Salute to Soyinka @ 89! + video


ORI AGBE (For Wole Soyinka)
– By Akeem Lasisi


Because there may never be a second night

I shall plant my tongue in the soil of tonight

I shall construct a castle of words

As an eternal monument for a sage’s birth.

Emo rat rises healthily in Opo Ile

Aferebojo rises healthily in its hole

Whether eku emo rises well or not

Once Soyinka rises well the deed is done.


Let me kiss the waves to gain the pulse of the Nile

If I can touch the tail of your dansiki,

My craft will never remain the same again

If I can touch a strand of your silver hair

I shall win a multitude with a single poem.


You will lend me a sacred pun

To jerk up my Commonwealth poem

I want to borrow your dictionary of myth

Where a hen lays nothing other than eggs of words

And the rain that comes from the bowel of the August sky

An infinite scroll of Nobel rhymes.

Chief Kongi,

You hear my voice or not?

If I were a woman,

If I did not marry you because of your cheek of a hunter’s wife

I would marry you for your shiny beards of a squirrel’s tail.


But in spite of the flowing wines of your glorious birth

I shall open a can worm of subversive truth.

The parrot privileged to come of age

Will tell different tales of our changing times

Olugbon’s prosperous reign,

The fields were draped in an egret’s frock

Aresa’s historic reign,

Draped were the deserts in an egret’s frock

But these dragging eons of Jagunlabi’s dynasty

Thunder-retinued vampires howl across every nook and cranny of our shivering hills

Houses concede their heads to tenement storms

The smith has lost the memory of the anvil

And I the chronicler of tides,

I sing about in kwashiokored feet.


I implore you the sage of the night

Savour my songs with Solomon’s mind.

My teeth I know are rotten

If I break kola nut with them you can shun

But when I break with them a single poem,

Give my stinking mouth a second thought.

Democracy is a cake of prosperity

Universally eaten with the teeth of give-and-take

But in the toothless mouth of my country’s heroes

Democracy is a chronic bone that never cracks.


For the sake of fish for their pot bellies

They have set ablaze the family grove

For the sake of fish for their pot bellies

They have killed the pond with chemical greed.


Now that you have climbed the mahogany of age

Share a bit of our festival wine

And shed some light on the riddle of The Road.

The world is building an amphitheatre in the centre of the moon

But six decades after,

My country remains the protagonist in the Dance of the Forest.

The rain is punctual,

The sun is prompt

But right before our teary eyes

Kongi’s Harvest has blossomed into national drought.


Only yesternight,

We accused Tandi of dacing awkwardly

But right before our teary eyes

Tandi Tandi has taken over the stage of dance

Only yesternight,

We accused the departed of an untimely death

But right before our teary eyes,

The pall bearers have missed their way to the burial ground

Aaa, now that you have climbed the mahogany of age, Soyinka

Share a bit of our festival wine

And shed some light on the riddle of The Road.


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