Our lapel pins and Oxford brogues
Are but symbols of our indentured servitude
So is the suit which encases our perpetually aching backs
Fashionable glasses over dimming sights, and inflamed coccyx
From our hunched sitting and glaring.
The shackles that binds us are not physical
Just hard iron that has soldered our brains to the lamp posts
of the banks, venue of our continued slavery that cannot be seen
for the chains jerking us around are invisible,
And the slavers holding the strings are businessmen.
And so daily, we sell tomorrow that we might live today
With hours longer than workhouses, food just enough to keep us alive
And secondhand cars to facilitate our early presence.
For all of which, we hang on in gratitude:
For are you not aware that the ones who took even a slight misstep
Were thrown into the churning sea?
So, we do not get to talk back, or fight
We have no arrows or bullets to do so
We move only in the direction of the jerking
For are we not better than the ones within the sea?
The ones whose masters have abandoned them and have become
Both predators and prey?
For even though the blood in our veins are almost dried
The energy in our brain fizzling out
And the spring in our steps flattened
We are consoled for we can still afford to provide minimum care
For the strangers at home we briefly kiss every night and fall asleep beside.
And so, we trudge on smiling happily
For what else can we do?
POET'S NOTES ABOUT THE POEM
The poem is a slight exaggeration of the long hours and very hard work by bank staff in Nigeria. It concentrates particularly on the voicelessness of the individual staff against the management.