Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Return Of The Native by Kwesi Brew

(To My Dearest Sister, Dr. Maya Angelou)

There are dungeons in the Cape Coast Castle

Now without their cast-iron gates

Where, all the evil spirits of slavers, pirates, and bucaneers

Suspended head-down in brown incarceration

Under the frowning vigilance

Of Nana Tabir, the first of equals among the tutelar gods,

Seventy-seven, of this ancient town of Efutu;

There in dank misery condemned to be unsunned

For the period of their lives

And the lives of generations after them and those after them

Till the end of time; judged and condemned

Theirs souls are coffined in the bodies of the bats,

Whose eyes burn like smouldering coals but see nothing.

And they languish as bats in that hole.

Where they can hear the hissing and booing of the rollers

Of the Atlantic Sea

But sail on it no more; No passage for the wicked, says the Sea.

There in that dungeon they stagnate.

In the worm-infested turpitude of their crimes;

And the worms multiply by leaps and years;

And tadpoles scorn the pollution of the puddle.

Only the mosquito, guerrilla of days,

Immerses its larvae hanging them aslant in the water

With their probosces drawing pure air for life

To gain life to destroy life of intruders:

Thus our land was saved.

Not for them any more the cool comfort of the crescent

Smile of the moon as it glides across the silvery expanse

Of the heavens.

Beaming its chubby matronly approval on pale nights

Upon the maidens playing ampe, lithe flicks of black legs

In the lucency of happy and open hours, full of song,

And cheered by cracking reports of clapping hands:

Not for them the leisurely sight of old men,

Scions of the blind days drowning the shame

Bequeathed to them by our forebears

As our share of the burden

In endless games of oware:

The pebbles, they drop by tally pensively into the holes

As men descending into the murk of graves,

Are moistened by remorse.

How can we explain should they want to know

What crimes, what new crimes, they committed to bring on themselves

This punishment heavier and more damning

Than the wages of sin:

What if the cruel yoke had broken bone and soul

And none had lived to tell the tale.

But there are no hard thoughts here as blood flows into blood.

Where two minds meet in soft sessions of harmony

Peace is born, love, and jov

For if the happenings of the past

Could be unravelled by the mind of man

we would all be God;

One seed of maize would not be planted to rot

For us to take a cob grinning with

Four hundred and twenty seeds at harvest

And Joseph would not have been the ruler of Egypt

In the time of famine

To feed father and the brothers who sold Rim into bondage And glory.

Today those who made the grim passage

Now with sandalled feet, heads sparkling

With gold-studded fillets; aggrey beads on their wrists;

Clothed in the spendour of their indomitable spirit;

Our kinsmen, have crossed the threshold,

Drank the water of welcome and are seated

On their stools of precious wood

Telling their story

In the compounds of their ancestral homes.

The children of Adam have come to see their kinsmen:

Like the great heavens of African evenings

The shade of the doorways are peopled

With bright and shining curiosity:

The children are whispering their regrets

For five hundred years is a long time to be gone.

The gold rings, the outdooring gift of belonging,

They held in the palm of the hands,

Their fingers are too gnarled and knotted

By beast labour for painless decoration.

Now are we free

Being sons and daughters of God;

Free people with one destiny.

Wrapped in the fearless colours

Of our kente, the pride of our loom

Here we stand,

United in heart in mind and in blood

And none so bold,

None daring-and none dares,

To make slaves of us again!

Link: http://home.comcast.net/~amaah/writings/no-return-kwesi-brew.html

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