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Two Poems

 

By Luqman Onikosi


 

Friday, April 25, 2014.

                       

Aiye yi (This Life)



Baffled over its meaning?
Is it the heart beat or,
Is it our beingness,
Perhaps, the moments of time,
 
In our span of being?

Sacred gift,
An explosion of melanin,
Seeded in the nucleus of matriarchal cradle,
Irreplaceable precious,
Unbestowable intangible wealth.

Life is a battlefield,

An abstract nature,

Wish there was a 10 barrels gun to fight the battles,

But do not know where the adversities - adversaries lie.


A labyrinth of realism,
Adrift through existence, 
Across cascade of dreams,
Shadowed by our fantasies, 
We think we want,
Surpassed by our realities, 
We think we do not need,
Anchored by fate.

A whirl through thicks and thins,
In time of happiness or sorrow, 
That put tears on the face or laughter on the corner of the lips, 
A season to smile or to mourn,
In asperity or prosperity,

Coming straight from experiences,
Trials has way of playing on our aspirations,
But our free wills,
To fight to live or 
To give in to defeat, 
Shapes our destiny,

Determined to mine the gold in the core of the earth,
Dare not look at the dented blade of the digger.

Life is a nail,
Sheer willpower is the hammer,
The nail gets bent,
Perseverance to carry on straightens it,
The number of times that life got twisted,
But got unbent,
To continue to bear the scourge from the hammer, 
Before emerging from the other side,
Defines what life means,
And that is 'cold facts' of life.

 

 

                                                                                                                                   

Ogbe okan:

Battle Scarred

 

Retracing my foot step,

Down memory lane,

Through the thick and thin of the times past,

My life span,

I wonder if it was a time well spent?

Or time tossed away in search of knowledge?

 

Coming of age,

The year was 1994,

Epiphany surged in,

Mace of questions raced across my mind,

Was it because I was a slow leaner?

Or because I was not paying attention?

You be the judge!

 

Baba feared for what I might become,

Worried I will be an embarrassment to the family,

And a menace to society,

Childhood of mine,

Characterised by hyper-activity, 

Everyday, I was in different troubles,

 

Coming of age,

The year was 1994,

Epiphany surged in,

Mace of questions raced across my mind,

Was it because I was a slow leaner?

Or because I was not paying attention?

You be the judge!

 

Wayward at home,

I disobedient at school,

Yet, I was a truant at senior school,

Robbed my baby brother of his powder milk,

Nabbed by class Mistress,

My bum was caned,

Then I repeated primary one,

Harun caught up with,

 

Coming of age,

The year was 1994,

Epiphany surged in,

Mace of questions raced across my mind,

Was it because I was a slow leaner?

Or because I was not paying attention?

You be the judge!

 

Baba shifted his worries to my Mama,

Proverbially denounced me,

A successful child,

Is a true son/daughter of his/her Baba,

But reprobate child,

Is the son/daughter of his/her Mama,

The truth was,

Life was so good and very chilaxing,

I lived in the country (Jebba North),

Insulated from the reality of life’s hardships,

I got everything I needed on the platter of gold,

Until my Baba decided to send us to boarding house,

A two hours excruciating drive from Jebba North,

Courtesy of Baba,

His way of introducing me to true life education,

 

Coming of age,

The year was 1994,

Epiphany surged in,

Mace of questions raced across my mind,

Was it because I was a slow leaner?

Or because I was not paying attention?

You be the judge!

 

My Baba’s strategy, worked perfectly,

The hostel was in a ramshackle state,

Window glass were broken,

The metal frame of the windows were barely hung on the lintel,

The double wooden doors,

Was like a basuka riddled it apart,

The ceiling was nothing to write on about,

The asbestos ceiling removed,

Later discovered hostel mates sucker punched the ceilings,

Converted it into ping pong bats and hand fans

Bunk, was Springless

A planked bunk was a luxury,

You are moneyed if you owned mosquito net,

As soon we arrived,

I was homesick,

I wailed all night,

Like an ill-mannered child!

 

Coming of age,

The year was 1994,

Epiphany surged in,

Mace of questions raced across my mind,

Was it because I was a slow leaner?

Or because I was not paying attention?

You be the judge!

 

 

 

 

Harun (1981-2012) was genius,

Nick named Harun gentiley (gentle nerd),

Assimilated the whole chapter of the holy Quran and its translation,

OMG,

His intellect,

Intimidated tutors,

Peers in the hostel look up to him,

My sibling idolized him,

He was an epitome of academic success,

He set the bar so high for the Onikosi,

 

Coming of age,

The year was 1994,

Epiphany surged in,

Mace of questions raced across my mind,

Was it because I was a slow leaner?

Or because I was not paying attention?

You be the judge!

 

Me, at age 6 years,

I could not spell my name,

Harun, at 4 years of age,

Could spell his name and our surname,

No joke,

The guy was like,

Eat – books,

Shit – books,

Chores – books,

Woke up onto book,

Slept on books,

Companion -books, hence Harun gentiley,

 

Coming of age,

The year was 1994,

Epiphany surged in,

Mace of questions raced across my mind,

Was it because I was a slow leaner?

Or because I was not paying attention?

You be the judge!

 

For me,

My seniority is under attack,

Like those power drunk tyrants,

I had to safeguard it, 

We were like cat and dog,

When he tutored me mathematics,

Always panic-stricken and blanked out,

Too embarrassed to say 'I do not understand',

Instead I picked an argument,

End of study,

You know, I dare not compete with him,

He was like 1st - 3rd in the class,

I was never between 4th -10th in the class,

 

Coming of age,

The year was 1994,

Epiphany surged in,

Mace of questions raced across my mind,

Was it because I was a slow leaner?

Or because I was not paying attention?

You be the judge!

 

The threat of Harun gentiley's brilliance,

Became my motivation,

The trigger to reinventing myself,

Suddenly it dawned on me,

That is politicised in all nation states,

Intricately hinges on economics,

Determined to devote my youthfulness,

To seek dialectical understanding,

Of government responsibility to its people,

The causes of poverty and solutions,

To the endemic social injustice,

 

Coming of age,

The year was 1994,

Epiphany surged in,

Mace of questions raced across my mind,

Was it because I was a slow leaner?

Or because I was not paying attention?

You be the judge!

 

Engulfed by nepotism of military/political elite,

Soldier go,

Soldier come,

Military assassination of political oppositions,

Charade of democracy,

Infrastructural collapse,

Amenities was ostentatious,

Oil refinery shut down,

Erratic power supply ruined standard of living,

Steel manufacturing plant rendered obsolete,

 

Coming of age,

The year was 1994,

Epiphany surged in,

Mace of questions raced across my mind,

Was it because I was a slow leaner?

Or because I was not paying attention?

You be the judge!

 

 

 

 

 

I failed to grew up

Bastioned against by Mama and Baba loves,

Engrossed in my nativity and naughtiness,

Then Baba died,

Scale fell off my eyes,

As reality of life dawn on me,

Lost fatherly guide

Now, I came of age

 

Coming of age,

But this time,

The year was 1999,

Epiphany surged in,

Mace of questions raced across my mind

Was it because I was a slow leaner?

Or because I was not paying attention?

You be the judge!

 

Citadel of knowledge,

Became fortress of brutal cultism,

Admission to Higher Education,   

To the highest bidder,

On one hand,

UNESCO advocate,

Twenty-six percent of budgetary allocation to education fund,

On the other hand,

As dictated by IMF/World,

Only three percent of the budget goes to education funding,

Yet, military budgetary allocation amount to twenty percent,

What a double standard?

 

Coming of age,

But this time,

The year was 1999,

Epiphany surged in,

Mace of questions raced across my mind

Was it because I was a slow leaner?

Or because I was not paying attention?

You be the judge!

 

Underpaid Lecturers,

Preyed on vulnerability of bonafide students,

Extortion by making superfluous handout compulsory,

Critical knowledge unattainable,

Creative thinking unrealisable,

Test marks,

Is open market haggling,

Garbage in,

Garbage out,

Graduate cannot defend his/her degree,

 

Coming of age,

The year was 1994,

Epiphany surged in,

Mace of questions raced across my mind,

Was it because I was a slow leaner?

Or because I was not paying attention?

You be the judge!

 

Luqman Onikosi is a writer and civil rights activist based in Brighton, UK. He grew up in Nigeria before moving to the UK in 2007 to study at the University of Sussex where he completed an BA in International Relations and Economics. At Sussex, Luqman set up ‘Hear Afrika Society’, which led numerous high profile campaigns about the reality of racism, the environmental crisis, the economic rights of international students and islamophobia.

 

 

 

 

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