Does my full throated and deep seated laughter incense you?
Does the universe of wealth under my African soil irritate you?
Or does the rounded shoulder of my sons,
The shapely hips of my daughters incite you?
These hybrids: African-American, Afro-Caribbean, Black-British and Franco-Negritude; and the dialectical helix of this indubitable thread: Afro-Hispanic
Does these admixtures show the sharp edges of my resilience? I am Africa.
Plundered, duped, sold, hybridized and soiled. Yet the blood is red
And my patch of earth still green and flowing with murk and diamond
Still flowing with the black gold and bloody memories of mine and yours.
Does the blonde-hair, blue-eyes, chocolate-skin, and generous nose, offend you?
Sorry mate, I can’t help, I am endowed.
Has the sound of samba, the tap-tap of patapata dwarf your noisy pop?
The graceful movements of lips, hips, flips; shatter your hysteria, named dance?
Sorry love, I can’t help it, I am endowed.
My house is burning, oil fields smouldering, yet my laughter enduring
The stuff African is made of. Mr and Mrs Grumpy:
Tell my woeful tales, paint my pain with highlights
On your meddlesome media, killjoy, let it run, ruining theatre of propaganda
Tired resilience of the dying embers of a spent empire
Africa, still rising, young and stronger, a sunflower, etiolated and variegated.
Whorled by your bitter tales, unfolding still
Maroon red back is no rust but a chocolate tan
Ebony in waiting. This lustrous black. Indubitable
Images of gods, etched in ebony of clay
Is sacred and inviolable.
Our stolen gods, makes temples of your museums
In ivories and in pyramids
In caves and in graves
I echo the true tales without the sweetener of your propaganda
My dusky rivers and mucky marsh seed with diamond.
A roof of star-flanked sky over me
Coiled in a duvet of fresh silence and roasted air.
Barn owl, nightingale are nesting in my hair
The sparrow won’t sing me a lullaby
For the smoky flare, made her angry.
Africa red breasted hope, rise, fly
The angry birds of the west are here. To stay.
-Umameh, Michael Achile @ 2016
I had to post this on my blog, not because of the beauty of the poem but the fact that I have known this man for the past nine years of my life. Call him my mentor, my good friend,a voice of reasoning, my brother from another mother but our meeting at the ancient city of Benin was no mistake. Reading this poem made me realize how beautiful poetry can be, infact I rate poetry higher than story telling. I must confess, I don’t think I’m a good poet, that’s one thing I’m sure I can’t do. My namesake however writes loads of poems on her blog www.chynanu.wordpress.com and I love to read as always.
I forgot to add, he is a huge fan of my work and he’s a strong support too.
Here’s a brief bio of the writer:
Michael Achile Umameh is a unique Catholic Priest – yes, you read right. He is presently the Priest in Residence, of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Sheffield, United Kingdom. Rev. Father Michael Achile Umameh, is a Nigerian-born catholic priest, a doctoral student of Mathematics Education, University of Leeds. A published poet, critic, social commentator and avid promoter of Indigenous African Literature and Ethnomathematics of the Igala speaking people of Nigeria.
His published anthologies are The Memoir of the Reluctant Prodigal (2006) and The Mills of the gods and Other Rented Tears (2011). His forthcoming publication Walls pretending as Doors is in press. He is eclectic in his approach to literature and arts. He obtained degrees from the University of Ibadan (2000), Pontifical Urban University, Rome (2004), University of Benin, Benin-city(2011), University of Bristol, Bristol (2012) and University of Leeds (PhD cand). His research interest investigates how to understand the mathematics teachers’ appropriation and integration of digital resources into mathematics teaching, its impact on classroom practices and the implication for professional development.