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30 Sep 2017

The statue (dedicated to Awo)

You have refused to stay silent

mainstay of the ages

not since you were born did the bangles

write prophesy around your right wrist

destiny of your people beckoned

in the bold stripes of your brows

You became master of the west

Before you knew it

Before they knew

You said it and like a priest

With incision in the tongue

Your words became the bond

Of the gods

Your words were light

And the people were enlightened freely

But not so freely

They fought,

those who did not know fought

fought not to know

darkness was protection

past was tradition

the fathers had tested it

the mothers had embalmed

the children had absorbed it

who was this sage to change

the certainty of the saints

to tell us to unknow?

But I see your bust again

In the city centre

No one can deny you are born again

In a new burst

Heroes resist the dust

The concrete impunity of cenotaphs

They rage against the last unction

And the obsequies

There is a lot in life to breathe back

And you know enough not to be silent for too long

Your imprints hark

The schools, the cocoa statues

The well-fed toddler

The fiery lines of chalks

On black boards

The integrity of parliaments

The discipline of ministries

The example of bureaucrats

The concoction of theories that

Confessed the heart of embers

Which the books spirited out of your flesh

Hoes became penned in classrooms

Slate-handed children eyed boardrooms

Town crier fell when the radio roared

The huts were haunted by skyscrapers

Hunters, hewers of wood, farmers, fishermen

Soldiers

All looked up

Like their kinsmen of the Yoruba wars

And saw safety in the hills of Ibadan

Where you tenanted the genius of your race

dawning a republic that foresaw

the age that you bred

Today even when you crave silence

We are rude enough to tempt your flame

Pinprick your eyes with debates

About what you did and did not

And how to deal your deeds

Some want to undo them, some want to improve them

Some want to own them, some want steal them

Some want to toss them

But no one is brave to look elsewhere

We cannot avoid you

Because your bust stands

Under the bold rude sun of

Your voice roaring out

Of a void.

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