By Me We Spoke


Across swollen waters

To you, thousands of us were

Pieces of wood, tusks, brass

To tickle the fancies of heartless merchants and enablers of violence

But you were wrong.

A heist of brass and wood and ivory

Murderous desecration of our revered palace

Over a hundred years and you are yet to nod in sleep 

Slowly your crimes sought you out.

Secured in mounted cells I wonder

What you learn when you grope my bloodless frame

In contrived musings in citadels of stealing

Knowing you cannot know me on the altars of twisted history? 



Awestruck at the loving work of ancestral masters

You derided them

Vilified cultures of justice 

Burnt, smashed, and plundered all night

Setting off before cockcrow

You couldn’t imagine that akukor

Will still crow years after entombment in your armoured cases


Thousands of market days ago

I was denied regal splendour of ethical multiversities 

In the ancient kingdom where thieving was strictly outlawed

Who would dare the gods to be a thief?

Wrapped in the cloak of darkness, 

Hopeless but trying to escape the spite

Of a society run on honour and love 

To you everything was game

To you everything is game

With power you assumed the right to plunder

With might your imperial right to grab

Obnoxious culture grab!


In awful sheets

Hidden below bloodied boards 

Swung across stormy waves

The raucous joy of receiving stolen blood

Shocked me for over 120 years until 

I heard the shout Bring Home our Life!

Give me freedom

Don’t loan me to my home


Let me escape those dreadful eyes

Those stares and whispering pierced my soul 

The sheer wildness and aloofness of false connoisseurs 

Scheming wretched plans to disembowel my essence 

My worth isn’t on being on your pedestal

Send me home!

Ancestors did not cast me to be a spectacle 

By me we spoke to generations long born and gone

And generations yet unborn

The flashing of the eben

The slashing of the ada

All spoke volumes as we celebrated life and cautioned against evil 

Send me home!

Oh, that I may be touched by blessed clay

Oh, that my king may look at me and hear

The rhythms of the past

And warn against the madness of plunder