my friend okey uzoechina from nigeria wrote a poem dedicated to the innocent victims of the recent ethno-religious crises in the country: "November 2009, January 2010, March 2010, and the ones yet to come".
i am publishing it not because okey and i went to uni together, but because his poem is inspired by lacks of effective state politics and their resulting in death and destruction. i am not even going to get started on inter-religious dialogue here - it's just all so sad!
i am ashamed to admit that up to today i was completely unaware of nigerian poetry and that the great majority of it seems to be inspired by politics. award winners remi raji (who writes in english) and wole soyinka (first african winner of the nobel prize in literature in 1986, editor of the praised anthology Poems of Black Africa) seem to be good further references if you're interested.
in any case, i'd like to thank okey for choosing poetry as one of his ways of working against violence.
THE CROSS & THE CRESCENT
Sacred sires of two great nations
Hostile brothers of long consanguine connexion
Turned uneasy neighbours by sinister suspicion
Tell me, will their wars of vengeance ever cease?
Each takes a different direction
In its quest for the soul’s salvation
Yet both declare for the same destination
Tell me, which will enter the Pearly Gates?
They preach peace and love to all creation
And give opium-soaked minds camouflage consolation
As crimes and wars increase by multiplication
Tell me, wherein lies such gross hypocrisy?
When they partake in political communion
They cross swords with fanatical aggression
Like fiery fiends stirred to destruction
Tell me, does atrocity justify a crown of conquest?
They attract mammoth congregations
With cosy creeds of true redemption
But which will serve the divine intention—
The Cross or the Crescent?