? We must not sit down like women,
Let us discard effeminate men and stand
Up for the course of our ancestors.
Do we have to sit down and tremble
And gape at the enemy who invades
Our land? Do we have to accept and
Praise the people who came to plunder
Our traditions and life? Elders
Of the land, we are not cowards and
Blood is not a thing we fear. Let us be
Resolute and stand on our two feet.
Let us rise against these forces for it a
Bitter reality to stand as if mesmerized
Or hypnotized for your fathers compound
To be destroyed, to hold the machete
And afterwards mourn? Elders
Of the land, let us fight rather than relent.
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