By Chudi Okoye
(Tribute to Maya Angelou: “Still I Rise”)
You may spite us with your mockeries
With your ugly, hateful forgeries
You may grind us into the very muck
Or even bind us to the rueful murk
In which you and your brood are stuck
But still, like air, we rise.
You may appropriate all the easy riches
In this nation formed of hesitant stitches
From colonial caprice and cynical wishes;
You use state might to mask your laziness
And punish us who have vibrant business
Purchasing through grit your haughty haziness
But still, like the morning sun, we rise.
Are you unsettled by our Igbo boldness?
Or perhaps niggled by our pesky brashness?
You stole the oil wealth from our South
And made yourself Masters of the Scout
But look at the foams in your mouth!
You have everything and yet have nothing
Though you like to blame us for your misery
Still, like the unperturbed cloud, we rise.
Did you want us to be totally broken?
Telling your lies through words unspoken?
You exploit our compatriots who are unwoken
Using wads of dirty currency as your token
You corrupt their consciences, those lost Igbos
The Roaches, Ozodimgbas, Okpeazus, Omaghis
Their wonted greed feeds your vaunted need
And they grasp even though their people bleed
But still, like Eastern fragrance, we rise.
Out of the hurts of our own miserable history
Pounded in the pediment of Nigeria’s story
We Igbos rise!
We rise as the Sun rises from the East
Imbuing sheer possibility onto human life
We Igbos of the East
Breathing plausibility and, yes, even sensibility
Into this geographical expression
Into this historical depression
Sometimes known as Nigeria
We Igbos rise!