Posted in NAIJA POETRY, POETRY, POETRY FROM THE WORLD

A WAKE FOR OKIGBO (A POEM) by Chinua Achebe

For whom are we searching?
For whom are we searching?
For Okigbo we are searching!
Nzomalizo!

Has he gone for firewood, let him return.
Has he gone to fetch water, let him return.
Has he gone to the marketplace, let him return.
For Okigbo we are searching!
Nzomalizo!

For whom are we searching?
For whom are we searching?
For Okigbo we are searching!
Nzomalizo!

Has he gone for firewood, may Ugboko not take him.
Has he gone to the stream, may Iyi not swallow him!
Has he gone to the market, then keep from him you
Tumult of the marketplace!
Has he gone to battle,
Please Ogbonuke step aside for him!
For Okigbo we are searching!
Nzomalizo!

They bring home a dance, who is to dance it for us?
They bring home a war, who will fight it for us?
The one we call repeatedly,
there’s something he alone can do
It is Okigbo we are calling!
Nzomalizo!

Witness the dance, how it arrives
The war, how it has broken out
But the caller of the dance is nowhere to be found
The brave one in battle is nowhere in sight!
Do you not see now that whom we call again
And again, there is something he alone can do?
It is Okigbo we are calling!
Nzomalizo!

The dance ends abruptly
The spirit dancers fold their dance and depart in midday
Rain soaks the stalwart, soaks the two-sided drum!
The flute is broken that elevates the spirit
The music pot shattered that accompanies the leg in
its measure
Brave one of my blood!
Brave one of Igbo land!
Brave one in the middle of so much blood!
Owner of riches in the dwelling place of spirit
Okigbo is the one I am calling!
Nzomalizo!

In memory of the poet Christopher Okigbo (1932-1967)
Translated from the Igbo by Ifeanyi Menkiti

Okigbo and Achebe
Okigbo and Achebe

(End Notes:

I have always loved Achebe’s poems, from Refugee Mother and Child to Love Cycle and many others collected in Beware Soul Brother and Collected Poems (available on Amazon). I felt him more in Anthills of the Savannah (which I did my undergraduate long essay on).

I smiled as I read this poem…thinking of how fast life flows in its fluidity. Achebe wrote this poem forever ago in honour of Okigbo… I watched him recite the poem at a birthday in his honour, some six or so odd years back. It was moving. Now, Achebe has passed on and a friend of mine, the beautiful poet, Dike Chukwumerije, did a poem in Achebe’s honour similar to this. Who can forget Niyi Osundare’s tribute... The poems would always be here to sing the song of the one for whom it is dedicated, to boast the prowess of the one who carved the lines of the verse… But always keeping to eternity the memories of the two… Thus in the end, life’s flow doesn’t drown the voice of the singer or the one sang for. . .

Nzomalizo!

Chinua Achebe (1930-2013-In our hearts)
Chinua Achebe (1930-2013-In our hearts)

May the verse of our hearts never go out of tune. Cheers! SVA)

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Author:

Some all-rounded writer with the wits to turn anything and everything to words with inspiration... cheering to glory and on...

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